Ladder Grades: Understanding the Different Types and What They Mean

Ladder grades are also known as the carrying capacity of the duty rating of a ladder.

The maximum weight a ladder can carry is graded into different types and in this article, we will look at the different grades of the ladders we have in existence.

Ladder grades are also referred to as ladder types and these types indicate the duty or capacity of the ladder.

Ladder grades or types are classified under Type I, Type II, and Type III under the ANSI code or Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 under the CSA code.

Further classified under these types or grades are subclass grades, for example under Type I, you would also find Type IA.

What Do Ladder Grades Mean

What Are the Grades of Ladder and CSA Ladder Grades

CSA means the Canadian Standards Association and they have a set of standards or safety guidelines and the standard Z11 through 12 graded ladders into different duty or capacities as depicted in the table below:

Grade/Rating ANSI code/CSA codeDuty and weight carrying capacityLength (ft)
1AA / Grade 1AAIt has a weight carrying capacity of 375 pounds and can be used for industrial purposes and construction works. It is a special heavy-duty ladder. This grade of ladder is only produced by some ladder manufacturers, it is the highest in the heavy-duty ranking of laddersAbout 12 ft
1A / Grade 1AThis grade can also be used for construction work and industrial functions. It has a weight carrying capacity of 300 pounds. This is an extra heavy-duty ladderAbout 20 ft
1 / Grade 1This Type has a weight capacity of 250 pounds, it is a heavy-duty ladder that can be used for construction and industrial purposesAbout 20 ft
2 / Grade 2This Type is typically mostly used by traders and for farm purposes, it can carry up to 225 pounds of weight and it is a medium-duty ladderAbout 12 ft
3 / Grade 3Type 3 ladders are ladders used for tasks around the house, it is a light-duty ladder that has a weight carrying capacity of about 200 pounds6 – 7 ft
Ladder Grades With Weight Capacity And Length

Please note that the weight capacity as indicated in this table is inclusive of the tools, outfit/ear, or any other thing the climber is holding or carrying while on the ladder, including his/her body weight. You must never put more weight than recommended on a ladder. 

The CSA and the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), have similar ladder grades, the only difference may be the color grade variations and while CSA refers to their ratings as Grades, ANSI refer to theirs as Types.

What Is the Difference Between a Grade 1 and Grade 2 Ladder?

Under the CSA rating, Grade 1 ladders are heavy-duty ladders that can be used for industrial and construction purposes. They typically weigh between 250 pounds to 375 pounds.

Grade 2 ladders are medium-duty ladders that are used by traders and on farms. They can carry weights up to 225 pounds.

Like I said before Grade 2 ladder should never be substituted for a grade 1 ladder in weight or purpose. It could lead to some serious accidents.

The CSA codes are put in place for safety reasons and they must be followed accordingly.

Ladders are designed and built to be able to accommodate a specific weight grade and also try to go below the recommended weight capacity of the ladder to be on a safer side.

What Is a Class 3 Ladder?

Class 3 ladders are the Grade 3 or the Type 3 ladders explained in the table above. They are light-duty ladders that should only be used in households.

They typically can only carry about 200 pounds of weight. These ladders can only be used for very basic, light, or domestic tasks around the house.

Some users will even go as far as telling you not to invest in a class 3 ladder at all because some other types of basic ladders will carry out the same functionality without breaking the bank. Like platform ladders or step stools, these are simple ladder types used around the house.  

Before deciding on the ladder to go for, you must consider these things; the size of the ladder, grade or type of the ladder, the task you intend to use the ladder for, and the distance you intend to reach.

All of these will help to inform a better decision. The size of the ladder or the height you intend to use the ladder to reach should be 3 – 4 feet lower than the ladder you use.

For example, if you need to reach the roof of a building that is 16 feet high, then you are required to use a ladder that is 19 – 20 ft in size.

The same logic applies to Grades or Types as well, if the weight of your tools, shoes, and outfit, body weight is about 250 pounds then you need a ladder that can carry at least 300 pounds of weight.


Grades and Types are put in place for our safety and we must do well to carry out due diligence before climbing a ladder.

Also, carry out a ladder inspection before and after usage and make sure to store the ladder properly. The durability and strength of the ladder would depreciate if it is not properly cared for.