Wheelchair ramps are essential for the freedom and security of wheelchair users. The ADA recommends that all multi-level commercial buildings have wheelchair ramps to accommodate those with mobility issues. Multi-story homes should also have one.
A wheelchair ramp is an inclined plane that connects one level of a building to the next. They are created to help wheelchair users move up and down an elevated plane from one part of a building to another. Wheelchair ramps can be permanent, semi-permanent, or portable.
Permanent wheelchair ramps are fixed to the ground and cannot be moved from one place to another. They are made using durable material, such as concrete or treated wood, while semi-permanent and portable wheelchair ramps are usually made with lightweight durable aluminum.
What to Look for When Buying a Wheelchair Ramp
It’s easy to get confused when shopping for the ideal wheelchair ramp. Usually, one can select from multiple options, but which one you buy completely depends on your individual needs.
Below are some of the questions that you should ask yourself before purchasing a wheelchair ramp:
For How Long Will the Wheelchair Ramp Be Used?
In other words, is this a permanent or temporary situation? If you or a loved one will be using their wheelchair for a long time, you are better off with a permanent ramp. If this is a temporary situation, of course, a portable ramp makes more sense.
What is the Wheelchair Ramp Made of?
Wheelchair ramps can be made using various materials; however, the best materials are durable and functional.
For a permanent ramp, concrete is ideal, but it can also be made from wood or steel. Although concrete is the most durable material, it’s also expensive and is the most difficult to install. Steel ramps are slightly cheaper than concrete ramps, but tend to be heavier, expensive, and they heat up in the sun so they can be uncomfortable.
Wooden ramps are aesthetically pleasing and affordable but require regular maintenance, while aluminum ramps are both lightweight and durable. They are also resistant to rust, corrosion, and will not wear down easily. Portable ramps made from aluminum can be taken in and out of a car many times without breaking or getting damaged.
Gripe Tape can also be used on wheelchair ramps. Manufacturers place this tape on the surface of the ramp where the wheels roll. This makes it possible for them to gain traction on the ramp’s surface, thereby enhancing ease of use and safety for the user. Gripe Tape is particularly useful in wet conditions or when the ramp is being used outdoors.
Different Types of Portable Wheelchair Ramps
Rollup ramps are among the best types of portable ramps. They are light, compact, and can be rolled and unrolled to fit into small spaces. Additionally, they can be easily secured to a side railing and are available in short lengths of three to five feet, which makes them perfect for short, low inclines.
Next, single-fold ramps maintain their length when folded but can be fitted to mid-height inclines. At the same time, multi-fold ramps are the largest ramps and can be fitted to a length of up to approximately 12 feet.
A portable ramp can also be installed permanently. In any case, a portable ramp will come with instructions and guides on how to install them permanently. That being said, if you change your mind and you ever need to move the ramp, you will still be able to do so with ease.
How Much Do Wheelchair Ramps Cost?
Depending on the materials used and other specifications, a permanent wheelchair ramp can cost between $3,500 and $8,000 for 30 feet. Portable ramps are usually the most affordable and will start from as low as $25 and climb upwards to a couple hundred dollars.
The cost of wheelchair ramps varies based on the materials used and the length of the slope. Of course, ramps made with high quality material will cost more initially, but they will also function better for longer. Here are some more exact costs that fluctuate based on the materials being used:
- Concrete: $200-$250 per linear foot
- Wood: $100-250 per linear foot
- Aluminum: $150 per linear foot
- Steel: $200-$250 per linear foot
What are the Height Requirements for Wheelchair Ramps?
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends a 1:12 ratio, which means that there must be at least 12 inches length for every one inch of elevation. Even though it is not enforced in home ramps, this ratio should apply for both home and commercial ramps.When this ratio exceeds ADA’s recommendation, the safety of the user is put at risk. It will be difficult for the wheelchair user to maneuver themselves on a steep incline. Additionally, should they be going down a steep decline, they could gain momentum so quickly that they lose control of their wheelchair and get severely injured.