How To Set Up An Extension Ladder?

How To Set Up An Extension Ladder – Step-By-Step Guidelines

You hear the cat meowing out loud from the tree it somehow managed to get stuck in. Your daughter is crying out for you to help. You stand there, taking it all in.

The light bulb turns on – the extension ladder! And promptly dims because you don’t know how to set it up.

Although the opening scenario seems a bit dramatic, there are several benefits of learning to install the extension ladder.

And that’s what the article is about. Here, in this article I will show you exactly how to set up an extension ladder.

How to Set up an Extension Ladder?

Before you set up the ladder, here are some things you need to do;

  • Check the ladder for any damage before using it.
  • Move the ladder to where you will use it and secure it in place.
  • Push the fly up to reach the required working height and then lock it.
  • Lower the ladder maintaining the proper angle with the ground.
  • Make sure the feet are secure before using it.

Accessories You Will Need

It might seem surprising but each year many people suffer from ladder related incidents and falls with 37% of workplace injuries stemming from slipping or falling off from a ladder.

Extension ladders are used to work at great heights and as a result a fall from them can be quite deadly. While we have covered the basic safety measures and precautions on how to setup an extension ladder, often times you might want to spend more on safety.

There are numerous ladder accessories that help decrease chances of accidents. Two primary types of accessories are;


Extensions connect securely to the base of the ladder where the footing makes contact with the ground. They make it so that you can use your trusty extension ladder on uneven surfaces without risks of them tipping over.

One extension we would recommend is the LeveLok ladder permanent mount style leveller. It is sturdy and tightly secures itself to the legs of the ladder. Plus, it is quite easy to connect to the legs as one can do it by inserting nails on the mounting holes.

The shoes of the extension are made out of non-skid rubber allowing you to safely use it on slippery surfaces. It also features a backup safety lock and to put the cherry on top, they are compatible with almost all types of ladders.

You can use ladder lockdown extensions like a saddle whose job is to hold down the feet of the ladder. A strap is attached to the saddle and the rungs of the ladder for more balance. You can also use it inside your home if needed and minimize damage to hardwood floors.


They are used on ladders to provide more stability near the top. They also protect the roof or wall being leant on from being damaged from prolonged use. Together with extensions, they provide the most safety possible along with proper use and setup of the ladder.

A well recommended stand-off is the Little Giant 10111 Wall Standoff. It has a wide wingspan which translates well into increased stability. Although it does have a disadvantage in that; it is not compatible with every ladder.

The alternative is the Louisville Stabilizer LP-2200-00 as it is designed to be more compatible with ladders of different makes. It is quite easy to secure and does not come off easily.

Another alternative is to use a ladder lock; placed much higher up on the ladder. It is used to latch on to the structure you are trying to climb and then provides a secure hold on the surface.

The Actual Process

Here’s the step-by-step guide for setting up an extension ladder;

Step 1

Make sure the surface is firm and level before placing the ladder. Also, confirm that the footing is secure. An uneven or weak surface can result in accidents. Dig a trench when the ground is uneven. In the case of soft surfaces, flip the shoes up so that they dig into the ground providing a solid footing.

Step 2

Follow the 4 to 1 rule when placing the ladder against the surface or object. The rule states that for every four feet of height, you have to move the base one feet away from the surface the ladder is resting against. In other words, the ladder must make an angle of 75 degrees with the ground.

This ensures a good deal of balance. If the angle is smaller, the ladder could tip over backwards and a bigger angle might cause it to bend or slide out from beneath you. If possible, clear any obstacles preventing you from setting the ladder at that angle.

Step 3

There’s an apparent fear of the ladder sliding out from beneath as you’re working. So it is imperative that you establish a level working surface and secure the legs.

One can install a cleat by screwing it down to prevent the ladder legs from slipping. If you want to avoid any risk at all then anchor the legs to either the base of the wall or any secure object.

Step 4

An extension ladder consists of two ladders stuck together. Ensure, before climbing, that the locks holding the two ladders together are tight and secure. Also, manufacturers of the ladder will supply a minimum overlap of the two ladders. Make sure to follow those regulations.

Step 5

Don’t be relieved yet. You have your base secured and now need to secure the top so that it doesn’t slide. This can be done by similarly tying the ladder to a solid anchor.

If you can, place the ladder next to an adjoining wall or chimney. An alternative is a ladder accessory known as the ladder stabilizer. They can grip most surfaces and help spread out the load preventing damage to the surface you’re leaning the ladder on.

Things to Be Careful of

  • Make sure the ladder you placed is not near any power lines.
  • Do not take down a ladder when it is extended.
  • Do not climb higher than the fourth rung from the top of the ladder. Use a taller ladder if necessary.
  • Do not overreach and push your luck. You might fall and hurt yourself. Extend the ladder more if possible.


Hopefully after reading all this, you have a good enough idea on how to easily setup and use an extension ladder for your various needs. An extension ladder is a very powerful tool but using it poorly will lead to grave fall injuries. Hence, proper setup is of the utmost importance in avoiding them.

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