Allow me to settle the debate, Fiberglass vs Aluminum ladders, once and for all. Fiberglass ladders are better than aluminum ladders if you don’t need a ladder for really special need, like reaching to the moon.
You can reach higher with Aluminum ladders but fiberglass ladders last longer. But, Aluminum isn’t heat resistive and can conduct electricity. Fiberglass can withstand any weather condition and insulates electricity.
Every electrician should use ladders made of fiberglass rather than Aluminum, because metal ladders can conduct electricity. On the contrary, aluminum ladders are more affordable than fiberglass ladders. Still, getting a fiberglass ladder is worth the investment.
Fiberglass vs Aluminum Ladders Comparison Table
|Feature||Fiberglass Ladders||Aluminum Ladders|
|How The Material is Made||Melting and forcing everyday glasses through superfine holes create glass filaments; just like yarn. Then woven raisins are created with these yarns, like our clothes. Heating and layering multiple raisin sheets produce the sturdiest fiberglass.||Aluminum is chemically extracted from mined Bauxite ore. Only 1 pound aluminum can be produced from every 4 pounds of Bauxite.|
|Quality of material||Fiberglass ladders may crack with time and might break someday. That entirely depends on how you treat the product. Always make sure to get the high quality fiberglass ladder to ensure safety.||Same goes for the aluminum ladders. Quality comes first and then the maintenance. Aluminum ladders can bend or wobble. Always get the top quality aluminum ladder to avoid accidents.|
Fiberglass ladders are heavier than the Aluminum Ladders.The Werner 16ft Fiberglass step ladder weighs 103.5 pounds.
|On the other hand, The same Werner 16ft Aluminum step ladder with a 300-pound duty rating (max weight capacity) weighs 78 pounds.
The aluminum ladder is 25.5 pounds lighter compared to the fiberglass variation.
|Rigidity||Fiberglass ladders are more rigid than Aluminum ladders.||Aluminum ladders are lighter hence rigidity is compromised.|
|Weatherproofing Properties||Fiberglass ladders are resistive to heat and rust.||Aluminum ladders do not resist heat. Still they strongly withstand rusts.|
|Conductive Properties||Fiberglass ladders do not conduct heat and electricity. Making them extremely convenient for electricians and outdoor works.||Aluminum ladders conducts both heat and electricity. So, they are not recommended for electricians.|
|Safety||Fiberglass ladders are safer than aluminum ladders considering the quality of material, rigidity and sturdiness.||Aluminum ladders are not unsafe at all. But when you compare them with fiberglass ladders, aluminum ladders fall behind a little.|
|Reach Height||Average height of Fiberglass ladders are below 50 feet. Since ladders length significantly affects the weight, manufacturers tend to produce shorter fiberglass ladders to keep the weight manageable.||Being lighter than fiberglass, aluminum ladders enables the freedom to build longer ladders without sacrificing the portability.|
|Affordability||The Fiberglass ladders are pricier than the aluminum ladders.||Aluminum ladders are about 35% cheaper than fiberglass ladders.|
|Value for Money||Fiberglass ladders last longer than aluminum ladders.||Aluminum ladders may not last longer than Fiberglass ladders but still offers great value for money.|
|Common Types||Fiberglass step ladders are more common than Fiberglass extension ladders.||Aluminum extension ladders are popular for portability and price benefit.|
|My Verdict||I recommend getting fiberglass ladders for residential and office uses.||Aluminum ladders are recommended if you have to perform special tasks at workplace or prefer portability.|
Similarities Between Fiberglass and Aluminum Ladders
- Both fiberglass and aluminum ladders are available in multiple options.
- Both aluminum ladders and fiberglass ladders can extend to many heights and offer stable support.
- Both aluminum and fiberglass ladders are ideal for applications with reduced safety issues. They can provide all the functionality you need to perform work at home or business indoors and out.
- Sturdy and durable if they are not abused.
- Rust and corrosion-resistant.
Ladders are an ancient technology. Since prehistoric times, human civilization is using ladders rooting back to the Mesolithic rock painting, at least ten thousand years ago. The painting was discovered in the Valencian spider caves located in Spain.
Ladders allow us to access heights beyond our average reach. Different ladder designs and types offer a range of benefits, with safety being a priority. You may think that if all ladders are manufactured to safety standards, then any ladder that reaches high enough should be right for the job.
This is true to a point, but there is a lot more to ladders than meets the eye.
It’s safe to presume that the user did not follow proper safety precautions, which includes inspecting the ladder for defects, mostly caused by neglect or poor handling.
Ladders are manufactured from wood, Fiberglass, and Aluminum. I am comparing fiberglass and aluminum ladders today.
Before I forget, ladders are basically 3 types.
- Straight Ladders
- Step Ladders
- Extension Ladders
We all recognize the good old classic straight ladders. Meanwhile, the the difference between a step ladder and an extension ladder is essential to keep in mind. A step ladder opens up in a triangle shape and requires support on all four ground contact points.
