A well-made, sturdy step stool is a must-have for anyone who isn't 7 feet tall and needs to paint walls, hang artwork, change ceiling light bulbs, or stow or retrieve items from high shelves.
To help you find the best step stool for your home, we researched step stools based on their sturdiness, portability and storage, design aesthetic and materials, and use and versatility. We consulted with an expert who furnished us with some unexpected insight; for instance: "When you're shopping for a step stool, remember to check the weight limit, and consider not only the weight of the person, but that of the objects you might be bringing up and down," says Karen Jacobs, OT, EdD, OTR, CPE, professor of occupational therapy at Boston University.
Read on to discover the best step stools for your home, backed by our research.
Cosco Two-Step Signature Step Stool
Generously sized top step
Foldable with one hand
Leg tips protect floors
First step is very narrow
This step stool earned our top accolade because it's stable, foldable, and well-constructed but not too heavy or expensive. It is ideal for those tasks where you need some height but not as much as a regular ladder would require. It folds mostly flat, and you can do it easily with only one hand.
The top handle comes up high and has a rubberized grip, so it offers a bit of support if you need to lean forward, though not as much as actual side railings. However, we found the product to be stable, which our expert stressed as important. "We want to make sure that the bottom of the stool is stable with a good base, and if there are feet, they should be covered in rubber or something that can grip," Jacobs says. The evenly spaced steps have slip-resistant plastic treads that help with stability, although the first step is very narrow, which may be problematic for some. Meanwhile, the feet have rubberized tips that protect floors from scratches and reduce wobble.
At 5.5 pounds, the stool is one of the lightest on our list, and it can be easily moved from room to room. If you need to go higher, it's also available in a three-step version. Unfortunately, it's not incredibly attractive, but given the fairly low price point and solid construction (it’s made of aluminum), we think it's a worthy trade-off, especially since it can be easily tucked out of sight when it's not in use. One downside: The weight limit caps out at 225 pounds, so some buyers may need something with a higher capacity.
Price at time of publish: $73
Materials: Aluminum and plastic | Dimensions: 22.05 x 18.31 x 38.19 inches | Weight Capacity: 225 pounds
Best for Support
HBTower 3-Step Ladder with Handrails
Handrails offer extra support
Attached tool bag
Can't fold completely flat
This step stool works well for those who are less confident about their balance since it has fully incorporated handrails covered with foam grips. When you get to the top, you encounter an additional support railing that's covered in soft material, and an attached tool bag that can hold small items such as screwdrivers. Unfortunately, the rails prevent the step stool from folding completely flat, so it's important that you have a large enough space for storing it. We also were impressed with the weight capacity, which is a generous 500 pounds.
The step stool also has a few nifty safety features, such as a metal buckle that locks into place. To keep the ladder stable, there are horseshoe-style rubber feet, which have flat bottoms to ensure total contact with the floor.
Overall, this is a great option to use for retrieving items from a high place, small home improvement projects, and more. However, at 16 pounds, the alloy steel stool is quite heavy, so you may be less likely to want to move it from floor to floor. (For this reason, some people purchase multiple step stools and keep them in different areas.)
Price at time of publish: $100
Materials: Alloy steel, foam, rubber | Dimensions: 10.5 x 4.99 x 14.2 inches | Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
Best for DIY Projects
Gorilla Ladders 3-Step Pro-Grade Steel Project Ladder
Large project tray
Foldable with one hand
Yellow trims for higher visibility
Top railing could be bigger
We love this step stool for DIY projects because of its project tray. It sits at the top of the stool and is generously sized. It can hold a regular can of paint and has slots for storing tools and paintbrushes. Fortunately, it can be left in the folded-down position when it's not being used. There's also a railing at the top, but it's not as large as some of the others we've seen. The steps are also trimmed with yellow to make them more visible, which is a nice nod to safety.
Weighing in at 18 pounds, this step stool is a bit of a behemoth. However, it's solidly constructed, thanks to alloy steel reinforcements, and has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. The top step has an oversized platform that measures 15 by 12 inches, and all the steps have slip-resistant treads. The entire thing can fold flat using one hand, so you can stash it out of the way when it’s not in use.
