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Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders | Which One to Buy?


Whether you want to change a burnt-out light bulb, clean the gutters, or retrieve old photo albums from the top shelf or attic, you need a ladder. We believe that every household must have some sort of ladder for situations like these. You will not use them often but whenever you need them, ladders are very handy. There are many different types of ladders that are made from different kinds of materials such as wood, aluminum, steel, and fiberglass to name a few. In this guide, we will take on the battle of two popular ladders i.e., Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders.

We will see briefly about both these ladders, weigh their pros and cons and help you find out which is the best concerning your needs, budget, etc.

A Brief Note on Fiberglass and Aluminum Ladders

Ladders are one of the simplest tools/equipment that you can have in your home, garage, workshop, construction site, etc. They consist of repeating steps/bars on which you can step and access high places.

There are several types of ladders such as Step Ladders, Straight Ladders, Extension Ladders, Telescopic Ladder, etc. that serve different purposes. While all these types refer to the style or function of the ladder, one important characteristic of the ladder is the material that we use to make them.

Some popular ladder making materials are:

  • Wood
  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Fiberglass

Since this guide focuses on Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders, let us discuss more about them in the next sections.

Aluminum Ladders

One of the extremely popular and widely available ladder types are Aluminum Ladders. Aluminum is abundantly available all over the World, it is light in weight, is recyclable,  and more importantly even with lightweight, it offers excellent strength (technically, we use alloys of Aluminum).

Hence, we have been using aluminum and its alloys in making cars, trucks, windows, doors, electrical conductors, utensils, furniture and even ladders.

Speaking of Aluminum Ladders, they are popular because of its lightweight design and this becomes very important if you have to frequently carry the ladder from one room to other.

Safety is an important factor while buying a ladder both in terms of the weight it can hold or what happens if you accidently drop it on the floor. In case of carrying capacity, aluminum ladders are very sturdy in spite being lightweight and can easily carry decent weights.

Even if you drop the ladder on the floor, there won’t be much damage (in contrast to steel ladder which weigh significantly more and can cause damage to the floor).

As it is a metal, it is conductive and you have to keep this in mind if your work involves a lot of electrical jobs. You have to take extra precautions in such situations or choose a non-conductive ladder (fiberglass or plastic) altogether.

Due to their popularity, strength, lightweight and wide availability, aluminum ladders are generally affordable that some other types (in this case, the fiberglass ladder). If you are a home owner looking to buy a new ladder, then you should definitely consider an aluminum step ladder.

Fiberglass Ladders

Technically, they are made from plastic with fiberglass reinforcements. The benefit of this material is that they are extremely strong and sturdy (even stronger than aluminum ladders). But unlike aluminum (which is available naturally), fiberglass is manmade.

Fiberglass Ladders are very durable and can last for years with little care. Severe exposure to sunlight (UV Radiations in particular) can make the fiberglass coating lose its strength. Other that that, you can use them all weather conditions, without worrying about rotting or rusting.

Due to nature of the material, Fiberglass Ladders can be heavy. This makes them slightly difficult to carry from room to room or from one work site to other. So, if transport of the ladders is not an issue, then you can definitely choose a fiberglass ladder over aluminum ladder due to its durability and rigidity.

Couple of other benefits of fiberglass ladders are: they are electrically non-conductive and also non-magnetic. These factors are very critical for people/companies that work with electricity all the time.

Fiberglass Ladders are slightly expensive than other ladder types and even more than aluminum ladders. So, for home users who don’t use ladders very frequently, must see if there is a fiberglass ladder in their budget and if not, then go with an aluminum ladder.

But if you don’t have any budgetary limitation or you have a construction company/business or work with electrical related jobs and you need a durable, strong, non-conductive ladder, then you should definitely consider a fiberglass ladder.

Pros and Cons

Aluminum Ladder

+ Lightweight

+ Strong and Sturdy (compared to wooden ladders)

+ Affordable

+ Little or no maintenance

+ No corrosion or rotting

– Electrically Conductive

– Sensitive to heat

Fiberglass Ladder

+ Non-conductive and non-magnetic

+ Very strong, durable and rigid

+ Suitable for all weathers

– Slightly expensive

– Heavier than aluminum ladders

– Long exposure to UV Radiation will lose strength of fiberglass reinforcements

Which is the Best? Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders

Both aluminum and fiberglass ladders are strong and durable. Fiberglass ladders are a step ahead in terms of durability and rigidity and at the same time, aluminum ladders are lightweight and are easy to carry.

So, to answer which is the best among Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders, we will see areas where each ladder type excels. If we talk about aluminum ladders, due to lightweight nature, you can easily carry them from one location to other, be it with hands or you can easily load it on a truck.

This also means that even longer ladders with more steps/bars will be significantly lighter than a similar fiberglass ladder. So, if mobility is important and your job/work needs hauling the ladder from site to site, then you can go for an aluminum ladder.

The price of aluminum ladders is also relative less and hence, if you are on a tight budget, then aluminum ladders offer you the best of cost, strength and portability.

Home owners who use ladders only when they need to change a light bulb or bring down something from the attic, can save a lot of money by buying an aluminum step ladder.

Coming to fiberglass, if portability is not an issue and you need extremely durable ladder that lasts for years with proper care and maintenance, then fiberglass ladders are the way to go.

Keep in mind that they weight significantly more than other ladder types. So, we suggest you to go for fiberglass ladders if your requirement is for a relatively small (low height) and non-extendable ladder.

As they are non-conductive and non-magnetic, fiberglass ladders are the popular choice among electricians and other who work with electricity. They are also a very good option for all weather workloads and also significant outdoor jobs.

Fiberglass Ladders are a tab bit expensive than aluminum ladders. So, if budget is not a concern, then you can go with them.

Conclusion

Ladders are very useful tools for electricians, construction workers, painters and even home owners who occasionally need to access a high place. Two popular ladder materials are aluminum and fiberglass. In this guide, we saw briefly about both these ladders, compared their pros and cons and also listed out some scenarios with respect to fiberglass vs aluminum ladders and which is best.



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