Know This Before Building a Wheelchair Ramp
- The needs of the primary users
- Site requirements
- Local building requirements
Wheelchair ramp installation needs to be done right in order to be safe and effectively meet the needs of people struggling with mobility challenges. Louisiana Stairlifts, your mobility experts and specialists in wheelchair lift installation, has these tips to offer anyone interested in building a wheelchair ramp.
The Needs of Primary UsersA variety of circumstances can lead to the need to construct a ramp. Sometimes mobility challenges are temporary and well-defined. Maybe your loved one has been in an accident and needs to use a wheelchair during recovery. In other cases, the ability to manage stairs safely might be a long-term problem. For example, your aging parent may slowly begin to find climbing up and down stairs progressively more challenging. Today, they use a cane, but a year from now, they may require a walker or other mobility assist. Or, if you want your business to be fully accessible, you need to be prepared to accommodate anyone in any condition.
Your answers to these questions will determine which type of ramp is best for you. Temporary rental ramps are an excellent option for those with short-term needs. If you’re wishing to make your home or business wheelchair friendly for the foreseeable future, constructing a permanent ramp is the way to go. Either way, your users need the following:
- A ramp with a slope that is easy to climb and safe to descend. If your ramp is too steep, it won’t help anyone.
- Spacious landings that offer ample room for turning a mobility device.
- Safe spaces at the top and bottom for maneuvering on and off the ramp.
- Handrails for support and side rails that protect against falling over the edge.
- Non-skid surfaces that prevent slipping or tripping.
Site RequirementsWith the needs of your users foremost in your mind, it’s time to consider the site.
EntryYou likely have at least a couple of choices for which entry point to use for your ramp. You want to choose the door that offers the easiest access. The door itself needs to be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. In addition, porches, entryways, and other features need to be able to manage wheelchair access.
Elevation ChangeThe total elevation change from top to bottom of the stairs dictates the required slope and run the length of your ramp. A good rule of thumb is that each inch of elevation requires 12 inches, or one foot, of ramp. So, if your stairs are 6 inches high, your ramp will need to be 6 feet long. In addition, on ramp cannot exceed 30 inches in rise. In other words, after rising 30 inches, the ramp needs to provide a flat, 60” x 60” landing platform for rest before continuing on.
WidthIn order to comfortably accommodate a wheelchair and the required handrails and clearances, ramps need to be at least 42 inches wide.