June 12, 2011

How I came to choose our Little Giant Ladder

Ever since we moved into our first house, we've been doing home maintenance work and improvements one after another.  One of the first things that we needed was a ladder, because we wanted to replace our bathroom fan and need access into the attic.  I did some research online to see what options are out there for ladders and how much they cost.  At first I was interested in the telescoping ladder such as the Xtend & Climb types because I saw our home inspector use it to get access to the attic door, and it is very compact when folded down and easily fits into a car trunk.  I read some reviews and saw that some users find it not very durable and not long lasting, and it can only be used against a wall or some kind of support; it cannot stand by itself, making its use somewhat limited.  Right off the bat, I didn't want to get a regular ladder because it would be almost impossible to move it around inside the house and get to the room with a small closet that has the attic access hatch.  Very quickly I am converging on the articulating type ladders.  Little Giant is a well recognized maker of articulating ladders.  This type of ladder has a hinge in the middle, so it folds in half.  It can be opened partially to form the A shape for self-standing position, or opened completely to lean against something.  The legs can be extended to reach higher places but retracted for compact storage.  There are other companies selling articulating ladders such as Werner and Gorilla for less money, but after seeing those ladders in person, I've decided to spend more and get the Little Giant Alta-One M17.

The construction of the Little Giant ladder looks sturdier than the other competing products, and the rungs are welded instead of riveted.  The hinge mechanism also seems much beefier.  The other companies basically clone the Little Giant product because their patents have expired.  They are not exact clones and are significantly cheaper.  When making a decision between the Little Giant and the other clones, make sure you consider the price of the accessories such as the leg leveler and the

The M17 is a 15 foot ladder with a Type 1, 250 lb. duty rating.  It weighs only 30 lb.  When folded in its storage position, it's only 4' 7".  I can put my arm through between the top 2 rungs and let the top rung sit on my shoulder and lift the ladder with one hand.  I can walk with it very comfortably around the house and not bumping into anything.  I take it into the room with the attic access, open the ladder up, and lift it up to the attic hatch for a comfortable fit.  If it were the 19 foot ladder (M22), then I think it would have been too long to work well given the room is not very spacious.

I have used the ladder with it fully extended to do some work on the outside chimney and soffits, and it feels pretty sturdy.  It is light weight enough that I can set it up and move the ladder around fully extended by myself.  I have used it to climb up on the roof from our deck, and checked the attic for mouse numerous times.

On the down side, it is aluminum, so it is not suitable for working near electricity, and aluminum ladders will flex a little when going up and down, which may seem scary at first.  When changing the extension length, there is a possibility of pinching your fingers if you are not careful.

Overall, I think given our requirements, this was the best choice because it is easy to store and carry around, and it does the job in most cases.  The one thing that we might need to do that this ladder can't do is for me to paint the siding that exceed the reach of this ladder.

The Little Giant Ladder website has useful specifications and comparison charts, as well as information on their other products. Do shop around and you might be able to find a deal where they will send you the ladder with a free leg leveler or a work platform accessory.

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