Different people, projects and tasks require ladders of varying styles, sizes, grades and materials. Style, size, duty rating and material are the four key elements to understand when choosing the right ladder for the job.


When working indoors, a stepstool, stepladder, platform or multi-purpose ladder is usually recommended when you need a reach of two to eight feet. Outside, a taller stepladder, multi-purpose or extension ladder is often more appropriate for jobs requiring a reach of thirteen feet or more. Different styles of ladders are designed to keep the user safe and productive when climbing.


Choosing the right size or length is just as important as the ladder style. One of the most common and potentially dangerous ladder selection mistakes is purchasing a ladder that is either too short or too long.

Choose the Right Extension Ladder

Height to Gutter or to Support Point Buy This Size Ladder (include a 3-foot extension above roof line)
9-foot max. 16-foot
9 to 13 feet 20-foot
13 to 17 feet 24-foot
17 to 21 feet 28-foot
21 to 25 feet 32-foot
25 to 28 feet 36-foot
28 to 31 feet 40-foot

Choose the Right Stepladder

Max. Height You Want to Reach Buy This Size Ladder (assumes vertical 12-inch reach)
7 feet 3-foot
8 feet 4-foot
9 feet 5-foot
10 feet 6-foot
11 feet 7-foot
12 feet 8-foot
14 feet 10-foot
16 feet 12-foot
18 feet 14-foot
20 feet 16-foot


We suggest that if you buy only one ladder, fiberglass should be your choice. Different ladder materials offer characteristics that are best for certain applications, and one kind of material may be better suited to your work environment or work application.

  • Fiberglass — Electrically non-conductive, great value, strong leading choice of professionals.
  • Aluminum — Strong, lightweight, corrosion-resistant.
  • Wood — Economical, electrically non-conductive when clean and dry.

For more information, visit your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store or click here.

Sherwin-Williams thanks Werner Ladder for providing the valuable information presented on this page.