DIY homeowners who want to work on their roof need to have all of the tools, safety equipment, and knowledge to be able to adequately work on their roof. But one thing you should never skimp on is your roof ladder. A good ladder can be the difference between safe DIY roofing work and a trip to the hospital.
Dimitry tested the weight limits himself on a few commonly purchased roof ladders, and half of them failed with little effort. And the moral of the story was: don’t go cheap. Your ladder is essential to safety, and investing in a higher-priced ladder is going to give you the quality you deserve. And adding on the necessary accessories and tools to keep your ladder even more secure will mean you don’t have to worry about your ladder safety and only about the job at hand.
How to Choose the Right Ladder for the Job
Roofing ladders are not a one-size-fits-all kind of tool. In fact, dozens of styles, lengths, materials, and weights fit different jobs. Knowing what kinds of ladders to choose from is the first step to getting the right one to get your roofing work done effectively and safely.
Roofing Ladder Styles
There are a few different styles of ladders that roofers and DIYers will come across in their search: some are built specifically for roof work, while others would work for small jobs but definitely not for getting up on the roof.
The tried and true roofing ladder—this is the one anyone looking to work on a roof needs to get. They are quite literally made for roof work as they are an extension ladder that hooks to the roof’s edge or ridge to ensure a safe place for roofers to navigate up and down safely.
A pair of roof hooks and rolling wheels will allow roofers to easily extend the ladder to the roof’s peak and adjust as necessary. Never attach a roofing ladder to a gutter directly, as it will not hold the weight of someone going up and down, and can easily tear down the gutters.
Lastly, a crawl board, a.k.a. a chicken ladder, is another roofing ladder that can hook to the roof’s ridge and allow for easy navigation while working on the roof, especially for steeper slants. It’s essentially a series of boards and footholds connected together that makes getting around up on the roof much easier and safer.
Most people probably have a self-supporting ladder at home because they are just a 3 to 5 step a-frame or stepladder used for small tasks. You can use a self-supporting ladder to change a lightbulb, reach a cabinet, or even use it to clean out some low-hanging gutters. Either way, they are not the best ladder to use when doing larger roofing work because they aren’t very high and can’t extend any higher than intended.
Plus, trying to get back onto the ladder from the roof is very unsafe. Without being attached to the roof’s edge, they can much more easily tip over and leave you stuck up on the roof. On that note, never work alone.
A non-self-supporting ladder is an extension ladder, also called a straight ladder, that leans up against something to be used. They aren’t the most secure because they don’t have roof hooks or anything to securely attach them, and if you go cheap, the extension ladders can collapse if too much weight is put on the ladder. Nonetheless, they can be a quick and easy way to get up on the roof.
A fixed ladder would mostly be seen in commercial buildings, apartment buildings, or tall triplexes. This ladder is physically adhered to the building and leads to the roof. It makes for easy roof access for commercial building maintenance or even acts as a fire escape for tall residential structures. Although these are less common, they are still considered a convenient and secure roofing ladder used by many.
Roofing Ladder Materials
When choosing your roofing ladder, it’s also imperative to select the proper material for the job. The three main materials of roofing ladders include aluminum, steel, and wood. There are, of course, pros and cons for each.
By far, the heaviest and most expensive ladders are made of steel. More often than not, they’ll be used for the commercial fixed ladders on large buildings, but they can also be utilized for crawl boards that hook to the roof’s ridge. Their added weight makes it even more stable for roofers to work on steeper roofs with more security. They aren’t ideal for all roofing jobs, though. They can be very heavy to maneuver and extend from the ground.
Wood ladders are a more affordable option and can be perfect for doing roofing work near power lines because wood is not conductive. However, if the wood gets wet, it can conduct electricity and should be used with caution. Wooden ladders are often made with ash, beech wood, or plywood layers and then treated to be weatherproof. All the rungs are screwed in and can be easily repaired and adjusted as opposed to other ladders made from metal.
The most popular type of ladder used by roofers and homeowners, in general, is an aluminum ladder. Aluminum is affordable, lightweight, and very resistant to the elements. It can be easily dented but will withstand a lot of wear and tear, making it last a long time.
Roofing Ladder Heights
The height of your roofing ladder is essential to providing a safe mount and dismount when up on the roof. A ladder that is too short can cause damage to the gutters and drastically increase the risk of falls. And extending a ladder to the last final notch it possibly can go puts you at risk of issues and injury as well. And don’t even attempt to jimmy-rig two ladders together to reach a higher height.
Ladders can range in height from a 2-foot step ladder to a very tall 40-foot extension ladder, so knowing the right size to get and your best bet for roofing work is to invest in a multi-layer extension ladder.
Roofing Ladder Accessories
There are a number of additional ladder accessories that ensure the safety and security of it as you or your crew are using it for a job.
A ladder grip connects an extension ladder to the roof’s gutter to secure it for easy mounting and dismounting on the roof. Many roofers love ladder grips specifically for loading up supplies and rolls of shingles: the grips provide a solid place to step onto the roof. Keep in mind, your ladder should always extend at least 3 feet above the edge of the roof, so the ladder grip will connect the ladder to the gutter at about the third rung down from the top.
Ladder mounts or ladder stabilizers help to protect the gutters from any damage. These are especially helpful for loose or lightweight gutters that could dent by a ladder leaning up against them. The ladder stabilizer mounts right onto the gutter and not only cushions the ladder but keeps it in place and prevents the gutters from rocking back and forth.
Ladder Leveling Multi-Tool
This ladder leveling tool does a multitude of things. It can help level a ladder that’s being used on a slant, and it can hold tools and even attach to the ladder rungs. It can also act as a kneeling board and a stable place to stand or sit while working on the roof.
The Best Roofing Ladder on Amazon
Without a doubt, the best roofing ladder you can buy on Amazon is the Xtend & Climb Aluminum Telescoping Ladder. It works great for both amateurs and professionals alike: our owner Dimitry swears by it. This 15 and a half foot extension ladder is the biggest telescopic ladder you can buy, and its size makes it ideal for every job, big or small. Compared to other telescopic ladders on the market, it’s one of the most affordable. It also withstood Dimitri’s break test for weight. Overall, it’s absolutely the best ladder for the best price, and you can buy it on Amazon here.
If you’re going to buy a roofing ladder for your home, be sure to watch Dimitri’s review of all the products we’ve mentioned in the videos linked above. These tips and tricks will definitely allow you to choose the absolute best ladder for the job and one that will last you for years to come. Investing in the best ladders, ladder accessories, and tools is essential to getting your roofing work done quickly and safely. Check out our list of the best roofing tools for the job. And for more information, keep following on our Roofing Insights blog and Youtube channel!