Ladders have been around a long time. And for as long as we can remember, this equipment has been pivotal in the maintenance of homes, warehouses, and industries.
Despite its usefulness, many people still are conflicted about the best way to maintain them, especially pricey ones like fiberglass.
Can we leave them outside overnight? Can we just store them outside? How can we get them to last a long time? These and many more are probably bugging your mind, and you must get answers to them before you go out to purchase one.
Luckily, we’re here to fix just that. In this post, we hope to address every issue surrounding storing fiberglass ladders outside. First and foremost, we need to address the elephant in the room.
- Can You Store a Fiberglass Ladder Outside?
- Can You Leave a Fiberglass Ladder Outside?
- Does the Sun Damage Fiberglass Ladders?
- Can a Fiberglass Ladder Rust?
- Can Fiberglass Ladders Get Wet?
- Do Fiberglass Ladders Go Bad?
- Ideas for Storing Ladders Outside
- Tips for Effective Ladder Storage
- How to Maintain Your Fiberglass Ladder in Storage
Can You Store a Fiberglass Ladder Outside?
The straight answer to this widely asked question is a firm no.
When it comes to storing fiberglass anywhere whether outdoors or indoors, optimum care has to be taken to ensure the safety of the ladder.
Storing a fiberglass ladder outside can lead to the slow but steady destruction of the ladder due to exposure to several natural factors like sun, rain, snow, etc.
This is the reason that fiberglass ladders should be cleaned and returned indoors after use for storage purposes.
The reason storing fiberglass ladders indoors is such a wise decision is not just so your neighbors can’t have access to it willy nilly, but also because the number one thing that is going to keep your ladder working perfectly after a long time is adequate maintenance, and storing it outside can hinder the effect of that maintenance.
To prevent this, you must ensure that after use, no matter how tired you get, you have to pick up your fiberglass ladder and head straight to indoor storage.
Can You Leave a Fiberglass Ladder Outside?
Fiberglass ladders can be used for several different activities, the majority of them taking place outside. It is perfectly normal to take out your fiberglass ladder on a warm, sunny afternoon to either fix a leak on the roof or hang something high up beside the house.
It is still okay if you leave it there for a couple of hours or if you forget it overnight. There is no real damage to the fiberglass ladder just yet, at least not for a while.
Constantly exposing your fiberglass ladder to the natural elements will lead to the slow and steady degradation of the materials used in the production of the fiberglass ladder.
Does the Sun Damage Fiberglass Ladders?
Among all the natural elements you can expose your fiberglass ladder to, the sun causes the most harm to fiberglass ladders over time.
Just like constant exposure to the sun can give you sunburn, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can initiate the process of breaking down the materials of the fiberglass ladder.
This will render your ladder unsafe for usage. For all their many benefits, direct constancy with UV rays over time will destroy your fiberglass ladder.
Although they are nonconductive, fire-resistant, and when compared to other types of ladders; lightweight, the impact of direct sunlight will trigger fiber bloom according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Typically, fiberglass contains a unique combination of plastic, delicate glass fibers, and resin. The fiber bloom condition is present in fiberglass ladders after several years of constant exposure to direct sunlight.
The damage caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays from sunlight first affects the fibrous nature of the ladder. It also goes ahead to degrade glass fibers in the ladder. This condition majorly affects the image of the fiberglass ladder and not necessarily its strength or integrity.
However, fiber bloom may lead to severe discomfort while handling, and in some cases, fiber bloom can make the ladder conductive.
Can a Fiberglass Ladder Rust?
There are many disadvantages to exposing your fiberglass ladder to natural elements. Many of which will tamper with the integrity of the ladder and may lead to accidents.
However, rust is not one of them. The fiberglass material is devoid of metals and since iron is the chief component responsible for rust.
Fiberglass is often used interchangeably with steel as a result of its similarities in properties. It is interesting to add that fiberglass is not only rust-proof but is also very reliable and doesn’t readily give in to contact with water.
Fiberglass is not capable of absorbing water, and so expansion and contraction do not occur on exposure to water. This is the reason for its sturdy and solid nature.
Related: Aluminum vs Fiberglass Ladder
Can Fiberglass Ladders Get Wet?
When exposed to constant moisture in the form of rain, humidity, etc, fiberglass ladders can be referred to as wet. This makes it more thermally and electrically conductive.
Although properly drying it out can cause it to regain its insulative properties. Storing your fiberglass ladders outside might expose them to constant moisture and begin a slow process of gradual degradation.
Leaving your fiberglass ladder in direct contact with moisture, without properly drying it out will result in the formation of mold and decay.
If you store your ladder by hanging it on the wall, and inside the wall is the source of the moisture, perhaps a leak in the pipe.
You must remove the ladder immediately and temporarily store it in a dry spot so that it can properly dry. Before it does, however, ensure the area is not linked to electricity in any way to avoid major accidents as a result of conduction.
Do Fiberglass Ladders Go Bad?
There are several stages a ladder goes through during the period of its service. Wear and tear is the major factor that will determine if a fiberglass ladder has gone bad.
