Updated on March 8, 2021
Unlike the traditional step ladder, the step stool is designed for giving you just enough of a height boost for reaching areas in your kitchen, shop, or garage you otherwise couldn’t get to.
It has the added benefit of providing you with a portable seat for working at multiple locations.
While many of the best step stools will likely have some minor variations from one company to the other, a top step height of around 2 feet is typical (for a 3-step stool), giving the user the ability to paint the tops of walls or ceiling, accessing an overhead storage area in the garage, or simply the ability to wash the roof of today’s trucks and SUVs.
Unlike most other tools found in the garage, a good step stool is perfect for the home as well, storing in a small space like a pantry or closet but giving ready access to high shelves, cupboards or even the attic pull cord any time you need it.
Related: 27 Types of Ladders (w/ Pictures)
Our 7 Favorite Step Stools
|Product||Steps||Top Step||Capacity||Item Weight|
|Little Giant Safety Step||3||26.5"||300 lbs||21.5 lbs|
|Rubbermaid RM-3W||3||27.3"||200 lbs||13.0 lbs|
|Delxo WK2061B-2||3||28.0"||330 lbs||15.2 lbs|
|Werner 223-6||3||28.0"||225 lbs||13.0 lbs|
|Rubbermaid RM-P2||2||16.1"||300 lbs||5.6 lbs|
|Louisville Ladder FS1502||2||16.0"||300 lbs||8.0 lbs|
|Cosco 11135CLG1E||2||17.5"||225 lbs||7.4 lbs|
Step Stool Reviews Reviews
If you need a high-quality step stool, but with a bit more strength and safety features, the USA-made Little Giant might be what you are looking for. It’s arguably the best step stool ever made and its unique features set it apart.
Manufactured from aircraft quality aluminum, each step can hold up to 300 pounds, and it is still light enough to move around with one hand thanks to its Tip and Glide wheels.
Pictured here is the 3-step model but 2-step and 4-step variations are also available. These step stool ladders are a bit more expensive but unlike others, they will last a lifetime and you’ll feel completely safe thanks to its excellent stability.
The Little Giant’s top step is 26.5 inches high giving it slightly less reach but the top bar is higher for more comfort and stability. When folded, it measures 5.25″ x 22″ x 43″, small enough to fit in a closet, the trunk of your car, or in a job site lockbox.
It’s built to meet or exceed industrial ANSI specifications, well balanced, and allows you to work towards either side of the ladder without tipping.
Even though it is built to stand up to heavy duty industrial use, this is not the best stepladder for use on open ground, or even on flooring that is tilted at a significant angle such as a pedestrian ramp.
You may find that this model is a bit heavier than others, weighing in a bit over 20 pounds, but it’s also built to provide more strength.
>> Check price at Amazon <<
Rated as a Type III Household Stepladder, it has a steel frame with 3 wide steps and a bit over 27-inch standing height when in use. The wide steps are made of sturdy, hard plastic that can support up to 200 pounds per step.
For convenient access, the Rubbermaid RM-3W will fit conveniently in spaces slightly more than 3 inches wide, and at only about 13 pounds, moving it to where you need it will not be a chore.
For projects such as indoor painting, this is one of the best stepladders to reach the ceiling without fear of tipping or the hassle of moving around a larger ladder.
In the kitchen, it will provide enough reach to get to the shelves of every cabinet, even above the refrigerator.
For your safety, the rungs will automatically lock in place and the patented foot design will not mar flooring. While it’s an excellent step stool for many projects, it’s important to keep in mind that this tool is not designed for use on uneven surfaces.
It will work great for changing a bulb on the porch, but is not the safest approach to trimming a limb in tree.
There isn’t a lot to complain about with the Rubbermaid RM-3W, but there has been mention of problems with the non-marring feet being too loose. But an overwhelming majority of users say this was not a problem, so it doesn’t appear to be a common problem.
Also, while the 200 lb capacity is probably conservative, you may want to consider the heavier duty Little Giant above for greater stability and safety.
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When you want a compact, reliable folding step stool, Delxo is a brand you should consider. While not a household name, their 3-step stool (also available in a 2-step variation) checks off all the boxes of a good kitchen step stool.
The Delxo three step ladder has widened steel pedals with no overlap and non-slip handgrips for added manual balance. Non-marring legs help ensure your floor is also safe. It has a solid steel frame, back cross brace, and locking mechanism to allow a best in class weight capacity of 330 pounds along with a top step height of 28 inches.
There are a lot of contradicting opinions about this stool. Most users say theirs is quite stable and has sturdy construction, while a few claim the steps bend when stepped on and have even broken. Likewise, some have said the stool folds almost flat while others say the top support bar is curved and prevents easy storage.
As it’s impossible to reconcile such differing viewpoints, we suggest fully examining the product upon delivery and ensuring the stool feels stable and you are comfortable with it.
The product has a 60-day quality warranty and a two-year Amazon extended warranty, so buyers have some leeway to judge this stool for themselves.
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The American leader in quality ladder design, Werner is more known for their multi-use and extension ladders but also sell the smaller varieties.
It’s designed to be light to medium use step stool in a lightweight design. Manufactured of steel, it weighs only 13 pounds and measures about 46 x 19 x 3 inches when folded.
Built for lighter applications than our other top picks, the Werner 223-6 can accommodate 225 pounds per step, and gives you a little more reach with its 28 inch high top step.
In the shop or in the kitchen, the slip resistant steps will give you more security of movement, and the top of the handle is over 43 inches high when in use, to give you a stable place to grip.