Price at time of publish: $96
Materials: Steel (frame), poly (steps) | Dimensions: 61.25 x 19.25 x 3 inches | Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
IKEA Bolmen Step Stool
Comes in various colors
Easy to sanitize
Anti-slip tread on top
A little bulky
Plastic look is not for everyone
At under $10, this step stool from IKEA takes our spot for the best budget pick. Its single-step design is ideal for kids who have trouble reaching the sink to wash their hands or need a step up to reach something on the counter. We also like it for bathrooms because it can be easily wiped down and sanitized. Measuring 17 x 14 x 10 inches, it seems small and simple, but don’t let it fool you. It can hold 220 pounds, so many adults will be able to use it as well.
Both the top and the bottom have anti-slip protection, which helps keep the stool from sliding around. Made from polypropylene (plastic), it’s durable and sturdy, although some may want something more expensive-looking. We also love that it’s incredibly light, weighing in at just 2 pounds in its package, so you can move it wherever you need it. You can even store it at the bottom of your pantry closet when it's not in use.
Price at time of publish: $8
Materials: Polypropylene, synthetic rubber | Dimensions: 17 x 14 x 10 inches | Weight Capacity: 220 pounds
Retractable wheel design
Anti-slip tread on top
Scratch-resistant powder coating
A little bulky
Not for those with balance problems
You've probably spotted this iconic round step stool in libraries and bookstores: It was designed more than 50 years ago, but it remains as useful as ever. The casters are retractable, so if you need to move the stool, give it a gentle kick, and the casters lock into place as soon as you step up, ensuring secure footing. (The rubber treads on top help, as well.) The wheels are designed to be non-marking, so the stool shouldn't damage your floors as you move it around. It’s constructed from durable alloy steel and has a scratch-resistant powder coating to keep it looking great for years. We also love that it has a generous weight capacity of 350 pounds. The Kik-Step weighs just over 10 pounds, so it's not too difficult to carry from room to room.
Some downsides of the Kik-Step are obvious—there are no railings or other supports, and your reach is fairly limited. Measuring 16 by 16 by 19 inches, this is bulky and difficult to store in a closet or another place. But it's good-looking enough to display anywhere in your home and an ideal everyday step stool for high-traffic spots such as living rooms and home offices.
Price at time of publish: $112
Materials: Alloy steel, rubber (treads) | Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 9 inches | Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
Handy Laundry Folding Step Stool
Comes in various colors
Plastic look isn't for everyone
Small foot surface
This lightweight plastic option from Handy Laundry folds and stores easily. Weighing just over 2 pounds, this stool, which is just 9 inches high, is sometimes called a "step up," meaning it's just high enough to give you a bit of a boost. It folds completely flat and can be easily hidden when you aren't using it. We love the one-handed folding mechanism as well—you simply pull up on the incorporated carrying handle in the center, and it snaps into the flat position. Available in different colors, this stool can go well in a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. And since it’s so portable, it also travels well.
Anti-slip dots on the steps help feet stay secure, but we wish the standing platform was a bit larger. Still, at under $20, this is a great pick for those who are shopping on a budget.
Price at time of publish: $13
Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.7 x 11.4 inches | Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
Best for Kids
Damhorst Personalized Puzzle Step Stool Large Solid Wood
Can be personalized
Various letter colors available
Interactive puzzle design
Wood might not fare well in bathrooms
If you have a baby or want to win points with your friends who have little ones, you can't do much better than this adorable personalized step stool. Crafted from solid Ponderosa Pine wood, this step stool is beautiful enough to incorporate into a nursery or bedroom decor. Not only can you customize the puzzle pieces with the child's name in your palette of choice (options include primary, jewel, and pastel colors), but there is also a space at the bottom to write a six-line custom personal message or other details, such as the full name, birth date, time, and weight.
The paints used for the letters are water-based, so parents can rest easy if their baby chews on them (which they will). The weight limit is 175 pounds, so it's high enough that older children and some adults can share it. We don’t recommend this for bathrooms, since it may not last as long if it has frequent contact with humidity and water.
Price at time of publish: $140
Materials: Wood | Dimensions: 9 x 20 inches | Weight Capacity: 175 pounds
HBTower 3-Step Ladder
Comes in various colors
No accessory holder or tray
This straightforward step stool weighs just over 11 pounds, so it's one of the larger yet more lightweight options on this list. There's a simple handgrip at the top, covered with padding. This product doesn't have additional features, such as railings or a tray, but it's solidly constructed from iron and ideal for simple tasks where you need some extra height. (Think: changing a light bulb or dusting high shelves.)
