In general, people say you shouldn’t use a ladder while on stairs. But sometimes there is a lightbulb in the foyer that needs to be replaced, or you need to paint the side of the landing. In those cases, there is really no getting around using a ladder on the stairs.
Fortunately, you can do it safely. The main danger to using a ladder on the stairs is that the uneven surface can lead to trips and falls. So, if you do end up having to use a ladder while on the stairs, you need to do it correctly.
Here are some quick pointers on how to use a ladder on the stairs safely …
When to Use a Ladder on the Stairs?
In general, you should avoid getting your ladder near your stairs. However, there are some situations where it might be called for:
- Changing a light in your stairwell
- Painting the wall along the staircase
- Hanging pictures in the stairwell
- Installing wall siding
- Cleaning a stairwell window
If you own a home, one of these issues is bound to come up eventually, so you want to make sure you know how to handle it, especially if you want to avoid the cost of calling a professional.
Options for Using a Ladder on Stairs Safely
Use a Ladder-Aide
The most straightforward solution is to use a ladder-aide. A ladder-aide is a simple accessory to help use ladders on uneven surfaces. A ladder-aide is basically a platform that can be placed on two different stairs to create an extended flat platform. The ladder can then be placed on the flat platform, so it is resting on a level surface. The best part of ladder-aides is that they can be set up very quickly and do not require a special installation. It is also easy to move from step to step when you need to adjust your height.
Ladder-aides can be flat platforms or thinner mounts that attach to the bottom of a ladder. In general, they are made out of metal - though they can also be made out of wood. Ladder platforms are the most straightforward solution, but they require buying a separate piece of hardware. Fortunately, most ladder-aides and platforms are fairly inexpensive.
Metal ladder-aides are the most common. These include two metal parts: the base and the platform. The base goes on vertically and stands on the lower stair straight up. The platform part connects to the base and is locked in place with a pin. The resulting mechanism has an L-shape. Then, the user puts the feet of the ladder on the platform between the metal safety ridges on either end.
Get a Combination Ladder
Combination ladders are designed so that they can be arranged in multiple positions. Most combination ladders can be used as regular ladders, stepladders, and more. With a combination ladder, you can set one end higher than the other and place the ladder on the stairs. With most models, you can fold them in half along the body and have one end hanging down.
If you use a combination ladder, then you need to make sure that it has a locking mechanism at the hinge. Otherwise, it will not stay in the folded position well enough. The good thing about a combination ladder is that you can set it up for multiple uses. Combination ladders also tend to be good for other utility purposes, as you can attach tool holders, tool trays, and more to them.
Use Ladder Levelers
Levelers are another tool you can use to safely use a ladder on the stairs. Levelers are basically “boots” for your ladder that attach to the feet and can be extended to whatever length you want. Levelers attach along the side and have a separate foot that can be extended. The good thing about levelers is that you can set the length of each foot individually.
Ladder levelers are useful because they can be used with any kind of ladder, whether it’s metal, wood, or some other kind of composite material. Levelers are also a good choice because they can be adjusted for any kind of uneven surface, not just stairs.
Try the Two-Ladder Method
If you do not want to worry about buying a specific piece of hardware like a ladder-aide or a combination ladder, then there are some ‘old-fashioned’ methods you can do.
The two-ladder method is one useful option, but you will need:
- An extra step ladder
- A flat surface that can support your weight
- Overhanging wall to rest one ladder against
Here is what you do: Position the step ladder on the higher set of stairs depending on where you want to reach. Next, position the long ladder on the lower stairs and lean it up against the hanging wall of the stairwell.
Next, take the flat surface and position it between the rungs of the stepladder on the higher stairs and the ladder leaned up against the wall. This makeshift scaffolding can then be used to support your weight while standing up. This is a simple hack, but it does require you to have an extra step ladder handy. You also need to make sure that the platform you pick is made from something that can support your full weight.
Of course, safety should be your top concern and if you are ever not feeling secure in your chosen option, try another one or hire a professional.
Extra Tips for How to Use a Ladder on the Stairs Safely
Here are a few more tips on how to use a ladder safely on the stairs:
- Make sure to test the stability before putting your full weight on the ladder.
- If your accessory has a lock, make sure it is fully engaged before stepping on the ladder.
- It helps to use a separate leveler to make sure your ladder is set up evenly.
- Always make sure that you have an extra person around to keep watch and help out.
- Make sure the workspace is all setup before you climb the ladder. You do not want to continually go up and down.