While this model gives you a few inches more in height, the steps are relatively narrow, at only 14 inches, and that could pose a safety hazard for some jobs or users.
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Perfect for those higher shelves in the kitchen or pantry or for children who might need a little boost at the bathroom sink, the RM-P2 is a lightweight (under 6 lbs) two-step molded plastic stool with cutout handles and non-slip treads.
Non-marring feet and a 300-pound weight capacity mean this little helper can also be of use to adults. While its top step is only 16 inches high, it definitely has its uses. You can even use it in place of a creeper seat in the garage for auto detailing or maintenance.
One would think a plastic stool would be fragile, but this one is built to handle abuse. Some owners have reported a bit of wobble when mounting the first step, and it won’t fold for storage.
However, it’s light enough for even your toddler to move it to the sink and won’t slip out from under them, making it a great addition for family homes.
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Made of superior quality fiberglass, the FS1502 is capable of holding up to 300 pounds. Internal spreader bars and steel rivets provide added durability, while the recessed tray means tools won’t roll off.
A polyester veil protects the stool from the elements while the back braces both add support and encourage safer use. Keep in mind that while the stepladder is 24 inches tall, you should not put your weight on the top step. This means it has a usable height of 16 inches (second step).
Overall, this is a great step stool, but it’s also a victim of bad sellers. When buying online, purchase from a reputable merchant, check to make sure you’re not getting a refurbished model, and examine it thoroughly for signs of prior use upon arrival.
>> Check price at Amazon <<
Its steel construction includes continuous rear leg support, with slip-resistant steps and non-marring feet. Rated for up to 225 pounds and with a top step height of 17.5 inches, this step stool is perfect for people who just need a boost for daily household activities, such as reaching high shelves or hanging a lightbulb.
Because this is a smaller model, it can be stored in places larger step stools won’t fit. The wide steps make it a little safer to use than narrow step models.
Be warned that the legs are non-marring but not non-slip and may need rubber feet when using on laminate or other low-friction flooring materials.
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Steps to a Perfect Stool: A Buying Guide
There are a lot of things to consider for such a simplistic product concept. As with many other items, we can’t tell you any one thing is better than another because each person’s needs are slightly different. The choices available in step stools illustrate this perfectly.
Here are some things you will want to consider before investing in a step stool to find the best match for your needs.
Step Stool vs Step Ladder
This is one of the most common points of confusion for even experienced buyers. It’s easy to confuse the two, resulting in getting the wrong product, but there are a few simple ways to ensure you won’t get a step ladder when you want a step stool and vice-versa.
Step stools have one to four steps and a maximum platform height of four feet. They may have a support rail above this top step which doesn’t count as part of the stool’s height.
Most step stools are made of lightweight materials and will hold between 200 and 300 pounds. Additionally, they’re very compact once folded but are often used around the home as extra seating or shelves for books or plants when not needed.
Step ladders are a bit different. They’re made of sturdier materials and have more steps. Some of these steps extend further back to double as working platforms to hold tools and supplies.
Due to their taller height, a step ladder can be a bit more difficult to store, but have the same folding capabilities as their smaller kin.
You’re far more likely to use a step ladder for painting or outdoor work, while step stools are used for quick tasks such as changing light bulbs or reaching cabinets, with an occasional complex task on the roster.
In all, choose a step stool if you need a short height boost (washing your car’s roof, for example) and a step ladder if you need a ladder’s height or storage for a prolonged job (such as installing a ceiling fan on a tall ceiling).
There are several possible materials out there, including wood and steel, but there are two specific choices for frame material that are all-around the best:
- Aluminum – Lighter than steel and almost as sturdy, aluminum is an affordable and reliable material. It’s conductive, however, so is best used for tasks that won’t involve electrical work.
- Fiberglass – Heavier and more expensive than aluminum, fiberglass is a bit more heavy-duty (less flex) and won’t conduct electricity, making it the better choice for contractors and DIYers who do electrical work.
Height and Number of Steps
Steps stools, by definition, are free-standing ladders no more than four feet tall from base to top platform. They may contain anywhere from one to four steps.
The trick to figuring out the best height is to consider some basic averages. Using a step stool, the average person will only be able to reach four feet higher than the stool’s top step safely. Thus, a four-foot stool will allow you to reach a lightbulb on an eight-foot ceiling.
The number of steps is more a matter of personal preference once you have the height down. A four foot step stool can contain four steps, making each step rise approximately one foot. In the event you have problems lifting your legs that high due to arthritis or another condition, it might be better to go with a four-step three-foot step stool or choosing a step ladder instead.
Molded vs Folding (Storage Considerations)
This particular feature is almost entirely up to personal preferences. A good folding stool can easily be stored in the gap beside the fridge or shoved in a closet. However, as mentioned before, the design of a step stool means it’s often used for far more than standing on.
If you need to take it with you on the go and want it out of the way, choose a folding model. Otherwise, a molded model has less parts to worry about and is every bit as useful.
The amount of safety an item has often depends on the person using it. Older DIYers with health issues may need a lot of features the average person can pass on. However, getting a good balance of features is always a good idea, since you never know when they might be needed. Some features to look for include:
- Locking mechanism on folding models
- Non-slip or treaded surfaces
- Handrails, preferably with a non-slip surface for better stability at heights
- Non-slip and/or non-marring feet
- Weight classification (i.e. the maximum weight the stool can safely hold)
- Bracing and other support structures