When it comes to versatility, a combination ladder is an undisputed king.
From using it as an extension ladder (or just a single ladder) to using it as a trestle ladder for interior works to functioning as a stairwell ladder, this is simply a miracle piece of equipment.
This post will teach you how to use a combination ladder on stairs safely and easily when you want to paint walls along a staircase, hang gorgeous pictures along stairs, replace a stairwell light fixture in your stairwell, and more.
How to Use a Combination Ladder on Stairs – how to be safe and comfy
Well, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to set up and use this multi-purpose ladder for stairs when tackling any kind of situation that requires you to use a ladder on stairs.
In fact, anybody – even a complete novice- can safely and comfortably use this type of ladder to plaster above your stairs, decorate the whole stairwell, etc.
Your safety comes first so let’s look at the primary safety precautions you should put in place before using your 3-way combination ladder (and other types of combination ladders) on stairs:
Safety guidelines when using a combination ladder on stairs
a) Don’t climb on the back section
If you’re using it as a self-supported stairwell ladder, you shouldn’t climb a combination ladder on the under.
b) Slide and lock it securely in place (two-way combination ladders)
Just like an extension ladder, slide the second section up of your 2-way and lock it safely. That way, you can safely reach the correct angle for the job at hand.
c) Don’t overreach
Reaching higher can be incredibly dangerous, no matter how stable the ladder feels.
Tip: Those using a 3-way combination ladder should extend the third section further (then lock it) to create a greater reach, if necessary.
d) Don’t join a combination ladder to other ladders
You must not tie or fasten a combination ladder to other ladder types to extend it over multiple stories. It’s awkward and extremely risky.
e) Use additional safety accessories
Use essential safety accessories for added peace of mind during use (more on this later).
How to use a combination ladder on stairs – setup and safety improving ideas
1. Mount it securely
The first thing to do is to make sure that you have mounted your combination ladder the right way and that it has been secured.
Of course, there are no common rules that apply to every combination ladder and we suggest that you closely follow your specific manufacturer’s instructions to mount the ladder.
Don’t forget to lock its safety catch- it can be the difference between a tragic fall and a safe, fun operation.
In addition, adjust the position of the ladder so that the feet stand a good distance from the edge of the steps. That reduces the risk of the feet slipping (potentially causing a bad accident).
2. Make use of extra safety accessories
Creativity helps in many ways when completing DIY projects and this is no exception.
You even won’t need to push your creative boundaries too far here- adding simple and inexpensive accessories such as a stair platform to the ladder will make a massive difference.
Avid DIY folks can bring the cost further down since you can use materials that have been lying around your garage or shop to assemble most of these options.
Consider adding these useful add-ons for a more stable working surface when climbing to the high wall that lines your staircases:
a) Stair platform for ladder
You can build a solid ladder platform to help you place the ladder on a staircase more safely from pieces of MDF or plywood.
For the legs, we recommend that you use a 2” x 4” because it makes the platform sturdier than a 1” x 2”.
b) A staircase ladder leveler
The next approach that makes working on stairs way easier would be to use a staircase ladder leveler to level the ladder on the stairs. You typically fix it to the legs to balance them before placing the ladder on the stairs.
You can again construct your own DIY ladder leveler from local materials or purchase from the local store or online.
c) A Ladder-Aide
The other option – and it works wonderfully- is a ladder aide for stairs.
This handy tool is designed to be used with any extension and combination ladder on stairs (some work with other ladder types) and is made compact and portable.
The device is unique in that you set it up in no time because there’s nothing to be installed. Moreover, you can easily adjust it to fit different stairs, creating a stable, level work base.
Well, I’m yet to see folks try to make this at home but that shouldn’t worry you as its prices are not that high.
See also: Ladder gutter protectors
3. Work with a helper
Perhaps, you’ll be safest if you have a living helper (could be a colleague or a close pal) supporting the ladder as you climb and work up there.
Using a Combination Ladder on Stairs – Further Suggestions
a) Be careful with smaller combi ladders
Now, there are combi ladders designed narrower to fit smaller staircases but you might need to be inventive when working with such as most don’t come with a stabiliser bar.
That said, you don’t need any special innovations if your model features extra-wide splayed legs and non-slip rubber feet- these make it more stable because of the enhanced grip.
b) Make sure that the stabiliser bar is fully attached before use
If available (it’s quite common these days), you should never use a combination ladder until you are sure that its stabiliser bar is solidly attached and fully secured to your ladder.
A combination ladder quickly and easily converts to form safe, stable access to hard-to-reach areas such as stairwells and uneven terrains like stairs.
Implement the above tips for improved safety and peace of mind when standing high on your combination ladder fitting lights, painting walls, or renovating the ceilings in your multi-story house.
References and Citations:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Stairways and Ladders-A Guide to OSHA Rules https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/osha3124.pdf
American Ladder Institute (ALI): Combination Ladder- https://www.americanladderinstitute.org/page/CombinationLadder