Can you lean a ladder against a gutter?

By Tom •  Updated: 01/20/21 •  6 min read

Technically, yes, you can lean an extension ladder directly against a gutter, but I generally wouldn’t recommend it.

Here’s why: You risk…

If you must use the ladder directly against the gutters, the steeper the ladder is, the less pressure will be put on the gutter and hence the less chance there is of denting the gutters as you put your weight on the ladder.

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While you can mitigate the danger by tying off the ladder, it’s not safe to set up your ladder so that it doesn’t meet the 4 to 1 rule (1 foot out for every 4 feet in height). If you put the base too far out, you risk having the ladder slide out from under you, and if you put it too close in you risk falling backwards.

Those are two scenarios I’m not anxious to experience myself, so I stick with the 4 to 1 rule.

Can a Ladder Hurt Your Gutter?

Yes it can.

If you have sturdy gutters, you may be fine and you might not dent or bend the gutter, but it’s possible that it could. Further, even if they are sturdy, if the ladder is rubbing against the gutter, it could scrape the paint off of your gutter. Definitely don’t lean it against gutters that appear weak or damaged.

While you risk dents, warping, scratches and damaged gutters, it can be a judgement call. If you have newer, stronger gutters with solid brackets you could be fine.

You can find plenty of people who swear they have been leaning ladders against gutters for 87 years without ever having a problem. But again, not recommended.

Since the weight put against the gutter is a big factor, also consider how heavy you and your ladder are. The lighter — obviously — the better off you are and the less chance that you’ll hurt your gutters.

Should you try this, keep a close eye on your gutters as you get your ladder set up and as you start to put weight on the first few steps. If you see any give, weakness, or movement, I would stop.

All that said, why not get the right tool for the job so you don’t have to worry about any of that?

How Do You Use A Ladder Without Damaging Gutters?

The best way is to get up to the roof without leaning the ladder on the gutter in the first place.

You can protect your gutters by using a simple piece of hardware that will protect your gutter from ladder damage by supporting your ladder and either keeping it off of the gutter or protecting it in some manner. Here are a whole host of options for that:

See a Ladder stay/standoff/offset/stabilizer in action here:

How do you safely use a ladder against gutters?

According to Occupational Health and Safety 2,000 people a DAY in the US were injured in 2014, with 100 of those per day suffering long term disabilities from the injury.

Here’s a quick video on some ladder safety basics when cleaning a gutter:

What kind of ladder do I need to clean gutters?

It depends on HOW you’re planning on cleaning the gutters and HOW HIGH your gutters are. If they are low enough you might be able to get away with a step ladder in which case you don’t have to worry about leaning the ladder against your gutter. Most likely you’ll need an extension ladder.


A few years ago I bought my first house. It’s 100 years old. It’s clearly had a history of less-than-professional DIY handymen/women. And APPARENTLY you’re supposed to actually put work and money into it if you don’t want it to look terrible or water to rain down on you while you’re sleeping. About YouTube Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram