How to Use a Ladder on Stairs

If you live in a multi-story house, chances are that at some point you will need to use a ladder on your stairs. Maybe you will be renovating, painting the walls or repairing the ceiling. Or perhaps you will just need to hang a picture or change a lightbulb. The point is that these situations don't happen very often, but they do happen. And that's when you'll wonder what to do, because how on earth do you reach that high without a ladder? And how can a ladder even be used on the stairs?

Wood stairs white and old design
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How to Use a Ladder on Stairs

When using a ladder on the stairs, make sure you're going with the safest option. Don't forget that ladder falls are a major cause of injury and death. So, even if it's a one-time job, it's worth researching and investing into the best and the safest possible solution.

Using Ladder-Aide

Ladder-Aide is a product that allows you to adjust the height of one side of a regular ladder to the appropriate height. The company says it works with Type 2 and Type 3 ladders, which, according to are two types of light-duty ladders with a 200 to 225-pound duty rating. These are the types of ladders that you would typically use around the house or for lightweight jobs around the office.

Ladder-Aide requires no installation, and the set up is quick. It consists of three parts: the base, the upright and the platform. To set it up, first place the base on the lower stair and slide the upright into the base. Second, slide the platform onto the upright, and lower it until it sits level on the upper step. Insert the locking pins. Once you've set it up, place the ladder on top of the platform, making sure to locate the ladder's feet between the platform's safety ridges. Once you've set it up, you can easily move it from one stair to the next (since the height of the stairs is the same, you won't need to adjust), or swap ladders quickly for different jobs.

Combination Ladders

Another option is to use a special stair ladder, namely a ladder suitable for use on stairs. Combination ladders allow you to set up one side of the ladder longer than the other. Make sure to set and secure the combination ladder correctly, closely following the manufacturer's instructions.

When you've set it up, make sure the ladder's feet are as far from the step edges as possible to avoid slipping. Finally try to always work with another person to ensure your safety.

You can also use a stair platform or a platform ladder to give you a stable surface.

Makeshift Scaffolding

Makeshift scaffolding, if built safely, is also an option you can use on stairs. This Old House magazine describes the best way to safely build makeshift scaffolding:

Open a step ladder and place it at the top of the stairs. Then position an extension ladder on the stairs, leaning it against the opposing wall (you might want to pad the arms to protect wall paint). Construct a platform to span the distance between the ladders by screwing 2x4s to a plywood deck. Nail stops to the ends of the 2x4s to prevent the assembly from sliding off the ladder rungs.

Especially if it's a longer job such as painting walls or repairing the ceiling, makeshift scaffolding is something that you might want to do. However, if you just want to change the lightbulb, this might be too involved, so using Ladder-Aide would be a better option.

Whatever you do, remember to stay safe. Better to be without lights than sustain a serious injury.

Tanya Mozias Slavin

Tanya Mozias Slavin

Tanya Mozias Slavin is a writer currently living in the UK. She writes about education, parenting and linguistic technology. Find her at