Welcome to our article about fiberglass vs aluminum ladders! Before we get into the similarities and differences between these two ladders, let’s first discuss why you should consider one over the other to begin with.
Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders – Introduction
There are numerous industries and occupations that require the use of high-quality ladders.
Ever since DIY and home improvements have become widely popular, many people have considered purchasing a ladder to use around their homes and small businesses.
The style and material of the ladder, and your budget, are both good factors to consider when choosing the right ladder for your specific needs.
However, the most important factor to consider is safety. It is not worth risking your life and well-being in order to save a few bucks on a run-of the-mill ladder.
There are different types of ladders available but the 2 most popular are fiberglass and aluminum ladders.
They are both durable, versatile, and priced quite reasonably.
Deciding which is better for you may be a bit confusing, which is exactly why we wrote this article.
Below we discuss the differences, similarities, advantages, and disadvantages of each ladder to guide you in your selection process, as well as some safety features that we recommend considering before purchasing.
The Differences At A Glance
Here is a very brief description of which ladder is better for which purpose:
Fiberglass ladders are heavy, more expensive, and not electrically conductive. They work best as step ladders and are a good option for electricians, gardeners or painters.
Aluminum ladders are light, affordable, and work best as extension ladders, making them great for builders, roof tilers or any other trade that needs to access heights.
We’ve also put together a table of each ladder’s features so that you can easily compare them side by side.
Now let’s get into our detailed review about the difference between fiberglass and aluminum ladders!
What is a Fiberglass Ladder?
A fiberglass ladder is a ladder made of fiberglass, a form of glass fiber-reinforced plastic that is commonly flattened into a sheet, and either randomly arranged or woven into a fabric.
Various resins are then added to give the product increased strength, and also enable it to be molded into different shapes.
Fiberglass is extremely strong due to the fact that the fibers are the components of the material that carry the load while the resins distribute the weight evenly throughout the composite parts as needed.
Advantages of a Fiberglass Ladder
A fiberglass ladder is strong, making it more likely to last longer than any other ladders of different materials.
It is weather-resistant and does not absorb moisture.
It is flame-resistant, as well, so it is unlikely to weaken or bend even when exposed to heat.
The best argument for them, though, is that fiberglass ladders do not conduct electricity. It is the perfect ladder, and a safer option, if you are an electrician or constantly work around power lines or electricity.
Disadvantages of a Fiberglass Ladder
On the downside, a fiberglass ladder is quite a heavy piece of equipment. This may be annoying if you need to transport your ladder to many different worksites often.
They are also more expensive and may tend to stretch your budget a little bit.
You can view fiberglass ladders on Amazon Here
What is an Aluminum Ladder?
An aluminum ladder is made up of aluminum, a lightweight silvery white metal that is the most abundant metallic element in the earth’s crust.
It is also the most widely used nonferrous metal (meaning that it doesn’t contain any iron) in the world.
Aluminum has been the preferred ladder material over wood ever since it was discovered that, when mixed with certain metals, it can be as strong as steel.
Aluminum is also eco-friendly as it can be recycled, and according to the Aluminum Association, 75% of all aluminum that was ever made is still in use today.
Advantages of an Aluminum Ladder
An aluminum ladder is lightweight, making it easy to transport and move around.
It is also quite durable as it does not rust or corrode easily, even when exposed to moisture or water.
Its best aspect? It is extremely affordable, making it the most popular type of ladder among tradesmen and DIYers.
Disadvantages of an Aluminum Ladder
The only problem with aluminum is that it is highly conductive, both for heat and electricity.
It cannot be used near electricity, and if subjected to extreme heat or fire, its strength and integrity can be severely compromised.
You can view aluminum ladders on Amazon Here
Similarities Between the Two Ladders
- Both are made of durable materials tha guarantee the ladder’s longevity.
- Both are fairly weather-resistant.
- Both can be made to any height and will still be sturdy and strong.
Differences Between the Two Ladders
- Fiberglass ladders tend to need more maintenance to keep their structure, requiring periodic application of an acrylic lacquer or polyurethane coating. Aluminum ones just need to be kept high and dry.
- Fiberglass ladders are prone to cracking and breaking, while aluminum ones are prone to bending and folding.
- Fiberglass ladders are more expensive, and hence are usually available from larger retailers and stores only. Aluminum ladders, on the other hand, are accessible even from your local hardware stores.
- Aluminum performs better when used in extension ladders because it is lightweight. Fiberglass is usually preferred for step ladders.
- Aluminum ladders, although fairly strong, carry a lower duty rating than fiberglass ones. Duty rating is the maximum safe load weight or capacity that the ladder can handle.
When considering the right ladder for you, safety should always be your top priority.
You need to be aware of the worker’s weight, the weight of the worker’s protective gear, and the weight of tools or supplies that will be carried by the user.
Before you purchase a ladder, make sure you check it’s max weight and ensure this will not be exceeded while in use.
You should also check the ladder every time before use, whether it be just a day or even a year ago that you last used it. Make sure that no grease, oil, or large particles have been left on the rungs that you may slip on.
You also need to make sure that accessories such as utility buckets or tool belts are on hand so that you can store tools and similar items while you are on the ladder.
Which One Should You Choose?
Assuming that you’ve considered and accounted for all safety aspects, here is a summary of which ladder we recommend opting for.
Fiberglass ladders are perfect for small jobs like roof or fence repairs, hedge trimming, wall painting, and the like. They can be used, and even left outdoors, for some time and you do not have to worry about damage.
They come in different sizes that are capable of supporting weights up to a maximum of 375 lbs.
If you are heavy-set, or planning for multiple people to use the ladder, a fiberglass one is your best choice.
They are especially preferred if you will be working on electrical repairs. Fiberglass is non-conductive to electricity, making it a safer option for electricians.
Aluminum ladders are perfect for jobs that need you to go to high heights, making them popular in the industrial and construction industries.
They are lightweight, and are capable of being moved from one job site to another with relative ease, another reason why they are preferred in such industries.
Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders – Conclusion
There you have it! The similarities and differences between fiberglass and aluminum ladders.
Hopefully this article has helped clear up any confusion you might have had between the two, and helped you decide which one is right for you.
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About The Author: Hi There! I’m Dave. I’m a certified millworker and carpenter, and have been working in the industry for over 10 years. I created this website to pass on my knowledge so that other enthusiasts, no matter what their skill level, can enjoy the craft as much as I do. I hope you enjoy!