A podium ladder can be a Godsend for many tradesmen. We like them because—for ladders—they offer unmatched stability while working overhead. While not everyone loves them the same, part of loving any tool is understanding the importance of its use. Ladders have different designs for different purposes, and the podium ladder is no different. We teamed up with Werner to take a look at why you should buy a podium ladder…or three.
Quick Article Summary
- Comfortable working position
- Workspaces for your tools
- Easier movement (wheeled models)
- Non-adjustable height
Benefits of a Podium Ladder
A podium ladder is essentially a modified A-frame ladder. It folds the same and has similar steps. But where an A-frame ladder has a simple fold out shelf and reminds you not to use the last couple of steps, a podium ladder gives you a working platform. It’s provided specifically for you to stand on with both feet while you work.
This wide platform means you have space to move around a little bit. If you’re a bit anxious working at height, it adds some additional security for your footing. But most notably, it means both your feet are entirely on the platform.
When you stand on the rungs of an extension or typical A-frame ladder, only part of your feet are on them. That compresses your weight into a smaller area and leads to the pain you feel after a while. And the narrower the rung, the worse the pain. That’s why the rungs on an extension ladder are more uncomfortable than the wider steps of an A-frame ladder. A podium ladder takes it a big step forward by supporting your entire foot—both of them.
On an A-frame ladder, a shelf folds out to support a few tools or a paint bucket. With a Werner podium ladder, or similar, a rail positioned just below waist height provides storage options for drivers, fasteners, and more. You also get a hang point for a paint bucket.
Because you have a large platform to stand on, you can also easily turn to work in any direction without climbing down to move the ladder.
You can get a Werner podium ladder with spring-loaded casters. When working in a shop-type setting where you have hard floors, the casters easily roll the ladder into position. When you step up, your weight pushes the springs down and the non-slip feet keep your ladder position secure.
Like other ladders, you can get a podium ladder in both aluminum and fiberglass frames. For that matter, steel is an option for the smallest models. Weight limits run as high as 375 pounds.
There are a wide range of heights available. Most models range from 5 to 12 feet (3 to 10 feet of working height) and there are a couple of step ladder solutions as well. Just keep in mind that the platform height is two feet below the full ladder height when making your selection.
Who Should Buy a Podium Ladder?
When you only need to be at height for a couple of minutes, an aluminum A-frame ladder works fine. It’s lightweight, and you can move from point to point relatively easily. But when working for longer, a podium ladder makes a lot more sense to have in your arsenal. Painters definitely want to consider this as a solution as well as electricians, HVAC Pros, and carpenters.
Any Pro who works in a shop with upper-level storage will benefit as well. Whether loading or unloading goods, you want a stable platform for your feet. Realistically, most Pros should encounter a use for a podium ladder at some point.
What About Downsides?
Despite all the benefits, podium ladders do have a couple of downsides worth considering. You can’t adjust the level of the podium to change your working height. If you need to work at multiple heights, you’ll need multiple ladders. Also, if you find yourself working from the lower steps often, a podium ladder might not be the best solution.
If you can swing it, owning multiple heights isn’t a bad idea. Especially for installers, this can help eliminate enough foot fatigue to be worth the investment.
There’s also the issue of weight—that additional material does come with a price. Any podium ladder tends to weigh more than a comparable A-frame. Keep that in mind if you’ll be loading and unloading your ladders multiple times a day.
The Bottom Line
The podium ladder fits well with Pros who work at height for more than a couple of minutes at a time. It also matches up with those needing to move and turn while on the ladder. While the extra weight and cost are considerations, the reduction in foot fatigue absolutely makes it a worthwhile investment in our opinion.
The A-frame ladder still has a place when you need to move around a lot. The extension ladder can also remain your go-to when you need to move from the ground to the roof. But a podium ladder (like this model from Werner) is the one you’ll want when you need to spend a lot of time working in the air.