Ladders and Work Platforms

This story explains some of the ladder and work platform options available for interior painting.

Ladders are almost indispensible when painting an interior room. They let you get close to surfaces beyond your normal reach so you can apply paint evenly and comfortably. Even if you use a roller with an extension handle, you'll need a ladder to put you close enough to the ceiling to cut the corners in with a brush.

Ladders come in a wide array of sizes and materials -- wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. You'll find a 5-foot stepladder well suited, not only for interior paint jobs, but also for other general home-maintenance projects. Ladders are also manufactured with various degrees of quality. Purchase the best ladder you can afford, and make sure it's rated to support both your weight and the weight of tools and materials you'll be using on it. Look for sturdy hinges that lock securely when you extend them, nonslip pads on the legs, and steps wide enough that your feet fit comfortably. And if the ladder wobbles or bends when you extend it, don't buy it.

If you want a ladder strictly for painting, get a platform model. Its top step, which you can stand on, lets you face the wall you're painting without obstruction, and its size makes it easy to move.

Safety First: Know the limits

No matter what material they are made of, ladders carry a label that will help you decide which model you need. Look for the weight rating, climbing and use instructions, applications, and procedures for storage.

Construct a platform

A single ladder will get you through most paint jobs, but you'll need a work platform to paint stairwells and high walls. Construct your platform with two ladders and a scaffolding plank, which you can rent. Make sure the ladders are rated for your weight and the weight of the platform and materials and that the steps on both are at the same height from the floor. Set up the ladders parallel to the wall with their steps facing each other and lay the plank on the steps. The plank should overlap the steps by at least 12 inches. If the plank sags when you stand on it, move the ladders closer together.

Making Painting Convenient

Use two step stools and a scaffold plank to create a portable work platform you can quickly move from place to place. Make sure the step stool height will put the top of the wall and ceiling you're painting comfortably within your reach.

Safety First: Lock the hinges

Before using a stepladder, open it fully and push down firmly on the hinge locks.


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