Ladders that can be used on stairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Ladders and stairs are the sites of many injuries, particularly among building workers. Whether you are working on a project professionally or just trying to change a hard-to-reach light bulb in your home, practicing safety with ladders, especially while on stairs, will help you complete the task without injury. Select the appropriate ladder for use on stairs and learn how to position it properly to keep yourself safe during home repairs.

General safety standards

A ladder or stairway must be used in every place where there is more than a 7.5 cm (19 inch) open gap that is not connected by a ramp or walkway. Parallel, level and evenly spaced ladder rungs, cleats and steps are the safest for use on stairs, or anywhere for that matter. Tying ladders together to make them taller is unsafe. Keep your ladder free of oil or any other slick substance to prevent falling. Ensure that stairs are free from spills or slippery surfaces before placing a ladder on them and ascending it. Whenever using a ladder on stairs, it is wise to have someone assist you by standing behind you to help hold the ladder and keep it steady while you are on it. The person may also catch you if you begin to fall, which will help prevent injuries.


Some stepladders are made specifically for use on stairs in situations where a person needs a little extra height to reach something or complete a task. A stepladder for use on stairs has shorter front legs that can be positioned on a higher stair. The ladder's rear legs are longer and are meant to be placed on a lower stair. These ladders also have spreader locks that must be secured before climbing to add stability and strength.

Adjustable ladders

Adjustable ladders come in various brands, shapes and sizes. Extending folding adjustable ladders are the best choice for use on stairs. These ladders have the ability to set each leg to differing lengths. That feature is perfect for use on stairs where the shorter leg is placed on the higher step while the longer leg is placed at the foot of the stairs or on a lower step. These ladders open into an A-frame shape and have side locks that can be set once proper leg heights are reached.

Levelling ladders

Ladder levellers are small tools that can be added to any ladder to make it safe for use on stairs. Particularly in a situation where you need to lean a ladder against a wall on a surface that is covered by a stairwell, ladder levellers will help you do it safely. They are small devices that extend the ladder's feet to varying lengths so that it can be positioned stably on a staircase.

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