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How to Stabilize Ladder on Roof

How to Stabilize Ladder on Roof

We often need to use a ladder to climb to a roof- it could, for example, be Christmas time and you want to showcase your holiday spirit by hanging elegant Icicle lights along your roofline.

Other times you want to get up there to fix a broken tile or clean leaves off the roof. Whatever the job, here is how to stabilize ladder on roof because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Nearly one in every five deaths in the construction industry relates to roof tasks. 

How to Stabilize Ladder on Roof – Tips and Accessories to Use

These tried and tested tips are helpful not just for homeowners and maintenance folks whose daily work involves cleaning and inspecting dangerously slanted roofs but also for roofing professionals.

We have a mixture of simple-to-implement hacks but also some advanced stability devices to use to stabilize a steeply sloping roof ladder system such as a Pivit ladder tool.

Discover how to stabilize ladder on roof below:

1. Introduce a roof ladder hook

Whether you’re a professional window cleaner or even a newbie DIY guy cleaning clogged roof gutters, a roof ladder hook is a must-have.

Here is how to make a roof ladder hook.

Here is how to secure ladder to roof to improve stability:

You typically attach one end of the hook over the top rungs of your ladder and the other end over the edge of your roof.

Most of the hooks are sold in pairs and are equipped with wing nuts that you can tighten to hold the ladder more firmly in place.

Buy a set (or rent from your nearest tool rental shop) for more stability and safety any time you have to run a ladder up the roof.

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2. Use a ladder stabilizer (or a stand-off) for an extra layer of safety

Any talk about rooftop safety cannot be complete without the mention of a ladder stabilizer.

This life-saving safety accessory features wide arms (mostly tubular) plus non-skid rubber pads to enable it to grip a house wall or roof steadfastly, increasing the stability of your ladder 10 times!

It mounts on extension ladders (all types) and will help the ladder withstand a variety of hazards including crazy winds that can otherwise cause the ladder to wiggle and jiggle (and probably slip).

The other upside of a stabilizer is that it keeps a ladder away from the gutters- we all know that leaning your ladder against the gutters can easily damage them.

3. Use a Pivit ladder tool to level the ladder

The PiViT LadderTool levels most ladders and can be handy if you’re climbing an asphalt or fiberglass shingles roof (the manufacturer recommends roofs with pitches not steeper than 7/12) with a ladder.

It has rubber feet/edge that grips on a roof and is particularly indispensable for safety and stability when putting your ladder on a lower roof to reach a higher roof.

I must say that this is a wonderful 5-in-1 multipurpose equipment that functions as a ladder stabilizer, ladder shelf, ladder stand-off, ladder jack, and convenient tool carrier.

Long story short? This is heaven-sent for those who regularly climb roofs with a ladder.

4. Add Ladder pads (or ladder mitts)

These are simply caps designed to be fixed to the top (of any ladder) to safeguard the surface it leans against. Look for the rubber-made models (not all are made of grippy rubber) and attach them to the top for the additional grip.

5. Consider a ladder leach

Worried that your ladder may slide horizontally during your routine inspection of the roofing?

Well, consider using a ladder leash- these are tie-offs whose role is to keep a ladder from sliding in a horizontal direction. You should wrap your leash around your preferred leg then nail it to the surface your ladder leans against.

A ladder leash is absolutely essential if you’re without a roof stabilizer. You cannot, however, use it on top of shingles since they leave nail holes when removed.

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6. Involve a partner

While some argue that it’s not necessary to have a second person steady the ladder as you stand on it, it’s always a good idea. Working with a helper is especially wise when you lack leveling devices such as the aforementioned Pivit ladder tool.

How to stabilize ladder on your roof  – Do’s and Don’ts

Here now are some dos and don’ts to observe if you want to avoid making your ladder wobbly when handling minor repairs on high roofs.


a) Grab the rungs

When climbing up/down a ladder perched on a roof, grab the rungs (not the rails) using both hands.

b) Shorten it

As a rule of thumb, a shorter ladder height (if sufficient for the job at hand) will be more stable than higher reaching heights.

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a) Don’t rest it on the eavestrough / gutter

This will never be adequate as a means of support and it can make the ladder wonky.

b) Don’t overreach

Overreaching to your left or right when handling roofs repairs on a ladder hurts stability and should be avoided.

How to transition from ladder to roof while remaining stable

The transition from roof to the ladder is fraught with danger if you lack the know-how. Now, you’ll mess with the stability of the ladder when transitioning from the ladder to the roof if:

a) The ladder does not extend long enough

For safety, your ladder must always extend 3 rungs (and above) over the edge of the roof. Check this.

b) You step out of the ladder the wrong way

You’re likely to make the ladder move or slip if you choose to get off the ladder via the top. The safer method is to step carefully around a ladder (while still holding it) and onwards onto the roof.

Bonus tip: When climbing back onto the ladder (from the roof), firmly hold onto your ladder (use your two hands) and again step around it. In short, going over the top is a big NO for stability!

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While these tips do not make your ladder completely stable and secure, they make your climb and stay up the roof, less scary.

You want to try them whether you take that mandatory trip to the roof with your ladder every day or once a year.

You’ll be glad to have discovered them.

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References and Citations:

Continuing Education Center: Reaching the Roof: Specifying Fixed Access Aluminum Ladders for Safety and Efficiency-

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): Evaluation of a “walk-through” ladder top design during ladder-roof transitioning tasks-

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