An extension ladder is as the name suggests. Requires support for the two ground contact points, with the width of the ladder resting against the structure being the third support point.
In various situations, specialty ladders are commonly used for picking and pruning via tripod ladders. They are also used for tree surgery, landscaping, and tough gardening jobs.
Attic ladders are the ones kept at home that are foldable ladders and sturdy light.
What is Fiberglass
Fiberglass is glass fiber made from molten glass, squeezed through a grid of extremely fine holes to create tiny fiber strands of different lengths. Although mostly related to home insulation, fiberglass has many diverse applications in various industries and products.
Soundproofing contains bundled up fiberglass to subdue and limit sound reflection. Vehicle prototypes are mostly made from fiberglass as a cost-effective measure. Most yacht and boat bodies are constructed from fiberglass, and yes, even ladders are made from fiberglass.
Resin is mixed with fiberglass strands or mats that harden into a solid structure, which later used to produce fiberglass ladders, bicycle frames, car fenders, kitchen hoods and everything you just name it.
Different quality resins are used for other applications. Fiberglass and resin are also layered to get the desired thickness. This layering process contributes significantly to the strength and durability of the final product.
What is Aluminum
Aluminum is listed #13 on the periodic table of elements. It is a silver-white metal that is common across the globe. Unlike most other metals, aluminum is not found in highly concentrated seams because aluminum mixes easily with other elements. It has to be extracted using electrolysis and was thus only discovered after the advent of electricity.
Due to aluminum’s lightweight and durable properties, it is commonly used to manufacture many products that include aircraft and automotive parts, kitchenware, window, and door frames, foils, and yes, ladders.
Aluminum is a good conductor of electricity with low corrosive properties. It is used in applications where heat and light need to be reflected.
Aluminum is added to other metals to form an alloy, strengthening it for specific purposes like aircraft frames. An aluminum-copper alloy works well as an electrical conductor due to aluminum’s high conductivity.
Now that we’ve earned our “chemistry diploma”, it’s time to get into ladders, or maybe get up on ladders?
What are Fiberglass Ladders
Fiberglass ladders are available both as step ladders and extension ladders. The step ladder gives a height advantage of a few feet and is commonly used in domestic and office settings. Fiberglass ladders are sturdy and long-lasting ladders that can withstand the elements without adverse effects.
Although small or short fiberglass step ladders are considered very safe, stepping onto the top rung is not advised and is responsible for many of the mishaps we hear about.
Ladder falls from step ladders are mostly caused by tipping over sideways. This happens when a user moves their weight to the side of the ladder, upsetting the center of gravity needed to keep the ladder stable.
Fiberglass extension ladders will have the side rails made from fiberglass and sport aluminum rungs or steps. This brings the overall weight of these extension ladders down to a manageable level. Some even have wheels at the base, making it easier to move the ladder from one point to another. The wheels are fitted, so they don’t impede stability when erected.
Compact 3 section extension ladders can reach heights from 16-foot to 40-foot, yet they range from 6ft to 12ft when folded up. These ladders are perfect for home, construction, and industrial use.
Fiberglass extension ladders are highly rated as far as safety is concerned. The extension ladders are built with functional and easy to use settings. A must-have item for electricians considering the safety.
While aluminum ladders become weak due to low heat resistance, fiberglass ladders, on the other hand, has been proven not to lose strength after exposure to heat.
With higher strength and higher grade, fiberglass ladders are deemed to have the edge over aluminum ladders.
Fiberglass ladders are relatively safer to use around electrical appliances as compared to highly conductive aluminum.
Fibreglass ladders are far more weather resistant compared to aluminum ladders.
Fiberglass ladders are sturdy and perfectly moisture proof, making them superior to wood ladders because of their proneness to rotting after dry exposure and wet cycles.
Pros of Fiberglass Ladders
- Safe to a specified weight
- Heat resistant
- Insulates from electricity
- Strong, durable material
- Withstands robust use
- Unlikely to bend
- Uniformity and variation in design, size, or strength level
- Well suited to outdoor conditions
Cons of Fiberglass Ladders
- Heavier and may be difficult to transport
- Comparatively Expensive
- May crack under excess weight
Who’ll Find a Fiberglass Ladder Useful
- Safety should always be a priority, and fiberglass ladders provide just that.
- A big concern is working with electricity, and fiberglass ladders do not conduct electricity. Electricians must have fiberglass ladders over aluminum ladders.
- Fiberglass ladders are weather-resistant, durable, and long-lasting. Because they are so robust and not affected by extreme weather conditions, most of these ladders will last a lifetime. A once-off investment.
- Perfect as a backup ladder. Maintenance is minimal, but regular inspections are advised.
- With the versatility and adaptability features, fiberglass ladders can be a viable investment for home improvement projects like roof repair, painting, hanging pictures, and cleaning gutters.
- Being flame resistant, fiberglass ladders support firefighters in scaling smaller buildings.
