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On paper, having a swimming pool in your yard sounds amazing. Cool off anytime? Sign me up! Wear a bikini or no shirt without feeling self-conscious? All day long! Not having a wide, heavy-duty pool ladder that will support my weight? Ehhhh….
Not being able to get into (or out of) my swimming pool does not sound like my idea of a good time.
In fact, the fear of being trapped in the pool is a huge reason that many larger folks avoid the public pool during the summer. Needing to recruit help to pull/push you out of the pool is a humiliating experience that is difficult to live with. So, what to do? Well, get a heavy-duty pool ladder, of course! If you are fortunate enough to swim in the sanctuary of your own yard, buy yourself some peace of mind and get a ladder that will support your weight!
Whether you are heavy or not, heavy-duty pool ladders have the added advantage of being much more hard-wearing and last much longer than regular pool stairs or ladders. For this reason, we always recommend that people get the most heavy-duty option that they can afford (and will fit their pool). It will last longer, be more stable, and (if need be) support a lot more weight (up to 400lbs for the ladders we chose).
If you’re in a hurry, here are my recommendations for the best above ground pool ladders for heavy people:
What to look for in a heavy duty pool ladder:
If you own an above-ground pool, your options are fairly limited for getting in and out. You simply have to buy a ladder or drop out of a nearby tree. Because you really have to have a ladder, let’s talk about the characteristics you should be looking for (beyond the obvious):
- Weight Capacity: Since I mentioned “the obvious”, let’s hit that first. Weight capacity is one of the most important aspects of a heavy-duty pool ladder. Without the necessary capacity, no other characteristics matter. Now, unlike many things, the weight capacity of pool ladders is typically fairly accurate. This means that if the manufacturer says that it’s a pool ladder with a 400lb capacity, then it really is a 400 lb capacity pool ladder.
- Type: The type of heavy-duty pool ladder you need is typically dictated by how you have your pool set up. The strongest and most common type of 400lb capacity ladders goes from the pool to a deck. If you need an A-frame ladder that comes from the inside of the pool to the ground outside (and visa-versa…) then prepare to pay a bit more.
- Width: If you typically buy plus size furniture for the additional width, you’ll want to consider how easy it will be for you to fit between the rails of a pool ladder. If you have an above ground pool and get a ladder with rails on each side, you may find it difficult to fit – so be sure to check the ladder width!
- Rails: Speaking of rails, make sure that whatever you buy has solid, integrated rails. Many manufacturers seem to add rails as an afterthought and they aren’t meant for real support.
- Stability: Stability is absolutely crucial in a heavy-duty, above ground pool ladder. If you have an in-ground pool, a tipping ladder probably won’t mean much since you’ll just end up back in the pool. Above ground pool ladders, however, typically need a wide foot-base as well as weight/stakes to hold them down.
- Safety first! If you have kids or pets at your house, you’re probably hyper-aware of pool safety. While most ladders have some sort of gate or locking system, be sure to find one that will work for your specific situation.
With all those characteristics in mind, let’s check out 5 of the best heavy duty pool ladders we found that meet all of them!
Confer Plastics Access Pool Step – The Best All-Around 400 lb Capacity Pool Ladder
If you have a standard “above ground pool surrounded by a deck” scenario, this is the heavy-duty pool ladder that you want. It fits decks up to 60″ and is rated by Confer with a 400lb capacity.
If you are big and heavy or unsteady on your feet, you’ll be happy that hear that with 10″ steps and dual rails, you’ll never miss a step getting into or out of the pool! And speaking of the rails and steps, the steps are 27″ wide, which will give almost everyone ample space to fit comfortably up them.
These stairs are also the most budget-oriented steps on our list. Yes, there are cheaper stairs out there, but there are no other stairs with this capacity and quality that can compete for value. For what you get, these stairs might just be the best deal on the market!
The only con of these steps is that they don’t have a gate, but you can easily add a gate or fence to your deck.
So if you want to the best 400lb capacity heavy duty pool ladder (for the money) then get this one!
Best High Capacity Pool to Ground Pool Ladder
If you don’t have a deck and need to get from your above ground pool out onto the ground, your options are significantly more limited. Luckily, you don’t need a dozen different amazing pool ladders, you just need one – and we’ve found it! This set-up is the same 400lb capacity stairs as above, but with a 300lb capacity ladder attached. This is the perfect set-up for big guys and gals (up to 300lbs) to get out of the pool and onto the ground.
