If you want to purchase a new ladder, you must determine what type of ladder is suitable for your application and not just because other people own the same type of ladder. Before buying your own ladder, you must know the difference between fiberglass and aluminum ladder.
Several people still have the same ladder they purchased years ago, and some homeowners tend to buy different kinds of ladders to know what kind of material will fit their needs. To avoid wasting your time and money, let’s examine the difference between fiberglass and aluminum ladder to know what works the best for you.
Difference Between the Materials
First, let’s differentiate fiberglass and aluminum materials.
Fiberglass has a plastic composition reinforced with glass fiber. The rigid construction of these ladders is due to the strength of synthetic fibers, which makes them an ideal choice for sturdy construction materials. Fiberglass ladders could last for more than 10 years if handled appropriately. It will not deteriorate like wooden ladders if exposed to different weather conditions.
Aluminum has a lower density than other metals, making it lighter than steel and even fiberglass. In terms of conductivity and rigidity, aluminum ladders have the same features as conventional metals on the market.
Fiberglass vs. Aluminum Ladders
Let’s determine the difference between fiberglass and aluminum ladders based on various factors.
Fiberglass ladders are more rigid and heavier than aluminum ladders. On the other hand, aluminum ladders are prone to twisting and bending when exposed to excessive heat for a long period. If you live in a very hot environment, an aluminum ladder is not advisable. Extreme temperature variations make aluminum materials sensitive and it can negatively affect the sturdiness of the ladder.
Weight and Portability
Ladders made of fiberglass are heavier than those made of aluminum. Using a fiberglass ladder does not automatically mean that it is stronger or more durable than aluminum ones just because it is heavier. The structure of a ladder, such as the configuration of the diagonal trusses and the footprint at the base determine its overall stability.
Fiberglass ladders are heavier than aluminum ladders, making it more difficult to carry them from one place to another. When you need to take your toolkit and ladder up and down the stairs, a heavy ladder will definitely be a burden. On the bright side, if you can obtain a good grip on a heavy ladder, you’re less likely to fall from it. Therefore, the weight of a ladder does not directly imply that it has a pure disadvantage on your application.
Aluminum ladders are frequently used by construction workers because of their portability and weight advantages over fiberglass ladders. It also has a better foldable structure for portability and storing purposes.
A conventional 8-foot fiberglass ladder can carry a load of up to 300 pounds, whereas an 8-foot aluminum ladder can support a load of up to 375 pounds.
Precautions and Maintenance
Heat, rust, and electricity are not major concerns with fiberglass ladders. Fiberglass ladders are less susceptible to corrosion, making them more weather resistant than aluminum ladders. Although ladders made of fiberglass are susceptible to fracture and cracking of fibers. To avoid undesirable circumstances, always keep track of your ladder’s load capacity.
Fiberglass ladders must be checked regularly. In hot conditions, UV radiation causes the exterior surface of the fiberglass to gradually crumble over time, exposing the fiber inside. When this happens, you’ll notice that the color fades, the glossiness decreases, and the texture gets rough when you touch it. Frequently coating the fiberglass with acrylic lacquer will replenish the outer layer of the fiberglass surface, extending its lifespan.
Aluminum ladders are prone to bending and shaking. When aluminum is exposed to moisture for a long time, it becomes sloppy and less durable. Because aluminum ladders can conduct electricity, they are not recommended for any electrical-related projects.
Fiberglass ladders give the same performance and durability in all climates including extreme temperature and freezing weather. Homeowners who own fiberglass ladders are pleased with their purchase because they can last for more than 10 years with proper care. However, when compared to aluminum ladders, this type of ladder is more susceptible to cracking because even a small crack in the structure might propagate to the fiberglass if subjected to repeated twisting and compression.
Choose a ladder based on what kind of project or purpose you intend to use it. A fiberglass ladder will suit your needs if you intend to use it for the following applications:
- Painting the walls of your house. The fiberglass ladder is sturdy when placed properly. You will feel secure upon stepping on it so working alone is safer when you use a fiberglass ladder.
- Electrical-related project. Fiberglass is a good material to avoid any electrical risks. Whether you intend to use the ladder for changing a light bulb or using it for a major construction project, a fiberglass ladder is recommended because it does not conduct electricity. Industrial workers are recommended to use this type of ladder on job sites for safety purposes.
- Residential and Office use. Fiberglass ladders are typically used only as step ladders and not as full-length construction ladders because of their weight and rigidity.
On the other hand, Aluminum ladders are recommended for applications related to general construction. Aluminum ladders are commonly used as extension ladders for construction purposes because of their weight advantage and it is easier to carry than fiberglass ladders.
Aluminum ladders are more expensive than fiberglass ladders. An 8 ft fiberglass ladder costs around $340, while an aluminum ladder of the same size costs around $280.
Which One is Better?
In some ways, fiberglass ladders appear to be the preferable option for most homeowners for safety purposes. Fiberglass ladders are better to use for Do-It-Yourself house construction, common house repair, and other simple projects because it is non-conductive, sturdy, rigid, and a safer choice than aluminum ladders.
If you want a cheaper option, aluminum ladders are recommended as long as you aren’t working in an environment with a lot of electrical wiring, equipment, or live wires. If you want an affordable ladder that is easy to carry around, this type of ladder will work best for you.
Now that you know the differences between aluminum and fiberglass ladders, all you need to do is to invest in a quality ladder that will ensure your safety more than anything else.