If you have a disabled family member, a wheel chair ramp is a necessity. But, Wheelchair ramps aren’t just for wheelchairs. While some elderly people don’t have any trouble walking, climbing steps can prove to be a challenge. A wheelchair ramp can make it much easier for them to leave or return to their home.
If you have rental properties, you must follow certain codes and guidelines, but whether it’s your home or one you rent to someone, you need to follow building codes. Not only is it the law, it will make a much safer ramp for anyone that is disabled or elderly to use.
A wheelchair ramp should always have a level landing area at the bottom and top of the ramp. There should also be a level area anywhere that the ramp changes to another direction. If the ramp is going to be over 20 feet in length, you should add another level section in the middle. This will give them a flat place to stop and rest a minute if they need to.
The levels areas that you place in the ramp should be the same width of the ramp itself and they’re suppose to be at least five feet long to allow lot’s of room for the wheelchair. The length is to provide enough room for someone to turn the wheelchair around and to keep it away from the edge of the level area.
The best width for a wheelchair ramp is three feet and handrails should be installed on each side of the ramp. The ideal height for handrails is three feet, but it’s preferable to have a rail also located at 18″ for anyone that has trouble reaching up to the higher rail. The handrails need to be along the entire length of the ramp.
The perfect sloping angle should be one foot for each twelve feet of ramp. For instance if the ramp is twelve feet long, the highest part should not be more than one foot off of the ground. For porches that are higher than one foot off the ground, the ramp should have levels. One twelve foot length of ramp, a flat section and then a turn to go up another section of ramp.
Having a wheelchair ramp with several sections and landings is much better than having one with a really steep incline that someone disabled won’t be able to climb. Another option would be to place the ramp at which ever porch is the lowest to the ground. Some homes have a higher porch in the front than they do at the back of the home.
As an added safety feature, a 3″ curb should be added to the bottom of the ramp. This curb will prevent the wheels of a wheelchair from slipping off of the ramp. The curb can either be placed on the ramp floor or incorporated in with the bottom handrail. But, if you’re going to use the bottom rail as a curb, it shouldn’t be any more than 3″ above the floor of the ramp.
Wheelchair ramps can be made from any material, wood, steel and concrete all make excellent ramps. Just make sure that the entire surface is slip resistant. The level areas of the ramp should be checked to make sure that puddles of water don’t form that can be slick or even freeze during the winter.