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What is the Advantage of a Fiberglass Ladder?

Michael Pollick
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Modern ladders are usually constructed from three materials: wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. While each type of ladder has its benefits and trade-offs, a fiberglass ladder does have some advantages to consider. Perhaps the biggest advantage it has over its aluminum counterpart is its resistance to electricity. Fiberglass does not conduct electricity, so it is much safer to use around power lines than highly-conductive aluminum. These ladders sometimes use aluminum rungs, but they are kept separate and so electricity cannot travel through the ladder.

A fiberglass ladder is also constructed from man-made material, which gives it an advantage over wooden ladders. Natural materials like wood can have significant variations in quality, so a weaker wooden ladder rung or support beam could fail without warning. Fiberglass beams are uniform and inherently strong. Aluminum may be more consistent than wood, but different manufacturers use different grades of aluminum, and a cheaper ladder could bend under a heavy load.

Many handymen and construction workers find that fiberglass is more resistant to bad weather conditions. Wood ladders can eventually rot after a few cycles of wet and dry exposure. Fiberglass does not absorb moisture or weaken significantly in the sun.

A fiberglass ladder is also flame resistant, making it ideal for firefighters scaling smaller buildings. The material will scorch and briefly flame under a direct heat source, but will self-extinguish after that source is removed. Aluminum ladders may also be more flame resistant than wood, but they can conduct electricity transferred by water.

The main drawback of a fiberglass ladder is weight versus size. Fiberglass is heavier than either wood or aluminum, so it cannot be used in long extension ladders.

These ladders may not be completely problem-free, but they do offer a more durable alternative to natural wood and a safer alternative to conductive aluminum. If height or weight is a serious consideration, then fiberglass may not be the best choice, however. In most circumstances, homeowners do not need extremely tall ladders to perform most chores, so the overall shelf life and inherent strength of a fiberglass ladder may be ideal.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon971863 — On Sep 30, 2014

This article is nonsense. The only advantage to fiberglass is the safety around electrical equipment. Aluminum is easier to maintain, and stronger (as compared to the same duty rating). Fire departments use only aluminum ladders for the strength and durability, and never use fiberglass. Fiberglass will fail almost immediately under fire conditions. Although a few departments still use wooden ladders, they are very well maintained. We throw ladders in all types of conditions, but are always aware of where power lines are. -- Big City Fireman 20 Years - Hook and Ladder Company.

By cherrypie — On Jul 29, 2013

Yeah I agree. Fiberglass is really well known and people used it the most.

By anon179757 — On May 24, 2011

You mean like a swimming pool?

By anon90118 — On Jun 14, 2010

It is not completely correct to say that a fiberglass ladder is safer when working around power lines.

If the power line consist of more than one phase, which they normally do (at least + and -, or high voltage, 3x220V or 4 x 110V ) and you accidentally touch two or more phases, you are in deep trouble, if not dead.

Reason is you became part of the circuit. So cut out power when working on or near electricity.

By anon80292 — On Apr 26, 2010

Aluminum can be kept in non-acidic water, fiberglass cannot. fiberglass will contaminate the water with chemicals from paint/glue/coloring.

By anon61053 — On Jan 18, 2010

Yes I think that the fiberglass is more of what everyone wants now of days. Safer like you said and I believe in most cases lighter in weight depending on size.

By rajgopalnb — On Apr 18, 2009

Is it all right to keep an Aluminum or Fiberglass ladder permanently in an underground water tank, the water from which is for domestic use other than drinking?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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