Chances are good you have seen infomercials for the Little Giant Ladder system. Does this "As Seen On TV" stamp mean that The Little Giant is flimsy junk that you will regret buying? Or is it a quality system?
What Is it?
Your typical ladder is called an A-frame ladder. The two sides hinge outward to form an "A" shape, and two jackknife-like metal brackets prevent the ladder from opening any further.
The Little Giant Ladder dispenses with those brackets and uses a super-strong hinge at the top to form the shape of the ladder.
This hinge is the real secret to the Little Giant, because it allows the ladder to be formed into many different shapes.
In addition to the "A frame" shape, it can become:
- Conventional A-Frame: An A-frame ladder that can be either tall or short.
- 90 Degree: A 90-degree angle shape (so that one side of the ladder is parallel to a wall, allowing you to get closer to that wall).
- Staircase Ladder: One side higher or lower that the other side, so that it can accommodate the unevenness of stairs.
- Extension Ladder: A ladder that is straight and which leans against the wall.
- Two Small Ladders For Scaffold: The single ladder pulls apart into two smaller A-frame ladders, or trestles, so that you can put a plank across the two ladders and form a scaffold.
Do You Actually Need One or Is It Just a Gimmick?
Even though Little Giant has all of the trappings of a Made-For-TV scam, it has been around for many years and is a solid product. It works best for:
- Small Spaces: If you live in a condo or apartment and have limited storage or if you need to transport it in a car. The Little Giant Ladder fits into a regular closet or even in the back of a car.
- : As mentioned above, the Little Giant is invaluable for resting on uneven surfaces, since conventional A-frame ladders cannot do this. Propping one side of the A-frame ladder on the descending section of the stairs is ineffective and highly dangerous.
- Need For Multiple Purposes: If you are doing a whole house renovation, you'll need different types of ladders to do things like install gutters, paint crown molding, paint staircase walls and ceilings, install windows, etc.
- Configurability: The Little Giant Ladder really does work the way they claim. I found it easy to reconfigure into many different shapes.
- Stronger Than Expected: Whether aluminum or fiberglass, it is a sturdy, solid piece of equipment.
- Wheels: Their "Tip & Glide" wheels on the popular Model Type 1A makes it easy to move the ladder.
- Safety on Uneven Areas: You can configure the Little Giant Ladder to conform to inclined surfaces.
- Scaffold: The Little Giant Ladder's trestles provide you with a ready-made surface for your scaffolding plank.
- Storage: Ladders--especially extension ladders--suck up lots of storage space. The Little Giant really does shrink down to a manageable size.
- Weight. The Little Giant is heavy, about 35-55 pounds, depending on the model you purchase. This is the reason for that "Tip & Glide" function.
- Too Much Ladder? It might be more ladder than you need. Ask yourself if you really need all those different configurations. You may not. A regular 6' ladder can take care of most of your needs.
- Extras Cost Extra: A lot of the cool things you see on the infomercials, like the leg leveler, work platform, and wing span are accessories that drive up the cost.
- Extension Wobbly: The extension function has some "give" to it that may make you feel uncomfortable when you reach higher places.
The Little Giant Ladder probably isn't suited for the casual remodeler. You can easily get by with the inexpensive aluminum A-frame ladder from your local hardware store. However, if you're a serious renovator, you might consider buying it.