- Being durable and robust, fiberglass ladders are safe and efficient for people handling professional equipment.
Inspection and Maintenance tips for Fiberglass Ladders
- Perform frequent inspections by running your hands along the side rails and rungs (steps) to feel for any cracks.
- Clean your ladder regularly by taking all the debris, grease, and residue off the ladder with general-purpose thinners and check the non-slip feet in the process that are present on the ladder legs for slip resistance.
- Check overall structural integrity, rungs, nails, bolts, screws and other metal parts and ensure accessories, if any, attached to the ladder properly. This is important because missing or bent parts undermine structural integrity.
- Check the ladder extension and make sure it is locked into place.
- Ensure that no rivets are missing.
What are Aluminum Ladders
Aluminum ladders are genuinely multi-purpose and multi-functional ladders. Where reaching greater heights is your objective, this is the ladder for you. Due to its lightweight, aluminum extension ladders allow a single person to move and transport them. An aluminum step ladder around the home is an inexpensive and must-have tool.
Aluminum was first used to manufacture ladders in the 20th century by ALCO. They became common because of their lightweight properties.
Aluminum is a robust and robust metal that is rust and corrosion-resistant. Storing the ladder outdoors in wet or damp conditions will not affect it. Aluminum ladders are available in step and extension ladders variants and other specialized purpose ladders or work platforms.
The leading characteristic of aluminum ladders is the superior strength-to-weight ratio. It makes an aluminum ladder easy to transport and store and much less expensive to produce than ladders made from other materials. Aluminum ladders can weigh as much as 50% less than fiberglass ladders.
Aluminum does not react with every metal which may come in contact. So, it is entirely possible to store aluminum ladders outdoors. Aluminum is over 50% less dense than iron and about 75% less dense than copper. Some aluminum alloys have tensile strengths as high as 30,000 psi. That’s simply impossible for such materials’ to bear significant weights.
Aluminum ladders benefit from several types of joining processes, including soldering, brazing, welding and riveting. Also, aluminum fasteners facilitate the assembly of a wide range of products. It is also possible to use an adhesive bonding process to join aluminum to itself or other materials. Aluminum is commonly used in the extrusion process; by which ladder stiles and rungs are made.
Aluminum ladders are not toxic for human body and environment. Aluminum will not spark when struck against itself or other non-ferrous metals. It is also non-magnetic, so it is well suited for use in enclosures for magnetic equipment. When polished, aluminum will reflect about 80% of the light.
Pros of Aluminum Ladders
- Rust and corrosion-resistant
- Minimal maintenance
- Lightweight and easy to transport
Cons of Aluminum Ladders
- Not heat resistant
- Conducts electricity
Who’ll Find a Aluminum Ladder Useful
- Extremely portable. One person can work comfortably with this lightweight and easy to transport aluminum ladder.
- Aluminum ladders are inexpensive.
- The height advantage makes them more favorable for construction and commercial use like home painting and roof installations and repairs.
- Aluminum ladders are perfect for multi-purpose industrial usage
- Aluminum ladders are also practical in home and office settings.
- Aluminum ladders are inexpensive than timber ladders and fiberglass ladders. As they are economical and maintenance-free; wise tradesmen, industrial users and others opt for aluminum ladders.
Inspection and Maintenance tips for Fiberglass Ladders
- Check the structural integrity.
- Check non-slip feet and ensure rungs are firmly secured to the side rails.
- Check extension mechanism is in order and locks into place properly.
- Check for warping or other types of damage and missing parts.
- Clean the ladder with soapy water to remove grease, oil slick or mud.
Safety Tips for Fiberglass and Aluminum Ladders
- Always follow the ladder angle rule
- Adhere to safety instructions on labels attached to the ladder.
- Do not sit on rungs.
- Remain centered on the ladder while climbing and working.
- Avoid electrical hazards.
- Always use ladders on a stable flat surface.
- Always use a three-contact approach when climbing a ladder.
- Never use the top rung as a step unless it was designed for that purpose.
- Inspect the ladder before you use it.
- Do not use a step ladder as a single ladder by resting it against a wall. Make sure it is fully extended before you use it.
- Never try and move a ladder while equipment or a user is on the ladder.
- Never exceed the load capacity of the ladder. Do not allow another person to climb up behind you to pass your tools or equipment.
Werner and Michigan Ladder Company are two of the largest manufactures of ladders in the U.S. Both specialize in wood, aluminum and fiberglass ladders. Their success is attributed to their ladder range and specialized attention to related equipment.
Which is Better Aluminum or Fiberglass Ladder?
Getting the correct ladder is not a personal choice. Let’s conclude the debate of fiberglass vs aluminum ladders here, for practical application, added safety, and durability, fiberglass ladders are preferable for both residential and industrial uses. The lightweight and ease of transportation of the aluminum ladders suit the construction industry. Don’t get a ladder to save money, invest in a ladder to ensure safety!
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