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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 so much.
Not being able to get into (or out of) my own swimming pool does not sound like my idea of a good time.
In fact, the fear of being trapped in the pool is just one of many reasons that I, and other large folks, avoid the public pool during the summer. Recruiting 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 have an above-ground pool, you literally have to have a ladder of some sort to make use of it. Now, you probably can’t lug your sturdy new ladder to the local pool with you but it will surely bring you both safety and peace of mind while in your own backyard!
Whether you are overweight or not, heavy-duty pool ladders have the added advantage of being much more hard-wearing and lasting much longer than regular pool stairs or ladders. For this reason, we always recommend that people get the most 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!
If you’re in a hurry, here are my recommendations for the best above ground pool ladders for heavy people:
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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 simply 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 for the same weight capacity
- 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 rains 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. There are a good number of cheaper ladders without rails at all but I, as a fat guy with a kind heart, would advise against them.
- 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 about 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!
The 4 Best Heavy Duty Pool Ladders
Top Choice: Confer Plastics Access Pool Step
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 it 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.
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 the best (in my opinion) 400lb capacity heavy duty pool ladder then get this one!
Confer Curve Base Steps (400lb Capacity)
You probably don’t need to know this, but I have huge feet. It makes things like walking up small stairs a massive pain. These stairs have all the advantages of the Confer steps above but with an additional 2″ of stair depth for added stability.
The only drawback to these stairs is that they take up slightly more space in your pool, however, if you need a larger stair with a 400lb capacity, these heavy-duty stairs will be perfect for your above-ground pool!
Best A-Frame Option: Vinyl Works SLA
If you need an a-frame style ladder (because you have a stand-alone pool without a deck) then you’ll have to compromise a little bit on the weight capacity.
This ladder is perfectly sized for heavy users provided they are under the 300lb capacity.
The one drawback to this ladder (and all a-frame ladders) is that you need to put in some effort to keep them held down. This one will need 40lbs of sand to stay in place but, once there, it’s heavy-duty and will last for years!
Confer A-Frame 7200
I hesitated to include this heavy-duty pool ladder in my review because it’s so similar to the last option. It does have two advantages, however. Firstly it takes up significantly less space! Secondly, it has a lock!
The outside stairs slide up and lock which keeps your pool safe from cats and your kids safe from your pool. A locking heavy-duty ladder with a gate is a necessity if you have kids or there are kids that spend time in your yard.
Despite being kid-safe, this ladder still has a 300lb capacity which makes it suitable for all but the heaviest of users!
So you’ve got a heavy-duty ladder for your above-ground pool, 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 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!
Above Ground Pool Deck & Ladder 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 space!
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. Enjoy the sun!
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