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What Is The Difference Between Step Stools And Step Ladders

Brandon Carter
  May 30, 2023 8:00 PM

Step stools and step ladders are great equipment around your home or workplace to help you do some jobs more safely and efficiently. But what is the difference between a ladder and a stool, and which is right for you?

In this blog, we take a look at what makes ladders and stools different, list the key differences, and choose which one you need to choose for your current job.

1. Overview of Step Ladders and Step Stools

What Is a Step Ladder?

A step ladder is an A-shaped one that allows the user to climb several steps, usually three to twelve. Step ladders are great because they offer the ability to reach heights above your natural reach and still be safe. Most step ladders are manufactured in fiberglass or aluminum.

Step Ladders

Step Ladders

Source: Pinterest

What Is a Step Stool?

On the other hand, step stools are simple one- or two-step stools typically made from various materials, including plastic, wood, steel, and aluminum. Like ladders, stools make it easy for users to reach a specific height, but no more than a few feet above your natural reach. The step stool is a great tool for kids and adults and can be used in homes, DIY, and commercial establishments.

Kitchen Step Stool

Kitchen Step Stool

Source: Pinterest

Read more to get related products.

2. Step Ladder vs. Step Stool - Differences


The first difference between ladders and stools is in their respective designs. Stools are usually shorter than ladders, often with up to four steps. Stools are like regular stools in that they are designed primarily for the user to sit on and are less than 32 inches long.

On the other hand, the step ladder is designed as a ladder on both sides with more steps than a simple ottoman.

Over time, as manufacturers create both stools and steps with various materials, their design becomes more confusing, making it harder to distinguish one from the other. The following characteristics make it easy to tell the difference between the two.

Rolling Step Stool

Rolling Step Stool

Source: Pinterest


The size of either tool is one of the easiest ways to tell them apart. Naturally, the size of folding ladders is larger than that of stools, making them more useful outdoors. Because ladders are larger, they are also often heavier than stools. This leads nicely to the next difference between the two.

Step Ladder With Seat On Top

Step Ladder With Seat On Top

Source: Pinterest

Maximum Weight Load

Due to the nature of their design, stools cannot be used to carry a weight greater than 100kg or more. Since these are usually only available in three mission ratings, they are better suited for light indoor use. However, ladders can be used for critical jobs in and around the home and in commercial and industrial environments, allowing them to carry more weight without ladders becoming unstable.

Duty Rating

Since step ladders are built for heavier jobs, they must be sturdier with higher quality construction to withstand greater impact. This is why they have higher duty ratings, ranging from Class I, Class IA, and Class IAA for industrial use, Class II, for commercial use, to Class III, for intended household use. In this order, these ladders' weight and height limits are reduced.

On the other hand, step stools are designed for lighter duties with duty ratings of Class I, Class II, and Class III and weight limits load of 250 pounds, 225 pounds, and 200 pounds, respectively. Looking at these, stools will only work best in households and other indoor spaces.

3. Briefly Key Differences


Step Stools

Step Ladders


There are 1 - 4 steps.

Has an inverted V shape. Foldable or not.

Comes in a variety of sizes and design styles.

Most have 3 or more steps.

Unfold an inverted V. Usually foldable.

Some design types include single-sided, double-sided, and multi-position.

Indoor / Outdoor Use

Mainly suitable for indoor use.

It can replace light bulbs with tall cabinets or shelves, wall art, and clean areas above normal reach.

Works best in households and other indoor spaces.

Suitable for both indoor and outdoor.

It can be used outdoors to reach gutters or shorter tree branches at construction sites and other similar areas.

It can be used indoors to reach high areas, such as ceilings, ceiling fans, and lighting fixtures.

4. Which Should You Choose? Step Ladder Or Step Stool

Foldable Step Stool 

Foldable Step Stool

Source: Pinterest

When it comes to choosing between a stool or a ladder, it completely depends on your intended use.

If you need a little push around the house to achieve some awkward heights, then a stool is your right choice. However, a ladder is the best option if you are looking for something that helps you get the job done at about 12 feet or higher.

So when deciding what is best for you, consider the type of work you'll be doing, the environment you'll be doing, the heights you'll be climbing, and the weight you'll be carrying. Once these are identified, you can make a more informed choice about what's right for you.


It is often difficult to choose between a stool and a step ladder. It all depends on what you want to use them for.

Step ladders are a useful tool for reaching things that are high or hard to reach. If you need a small ladder around the house to climb some difficult heights, then a stool is the right choice. On the other hand, step ladders are the best choice if you need assistance in jobs that require you to work at height.

When determining what is best for you, think about the nature of the work you will be involved in and the conditions under which you will work. It's also helpful to think about the weight you'll be carrying and your reach. 

Once all these factors have been considered, you will have a clearer idea of which product will best suit your needs.

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