Best Step Stools

Updated May 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

71 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
81 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best step stools

Last Updated May 2019

When you need to grab something that’s just out of reach, pulling over a chair isn’t always your safest bet — especially if said chair has wheels. The smart solution? A step stool, of course.

Step stools are made of materials like hard plastic, wood, or metal and come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate everyone, from toddlers to adults. While shorter models are best for minor tasks and most commonly used by children, those that have more to offer in the height department are excellent for reaching high places, like top shelves in closets or cabinets. Some step stools even have bonus features, like dual steps for long reaches, carrying handles that enhance portability, and foldable designs to keep them neatly stored when not in use.

To learn more about this useful household helper, read on. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our recommended models as you shop.

Step stools have many uses around the house but also come in handy for tasks in the garage and workshop. In addition to using one to reach areas above your head, you can use one to place paint cans, tools, and hardware on while you work.

Key considerations

Height

Many step stools range from 8 to 12 inches high, which is practical for the most common uses, such as reaching top-level shelves and cleaning high areas around the home. Shorter models are suitable for when something is just out of reach, kids who need an extra boost, and adults who don’t feel comfortable climbing. However, taller step stools that go up to around 20 inches are also available and ideal for higher reaches. The downside to the added height, however, is an increased risk of losing your balance or of the stool tipping over. Multi-tiered models with two or three steps are best for added height, as the design structure distributes weight for added stability.

Size

The platform of a step stool is the component that you step on, so it’s designed to accommodate both feet. Approximately 12 to 20 inches wide is fairly standard. The length, or top-to-bottom measurements, also varies depending on the style of the step stool, but standard designs are typically between 8 to 10 inches.

Who will be using the step stool?

It’s important to think about the people who will be using a step stool before you make your selection. Shorter models with uniform, stable construction are best for kids and users who don’t want a high climb. Some step stools have handrails that make them ideal for anyone who needs something to grip for added security. In addition, some step stools are sturdier than others, so check the weight limit on the models you like before you choose.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

If you choose a step stool that lacks traction, consider purchasing anti-slip tread tape to put on the stepping surface. It’s reasonably priced, easy to apply, and will provide added peace of mind when using your new step stool.

Features

Although the concept behind the step stool is straightforward, there are several important features to think about before you buy. Here’s a closer look to help you decide.

  • Multiple steps: Some items are easy to reach with just a little added height; others are farther out of your grasp. A step stool with more than one step can give you a better reach when you need it.
  • Handles: Step stools often come with simple handles, such as holes to slip your hands through, that make it easy to move it from one location to another.
  • Foldable components: Storing a step stool can be cumbersome, especially for consumers who have limited space. Foldable legs or entire units that fold up solve this problem and also come in handy for those who need a model that’s easy to transport.
  • Slip protection: Made of rubber or rubber-like materials, slip guards keep step stools in place and are located on the platform, base, and legs.
  • Materials: When choosing a step stool, you’ll have your choice of three materials: metal, wood, and plastic.
  • Handrails: Specialized models come with handrails that give users a device to hold onto while climbing the step stool. Handrails are usually removeable for storage or when they aren’t needed.
EXPERT TIP

Step stools are close cousins to step ladders but are typically lighter and easier to use. They are best suited for simple tasks around the house and to use in a bathroom or kitchen.


Staff  | BestReviews

Step stool prices

Inexpensive: Single-tiered step stools and those made of plastic are quite affordable. Although they aren’t designed for heavy-duty use, they meet many basic needs. If you don’t have a lot to spend, you can find a model in this category for around $15 to $20.

Mid-range: If you need a few extra features like dual steps or metal construction, you’ll pay in the neighborhood of $20 to $30.

Expensive: A top-quality step stool with extras ranges in price from about $35 to $60. At this price level, you’ll find solid wood, metal, and multistep models. Unique shapes and designs, as well as models with handrails, also come at premium prices.

Tips

  • Pay close attention to a step stool’s weight limit before you make your decision. The weight each model can accommodate varies, and the maximum amount is typically indicated in the product description.
  • Keep a step stool that will be used by a child in the bathroom. It will be easy to grab when he needs it to reach the potty, wash his hands, or brush his teeth. Plus, he’ll feel like a big kid when he doesn’t need help in the bathroom.
  • Do you have balance or stability issues? Don’t risk using a step stool when you are at home by yourself. However, if you live alone, consider a step stool with a handrail that you can hold onto while you reach.
  • Don’t forget that a step stool can also come in handy as a stool. From working in the garden to playing with the kids, the right step stool can double as a portable seat.
CAUTION

A youngster may be tempted to play on a step stool, which could result in a fall. Teaching her how to use a step stool when she needs help reaching objects — and not to use it as a toy — will help her develop a sense of independence instead of an injury.

Other products we considered

The Cooking Stage Kitchen Step Stool is a well-built option that’s designed with cooking needs in mind. If you need a little extra height when working at your counter, sink, or stove, the wide platform lifts you a little over 4 inches, improving your reach just enough for many kitchen tasks. It’s also extremely tough and can hold as much as 500 pounds. If portability is a priority, Ollieroo’s Folding Step Stool has locking legs that can easily be tucked under the platform when not in use. It also has a sturdy handle, so you can grab it and go. For customers who prefer an uncomplicated, lightweight design, the Rubbermaid 2-Step gives you two step levels and is made of molded plastic that is reasonably strong but not heavy.

Closets with high shelves are great for storing shoes and folded clothing but can be difficult to reach. Keep a step stool in your closet, so you can simply pull it out when it comes time locate a favorite pair of shoes or to store clothes when the seasons change.

FAQ

Q. I need a step stool that can handle a lot of wear and tear. What are the most durable materials for heavy-duty use?
A.
Step stools are made to hold weight, and with that in mind, the materials used to make them are reinforced for strength. However, wood and metal are stronger than plastic, and while wooden step stools are ideal for all kinds of tasks around the house, those made of metal are suitable for use in the garage, workshop, or even tasks around a home’s exterior.

Q. Will step stool legs slip on hard flooring surfaces?
A.
This is a concern, but many manufacturers have taken precautions to prevent slippage. Most step stools have rubber-coated feet or bases to keep them in place when people are climbing on them. Look for this feature if you plan to use your new step stool on floors that could be slick.

Q. I like that folding step stools are easy to transport and store, but do they come with any disadvantages?
A.
When it comes to some designs, you will trade the conveniences of portability and compact storage for a bit less stability. However, features like folding legs that lock it in place are pretty reliable. If aesthetics are concerning for you, foldable models look a bit industrial and certainly not as stylish as wooden models.

Q: What’s the best height for a child’s step stool?
A.
You’ll want to start your child off with a step stool that has a fairly low platform — enough height to increase his reach, but not so much that he could hurt himself badly if he takes a tumble. Look for a model that is designed for kids or one that is between 4 and 6 inches tall — just enough to give him a boost.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey