9 Best Step Ladders Available Today – 2018 Models Tested & Reviewed
Whether you need to clean your gutters, wash exterior windows, paint exterior features on your house, trim gangly and/or unkempt tree branches or just need to gain a few feet to reach something, at some point a homeowner needs to use a ladder. While step-ladders work exceptionally well for indoor use (unless you have vaulted ceilings or you live in a massive loft), they don’t work well for most exterior needs, they just aren’t high enough.
Enter the extension ladder.
Extension ladders run the gamut in terms of size, strength, composition (metal vs fiberglass) and (of course) cost. This review will focus on the best extension ladders on the market today while keeping an eye on the fact that the needs of the professional and the home DIY amateur may not necessarily overlap.
How we rated our extension ladders
In an effort to keep the comparisons between the ladders more consistent, we had to narrow the parameters of our recommendations down to a manageable size (such as ladder size—it makes no sense to compare a 16’ aluminum ladder to a 40’ fiberglass ladder). Therefore, only 24’ ladders will be surveyed here (ladders any higher than 24’ are priced out of most normal DIY budgets). Other features, such as capacity, cost and composition will be compared.
How did they measure up?
9 Best Step Ladders in 2018 - Reviews
1. The Stanley FatMax SXL2120-24
The Stanley FatMax brand of tools is well known to professional and amaeur DIY’er alike. The name Stanley is synonymous with tools. Their model SXL2120-24 is an entry level ladder that combines a reasonable price with a 24’ ladder. Constructed of aluminum, this ladder weighs a mere 18 lbs and is rated for 250 lbs.
This no-frills tool comes with Stanley’s patented rung-lock system as well as mar-resistant feet and D-shaped rungs. It includes a pulley and rope. A good investment for the light duty and occasional DIY worker. Probably not a good option for the professional.
- Cost effective; a good, solid ladder rated to 250 lbs.
- No frills
- Not for professionals
- Light duty—not suitable for larger users or heavier loads with a normal sized user.
2. Louisville AE2224
The Louisville 24’ ladder is no entry level ladder. This beefy ladder (model AE2224) is rated to 300 pounds and comes in at a hefty 44 pounds. Its stout construction also features serrated D-shaped rungs to prevent slipping and provide additional user stability. It also comes with steel-plated shoes for added stability on the ground and protected end caps to prevent marring the surface the ladder rests upon.
The Louisville also includes slide guides that prevent over extension of the ladder, a nice safety feature. This ladder either meets or exceeds the safety standards of ANSI and OSHA (American National Standards Institute and Occupational Safety and Health Association, respectively)—offering peace of mind to both professional and DIY alike. The price is also nice; it’s not significantly more expensive than the FatMax—and you get so much more ladder for your money.
- Safety features—ANSI and OSHA approved
- Strong, beefy ladder (#300 rating)
- Top shoes protect the surface, bottom shoes offer ground stability
- Good value (bang for your buck).
- Maybe just a little too heavy (> 40 lbs)
3. The Louisville L2324
Louisville has another ladder in the 24’ range, model L2324. Aluminum composition and much lighter than the AE2224, the L2324 weighs only 30 pounds (1/3rd the weight of the other Louisville) and is rated accordingly (only 200 pounds). The weight restriction probably puts it out of bounds for many people (especially when you consider the addition of tools). For light duty, around the house chores and not for use on a professional job site, this Louisville certainly fits the bill.
It has the same safety features of the AE2224 (meeting or exceeding OSHA and ANSI standards) as well as the mar-resistant top shoes. The rope and pulley work well for extension and retraction. One other significant drawback for this ladder is its price—it is much more expensive than either of the other two ladders already reviewed.
- Lightweight, portable and easily maneuvered by most anyone.
- Safety standards are met
- Cost, probably too much coin for not enough ladder
- Duty rating—200 pounds excludes too many users, especially when user also has tools with them on the ladder
4. Werner D1524-2
Most people have seen Werner ladders, but they may not realize it. Every time nets get cut down from an NCAA basketball hoop (think Final 4 and conference tournaments), there’s a Werner ladder supporting the players and coaches. Werner ladders have been around for more than half a century and always provide high-quality items at a reasonable cost.
This ladder is no different.
The Werner D1524-2 is a beefy aluminum ladder rated to 300 pounds (Type 1A) and tips the scales at a reasonable 44 pounds—on par with the Louisville. The Werner features traction tread D-shaped rungs for slip resistance as well as mar resistant end caps (or socks) while the shoes either lie flat on level surfaces or lock into uneven (or soft) surfaces with the shoe rotated into spur mode.
One nice feature of this ladder is the ability to separate the base and the fly to give the user two ladders—for lower height needs, this can save time moving one large ladder several times. The lowest priced ladder in this review, it offers an excellent price/performance ratio.
- Solid, stout construction. Rated to 300 lbs.
- Ability to separate the two ladder sections
- Not too heavy
- Nothing—this was a fantastic ladder
5. The Werner D18242EQ
The only one of the aluminum ladders in this review designed for the professional and avid DIY’er alike, the D18242EQ is a medium duty ladder (Type 1, 250 lb rating) that comes in at a stout 45 lbs. This allows for ease of maneuvering, even for solo use. While this ladder will set you back significantly more than the other aluminum ladders, you get what you pay for in this case.
What really sets this ladder apart from others is the unique leveling system. This ladder is extra wide (> 20”) and the legs individually adjust to level uneven or severely sloped areas. Their ‘EverLevel’ system allows for precise individual leg adjustments (using a pin to securely lock the legs in increments of 3/8”) up to 8”. The bottom step contains a leveling bubble to ensure the user the ladder is perfectly level, even if the ground isn’t. This leveling system lets the user access areas that other ladders just can’t (and is perfect for painters).
Also designed with safety in mind, the Werner also meets or exceeds OSHA and ANSI standards. While Werner doesn’t have a specific warranty, they clearly state that they stand behind all of their products.
- ‘EverLevel’ system is a must for painting contractors and DIY’ers with sloped lots
- Stout and strong
- Surpasses established safety standards (OSHA and ANSI)
- Expensive for occasional users or users with relatively level lots
24’ Fiberglass Ladders
Fiberglass ladders (in general) are a little heavier than aluminum but are non-conductive. They’re also not as likely to get dinged and dents as aluminum ladders. These benefits make them more attractive to professionals, contractors and serious DIY types. The price differences aren’t significant.
6. The Dewalt DXL302024PT
Every contractor knows the familiar yellow of DeWalt tools, and this ladder doesn’t disappoint. Long known for quality tools, the DXL302024PT lives up to the reputation of its name.
Designed with the professional in mind, what separates this Type 1A ladder (300 lbs) from others is the tool tray at the top. Made of a heavy duty plastic, it won’t mar the resting surface and it provides a slot for your drill, trays for hardware as well as slots for other tools, minimizing the number of up and down trips and saving time. Its shoes are aluminum and swivel for maximum utility/stability.
One of the more expensive 24’ ladders, the Dewalt clocks in at a reasonable 53 pounds, making it heavy but not oppressive to use (perhaps slightly unwieldy).
- The tool tray. Hands down its best feature. Really designed with the professional in mind.
- Stout construction, will stand up to the elements
- Perhaps a bit heavy
- A more expensive ladder, but some may deem it worthwhile for the tray alone
7. Louisville FE3224?
Louisville also produces fiberglass ladders, and the FE3224 doesn’t disappoint. Coming in at just under 50 pounds, this Type 1A (300 lbs) ladder combines strength and support without breaking the bank. It comes with large steel plated shoes and mar-resistant tops while meeting ANSI safety standards.
The D-shaped rungs are serrated to give added traction. The rungs are also permanently crimped/affixed to the rails to ensure they don’t don’t twist.
- Excellent value, good bang for your buck (professional and DIY alike)
- Safety features (rungs, ANSI approval)
- Manageable weight ( < 50 lbs)
- No tool rack
8. The Little Giant Model 17724
This is the first appearance of the Little Giant brand in our review, but don’t let that fool you, they’ve made a solid, high-quality ladder. Little Giant has manufactured a fiberglass ladder that’s up to 20% lighter than typical fiberglass ladders and even lighter than the more stout aluminum ladders. Coming in at just over 40 pounds, the LG didn’t sacrifice strength, either, as the Hyperlite 17724 is a Type 1A (300 pound rating) ladder. The Little Giant is also very reasonably priced; it fits the budget of the DIY’er but satisfies the needs of the professional.
- Exceptional strength but also very light
- Reasonably priced.
- The advertising suggests the ladder comes with hooks, but doesn’t. That frustrated some customers.
- No integrated tool rack
9. The Werner D6224-2
Yet another high quality Werner product in our review, the D6224-2 tips the scales at a typical 50+ pounds, making it harder to wield than some of the other fiberglass ladders we’ve reviewed. The Werner is also strong, rated for 300 pounds (Type 1A) and the rungs are secured to the rails to prevent twisting (patented Werner technology).
The Werner also comes with padded feet, stable on hard, level ground or softer, penetrable grass. In addition, it comes with pre-pierced holes on the rails make for easy field installation of accessories, including Pole Lashes, Cable Hook and V-Rung Assembly.
- Solid, sturdy and manufactured by a well-known company.
- Reasonably priced
- Heavier than other ladders
- No tool rack
And the winners are…
For the aluminum ladders, the hands down best ladder was the Werner D18242EQ. The unique leveling system gave it the greatest utility for professionals and amateurs alike. That system did come with a steep price tag, however and if price is a consideration, then a good second place option would be the Louisville AE2224. Rated to 300 pounds, it will handle any job of a typical homeowner.
For the Fiberglass Ladders, there’s only one choice. The Dewalt. Period. Hands down. The only ladder in our review that has a tool rack built into the top shows that Dewalt designed this with the contractor in mind. Though a pricier model than others (and a little heavier as well), the time saved on the job will be more than worth the initial investment.
For homeowners that don’t do a lot with their ladders—the Little Giant is an excellent option #2. Light and strong, it doesn’t sacrifice strength but it’s light enough for solo use.