What Are Ladders and Walk Boards?
Jordan Paul , null
May 23rd, 2022
Many of us have used a ladder at some point in our lives, or at least a step stool. Ladders are wonderful tools used in everything from war to painting houses. There are step ladders, extension ladders, articulating ladders, and everything in between. Walk boards however, may be new to some people interested in painting.
Walk boards essentially connect two ladders horizontally to increase the painter’s reach without moving the ladders. Walk boards use various guards, clamps, and straps to connect a walk board to two (or more) ladders. Today we will discuss how some painters use a combination of ladders, walk boards, and other accessories to safely and quickly paint the exterior of your home.
What Is a Walk Board and Why Would I Use One?
Most ladders, both extension and step versions usually are made from either wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. Walk boards can be used with any of these ladders with the help of ladder jacks and safety clamps. Ladder jacks are adjustable brackets that hang from the rungs of a ladder to provide horizontal support for the walk board.
Walk boards allow a painter (or other professional) to travel sideways considerable distances without moving the ladders. Ladders are most dangerous when the user tries to overextend, and loses their balance. Walk boards allow the painter to safely paint an entire surface, like a wall, without moving the ladders. This makes the job much safer for the painter.
Is Setting Up Ladders and Walk Boards Difficult?
Generally, ladders and walk boards play well with each other because they are designed that way. Most professionals opt for aluminum or fiberglass versions because they have a high strength to weight ratio. This makes using very long ladders and walk boards possible, although great care must be taken with the connections.
Walk boards will require two ladders (or other support like sawhorses), two ladder jacks, and safety brackets. Both the ladders and the ladder jacks are adjustable so that the walk board will be level, even if the ladders are not. As the ladders become steeper, the ladder jacks become shallower to keep the walk board as level as possible.
What Else Do I Need to Use Ladders and Walk Boards?
When you purchase your ladder jacks and walk board, you will want to buy the safety clamps and guard rails for your particular walk board. All manufacturers of walk boards will offer a matching handrail, which is usually the same length as the walk board. The clamps are used to secure the walk board to the rungs of the ladder and/or ladder jacks.
The available handrail for your walk board isn’t technically necessary just to use the walk board, but if the walk board is more than 48” from the ground, you should. The handrails are usually also adjustable, and available in different heights. Certain OSHA safety rules require them in certain situations, but they’re always a good idea.
What Other Accessories Might I Need to Use Ladders and Walk Boards?
Most pro painters also have stand-offs for their extension ladders, as they prevent the ladder from twisting during use. The more narrow a ladder is the less stability it has laterally, so these stand-offs essentially make the ladder wider than it is. This makes the ladder much more stable and allows the weight of the ladder to be shifted above a wall, like to a roof or beam.
What Are Pump Jacks?
Pump jacks are a tool used to lift a walk board a little at a time, using a foot mechanism. Most aren’t actually pumps, they are just called that because they are operated by pumping a lever with a foot. This allows the painters using the pump jacks to be on the walk board as they lift it. This greatly reduces the effort required to lift the walk board onto the ladder jacks.