Unless you come from the same ancestry as Robert Wadlow, the tallest man to have ever walked the Earth, a ladder is essential for tasks such as gutter clearing, window cleaning, or minor roof repairs.
Unfortunately, while you’ll gain the required height to get the job done, pressing your ladder up against gutters means there’s a real danger of damaging your gutters, no matter your weight.
Nobody wants that to happen so here is how to use a ladder without damaging gutters.
How to use a ladder without damaging gutters
Below are some hacks you can implement when climbing a ladder at a height for all sorts of DIY maintenance work to prevent harm to your gutters:
1. Install a ladder mount gutter guard
This vital ladder mount accessory fits inside gutters of various sizes and functions as a gutter ‘docking station’ for ladders. In fact, this easy-to-use gear is a wonderful addition…
You see, it first ensures maximum gutter protection by dispersing the weight of your ladder against the fascia instead of the gutter itself.
In addition, it enhances your safety as it makes the ladder stay in place at all times. Remember to order an appropriately sized one if you choose to take that route.
2. Use a stand-off type gutter ladder protector
Another device that you could take advantage of is a stand-off type ladder stabilizer with gutter protection. The design is a bit different from fit-in gutter guards and it comes with arms along with non-skid pads that grips walls creating a distance (from the roofline) when attached to the ladder.
This is, again a lifesaver, literally- it keeps you far enough back aloft and off your guttering where you can comfortably see and complete what you’re doing without warping or tearing up the gutters.
Plus, a stand-off attachment keeps your ladder absolutely steady thanks to the stabilizing arms. We suggest that you consider this stand-off ladder stabilizer for gutters if you wish to head in that direction.
3. Know where to place the ladder when cleaning gutters (and how to place it)
Investing in a gutter ladder protector or any other innovation will not save your gutters if you position the ladder wrongly before you get down to work.
Indeed, having the ladder at the correct place and at the perfect angle is extremely important not only for the safety of your gutters but also for your personal protection.
Well, there are no hard and fast rules concerning where to put the ladder but the following guidelines will point you in the right direction:
a) Place the leg on a gutter nail or inside clip
Instead of having the ladder lean on the gutter, find an inside clip or a gutter nail (or any other fastener) and place the leg on or very close to it.
See also: Ladder for 2 story house gutter cleaning
b) Target the strongest part of the guttering
If you must slant it on a gutter, always have the ladder touch a section where the guttering looks the strongest because it’s likely to withstand the pressure better.
c) Place the ladder more straight
To ease the pressure on the gutters, try to have the ladder stand a little more upright (but be cautious not to exceed a safe angle). Of course, this is a useful tactic when you again cannot lean it against the wall.
On the other hand, a good pointer when it comes to the best angle for the ladder is the safety mark printed on the side- look out for it and adjust your placement as necessary.
I must say that you cannot risk having the ladder at an incorrect angle, especially when working with an extension ladder.
How to use a ladder without damaging gutters- bonus tips
These tips may also provide an added layer of safety for your gutters when using a ladder to reach the windows, rooftops, and more:
a) Be careful during climbs to lessen pressure
When climbing to inspect your roof or fix a leak up there, go slowly and carefully to reduce the pressure on the gutters.
Besides, strive to maintain a more straight posture and disembark with care when done for the same reason.
b) Level out your ladder
Uneven or sloping surfaces may cause your ladder to lean further, possibly denting or crushing your gutter. It’s therefore important to level out your ladder by planting pieces of wood (look for scrap wood blocks) under the leg that’s not level.
Only proceed when sure that the ground that your ladder stands on is flat.
c) Don’t overreach
Never overreach while on your ladder since it might generate extra pressure on the gutters besides compromising its stability.
d) Use a protective barrier
You may as well place your ladder over an ideally-located spike but with a protective barrier like a towel positioned between the gutter and the ladder.