The weight capacity is quite generous (500 pounds), and a metal safety buckle ensures the stool locks into the proper position. Rubber feet at the bottom provide stability and protect floors from scratches. An anti-slip treads cover all three steps, and the top step is extra-large for additional security. To store step stool, simply fold it flat and tuck it away in a closet or laundry room.
Price at time of publish: $80
Materials: Iron, polypropylene | Dimensions: 20.1 x 26.8 x 40.9 inches | Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
For most people, our top pick, the Cosco Two-Step Signature Step Stool, is an excellent option because of its affordable price, sturdy construction, and portability. If you love tackling DIY projects around the house, you can level up to the Gorilla Ladders 3-Step Pro-Grade Steel Project Ladder, which not only is also well made but also has extra perks, such as additional height, and a roomy project tray to hold tools or a paint can.
What to Look For in a Step Stool
Step stools are fabricated in a range of materials, from plastic to aluminum to wood. Your choice of material may depend on aesthetics and whether you plan to use your stool indoors, outdoors, or in a wet room such as the bathroom, laundry room, mudroom, or kitchen. Remember to factor in the weight of various materials when selecting a folding step stool that you put away and take out regularly.
One of the most important considerations when buying a step stool is its sturdiness. Aluminum is a great option, as it is lightweight yet durable—even better if it is aircraft-grade. Steel is also notably strong but slightly heavier than aluminum. Additionally, rubberized feet, locking latches, and grippy steps can keep a step ladder steady in the unfolded position.
When shopping, keep an eye out for the weight capacity (the maximum amount of weight the ladder can hold). This usually ranges from 220 to 350 pounds and indicates the total weight of the user plus anything they carry onto the stool. Make sure the step stool is sturdy enough to safely support anyone who uses it along with their tools and supplies.
Also think about how the step stool is to be used, as this guides you as to the size and style you need. For instance, smaller stools are ideal for kids who aren't tall enough to reach sinks and counters. Step ladders go a bit higher and can come in handy for various home improvement tasks such as painting and hanging art. Mid-size, all-purpose step stools are great to have for everything from reaching the top shelf of your pantry to changing light bulbs to hanging large pictures.
Last, consider how you store the step stool and whether you need a portable model. Foldable designs are ideal. Most fold flat to about 2 inches thick, making storage easy in narrow closets and cabinets, as well as most cars. Additionally, an integrated handle makes the stool more suitable for transport. And, of course, lighter models generally are easier to carry around.
What is a good height for a step stool?
Step stools vary in height and number of steps. The best height for a step stool is based on the ages and heights of the people using it. OSHA defines a step stool as up to 32 inches in overall height.
What are the best types of step stools?
The answer depends on what you need the step stool for, and your personal preferences. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly stool to give little ones a boost to the bathroom sink, consider a simple, powder-coated metal stool with rubberized feet for stability. Look for a waterproof model for use in kitchens and bathrooms or outside. If space is an issue, choose a step stool that folds up to store in a closet or hangs on the wall. If you want to use a step stool to help you reach the turkey platter on the high shelf once a year, choose one that can double as an occasional table or a decorative stand for plants, like a vintage or modern wood version, attractive enough to keep on display year-round. If you are looking for help accessing ultra-high shelves in your pantry, consider a step ladder.
Where can you store a step stool?
Depending on the layout of your home, you might store a step stool in a utility closet, kitchen pantry, or folded up and wedged between freestanding appliances. Always try to store your step stool as close as possible to the area where you intend to use it. You can stow away your bare-bones utility step stools you don’t enjoy looking at, but many stools are designed handsomely enough to be left out on display or hung on the wall.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Lexi Dwyer has been writing about home-related topics like cleaning, organization, and storage for The Spruce since 2019. Thanks to her average height and the high ceilings in her New York City apartment, she currently owns five different step stools, a few of which are on this list. She spent several hours researching dozens of step stool models, evaluating them for stability, portability, value, and additional features like trays, anti-slip tread, and support railings. She also spoke to Karen Jacobs, OT, EdD, OTR, CPE, and professor of occupational therapy at Boston University, for additional insight about safety.