How to Use a Ladder on Stairs

How to Use a Ladder on Stairs

There are plenty of ways to use a ladder on stairs. The easiest way, of course, is also the most expensive one. Others shell out up to $400 to get a ladder that could easily bend, articulate and even transform. But if you are like me, who just want to use a standard single or extension ladder, read on to find out how to do it safely. 

There are plenty of methods on how to go about using a ladder on stairs. But none of them are as simple, safe, and even cost-effective as what I am about to show you. But first, let us discuss why this is such a problem for most people. 

Why Would You Want to Use a Ladder on Stairs?

There is a big chance if you are some kind of trade professional or a homeowner, you have dealt with one of these situations and issues: 

  • You need to paint the wall along the staircase. 
  • You need to change out a light bulb in a fixture above the stairs. 
  • You want to hang family pictures or paintings along the stairs. 
  • You are installing a new light fixture by the stairwell.  

If you are a do-it-yourself type renter or a homeowner, these types of issues and problems can be exceptionally irritating and annoying. These types of problems do not come up often; however, you know that they are bound to come up. 

And when they finally do, you know you need an immediate solution. But you know that it is such a small problem, so the answer is more often more troubling than it’s worth. 

If you are a professional like a drywaller or a painter, then you are probably familiar with most of the commercial solutions that are readily available in the market today. Solutions such as leg extenders and wedge-style tools, for example. Hence, you are also familiar with their weaknesses and shortcomings: 

  • Leg extenders are a bit too pricey, and they need to be installed on the ladder permanently. This means you have to buy plenty of them, and they even make your ladder more clunky and cumbersome to use and carry. 
  • Wedge-style tools are similarly too bulky and oversized. Although they are versatile, they are not as sturdy and safe to be used on stairs. This is because they are not explicitly designed for use on stairs. 

Hazards When Decorating Stairs and Landings 

  • Uneven floor surfaces: One of the main problems when you are decorating around the staircase, whether outside or indoors, is the lack of a flat and stable surface to put up and place the ladder. 

It could be a little tempting to balance the foot of your ladder on the stairs, but because of the narrow size of each step, even a small amount of movement could cause its base to slip off. This could cause a dangerous fall from the height onto the stairs themselves. 

  • Height: Most stairwells are the height of the stories they connect. That is why decorating them involves working at a significant height. This could lead to the user overextending the ladders, in turn weakening their structural integrity. Also, working too high up the ladder increases the “bounce” and the risk of falling. 
  • Limited space: Many stairwells are narrow, which offers a limited space to work. Without having a freestanding ladder that allows room to maneuver and reach a greater height, there is a temptation to overreach and risk falling. 

Limited spaces could also mean you have to reposition the ladder multiple times if necessary. This makes your job more complicated and very time-consuming. 

How to Use a Ladder on Stairs

We have found a few effective ways to use a ladder on stairs safely. 

1. Using a Make-shift Scaffolding

Here is an excellent idea for a do-it-yourself scaffolding. This method is safe, stable, and professional. Once it is up on the stairwell, this scaffolding lets you cover the entire wall without having to adjust it at all. 

However, here are some of its serious limitations: 

  • You will need to have two ladders. 
  • This method will only work if you have an overhanging wall to place or prop the lower ladder up against it. 
  • You will need to have extra materials that are sturdy and strong enough to support your whole body weight. 
  • This method is most definitely a make-shift hack. 

2. Build Your Own Ladder Platform

This next idea is about building your own ladder platform at home. It is stable and safe. It is also as sturdy as you want it to be. The set-up is pretty straightforward and easy to move. However, this solution also has its share of problems. This is custom-built to a particular rise height and task. So this is just a single-use solution. 

You may also like: Best Ladders for Stairs Painting

3. Use a Ladder-aide

Using a ladder-aide is simple. You can set it up by following three very easy steps. 

  • Put the base on the lower stair and slide the upright into the base. 
  • Next, slide the platform on the upright and lower it until it sits on the upper step. 
  • Lastly, insert the lock pins. 

This method gives you a stable and secure platform for your ladder. Simply get your ladder, position it on top of the platform, and ensure that the ladder’s feet are in between the platform’s safety ridges, and you are done. You can paint, change out old light bulbs, hang paintings and pictures, and do whatever you need. 

You can use the ladder-aide with most light or medium-duty extensions or single ladders. You won’t have to install anything, so you can get whichever ladder is the right one for the job at hand. All of its components are stored inside the platform itself, so clean-up is easy, and it does not take a lot of space. 


Using ladders on stairs is a once-off job. However, it is crucial to follow the best and safest possible options for you. I hope that this post on how to use ladders on stairs will help you find the perfect solution.

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