Thinking beyond the ladder when cleaning gutters
You probably know this: there are other effective methods of cleaning the gutters and they may be worth considering them if your sole purpose of mounting the ladder was to unclog your gutters.
Here are a couple of terrific devices you can use to get rid of the mess in your gutters safely:
a) Use gutter cleaning tongs
These have an extendable arm that reaches into all types of gutters from the ground to clear the litter quickly and easily.
b) Use a gutter flusher attachment
This fits to your water hose and will help you flush the debris from your gutters without stepping foot on your ladder.
The tool is super simple to use and you’ll clear the gutters like a pro.
c) Use a rotary gutter tool
One of the most powerful gutter cleaners, a rotary gutter sprays and then brushes away both large and small wasters from the gutters.
Like the rest, you won’t need a ladder to use this. Otherwise, you’re stuck with the ladder (and hence the above-mentioned hacks and tips) if you’re using the ladder for other kinds of outdoor tasks that risk damaging the gutters.
One of the most expensive mistakes you can do when tackling minor repairs that require height is using a ladder without taking proper precautions to reduce the pressure that often damages gutters. It’s an open secret that ladders are not exactly best friends with gutters.
Leaning a ladder against your gutter often damages it especially if you’re quite heavy. Yet, a ladder is a necessary evil and the easiest way to access the gutters for cleaning or maintenance jobs.
Now, rather than risk crushing your gutters (and a hefty repair bill in the aftermath), you should use one of the widely available ladder attachments to protect gutters. Most of these attachments also help stabilize your ladder so you’ll be safer when perched up there.
Find them below:
Best Ladder attachments to protect gutters
Okay, your ladder may be presumably lightweight but for most homeowners, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In fact, most professionals recommend the use of some form of gutter protection to keep the gutters from warping, sagging, or suffering scratches because of the pressure from ladders combined with your weight.
Consider these options if you’d prefer to take the attachment route to protect gutters while mounting your ladder and/or climbing it to the roof:
1. Ladder-Max Stand-Off Stabilizer
This Ladder-Max standoff is extremely useful when climbing an extension ladder. As the name suggests, it helps you stay as far away from the wall (and gutters) as possible when cleaning windows or performing planned repairs. Indeed, it provides a 19″ standoff distance from gutters, roofs, and walls.
Not only that: the arms reach about 36″ (from tip to tip) so you’ll feel more stable working from this not to mention that you can reach farther safely.
You also work in a more natural, unstrained position with this setup.
And while it appears simple- the idea is to make it super easy to mount and remove- this OSHA-compliant lifesaver is sturdily engineered with rugged, durable, corrosion-resistant galvanized steel.
You’ll understand why this is one of the best-selling ladder attachments to protect gutters.
- Attaches in seconds.
- Sturdy, slip-resistant steps
- Super heavy-duty construction.
- A bit costly.
2. Ladder’s Little Helper
Protect your delicate gutters, roofing, and siding with this little but magical ladder attachment, and avoid potential liability issues when you’re checking damaged shingles or tiles or unblocking downspouts.
To prevent scratching or bending your gutter, you fix this gutter ladder protector on your gutters (it grips onto the gutter) before leaning the ladder on it.
The attachment will disperse the pressure (and the combined weight of the ladder and the user) to a wider area, effectively preventing damage to the gutter. Another upside of using this is that it helps block the sideways movement of the ladder meaning a much safer working platform for yourself and your assistants.
It’s made of polypropylene making it strong yet perfectly lightweight for easy handling. Overall, this is a more pocket-friendly attachment to the ladder standoff stabilizer.
- Easy to install.
- Has a handy tie-off eyelet to help you secure the ladder firmly.
- Fits nearly all gutters.
- Rests on the gutters directly.
3. Roofers Mount Ladder Mount gutter docking station
Attach this friendly gutter docking station to your ladder and climb without worrying about cracking, denting, or even flattening your gutters.
Unlike the little helper ladder gutter guard, this actually supports the weight of your ladder against fascia and NOT the gutter.
