ADA Compliance Ramps

Uniform Building Code

Unlike the ADA compliance ramps the Uniform Building Code has a section which pertains to wheelchair ramps and states that the slope of any wheelchair ramp should not be greater than a 1:8 ratio. This means for every inch of rise the ramp needs to be 8” long; a 10’ rise means the ramp is 80” in length. This is the minimum allowed per the uniform building code and not the recommended slope. The recommended slope is a 1:12 ratio.

If the slope is greater than a 1:15 ratio a hand rail becomes mandatory. The handrail height should be a minimum of 34” from the ramp floor but not higher than 38”. It should have a clearance of 40mm from a wall or whatever surface it is affixed to.

The floor should be made from any kind of slip resistant material. Building codes require the surface be made slip resistant by adding a rough textured material or coating.



For every 29’6” of length the ramp should have a landing which is at least 47” long and is the same width as the ramp. If the ramp has a direction change a landing is required there, too, and the minimum dimensions are 5’x5’.

By following these building codes you can assure that your wheelchair ramp is safe to use.



ADA Compliance Ramp

All new construction ramps should have a slope of a 1:12 ratio of rise for a maximum of 30’ for a single run after which it should have a landing. If it has to be built in an existing building and there is not enough space for the 1:12 ratio, then a slope of 1:10-1:12 is permitted and the rise must not exceed 6” from the ground. ADA compliance states 1:8-1:10 ratios can have no more than a 3” rise; a ramp that is below a 1:8 ratio is not permitted under any circumstances.

An ADA compliance ramp must have a clear width of at least 36”, landings at the very top and where they meet the ground; every 30’ of run must have a level landing of at least as much as the width of the wheelchair ramp and 60” long. Switchback landings for turns must be 5’x5’; and doorway landings must be large enough to accommodate the wheelchair after the door is opened.

Any ramp more than 6” high or 6’ in length should have a handrail on either side for ADA ramp compliance. For switchback or dogleg ramps the handrails must extend the entire length of the wheelchair ramp, or else must extend to within 1’ from the top to within 1’ of the bottom of the ramp.

As with the Uniform Building Code requirements ADA compliance for handrail height is a minimum of 34” from the ramp floor to a maximum height of 38” from the ramp floor.

ADA compliance ramps means that all wheelchair ramps built include all the above specifications.

Ramp Materials

There are several types of materials that can be used to build your ramp. Concrete, fiberglass, polyethylene, wood and aluminum are some of the more common materials.

Concrete Ramps

Concrete is used when you want a more permanent structure, is naturally slip resistant unlike wood ramps used in adverse weather conditions. They can handle rough usage and not get damaged with constant use over several years. They do not become as hot as metal in extreme heat. A drawback to concrete ramps is that they are permanent and cannot be moved easily.

Concrete deck ramps are not real concrete, but are modular ramps made to look like concrete and are easier to move from place to place.

Fiberglass Ramps

Wheelchair ramps are made of very thin glass fibers; are noncorrosive in nature, and the wheelchair user can easily transport the ramp itself on their wheelchair and operate it without the help from others.

Wheelchair ramps made from this type of material are tough and durable, lightweight, have a nonskid surface tread, and smooth surfaces for indoor or outdoor use.

Wood Ramps

Most do-it-yourselfers will build an ADA compliance ramp made from wood as they are easier to construct than concrete, cheaper than modular aluminum and can be more aesthetically appealing. It is important to use pressure treated wood.

Although plywood may be cost effective, it is difficult to maintain and has a tendency to rot over time and with use. Plywood wheelchair ramps have a poor safety rating and are very slippery in wet conditions.

During construction be sure that water can drain from the surface during inclement weather. To increase traction to your ramp you can add sand to your paint. Pebble grain paper is also good to help make your ramp skid resistant.

Aluminum Ramps

Durable, affordable, lightweight and easy to transport describe the aluminum ramps. They are designed so that they don’t take as much time to install or remove.

There are many different kinds including sectional or modular. There are different sized sections that allow varying lengths and widths for your convenience and specific requirements. It is easier to lengthen or shorten your ramp.

There are solid one piece designs implying a more permanent than temporary ramp. With decreased assembly time required wheelchair, scooter users and others are able to use this type of ramp. Most have a slip resistant surface applied. Portable, folding and threshold ramps are also available.

Wheelchair Ramp Designs

A number of ADA compliance ramps are available to choose from. They all perform the same basic purpose in providing a platform for the disabled to tackle barriers and obstacles. Each has their own independent requirements to consider.

Modular

Modular is one of the simplest built by using nuts and bolts to connect the various pieces such as the ramp floor, deck, rails and landing systems. They can be temporary or permanent in nature.

Van Wheelchair Ramps

These provide easy and fast access to your vehicle, are generally simple to install, lightweight and most do not require complex mechanical abilities.

Portable

This type can usually be folded into a small package, easily carried and enables you to have freedom whenever and wherever you go.

Other choices in the portable category include the track wheelchair ramp, telescoping and roll up ramps.

Summary

Things to consider when building your ADA compliance ramps include who will be using the ramp, the maximum weight it supports, do you need it for a short time or will it be permanent. How much space do you have, will it be indoors or outdoors, and what adverse weather conditions will you be using it in?

Once you have considered all the various aspects you can then choose a design to suit your specific needs and requirements, safe and easy to use, is an ADA compliant ramp, and also has an aesthetically appealing design for outside your home.

Ramp plans can be found at your local wheelchair providers, hardware stores or from the internet. If you are a veteran then the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) provide design assistance to veterans with their on-staff architects.



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