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What is a Ladder Rung?

Phil Shepley
Phil Shepley

A ladder rung is a step of a ladder. When most people think of the word ladder, a very specific image comes to mind, most likely of a standard ladder, known as a fixed ladder. This type consists of two long pieces of wood, metal or plastic on each side that are connected by a series of rungs, which can be of the same or different material. There are, however, many different styles of ladders, some of which are designed for more specific purposes, and others which are multi-purpose. The rungs of these ladders can also be unique in several different ways, mostly depending on the function and construction of the ladder.

A fixed ladder can be made of wood or lightweight metal, with each individual rung consisting of the same material. The rungs are spaced an equal distance from one another, and they are typically anywhere from 10 inches (25.4 cm) to 12 inches (30.5 cm) apart, but can be more or less. Ladders with 12-inch-spaced rungs are not usually built in lengths that are divisible by 12, however, so the distance from the top and bottom rungs to the ends of the ladder will usually be different from one another, and will be shorter than the spaces between each rung.

Aluminum ladder.
Aluminum ladder.

The shape of a ladder rung will vary from ladder to ladder. A cylinder is a common rung shape that is found on many ladders, both metal and wood. Because of its roundness, however, it may be difficult to stand in one place without proper shoes, so the function of rungs with circular, or ovular, cross sections is mainly for climbing up and down. Metal circular rungs are often covered with a gritty, sandpaper-like finish for a better grip while standing on them.

Wooden ladder.
Wooden ladder.

Step ladders, or folding ladders, are more popular for use when someone wants to stand in one place. These are designed with hinges at the top and two or sometimes even three folding sides. A ladder rung on at least one side of a step ladder is usually designed with a flat top that is several inches (cm) in length for better support for a person standing on any rung. These rungs are flat so that it is just as easy for someone to do his or her necessary work while standing at any point on the ladder, and the rungs can be finished with slip-proof material to help prevent accidents.

Extension ladders.
Extension ladders.

A ladder rung doesn’t even need to be rigid. This is true in the case of rope ladders, which are designed to be lightweight, portable, and easily stored. Because of their construction, these ladders are often kept near windows in case of an emergency. Their flimsiness, however, does not make them very handy in a lot of situations where rigid ladders are typically used, since taking a step down a rung on a rope ladder can require quite a bit of dexterity.

Discussion Comments


Once when my husband climbed a ladder to fix something on the roof, somehow the ladder blew over and he was stuck up on top of the roof with no way to get down.

This was before everyone had a cell phone so he had no choice but to wait until myself or a neighbor got home who could set the ladder back up for him.

What bothers me most about ladder rungs are they feel so slippery. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of shoes I have on, I always feel like my feet are going to slip right off the rung and everything is going to fall to the ground.


I don't mind being on a ladder as long as I feel like it is secure at the bottom. If I start to take a step or two up and the ladder starts moving to the side, I know I am in trouble and need to readjust it.

There are times if I know I have to climb to the top of a ladder I will ask someone to stand at the bottom and hold the ladder to make sure it doesn't topple over.


It sounds like I am not the only one who doesn't like to spend time on ladders. I find ladders heavy, cumbersome and they scare me as well. I don't mind using a step ladder that only has a few steps. What also makes a step ladder easier to use is the steps are wide as opposed to the skinnier rungs of a taller ladder.


I always use ladder rung locks before climbing a tall ladder. They make me feel secure, and I can keep my mind on my work.


@giddion – I get scared on ladders, too. The only one I ever use is a tiny collapsible ladder that doesn't even have rungs. It has a wide top, and that is all.

I've always been frightened by ladder rungs. They just aren't big enough, and it would be so easy for your foot to slip right off. Even if the rungs are coated in slip-proof material, just the fact that they are so narrow seems dangerous.


I have a fear of heights, so I can't take more than a few steps up a ladder without freezing. The only ladder I can really use is my little step ladder.

It has two rungs and a flat top that is wide enough for me to stand up there while reorganizing my closet shelves. I get a little dizzy on it sometimes, but it's so much better than standing on a big ladder.

I keep this ladder in my walk-in closet and use it whenever I need to reach some clothes off the top shelf. If I need to use it anywhere else in the house, it is easily transportable. It isn't heavy at all, and I can fold it up.


What cross section gives the greatest load bearing capacity of a rung?

Is it an inverted equilateral triangle (my guess)?

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    • Aluminum ladder.
      Aluminum ladder.
    • Wooden ladder.
      Wooden ladder.
    • Extension ladders.
      By: Wendy Kaveney
      Extension ladders.