The pressure is, therefore, eliminated from the gutters completely. It fits inside 5-inch and 6-inch gutters easily simply use your broom handle or an extension pole to position the ladder mount inside the gutter before you climb.
There’s rubber on the attachment to help grip the ladder so it won’t slide to the sides. The ladder balances nicely too as the weight of the ladder (with you on it) pushes the docking station into the back of the gutters, forming a solid rest.
It’s really an amazing innovation.
- Works very well.
- Keeps a ladder from slipping sideways.
- Fits into and lifts out of gutters with little effort.
- You can only use it for 5” and 6” gutters.
Ladder attachments to protect gutters- buying guide
Chances are you feel a bit lost about the best device to pick out of the three devices we have recommended. Well, we hate to tell you this but it must be said: these products do not offer equal protection to gutters nor do they suit all types of gutters.
If they did, it would have been a simple question of looking at straightforward factors like pricing. But now you need to think about a whole lot of things.
Here are the major ones to consider:
What gutters and ladders will the product work well with?
A fundamental question for every homeowner and tradesperson is if an attachment will work with your specific gutters and ladder type.
Keep these points in mind to avoid buying an attachment that you’ll never use:
a) The Ladder-Max Stand-Off Stabilizer
This clearly carries the day when it comes to versatility. It protects all gutters and is compatible with all leading types of ladder- extension
(aluminum, wood, and fiberglass), articulating (Howard, Louisville, Gorilla, Green Bull Little Giant,) and even a variety of DIY ladders.
b) Roofers Mount gutter docking station
As mentioned earlier, this works for any 5”/ 6” gutters. The good news is that it’s not limited to any type of ladder-it secures practically any ladder safely.
See also: Little giant ladder gutter guard
c) Ladder’s Little Helper
Almost all ladders fit. That said, the maximum width of your extension ladders must be 19” (or less) for the best results.
Check the engineering and what the ladder attachments to protect gutters are made of
Another important item to compare is the overall construction.
Now, there are significant differences among the three units that you should be aware of before making your final decision:
a) Ladder-Max Stand-Off Stabilizer
The stand-off is structurally built from beefy steel and the stabilizing arms withstand any weight while offering maximum support to the person working on the ladder.
b) Roofers Mount gutter docking station
The mount is made of high-quality, solid plastic material making it sturdy yet lightweight. This engineering holds your ladder steady while protecting the gutter.
c) Ladder’s Little Helper
The manufacturer prefers Polypropylene material because of its lighter nature (for easier fixing and removal) but it makes the unit less sturdy.
d) Ease of use
There is one more consideration to be careful about when shopping for something to save your gutters: ease of use. The good thing is that most manufacturers have upped their game and the ladder attachments in the market these days are pretty friendly to crews. For instance, you can mount and uninstall the Ladder-Max without using a single tool.
Similarly, you can fit the Roofers Mount ladder stabilizer inside a standard gutter easily using a pole. The Little Ladder Helper is easy to place on your gutters, move, and take down too. Whether you’re cleaning clogged gutters, hanging Christmas lights, painting your house, or performing your yearly maintenance tasks, any of the above attachments will save your gutters from ladders.
They will also go a long way in ensuring your peace of mind because they enhance the stability and balance of your ladder when you’re up there.
So, make your move and pick the most suitable device for your needs. Your gutters will thank you!
So, take heed of our advice about how to use a ladder without damaging gutters- position the ladder strategically, have ladder mount gutter guards in place, add a gutter ladder protector, etc. – before you climb up there.
Your gutters will thank you.
References and Citations:
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC): SAFETY ALERT USING A LADDER- https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Using%20a%20ladder%20-%20safety%20alert.pdf
ThriftyFun: Leaning a Ladder Against a Roof Without Crushing Gutters https://www.thriftyfun.com/Leaning-a-Ladder-Against-a-Roof-Without-Crushing-Gutters.html