Regardless of how tall you are, you’ll encounter a time when your arms just aren’t long enough. Whether you need to reach the top level of your kitchen cabinets or put a coat of paint on your walls near the ceiling, using a step ladder makes those jobs (and many others) easier, faster and safer. For typical indoor tasks that require one, a ladder that elevates the user by only a few feet is often sufficient—and hardly merits one of the longer, taller and much more expensive models.
Step ladders are convenient, store inside a typical closet and generally have a maximum height of about 2.5–3.5 feet with between three and four steps. They are lightweight, sturdy and many come with a top tray for convenience when using the ladder for tasks like painting.
How we rated our step ladders
There were several factors to consider when evaluating these ladders—number of steps, maximum height, weight capacity (maximum load of both human and tools or other items), weight of the ladder itself, shelf capacity (size of the top shelf and/or the fixtures to hold or support tools), does it have a rail to help with stability and, of course, price. Of the myriad choices available today, these nine made our list for the best.
9 Best Step Ladders -Review
1. Best Choice Products Shade 3 Step Ladder
The first step ladder in our list is the Best Choice Products Shade 3 step ladder. Composed of high strength steel but weighing just over 15 pounds, the Shade 3 combines excellent stability with easy maneuvering. The three step ladder elevates the user to a maximum height of 27” and provides wide steps for added stability for users with large feet. It has a maximum carrying capacity of 330 pounds; easily accommodating most users and any cargo they place on the top shelf.
The shelf itself has dedicated spaces to hold a drink, paint can (or cans) and several other cubbies for a variety of items. This ladder folds easily and stores in most closets and comes with rubber feet to protect the flooring. The Shade 3 is moderately priced and comes with a 60-day money back guarantee.
- Almost everything, this step ladder combines utility, strength, capacity, and storage.
- Great value
- Shelf carve outs for paint and your drink
- Easy storage
- No extra hand rail for unsteady users (not much of an issue for most).
- One user had an issue with breakage and the length of the warranty.
2. Cosco Three Step Max Steel Work Platform
Similar to the Best Choice model reviewed above, the Cosco Three Step platform combines utility and value. This three step model is composed of stainless steel has a maximum height of 30” off the floor, though is only rated to 225 lbs.
The Cosco comes with slip-resistant feet that hold the user steady and also folds easily (one-hand fold and lock release mechanism) and takes up very little storage space (3” thick and 61” tall when folded). The molded top shelf tray holds tools, hold paint cans and other user items. The Cosco is moderately priced and comes with a manufacturer’s warranty (which the user must seek and obtain).
- Good value and price
- Compact storage (3” thick)
- opens and closes with one-hand use
- A little on the heavier side, harder to maneuver.
- Only rated to 225 lbs, disqualifies some users
- Molded tray could be more user friendly
- Warranty information must be requested
3. Delxo 3 Step Ladder
The Delxo three step ladder (Item number 165135) is a sturdy yet lightweight ladder that has an exceptionally small storage footprint. Composed of stainless steel (and painted white) the Delxo is rated to 330 pounds but weighs just over 12 pounds. The three steps are all over 9” wide, providing the user with added stability to a maximum height of 28”.
The easy locking mechanism allows for one hand use. The Delxo stores easily; once folded it is just over 2” thick and only 46” tall. The Delxo doesn’t have a top shelf, which contributes to its lightweight nature, so some users might not find this model as useful as one that has a shelf. This model is moderately priced, though the consumer must contact the manufacturer directly for warranty information.
- Lightweight and easily moved/positioned
- Simple lock mechanism
- Easy storage (just over 2” thick and 46” tall—stores easily in any closet)
- Wide steps offer added support
- Strong (330 lb capacity) yet light
- Must contact manufacturer for warranty information
- No top tool shelf
4. Folding Four Step Ladder by Living Sure
The Living Sure (model 354173-BC00393011) is the first of several “four step” ladders in our review; some users welcome the additional height/step (height at step 4 is 39”). Composed of stainless steel and weighing in at a little over 24 pounds, the Living Sure ladder isn’t the lightest, but its weight isn’t prohibitive for most users. The four steps are extra wide at 10.25” and it comes with handrails; both of these features really resonate with users who are normally unsteady on ladders.
While the handrails provide additional stability, they don’t come pre-assembled. The handrails also prohibit the nearly flat storage of other ladders; users will need to dedicate some additional space for this ladder. The extra step of this Living Sure model adds a bit to the price, but the handrails and wide steps make the price/safety trade off worthwhile. It also doesn’t have a tool tray (which is fine for someone just replacing light bulbs or smoke alarm batteries) and the user must contact the manufacturer for warranty information.
- Incredible stability, handrails and extra wide steps
- Four steps—extra height (39”)
- Stores easily
- No tool tray
- User must assemble the handrails
- A little pricier
- More space required for storage
5. The Support Plus 4-Step Ladder
The next in the ‘four-step’ category of ladders, the Support Plus (Model # B072HKCFD3) Four Step ladder combines safety with utility. The four steps are 10.25” wide, providing excellent stability for even the more unsteady users. The padded handrails also add an additional level of security for users. The steps are spaced 9.5” apart for a maximum height of 38”. The provided tool caddy has ten different compartments for the user to store just about anything they need while working. The stainless steel construction is rated to 300 lbs.
