I recently bought a 28' fiberglass extension ladder (big-name brand from the blue box store), but I found that it's a bit warped. When I lean it against the house, with both feet firmly planted and squared up, the top right of the ladder stands off the house by a couple inches. When I step on, the ladder doesn't feel overly stable and shifts a bit because of this warping. That said, I did actually use it fully extended for a couple hours, and I didn't fall off.

The ladder hasn't been damaged since I got it, at least. And I don't see any evidence of cracks or other failure. I'd like to return it, but I permanent-markered my name on the sides as soon as I bought it, and it seems to have soaked into the fibers so it doesn't come off with ethanol, acetone, or mineral spirits. (If anyone has a suggestion for how to get this off, I'm all ears.)

When it's on the ground, I can stand it on edge, and look down the side. Lining up the two sides at the end nearest me, I can see the warp as the two sides at the far end are skewed by an inch or two. And in fact, the fly and base sections warp in opposite directions, which makes me wonder if this is just a standard thing that I hadn't noticed before.

All ladders must warp some amount. How much is too much? How much warp do other people see in their extension ladders?


Since acetone, ethanol, etc., didn't work, I sanded my name off. I had to go a bit deeper than I expected. It wasn't bad structurally, but it tore up the finish, so there were obvious problematic places. Again, since I wanted to be sure they'd take it back, I just slapped on some polyurethane, and you couldn't tell.

Anyway, I took it back and told them it was warped. They exchanged it without hassle. I checked the new one for warp before I left the store, and it looked perfect. Testing it out again, it feels so much better. Nice and stable. Glad I got rid of the warped one.

  • 2
    If there's a manufacture defect, they should take the ladder back whether your name is on it or not. Though you might have to deal directly with the manufacturer, if it's a warranty issue (not sure how big blue handles that).
    – Tester101
    Feb 2 '16 at 17:01
  • I'd suspect a misalignment during assembly before I'd suspect actual rail warpage. In either case, unless there appears to be damage, it's unlikely to affect the ladder's performance.
    – isherwood
    Feb 2 '16 at 17:26
  • If it is warped fiberglass (well the cheap kind they make cheap ladders from) will eventually eventually straighten out if stored right and a little summer heat.
    – DMoore
    Feb 2 '16 at 18:30
  • I agree that they should take the ladder back. But I find that "should" and "will" don't go together as often as they ought to. Before I try to return it, I'm just gonna try to remove my markings as well as possible, just to give the random person at the returns desk one less reason to say no. It's within the 90-day return period, so they shouldn't give me any trouble.
    – Mike
    Feb 5 '16 at 22:13

If the ladder sections (base and extension) are not square and plum to each other there is a chance that it will not preform safely. Depending on how much deviation there is between the two sections you should be very cautious when using the ladder fully extended.

The top extension is secured and guided by an inter-locking rail built into the bottom ladder. If the guide is not straight and true there is a possibility for failure (accident). Again this is dependent on how great the warp is.

Fiberglass ladder's can be cleaned similarly when cleaning any fiberglass material (hot tubs, boat hulls, etc.). Using a 220-300 grit Wet/Dry sandpaper and backing block wet the section to be cleaned and gently, at first, work the paper rinsing occasionally. If needed change to the next highest grit.

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