Every RV should have a ladder. Even short campers need a way to get up onto the roof. But some motorhomes and campers don’t come equipped with a hard-mounted ladder on the back of the RV. So, what size and type of ladder should you get?
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Best Ladder for RV, Motorhome & Camper
Why you need a ladder for your RV
There’s actually several reasons why you need a ladder for your motorhome or trailer. Even if your RV comes with a hard-mounted ladder on the back of your camper, there will come a time where a portable ladder comes in handy.
Roof maintenance – When you need to wash your roof, inspect and maintain sealants and caulking and roofing material (especially rubber roofs).
Awning and Slide Toppers – Occasionally you’ll need a ladder to access your RV awning and slide toppers to inspect, clean, repair or even replace them.
Access RV air conditioner unit – Regardless of RV type, you need to be able to access your rooftop air conditioner. Whether it’s to conduct your annual air conditioner maintenance and cleaning or installing a Soft Start, a ladder is essential to accessing in your motorhome’s AC unit.
Solar panels – A ladder is essential for installing, maintaining, cleaning and tilting your rooftop solar panels and wiring.
DIY roof projects – some RV DIY projects may require more than one person to complete the job. Having a portable ladder enables an assistant to hand up tools and supplies.
Prune tree branches – Sometimes, you may need a ladder to prune small tree branches so they don’t damage your RV roof, slide toppers or fiberglass finish. But, word to the wise, get permission first.
Great Views and Photography – not really a necessity, but having a ladder will allow you to access the top of your RV to score great views and excellent photography shots; even of yourselves on the roof.
RV Pro Tip: You should check your motorhome or camper’s roof regularly. But also, annually, you should do a complete RV Roof Inspection, Cleaning and Maintenance
Types of Ladders for RVs
There are several types of ladders that are essential to accessing hard to reach areas in or on your RV.
A step stool ladder has 2, 3 or more steps that you can use inside or outside of your RV. A step stool ladder has wide steps, whereas a ladder has thinner rungs. Step stools are affordable, safer because they are shorter and more stable. They are also easy to lift and maneuver. As well, they are compact to store.
We keep a 2-step stool in our Jeep so we can access our kayaks (notice in photo above). We store it inside our toad.
And, we keep a 3 step stool inside our Winnebago View motorhome to access the loft bed and to clean our fantastic fan. Since it’s small, we store it in the shower when we’re not using it.
Traditional Step Ladder
A traditional 6′ step ladder is the most common ladder amongst RVers because the lightweight, hinged A-frame design is easy to use and maneuver from place to place.
A combination ladder converts to stepladder, extension ladder and leaning ladder configurations. You can get closer to your RV with the rotating wall pad. Its’ functional rear section of the ladder allows access tight workspaces, roof or tops of your slide. Its’ non-conductive fiberglass is safe to work around electricity
Telescoping Extension Ladder
Telescoping Extension Ladder
A fully adjustable telescoping extension ladder is easily adjustable to meet your different project needs. You can use it for window washing, RV roof maintenance, exterior/interior cleaning, pruning branches, accessing your slide toppers, etc. This ladder is ideal for big rig motorhomes and fifth wheels because it reaches those tall roofs and compacts down for better storage.
These multi-function ladders are versatile. Their design allows you to use as scaffolding, leaning ladder, and stepladder. The multi-purpose lightweight ladder can change into many different shapes to meet different height requirements and working needs. However, they are a bit heavier. And, you’ll need to be strong to be able to muscle it into the configuration you want it. And they do take up a bit of storage space in your RV.
Ladder Safety Tips
Now that we’ve shown you some of the different types of ladders you can incorporate in your RV lifestyle, let’s talk about important ladder safety.
When climbing any ladder, use both hands to climb and descend. Always face the ladder and watch every step you take; up or down. And never reach too far to cause the ladder to slide or fall.
According to Alliance Safety Council, you should always inspect your ladder before and after you use it.
Before using your ladder
- Check the ladder for stability.
- Ensure all screws, bolts and hinges are tight. Also make certain the base of the ladder is secure.
- Look for loose or damaged rungs, steps, side rails, supports and any other structural damage.
- Check for any sand, dirt, grease, caulk or other substances that could cause slips and falls.
- Do not use your ladder in close proximity to electrical wiring or cables.
- Never just throw away a damaged ladder. Destroy and dispose of ladders that have structural damage.
Where and how you place your ladder is important; even lifesaving. Make certain your ladder or step stool is placed on a level surface.
In high traffic areas such as campsites where kids play or driveways, you should block the area where you place your ladder to prevent accidents.
Make certain your ladder is fully opened and locked into place before stepping onto it.
Per Alliance Safety Council’s recommendation, “a straight ladder should be placed at a four-to-one ratio, which means that the base should be 1 foot away from the wall or vertical surface for every 4 feet of height to the point of support.
When climbing onto a roof or platform from a ladder, the ladder must extend at least 3 feet above the edge and be tied off at the top.”
Important ladder for RV use protocol
- Never use a ladder while impaired (alcohol, medication, illegal drugs) or judgement is compromised.
- Use the right ladder for the job. It is important to choose a ladder that has the proper load capacity for the job.
- Inspect the ladder before and after use.
- Always have a spotter who has complete attention to what you’re doing on the ladder.
- Make certain the ladder is completely dry and free of dirt, sand, or other substances that could cause slippage.
- Set the ladder up correctly.
- Climb and descend the ladder with caution.
- Do not use the top platform as a step on a step ladder. This will cause your ladder to become top heavy and topple.
- Be safe and use common sense when using any ladder.
- Never lean outside of the ladder rails.
- Declutter and keep area free of debris surrounding your ladder.
- Refrain from using a ladder for something other than its intended purpose.
- Do not carry loads that prevent using at least one hand on the ladder.
- Never use a ladder horizontally like a platform.
- Do not stand on the top step or the top cap, and do not overload your ladder.
- Never place a ladder on boxes, barrels or other unstable bases.
- Do not move or shift a ladder with a person or equipment on the ladder.
After using your ladder
- Inspect your ladder for any new structural damage to the supports, steps, rungs, and side rails.
- Look for any bends and any loosened screws, rivets, hinges and bolts.
- Recheck the ladder’s stability.
- Clean your ladder before storing.
Final thoughts on our ladder for RV compilation and ladder safety tips
- As you see, depending on what size and type of RV will dictate which ladder you may need.
- In the case of big rig motorhomes and fifth wheels, a larger telescoping ladder and larger step ladder will help you gain access to hard-to-reach places like your roof, slides and awning.
- But, for smaller RVs and vans, a simple step stool is perfect for DIY projects and maintenance.
- Whichever you get, always practice ladder safety to prevent injuries from falls.
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