Fibreglass Ladders vs. Aluminium Ladders: Which ladder is right for you?
When you’re working on a ladder at height, there are a number of safety steps you need to take to ensure you remain safe, from where exactly the ladder’s placed to the angle it’s placed at.
To properly manage these steps, it’s essential that you keep certain things in mind when purchasing a ladder. It might seem simple and straightforward — but in this month’s blog, we’re breaking down the, the difference between fibreglass and aluminium (a major consideration in the purchasing process) and outlining the pros and cons of each.
Let’s talk ladders!
Pros of fibreglass
- Non-conductive. The first thing to know about fibreglass ladders is that if you’re doing electrical work, they’re the only option. Aluminium ladders conduct electricity, so they’re a no-go if you’re working in dangerous environments (i.e. close to powerlines).
- Stiffer than aluminium. The nature of fibreglass means that it’s stiffer and less malleable than aluminium, which can make these ladders feel more sturdy and stable to stand on, especially when you’re working at height.
Cons of fibreglass
- Requires regular maintenance. Over time, UV light will break down the fibres in a fibreglass ladder, causing the colour and glossiness to fade, changing the surface from smooth to rough, and even compromising the structural integrity. Regular maintenance is required to avoid this degradation. Pro tip: you can coat the ladder with acrylic lacquer on a frequent basis to replace the damaged outer layer.
- Heavier than aluminium. A bit tougher to transport and to carry around your work site, especially if uneven ground or stairs are involved.
- Less resistant to damage and impact. Fibreglass cracks much more easily than aluminium, and even a small crack can spread and lead to the need for total replacement.
- More expensive. Fibreglass as a material is more expensive than aluminium — but it’s often worth it for the improved quality, and it’s absolutely essential if you’re doing electrical work.
Pros of aluminium
- Lightweight, yet durable. Aluminium ladders are much easier to transport, set up, take down, and move around than fibreglass. If your jobs tend to involve a lot of movement on-site (and don’t include electrical work), aluminium is the way to go.
- More resistant to damage and impact. Unlike fibreglass, aluminium won’t rust or corrode, making it a particularly good long-term investment. It’s also not affected or degraded by UV light in the same way fibreglass is.
- Suitable for the vast majority of jobs. As long as you’re not working with or around electricity, aluminium ladders work just fine.
Cons of aluminium
- Less sturdy. Aluminium ladders bend and flex more easily than fibreglass, which can often make them feel less stable.
- Conducts electricity. The key disadvantage of aluminium ladders. If you’re working with or near electricity, fibreglass is your only safe choice.