Ladders vs Scaffolding vs Cherry Picker – Which is Best?

From minor repairs to full replacements, roofers rely on specialised tools and equipment to complete projects safely. Working at heights brings a unique set of requirements to the roofing industry and makes equipment like ladders, scaffolding and cherry pickers indispensable.

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of each option and take a closer look at which is best.

Ladders: portable and practical

Ladders aren’t just a staple on roofing construction sites. You’ll also see them stashed in garden sheds across the UK. They’re easy to use, portable and relatively inexpensive, which makes them ideal for small to medium-sized roofing projects. They offer easy and instant access to single or double-story structures and buildings with low-pitched roofs.

While most British households purchase ladders from local hardware stores, the ladders you’ll see on roofing construction sites are generally higher quality and more specialised. Professional roofers also have the skills and expertise to properly set up ladders. This includes tasks like secure anchoring and safe positioning.

When ladders step up:

  • Accessing roofs to assess projects and build custom quotes
  • Performing minor repairs
  • Carrying out general inspections

The limitations of ladders

  • Not necessarily the safest option for higher roofs
  • Can lack stability
  • Zero platform space

Scaffolding: stable and versatile

It’s hard to compete with scaffolding when it comes to stability. Scaffolding is also highly versatile and can be customised to match the unique needs of different projects. Structures are built from the ground up which makes scaffolding ideal for roofing projects of all sizes and complexities.

One of the biggest benefits of scaffolding is the addition of secure, stable and spacious platforms. This allows roofers to carry out complex tasks, transport equipment and access hard-to-reach areas without compromising on safety. For projects that involve multiple roofing professionals, scaffolding is considered best-in-class.

Another key advantage of scaffolding is safety. Unlike ladders which simply get roofers from A to B, scaffolding provides a stable working platform compete with guardrails. This significantly minimises the risk of falls.

When scaffolding steps up

  • Ideal for projects that involve multiple workers
  • Well-suited to larger or longer roofing projects
  • Offers flexibility for complex roof designs with hard-to-access areas
  • One of the safest options for roofing projects

The limitations of scaffolding

  • Can be time-consuming to build and set up, compared to ladders
  • Professional knowledge and experience are needed to safely assemble and dismantle scaffolding
  • More expensive than ladders

Cherry picker: fast and efficient

Also known as an aerial work platform (AWP), mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) or boom lift, cherry pickers provide easy and instant access to rooftops. They combine the easy setup and practicality of ladders with the safety and flexibility of scaffolding.

In terms of safety, cherry pickers are top rated. As well as basic measures like railings and barriers, the latest models are equipped with high-tech safety features like fall arrest systems. Once at height, cherry pickers provide roofers with a stable and sturdy platform to carry out work.

When cherry pickers step up

  • Ideal for roofing projects with high elevation
  • Can be manoeuvred into tight and hard-to-access spaces
  • Quick and easy setup, compared to scaffolding

The limitations of cherry pickers

  • Specialised training is needed to safely operate cherry pickers
  • Not always a cost-effective option for small scale roofing projects
  • Can be delays if roofers don’t have their own

Choosing the right equipment for your Wakefield roofing project

Ultimately, choosing between ladders, scaffolding and cherry pickers will depend on the unique needs of your roofing project. All three options have their advantages and limitations, meaning a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work.

Instead, professional roofing companies have the skills and expertise to assess every project individually and choose the right equipment for the job. They’ll consider a variety of factors, including the following:

Height of the roof

The height of the roof often plays a crucial role in the decision-making process. While ladders are often suitable for single-storey homes and other low-rise projects, many projects will require more specialised equipment like scaffolding and cherry pickers.

Size of the project

The size and complexity of the roofing project will often determine whether ladders, scaffolding or cherry pickers are best. For example, ladders may be faster to setup, but the extra cost and time associated with scaffolding may be a more efficient option for larger projects.

Safety considerations

Safety should always be a top priority on roofing sites. While ladders, scaffolding and cherry pickers are all considered safe options, credentials can vary depending on the specific needs of the project. It’s important to assess every project individually and make decisions based on the unique nature of the job.


Some roofs are easy to access with ladders and others require a more complex setup like scaffolding. Professional roofing companies will take the time to assess the accessibility of each project and choose practical equipment that allows employees to work safely and efficiently.

Budget restrictions

Budget can often influence the type of equipment used for a roofing project. Ladders are generally the most cost-effective option, especially for smaller projects with easy access. Cherry pickers can result in larger invoices as they’re highly specialised and bring a mechanical element to the table. They also require special training and certification which can push up costs. Scaffolding sits in the middle and can be a great alternative to both ladders and cherry pickers.

The importance of contractor accreditation

Whether your project involves ladders, scaffolding, cherry pickers or a combination of equipment, choosing a reputable roofing contractor is essential. Companies with accreditations from leading bodies such as SafeContractor and Construction Line will always prioritise the safety of employees, clients and the general public.

These types of accreditations are valuable indicators of a commitment not only to exceptional workmanship and customer service, but to overall health and safety in the workplace. Accredited contractors will carefully assess every project individually, then select equipment based on the advantages and limitations of each option.

Looking for an accredited roofing contractor in Wakefield? DPR Roofing provides exactly that for domestic roofing and commercial projects. Give us a call today on 01924 255 677 to discuss your needs and get a no obligation quote.