You might only catch wind of this if you are experienced in dealing with ladders. It is a very necessary skill to be able to tell if a ladder is too weakened to be able to carry a person’s weight.
There are a few things that serve as indicators for you to know when to dispose of your ladder and get a new one.
One obvious sign your fiberglass ladder should be retired is obvious and consistent cracks. These cracks could be a result of the reckless impact your ladder had with a solid object.
Further use of this ladder despite the cracks can result in the ladder splitting into two, leading to accidents.
2. Fiberglass Bloom
As we’ve mentioned earlier, fiberglass blooms could result from not properly caring for your fiberglass ladder.
Also, it could result from long exposure to UV rays from the sun or intense heat. The small fibers on the fiberglass begin to “bloom out” and can cause irritation on the skin when you brush your hand against it.
This discomfort is a result of the tiny fibers slightly scraping the surface of the skin. Fiberglass bloom does not just affect your skin leaving you with painful discomforts but is also problematic because a fiberglass ladder that is in a full fiberglass bloom state can become highly conductive when it is exposed to water.
This is why for electricians, you mustn’t use fiberglass ladders with fiberglass bloom. Even if you do not work around electricity, it is still important you retire the fiberglass ladder to avoid skin discomfort.
3. Worn Tread
You might not be familiar with the treads on your fiberglass ladder, or why they are even important. Well, these treads help you climb the rungs of the ladder easily.
This is why every rung of the ladder is fortified with treads, and at the feet of the ladder. Worn-out threads may cause incessant accidents while climbing.
The only way to stop this is to replace the worn-out treads on the ladder rungs and feet. No matter how tedious it might be to replace them, it is still necessary.
Read More: Can Rebar Be Used For Ladder Rungs
4. Deformed/ Dented Rails
Your fiberglass ladder consists of many parts that can easily be changed if they suffer significant deformity or damage to the part.
However, there are a few parts of your fiberglass ladder that cannot be changed like the ladder’s rails. If those kinds of parts of your fiberglass become dented or damaged, you will have to dispose of the fiberglass ladder.
Damage to important parts of your fiberglass ladder such as its rails places its overall structural integrity in jeopardy.
Ideas for Storing Ladders Outside
If you must store your ladders outside, you must ensure that the ladders are kept just right in order to prevent common accidents.
Properly storing your ladders can also keep your ladders in good working condition for a very long time. Here are a few storage ideas for your ladders;
- You can build a little shed with a roof to provide protection from sunlight. You could install long hooks that will hold the ladders in place to also give you easy access whenever you need to access your ladders.
- You could also install a storage rack in your garage or an area with limited access to sunlight.
- You also could simply stack the ladders flat on a cemented floor. You must ensure that it is somewhere completely out of the way and inaccessible to unauthorized users.
- You could also lean the ladder against the wall in a manner that won’t cause it to fall and be damaged.
Tips for Effective Ladder Storage
- Ensure you return the ladders to the area used for storage immediately after use.
- Select an area to store ladders where they are given 100% protection from the weather.
- Avoid people or heavy machinery when selecting storage space for your ladders.
- Use support racks to store your ladders horizontally. You could also mount the ladders on the wall.
- Ensure that whatever storage area you select for your ladders is easily accessible to you.
- Avoid dampness and intense heat as much as you can. Ensure your ladders are stored in an area with proper ventilation.
- If you are going to use support points, ensure there are no long, overbearing overhangs.
How to Maintain Your Fiberglass Ladder in Storage
You must be enlightened on how to care for your fiberglass ladder even in storage in order to increase its lifespan. Maintain your constantly cleaning the ladder and ridding it of every bit of moisture and debris that it collects over time.
Also, it is important that you periodically wax and wash your fiberglass ladder in order to increase its lifespan. Experts recommend waxing with carnauba wax, although any effective wax for cars will suffice for your fiberglass ladder, you should ensure that you utilize wax that is specifically produced for fiberglass use as this would provide the best results.
Properly waxing the surface of your fiberglass ladder will protect it from moisture, and all the danger it brings. Waxing may protect against moisture, but it is useless against ultraviolet rays from the sun.
To protect your fiberglass ladder from the destructive effect of ultraviolet radiation, you should coat the ladder to stop penetrating UV rays.
This coat will be made up of polyurethane or acrylic lacquer. Then continue engaging in consistent waxing and washing of your fiberglass ladders as this will significantly increase your fiberglass ladder’s lifespan.
Contrary to popular belief, the material used in making your fiberglass does not exclusively determine whether it should be stored outdoors or indoors. Other factors can determine where your ladder should be stored, and they include;
- Unauthorized use or access to your ladder: You may be well informed about ladder use, enough to avoid accidents and injuries. However, if any individual that is not properly trained uses your ladder, it could result in accidents.
- Trip accidents: Storing your ladder outdoors could cause common accidents such as the ladder leaning against a wall falling on anybody.
- The ladder stored outside may give intruders easier access to your premises.
Joseph is the owner of LadderGeek. He is a home remodeling enthusiast. He has created this blog to share some of his knowledge on Ladder and accessories.