It seems like wooden ladders have been around since the dawn of time. Although rope ladders are thought to be the first method that humans designed to reach those hard to get areas, the wooden ladder can arguably be described as THE iconic version of this brilliant tool. Used across all trades, serving industry, art, and the domestic household, the wooden ladder has been with us since the medieval age. During these times, it was the key piece of equipment not only for chimney sweeps and cleaners of all kinds, but indeed for anyone whose home contained an attic.
Wooden ladders remain a popular purchase. They are familiar, sturdy, a potentially more trustworthy piece of equipment compared with modern materials. Just about any type of ladder can be found in a wooden finish, reflecting this reputation. Step ladders, loft ladders, folding ladders, extension ladders; all are available, and all can be found constructed from high quality, high density woods that offer structural integrity, safety, and longevity.
An example of such a ladder available for purchase today, are the Youngman ECO S Line Wooden Loft Ladders. This easy to install ladder is made from solid spruce, a soft pine wood that has a very straight grain, and so is perfect for constructing the lines needed for a ladder. Needless to say, the Youngman ECO is therefore of very high quality, and at a price of just £112.00, is also an affordable option.
In terms of its construction, the ladder has 3 folding sections. Multiple sections enable a far easier set up and compact storage; all the sections fold up onto the trap door of the loft and so the ladder fits snugly into any loft space. This folding also removes the need for clearance, as the ladder fits perfectly onto the loft entrance; no tricky beam alterations or moving around of heavy boxes required! There is also an option for an extension kit, which adds to this ladders versatility and allows even those with unusually high ceilings to take advantage of this piece of kit. As well as functionality, the use of spruce also enables this model to fit in with any décor. The paleness of the wood blends in well with the majority of colour schemes, and makes for a very attractive ladder that doesn’t create too much of an eyesore if you have to leave it extended for any period of time. Installation is a breeze; the ladder is designed to fit between the standard sized joist centres found in the majority of UK homes, and a nice touch is that you can download the easy to follow instructions and look over them before your ladder arrives. This ladder really is the minimal fuss choice, and I would recommend it for any family home.
Outside of practical domestic use, one would think that wooden ladders are largely obsolete, but this is far from the case. Amazingly, around twenty four fire departments in the United States of America still depend on, and are very fond of, their wooden ladders. Perhaps even more surprisingly, one of the departments actually manufactures its own state of the art equipment. At the last count, there were four hundred wooden ladders in use by the San Francisco Fire Department. They are all made from Douglas Fir wood, which is harvested from a particular region in the eastern part Pacific North West, an area renowned for its dramatic landscapes and vast swathes of forest. The limited light conditions unique to this area ensures that the wood grows dense and strong, and when coupled with rungs made from hickory and ash, creates an exceptional example of the traditional fire fighting tool. Expert craftsmen at San Francisco Fire Department can carve and create up to thirteen different types of ladders, and these can remain in service for up to an incredible one hundred years!
For example, one ladder affectionately named C1, was built in 1919 and was still in service in 2012, with nothing more than basic maintenance. Such records are a testament to the durability of wood as a material for ladder construction. A further reason for sticking to the old ways, is down to the design of many of San Francisco’s urban areas. Many of the streets are narrow and twisty, with the majority of domestic house holds sitting underneath a multitude of electrical wiring that forms part of the transport infrastructure, primarily for the public buses, street cars and trolleys. A wooden ladder cannot conduct electricity, and in this setting, has a real safety advantage over more modern ladders made from light weight metals such as aluminium. Striking a live wire whilst using a wooden ladder will not result in a potentially fatal electrocution, which was the tragic fate of a fire fighter working for New Jersey’s fire department in the 1990s.
There is much more to a wooden ladder than simply its functional use. They can also bring real decorative value to a home as there is much more to a wooden ladder than meets the eye. Different woods exhibit many different features, such as shade, grain patterns, weight and texture. Paler woods such as birch fit into light airy households, whereas heavy oak and mahogany ladders and staircases fit in well with deeper, richer colours. In the right hands, a simple ladder can be turned into a sculpture of wood, decorated with hand carved motifs and patterns. Carving such an item transforms a ladder into a beloved piece of art that can be treasured for life. In today’s innovative design climate, many new ideas have emerged that utilise old vintage items, and ladders are amongst the untold possibilities. For example, an old wooden ladder, with its tarnished rustic appearance, can make very attractive shelving units for books, glassware or plants. Wood can also be painted any colour that is desired, and so can be modified to fit in with any colour scheme or design plan. This adds to the versatility of wooden ladders when used in interior design.
One excellent modern use of a wooden ladder is for a tree house. Tree houses are great fun for kids, and can also offer a place to get away from it all, but every one needs a ladder in order to reach it. A wooden ladder blends in nicely with the surroundings – Just make sure that it is sturdy and safe before using and always supervise children.