Ladders can be made of various kinds of material. You might not think it matters, but certain materials of construction are better than others when it comes to work outdoors and gutter cleaning in particular. There are three materials that are most common – wood, aluminum, and fiberglass.
Wooden ladders are the original ladders. Until fairly recently, all ladders were made of wood. The rungs were fit into grooves or depressions carved into the side pieces. Many contractors and homeowners still prefer to use wooden ladders because they are durable, inexpensive, and non-conductive. It is very hard to bend or break a wooden ladder with normal use. They are made of hard stuff and they will last a very long time. Compared to aluminum or fiberglass ladders they are cheap so for many, their first ladder is a wooden ladder because they are not sure how often they will use the ladder and they do not want to spend a lot of money on it. Being non-conductive is important when working outdoors or near electrical lines.
There are cons to working with a wooden ladder, however. Wooden ladders are heavy and hard to move around, especially if you have a large wooden extension ladder. Some are so heavy that you need two people to carry them from place to place. That makes gutter cleaning more difficult because you will need someone with you the whole time to help move the ladder every time you need to move to another gutter section. In addition, wood is prone to damage and rot due to insect activity and bad weather exposure. A rung on a ladder could be almost ready to break because termites found it and you would not even know until you fell. Wood that is left outside in the rain for long periods of time can rot through and be ruined.
Aluminum ladders are very popular mainly because they are lightweight and easy to get around. They also are good to use outdoors because they are not easily damaged by the outdoor climate. Aluminum is also a very strong material of construction. However, there are some possible problems with aluminum. Any metal is going to be a good conductor of electricity so it is not a good idea to use a metal ladder when you are going to be working near power lines of any kind. Also, do not climb an aluminum ladder in a lightning storm. One final concern with aluminum ladders is that aluminum is a relatively soft metal and will bend under pressure. Therefore, you run the risk of the ladder becoming twisted or unstable. You need to be very careful when transporting or storing an aluminum ladder.
Fiberglass is the newest material that manufacturers are making ladders out of. Fiberglass is not conductive so it is safe to use outside near power lines. Like aluminum, fiberglass is resistant to weather damage and not susceptible to insects. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass will not bend under pressure, however there is a small risk of rungs snapping under stress. Fiberglass ladders have not been around that much so there is not a lot of data on how stable they are in the long term. Fiberglass is light, like aluminum which makes it easy to transport and move around.