The strength of the steel construction and the handrails do add a bit to the weight (it comes in at almost 28 lbs.) but most users didn’t find that prohibitive. The non-slip/mar feet keep you steady on all surfaces without damaging wood/linoleum flooring. It folds up to a maximum depth of 9” (height 61” folded). This was one of the more expensive models available and warranty information is available from the manufacturer.
- Stability and safety features (padded handrails, wide steps)
- Sturdy (300 lbs)
- Easy storage
- On the heavier side—some users may find this a problem
- No given warranty information
6. Delxo 4-Step Ladder with Tool Tray
Delxo also makes a 4-step ladder in addition to the one reviewed above. Composed of aluminum and coming it at less than ten pounds, the Delxo (model #15316) doesn’t sacrifice strength for mass (rated to 330 lbs). Its four steps elevate the user to a maximum height of 33” (a little lower than other four step ladders) and it includes a tool tray with slots for your drill and other tools (minimizing the trips up/down the ladder).
The Delxo comes fully assembled and the rubber feet secure the ladder while in use without damaging the floors beneath it. It folds up to a height of 61”, but only 4” deep, allowing it to slide easily into any closet. Moderately priced and light, the Delxo 4-Step offers a great mix of value and utility.
- Good value
- Easy storage (only 4” thick)
- Tool caddy/storage shelf on top
- Fully assembled, lightweight and strong
- Height for a 4-step was a bit low
- Warranty information only available through the manufacturer
7. The Giantex 3-Step Ladder with Tool Tray
The Giantex (model TL20984)three step ladder is composed of HD Steel that gives it incredible strength without becoming difficult to handle (it comes in at just under 17 lbs). Rated to 330 lbs, it has a maximum height of 27” and comes with no-skid/marking rubber feet for stability. One of the best features of this ladder is its massive third step, which measures a whopping 14” by 14”, providing maximum stability for even the most unsteady users.
The Giantex also comes with an incredibly useful tool tray, with dedicated spaces for paint cans, brushes and several other useful tool slots. The ladder come pre-assembled and locks while open but breaks down easily (to a thickness of only 3” and 57” tall) to store comfortably in any closet. Moderately priced, the Giantex 3-step is an excellent all-around step ladder.
- Strength (330 lbs), portability (17 lbs)
- Easy storage (3” thin)
- Great tool caddy
- Reasonably priced
- Extra wide third step
- Lack of readily available warranty information
8. Vonhaus 4-Step Ladder
The Vonhaus four-step ladder (model #15/107) starts at a lower price point for a four step ladder. Composed of powder coated steel and weighing a bit over 20 lbs, this ladder is rated up to 330 lbs. The four steps are approximately 9” apart with a maximum height of 37”. The steps all feature non-slip grips as do the feet. It folds up easily (2” depth) and stores in any closet.
The Vonhaus did have some significant drawbacks: the steps, while stable, were only 8” wide—not wide enough for some users. It doesn’t come with a tool caddy, either. If you’re stable on any ladder, then this model will suit you just fine. If you’re at all unsteady, this might not be the right model for you.
- Reasonably priced for a 4-step ladder
- Non-slip grip step treads
- Compact and sturdy
- No tool caddy
- Steps were way too narrow
- No warranty information readily available
9. Max Work Steel Platform 3-Step Ladder
The light-duty Max Work Steel Platform 3-step ladder (model #O114764) is composed of a steel frame with polypropylene good-grip steps that is rated to 225 lbs. It comes completely assembled and folds/stores easily (3” thick) anywhere. The Max Work also gets the user to a maximum of 30” on its third step (higher than most 3-step ladders) and provides the user with an extra wide and deep top step (12” deep) for exceptional stability. It also has a handy tool caddy.
At only 225 lbs, some users might balk at the lower rating. The Max Work is also a little more expensive than some other 3-step ladders without providing more bang for your buck.
- Stable top step (12” deep)
- Tool caddy included
- Higher top step than many 3-step ladders @ 30”
- A little expensive
- Light duty rating (only 225 lbs)
And our winner(s) were…
For the three step ladder,the Giantex provided all the needed bells and whistles without breaking the bank. Strong (330 lbs) and stable (extra wide top step) with an excellent tool tray makes this an excellent bargain. It stores anywhere (3”) and weighs only 16 lbs. It was clearly a superior ladder. Second—the Best Choice Shade-3.For the 4-step ladders, the Support Plus, despite the higher price tag, gives the user everything they need if they are looking for a four-step ladder and the extra height it provides. The padded handrails and wider steps (10.25”) give the user peace of mind while climbing up and down. Second choice—the Living Sure, hampered only by its assembly need and larger storage footprint.