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Unless you’re one of those really tall people who can reach just about anything you need just by standing on the tips of your toes and stretching, some jobs are going to require you to own a decent ladder. Different ladder types excel at different kinds of jobs, but a good telescoping ladder can make your life easier in several ways. When shopping for a telescoping ladder, consider three important factors—the maximum height you will need to reach, the type of jobs you’ll be tackling, and how easy the ladder will be to store and transport.

Maximum Height

This telescoping ladder extends to a maximum height of 12½ feet, which is high enough for many projects. Onuhu

Height is critical when choosing a telescoping ladder, or any ladder, for that matter. Buy one that is much taller than you need, and it might not fit well in the area where you will be working. On the other hand, get a ladder that’s too short and you still won’t be able to reach what you need to reach—or things will become dangerous when you try to extend your reach in an unsafe manner. The average height for telescoping ladders is about 12 to 12½ feet, but you can find some that are much shorter and also a lot longer. A good 12½ foot telescoping ladder will work perfectly for most home improvement projects. In the end, too long is better than too short, since having a ladder that is too long is inconvenient, but you can usually still get the job done.


This multi-use ladder can be used as a step ladder but it converts to a 22-foot extension ladder if needed. Little Giant Ladder Systems

What kinds of jobs you will be using your ladder for is an important consideration. If you need an extremely sturdy platform to work off of all day long every day of the week, a good extension ladder or heavy-duty stepladder might be your best bet. But if you’ll be using your ladder sparingly without carrying a lot of heavy equipment up and down it, a telescoping ladder has many positive attributes that outweigh most negatives. Because sturdiness and safety are closely intertwined, however, don’t be miserly and buy a cheap telescoping ladder just to save money. A quality telescoping ladder is up to nearly any job, but a poorly built one could cause you nothing but headaches.

Storage and Transport

With a maximum height of 8½ feet, this telescoping ladder reduces down to a small, 18½-inch-long, 14.7-pound package for convenient storage. WolfWise

Most telescoping ladders—even those that extend to 12 feet or more—pack down to a very small package for storage and moving from job to job, especially compared to a typical extension ladder or stepladder. Telescoping ladders are also usually lighter than their extension and stepladder counterparts. If you don’t use a ladder a lot, have limited storage space, or drive a small vehicle, you’re the perfect candidate for a good telescoping ladder. Just make sure the one you select extends to the maximum length you need, is sturdy enough for your work, and compact enough to stow and haul easily.