What is the Proper Wheelchair Ramp Slope Measurement?

tape measure on a wood board

Are you looking to build your own ramp but want to make sure it is safe? Good! Every wheelchair ramp should be safe.In fact, there are ADA guidelines to make sure that wheelchairs, ramps, and pathways are safe.

One of the largest safety measures concerns the wheelchair ramp slope. Keep reading to learn more about this critical measurement.

Understanding Slope

A lot of planning goes into wheelchair ramp design. They need to provide enough space and clearance for the chair to move up the ramp and around corners. They need to ensure that the transition between the ramp and the landing is smooth.

They also need to provide a manageable slope. If you remember your algebra, slope is expressed as a ratio of rise to run.  For example, a ramp that sits five inches high (rise) and is fives inches long (run) has a 5:5 slope.

Slope can also be expressed as a percentage: X units of rise per 100 units of run. For example, a 36-inch rise over a length of 100 inches is a 36 percent slope.

Slope can also be expressed in degrees, a measurement of the inverse tangent of the rise divided by the run relative to horizontal.

Let's keep this easy and mostly talk about simple ratios for ramp slopes.

Calculating Wheelchair Ramp Slope

In truth, there is not much to calculate. The ADA provides good direction about ratios for wheelchair ramp slopes.

The commercial and public facility standard for slope is 1:12 (in inches) or about 5 degrees of incline.

For those building ramps at home, the ratio can be as steep as 3:12 or almost 15 degrees. This is useful is space is really limited, however it can be difficult for motorized wheelchairs and powered scooters.

The happy medium for ramps at home is a ratio of 2:12 or about 10 degrees of incline.

A 2:12 ratio gives is not too challenging for wheelchair users and cuts the length of a potential ramp in half.

For example, at a 1:12 ratio, a ramp that sits 36 inches high is then 36 feet long. It is 18 feet long at a 2:12 ratio.

If this is too complex, you can use a ramp slope calculator.

The Effect on Ramp Design

The implications of calculating slope have a significant effect on ramp design for a handicap accessible house. Not every wheelchair ramp can fit on a straight run.

This is because there is no set standard for the height of a home's landing. A wheelchair ramp slope might have to reach a 24-inch height, it might have to reach a 44-inch height.

Every home is different. Building your ramp is a unique project.

Ramps also need to be easy to access from the ground and provide adequate space at the landing. Many at-home wheelchair ramps use an angled or switchback design.

The ADA also limits commercial and public ramps to a maximum run of 30 feet before a rest or turn platform.

If you need a ramp for your home, a qualified contractor or manufacturer will be able to design an ADA-compliant ramp for you. And if this article helped you understand the wheelchair ramp slope, keep reading our blog for more.

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