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Step stools come in handy for a wide range of decorating, organizing, and home improvement tasks such as hanging artwork. We conducted hours of research on today's standout step stools, evaluating models on sturdiness, portability, design aesthetic, and versatility.
Our best overall pick is the Frontgate Ultralight Slimline 2 Step Stool, a lightweight yet durable model made of aircraft-grade aluminum that comes in eight colors.
Ahead, find the best step stools for your home.
Best Overall: Frontgate Ultralight Slimline 2-Step Stool
Lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum
Eight colors available
What do buyers say? 100+ Frontgate reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
While we wish it were a bit more affordable, there's a lot to love about Frontgate's Ultralight Slimline Stool. It's made of aircraft-grade aluminum, an exceptionally durable yet lightweight material that resists fatigue, corrosion, and rust. If this sounds too utilitarian, note that this sleek unit comes in eight chic colors. From blush to sage to black, there's something to complement any interior decor scheme.
The two-step version weighs just 7 pounds and has a 250-pound capacity. There's also a three-step and a four-step option if you need something taller.
The lightweight design and compact folded configuration make it easy to tote around your home or bring on the go. It folds up to a slim 2 inches, making it easy to store. We also like that the Slimline Stool has non-slip caps on the feet, so you won't have to worry about the aluminum scratching your floors.
Best Budget: Kikkerland Rhino II Easy Folding Step Stool
Not very tall
Looking for something more wallet-friendly? Check out the Kikkerland Rhino II Stool. It folds up compactly for effortless storage. Thanks to the integrated handle, it's easy to carry around too.
Made of high-impact plastic, this affordable stool boasts an impressive capacity of 300 pounds. The only real downside of the Rhino II is that it only offers one foot of elevation, but if that's all you need, it's an excellent choice.
Best 3-Step: Gorilla Ladders 3-Step Aluminum Step Stool Ladder
Lower rungs aren't full steps
Gorilla Ladders is your best bet for a three-step ladder. This step ladder is made of lightweight, durable aluminum, and although it weighs only 8 pounds, it can support up to 250 pounds of weight. It folds up for compact storage.
Some customers report wishing the lower two rungs were a little wider, as it would allow you to stand at each level. However, the upper platform is a generously sized surface. This step stool has a self-locking safety latch and rubberized feet to keep you secure, plus a utility tray on the top for a screwdriver, nails, and other hardware. The lifetime warranty helps you buy with confidence.
Best Portable: Polder Slim Folding Step Stool
Somewhat low weight capacity
If portability is a priority, we recommend the Polder Slim Folding Step Stool. It's made of steel and comes in your choice of a white or chrome finish. This notably lightweight model weighs just over 8 pounds and can support up to 225 pounds. (Just a heads up: This isn't the highest weight capacity we've seen.)
It folds flat to just over an inch thick and has an integrated carrying handle for easy transport. Other standout features include a spring-loaded safety lock, non-slip rubber feet, and two sizable steps.
Best Rolling: Cramer Kik 1001 Rolling Step Stool
High weight capacity
Some assembly required
The Cramer Kik 1001 is a superiorly constructed rolling stool. Made of powder-coated steel, it weighs 11 pounds and has a higher-than-average capacity of 350 pounds. Spring-mounted casters make it easy to wheel this unit around, and they retract when you step on, so it doesn't slip out from underneath you.
It has vinyl bumpers around the base to prevent it from damaging your walls and furniture. The steps are also rubberized and textured to keep you steady on your feet. The Kik isn't foldable, and some assembly is required, but all you have to do is snap two pieces together—no tools needed.
Best Utility: WFX Utility Vess 2 Step Aluminum Lightweight Folding Step Stool
Five colors available
Somewhat low weight capacity
Need something for contract work or home improvement projects? We like the Vess Step Stool from WFX Utility. Made of light yet durable aluminum in your choice of five colors (black, red, silver, teal, and white), it weighs only 9 pounds and has a 225-pound capacity (somewhat low compared with other models).
This step ladder folds compactly to 2 inches thick for compact storage. You can carry it by the upper handle and easily stash it in your garage, shed, workshop, or use it to help organize your mudroom or laundry room. We also like that the Vess has slip-resistant steps and grippy feet to help prevent falls and floor scratches.
Best Design: Design Within Reach Altura Step Stool
Arrives fully assembled
If you want something that offers functionality and aesthetics, go with the Altura Step Stool. Made of solid oak wood, with rounded edges and a natural finish, this piece nods to minimalist and mid-century-modern decor. It doesn't fold up, but the versatile silhouette looks like something that you could easily feel good displaying.
While it's expensive, the visually pleasing appeal and multifunctional design might be worth a splurge. In addition to helping you reach shelves and cabinets, this stool can be used as a bi-level side table or even a place to sit while working on projects around the home. We also appreciate that it arrives fully assembled and comes with a one-year warranty.
Best for Kids: Pottery Barn Kids Classic Step Stool
Two sizes available
The best option for kids is the Classic Step Stool from Pottery Barn Kids. Constructed from solid poplar wood and plywood, it's durable enough to support toddlers and children of all ages. Hand-finished with child-safe, water-based paint, then sealed for moisture resistance, this model is easy to keep clean.
You can choose from three versatile hues (white, navy, or gray) and even opt to personalize it with your child's name or initials. While this stool doesn't fold up, it's compact enough to tuck into the corner of most bathrooms, and handles on each side enable easy carrying. It's a great pick for kids who need help reaching the sink, potty, or counter.
Our best overall pick is the Frontgate Ultralight Slimline 2 Step Stool (view at Frontgate), a lightweight model made of aircraft-grade aluminum that folds up flat for easy transport and storage. However, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider the Kikkerland Rhino II (view at Amazon), a foldable step stool made of high-impact plastic with an impressive 300-pound capacity.
What to Consider when Buying a Step Stool
Step stools are fabricated in a range of materials, from plastic to aluminum to wood. Your choice of material depends on your aesthetics, as well as 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 number usually ranges from 220 to 350 pounds, so make sure the step stool is sturdy enough to safely support anyone who uses it.
Also think about how the step stool is to be used, as this clues 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 hanging art and for painting. Mid-size, all-purpose step stools are great to have for everything from reaching the top shelf of your pantry to changing lightbulbs 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.
Are step stools OSHA-approved?
Step stools and portable ladders approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must adhere to specific guidelines.They have to be self-supporting, with flat steps on each level. Additionally, they can't be taller than 32 inches and must be non-adjustable, meaning you can't adjust them to make them taller or shorter.
What is the best height for a step stool?
Step stools vary in height and number of steps, and the ideal dimensions depend on who's using it and what it's being used for. As mentioned above, OSHA guidelines prohibit the use of step stools higher than 32 inches for workers. However, you can find taller ones for at-home use, with steps as high as 40 or even 50 inches.
Can you stand on top of a step stool?
Generally speaking, you can stand on the uppermost step of a step stool. However, step stools are slightly different than step ladders. Typically, with ladders, you are cautioned not to stand on the very top. The number of steps listed in the product description can help you figure out the highest surface you can stand on.
For instance, a two-step model has two rungs to stand on. If a flat surface tops the two rungs, it's not made for standing. Often, newer step stools are designed without this upper flat surface, to prevent confusion.
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.
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.
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. If you are looking for help accessing those high shelves in your pantry, consider a step ladder. 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 hung 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.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland is a freelance copywriter covering tools, cleaning supplies, and organizational solutions for The Spruce. For this roundup, she considered dozens of step stool models, researching size, materials, and design aesthetic, and uses as well as sturdiness, portability, and versatility. She referenced OSHA's safety guidelines to help guide her product selections.