Preserving an outdoor wooden ladder


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Old 03-08-07, 01:27 PM
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Preserving an outdoor wooden ladder

Several years ago I constructed a 14' wooden ladder using 2 x 4s. I kept it propped/leaned against the edge of the roof outside and used a sandbag to keep it from touching the shingles. I used it to go upon my roof as needed (sweep off debris, check the shingles and flashing, etc.) It worked great. But after about three years of exposure to the weather the wood began to decay even though I painted it with regular matching house paint.

I'm thinking about building another one if I can protect it from the elements.

Questions:

What kind of 2 x 4s should I buy? Are some 2 x 4s of better quality and will stand more exposure to weather than others? (I'm thinking that maybe I used the wrong kind of lumber to make the first ladder?)

Instead of painting it, would it be better to brush on a moisture seal such as Thompson's water seal?

If I do use a water seal, can I still paint the ladder with an exterior latex? Or do you have to use an oil-based paint to paint over wood which has been treated with water seal? I think I remember seeing a water-based water seal. Is it as good as the regular or original water seal?

I thought about using pressure treated 2 x 4s, but I know they have a tendency to warp and bend when exposed to the weather.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, information and advice.
 
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Old 03-08-07, 01:44 PM
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This goes back many many years. I was told to take care and fix a wood ladder I did then started to paint it . Boy did everbody come down on me. Was told you never never paint a ladder. Back then we just used linseed oil on the ladder any time it looked dry . No paint or sealer. You might try the P/T wood we have now. I know that some swings I made out of P/T lumber Have held up for years.
 
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Old 03-08-07, 02:17 PM
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IMO you are better off with a commercially built aluminum or fiberglass ladder - but then for yrs I made my living by working on ladders.

2 reasons you aren't supposed to paint ladders - the paint can make them slick and paint will hide defects/damage that would be more apparent with out a coating to hide it.

If you must use a home made ladder at store it on the roof, I'd suggest coating it with a good oil base stain, maybe in the neighborhood of the shingle color. Depending on exposure it may need recoating every few years.
 
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Old 03-08-07, 03:00 PM
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So an oil base stain would protect the wood better than a water sealer? Okay, I'll do that. I considered using pressure treated wood but an acquaintance used it to build a ladder and after about three years the stiles (vertical sides) started to bend, warp, stress, become crooked and threw it all out of plumb and made it wobbly.

Homemade ladders are simple and fairly easy to build and I don't expect the thing to last forever, but I'd hope I could make it last for at least six or seven years.

Thanks for the advice.
 
 

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