The only negatives with this set-up are: slightly lower weight capacity, no gate, and the ladder may be a bit more difficult to climb. If none of those are significant issues for you, this will be a great option! However, if those issues turn you off, worry not! They’re all solved with the add on just below!
Full Rails & Gate Add-on
If you want the Cadillac of heavy-duty pool ladders, this is the add on you need! This kit adds on a full handrail and locking gate system to the Confer ladder which gives you a full pool-to-ground ladder with a 380lb capacity. If you have kids or pets around then you need a heavy-duty locking option!
Above Ground Pool Ladder with 400 lb Weight Capacity
If you need something a bit wider and more comfortable for use, you might want to check out this amazing curved stair system. Not only do these stairs have a 400lb capacity, but they are molded out of super-strong resin which is so durable that they’re backed by a full 5 year warranty! So if they’re weakened by sun, chemicals, or use within 5 years (they shouldn’t be…) then Confer’s excellent customer service will have you covered!
The only drawback of this style of heavy duty pool latter is that it takes up more space in your pool than traditional ladders. So, if you have a pool with a limited footprint, you might want to get something more space-conscious. Otherwise, these stairs will do a great job for years to come!
Best Curved 500lb Capacity Tiered Pool Stairs
I hesitated to include this heavy duty pool ladder in my review because it’s so similar to the last option. It does have one advantage, however, that pushed it over the edge: it has a 500lb capacity! In fact, this is the only pool ladder I know of on the market that has been given such a high capacity rating. However, that’s not all it’s got going for it…
This fully ABS injection molded piece is the only ladder in our review that doesn’t need additional ballast or anchor weight to hold it down. You simply place it on the included 5’x4′ mat, and that is where it will sit!
The only drawback to this heavy-duty pool ladder is that it only has one railing. So, if you need the support of having a railing for each hand, these probably won’t work for you. Otherwise, this might be the easiest to set up and strongest pool stairs that you can get for big and heavy swimmers!
So you’ve got your heavy duty pool ladder, but what next? Well, luckily for us, they’re easy to install! No matter the type of pool you have, I would highly recommend that if you didn’t get a mat with your stairs, pick one up.
Once you have the mat placed and smoothed out, it is a simple matter of getting a couple of strong guys to help you fill the anchor spaces of your stairs with either sand or pea gravel and setting them into your pool! Just be sure not to scratch, dent, or pop your above ground pool. There’s no point in having pool stairs with a 400 lb capacity if you’ve wrecked the pool you’ve put them in!
Some above ground pool deck inspiration:
If you don’t have a deck around at least a portion of your pool, listen up for a second – they are dirt cheap to build (there are lots of free plans), can look great, and add a huge amount of functionality to your pool! Not only that, but it makes installing a high capacity, above ground pool ladder a cinch (not to mention it makes it more sturdy).
So if you need a bit of convincing, here are a few of my favorite set-ups:
I have to include this deck first simply because it’s so far beyond anything that I have. I would simply love to have a deck this size around my above ground pool. It allows tons of space for parties, milling around, eating, or whatever you feel like!
The only drawbacks to a deck this size are: it’s expensive to build, and it takes up tons of space! If your pool is the main feature of your backyard, however, it’s probably fine for it to take up more room!
This is a great example of a basic above ground pool deck. It allows you to get some beach chairs, add a chest for pool storage, or even bbq next to your pool! (just be careful)
While I love this set-up, if you’re the type that needs a high capacity ladder, you’re probably going to want to add another step on the bottom!
If you have kids, pets, or wildlife around, having a fully enclosed deck is must. It allows you to fully close off your pool when no one is around and make sure everyone stays safe. As an added bonus, the railing provides a level of privacy which allows big guys (like myself) to be more relaxed and not feel like the neighbors are spying.
So, it may seem a bit backward, but make sure that you have your pool set-up finalized before buying a heavy high capacity pool ladder!
If, however, you’re happy with where you’re at, scroll back up and pick out your favorite stair set-up. Or, if you have a deck and just want to get the easiest-to-install 400lb capacity pool ladder, get this one! Enjoy the sun!
Oh and, if you don’t have one, be sure to pick up some 400lb capacity pool floats to match your ladder. Otherwise you’ll be spending the day just standing around in your pool.
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