What Size Ladder For Two Story House – A Complete Guide

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A lot of people find it difficult to decide upon the size of the ladder that is right for their two-story house. Avalon Property Management says people need tall ladders for a lot of jobs like maintenance.

It could be tricky as to which two-story ladder you should choose mainly because everyone’s needs are different. Some need it to reach the house roof, repair things, clean pipes, or to clean high windows.


How to Figure Out the Right Ladder Size for a Two-Story House?

There is no fixed measurement, and so there is no straightforward answer to this question. It might even be a bit of a challenge to find the right two-story ladder.

photography of person on A-frame ladder near door
Photo by Jack Finnigan

First of all, you need to figure out how tall your two-story house is. Not all two-story buildings have to be of the same height.

Now, the height of a house is the distance of its ground floor to its highest point. This height excludes the basement height from the scenario.

Another point is that all houses don’t share stories of the same height. Technically, the height of a story refers to the distance between two-floor levels of the house. It is calculated from the floor level and so also includes the ceiling thickness.

So, the story height could vary as per the variations of the ceiling. Also, the rooftop of the building will make a huge difference in the overall height. All houses don’t have flat rooftops.

The residential structures have a floor structure of around 1 foot thick and 9-inch ceilings. This would make the story height to be 10 ft. The floor-to-floor height of a multi-story residential building is generally 8 ft.

So, if we take the story height to be in the range of 8 ft. to 10 ft. then a two-story house could be 16 to 20ft high. However, some might also reach up to 25 ft.

Once you figure out the right height of the house, the required length of the ladder becomes easier to find.

Keep reading to find out how!


Important Things to Keep in Mind While Choosing a Two-Story Ladder

You need to be clear about a few things before you figure out which ladder to choose.

  • Total height: This is the full length of a ladder when fully extended.
  • Platform height: This is the height at which a person will be able to safely stand from the ground.
  • Working height: Height you need to reach safely on the ladder.

So, while picking up the right two-story ladder, you need to select the one with a working height matching the reach height and the platform height.

Keep in mind that the working height is not the same as the total height.

Now, if you want to buy an extension ladder, then it should have some overlap between the base and the fly section.

Also, consider the angle at which you need to set the ladder against the support wall. Obviously, you can’t set it upright because then it would become impossible to climb. Follow the angle rule for this matter:

The angle rule follows a 4:1 ratio. This means that for every 4 ft. of height that you need to climb, the ladder should be set 1 ft. away from the wall.

For example, if you need to reach 16 ft. then you will have to set the ladder feet 4 ft. away from the wall for safety.

The safest standing level is yet another crucial factor. It is definitely not safe or recommended to stand on the topmost rung.

You should avoid standing up on the top 3 rungs of the ladder to ensure safety.


Easy Way to Calculate the Ladder Height for a Two-Story House

Let the maximum height to be reached be A ft.

The distance of the ladder feet from the wall be B ft. (Can be found using the angle rule, i.e., 4:1 ratio, which means B=A/4)

We need to find the length of the two-story ladder (say C ft.)

So, now, as per the Pythagoras Theorem,

A2 + B2 = C2

If A= 20 ft.

B= A/4 = 5ft.

So, plugging these values in the equation gives us,

202 + 52 = C2

Hence, C= 21 ft (approx.)

This is not the final answer yet. You need to keep in mind that the extension ladder reaches about 3 ft less than the total height. This due to the overlapping of the base and flying section coming in the picture.

So, you need to add the extra 3 ft. to C, which means the final answer is 21 + 3 = 24 ft.

written equations on brown wooden board
Photo by Roman Mager



Some Tips on Choosing the Right Two-Story Ladder

People often make some mistakes after buying a ladder and realize that only after using the ladder a couple of times. Here are some tips so that you don’t make the common mistakes:


The surface where you will place the ladder might have some bumps and dips. So, you need to use a spirit level to know the difference in ground levels. It is better to use a leveler to make sure the ladder is leveled on the ground.

The long two sections extension ladder could be a lot more wobbly when fully extended. On the other hand, a three-section extension ladder doesn’t wobble. So, the latter option is recommended.

It’s recommended to get an extension ladder for a two-story house rather than a step or platform ladder.

Final Words about the size of the ladder for a two-story house

You must have understood that finding the right length of your two-story ladder is important to avoid slips, mishaps, falls, and other accidents.

The ladder height also depends on the type of job you need the ladder for, like gutter maintenance, window cleaning, etc. Moreover, it’s important to know the exact height you want to reach.

After that, it’s just basic math to figure out the ladder length for your two-story house. The job is not that troublesome. Just assess the height of the house and purchase accordingly.

Moreover, everybody has different needs like cleaning the window or the gutter, maintenance, repairs, etc. So, make sure that your ladder serves the purpose you are buying it for.

red painted residential building
Photo by MILKOVÍ

Thank you for reading!

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