Which Ladder Do I Need?

One of the most common questions that we are asked is “Which ladder do I need?” And the answer is, it depends.

Whether you’re pruning trees, trimming hedges or even just changing a lightbulb, you must prioritise your safety. Choosing the right ladder size and type for your task will ensure that you’re safe when working at height.

In this guide, we go through the factors you need to consider when choosing a ladder, so you can get the job done in a safe and sturdy way. We will cover: 

How to choose a ladder - key consideration

With ladders, there’s no “one size fits all” - you’ll need to make sure your ladder is suitable for the work you’re doing. The Working at Height Regulations (WAHR) state that you should always choose the most appropriate equipment for the job - this means your current ladder might not be safe for the activity you’re planning. The type of ladder you select plays a big role in how safe you’ll be when working at height.

For example, a conventional step ladder designed for flat, hard ground is not suitable for soft uneven ground. An extension ladder designed to be leant onto a flat hard surface, such as a wall, isn't safe to lean into a hedge, according to ladder safety guidance.

Here at Henchman, we’ve pioneered ladders designed specifically for uneven and soft ground, such as in the garden, for over 25 years. So, in this guide, we’re going to focus on our own ladder range when discussing ladder sizes. Head on over to our types of ladder guide for more tips on choosing the right ladder.

So, here’s what you need to think about when choosing a Henchman ladder:

The terrain

  • Using a ladder on soft or sloping terrain is risky, unless it’s a ladder specifically designed for these circumstances. Our Tripod and Hi-Step ladders are ideal for working with these conditions in a safe way.

Best ladder type

  • You should also consider the type of ladder you need for the job. For example, if you’re cutting a hedge, you may want a ladder that allows for hands-free working while still providing the support needed to keep you safe, especially if you’re working on uneven ground. All Henchman ladders are designed to let you work freely with both hands.

Matched to the activity you’re undertaking

  • Different ladders are designed for different activities. If you're going to be using a ladder for cleaning the roof of a caravan, we recommend picking a platform ladder, as this will provide more space for you to move around.

The duration of your ladder task 

  • If you’re working at height for a long period of time, you’ll likely experience muscle fatigue, especially if your ladder isn’t providing the right support.
  • For long-duration tasks, we recommend picking a platform ladder (such as our Hi-Step). This ladder type will be less strenuous to work on, as you’re not balancing on a rung. You should always choose equipment that’s appropriate for the job at hand, as stated by WAHR.
  • When working at height, always take regular breaks. The Ladder Association's guide advises against working at height for more than 30 minutes at a time.

The correct ladder height

  • If you’re using your ladder to trim hedges, we suggest picking one that’s more or less the same total ladder height as that hedge. See the infographic below showing the working heights of an 8ft ladder.

Infographic of working height measurements of 8ft ladder

You will probably want to use your ladder for a whole range of appropriate tasks once you have it. You should consider the highest you are going to need to work at, and whether that needs to be head height or waist height or somewhere in between.

What size ladder do I need?

Choosing the right size ladder for you is a simple task once you understand how ladder sizing works. When we are talking about ladder size, we are referring to the overall size of the ladder, rather than just its extension or platform.

The maximum standing height on a ladder depends on the type of ladder you are using. On both our Hi-Steps and our Tripod ladders, the standing platform is located 3ft from the top. Therefore, a 6ft ladder has a platform at 3ft, and 8ft has a platform at 5ft, and so on.

As mentioned earlier, there are a few other factors you should take into account, including height, task duration, and activity.

How to calculate the right ladder size for you

Here’s an example of how you might work out which ladder you need:

You need a ladder to clean your caravan: the average height of a caravan is 2.6 metres, which is 8.5 foot. To clean the top of your caravan (like our customer pictured) ideally you need to be standing at waist height and be hands free. An 8 foot ladder is ideal for this job.

Here’s why:

The height of our ladders is the total height from the very bottom to the very top of the ladder, with the legs fully retracted. This 8ft / 2.4m ladder measures 8ft / 2.4m tall.

The tripod ladder’s platform sits 3ft / 0.9cm from the top of the ladder. When standing on this, the top of your ladder will be in line with your waist. That means, for this 8ft / 2.4m ladder, your waist will also be at 8ft / 2.4m.

Your shoulders will be approximately 2ft/60cm higher than your waist. We always recommend working between your waist and shoulder height. This will give you a working height range of 8-10ft / 2.4-3.0m, waist to shoulder level.

So, if you need to reach between 8-10ft / 2.4-3.0m, our 8ft / 2.4m will suit your needs perfectly.

Man cleaning caravan roof with tripod ladder

Safe ladders from Henchman

At Henchman, we specialise in making ladders that are designed to keep you safe while working at height and on uneven ground.

Our tripod ladders have seen huge popularity among homeowners and professionals alike. Their adjustable legs move to accommodate everything from slight slants to uneven terrain such as steps and hills. This makes working at height outside significantly safer. You can use the ladders on soft ground, and on hard ground when used with our rubber feet.

Our other ladders are also built with safety in mind. Our Wheeled Henchman platform offers a level, stable and spacious working platform, ideal for hedge trimming and painting, while our Hi Step ladders provide a spacious platform combined with adjustable feet to make any type of terrain level.

If you’re still not sure what type of ladder would be safest for your needs, we can help you decide. Get in touch with our team who will help you personally, or use our ‘Find your ladder” feature.