At our offices, we sometimes have a serious discussion on what constitutes the better option for a specific customer request. While we deal with all sorts of ramps, permanent, temporary, portable, or folding, our customers get confused why someone they envision to have the same situation as theirs is being recommended a different solution.
Wheelchair ramps are a type of product offered to customers from the perspective that it is a home modification. In the sense that it is a home modification, then let us break down the options for each situation.
Whether the ramp is to be temporary or permanent, it is important to know not only the height to be bridged by it, but also the total weight capacity of the ramp. For self-propelled wheelchairs, consider the weight of the unit, the user, and any accessories you have on it. You will find that most, if not all ramps have a weight capacity of 800 lbs.
Temporary Wheelchair Ramps
Just as expected, these wheelchair ramps are for those situations where you know you do need a ramp only for the near term or for use in various locations around your or your friend’s homes. This the focus of our discussion as there are many applications, materials, and prices related to temporary wheelchair ramps.
In this case, we are focusing on ramps to improve the accessibility to your home. For commercial and government buildings, we can only address temporary ramps that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Temporary ramps can be modular, portable, and transitions ramps.
So what constitutes a modular ramp? Think of it like the interlocking blocks kids played with where you can connect and reconnect the pieces in multiple ways to build different shapes. We use modular ramps to solve many problems of space, length, height, weight capacity, and whether handrails are needed or not.
The beautiful element of modular ramps is the ability to deliver a well-made, long-lasting wheelchair ramp that can be installed without remodeling the home. Seniors want to remain in their home and be able to enter or exit their homes easily. A modular ramp offers a reasonable alternative to a costly home remodeling project to make it accessible.
The materials of these modular ramps are mostly aluminum or steel. In our Houston area, with the weather we experience, wood does not always offer the best solution. Aluminum is corrosion resistant and needs the least maintenance, in our opinion.
Modular ramps are designed and manufactured for a consistent performance, ease-of-maintenance, and longevity. Modular ramps also offer many ways to make entry into your home possible and achieve the best layout possible. Modular ramps are offered usually with well-built and well-integrated rails and handrails.
There is such a variety of portable ramps that we can create a blog just for this topic. Portable ramps are lightweight and offer limited length options. In increments of 1 foot, from 2 to 10 feet in length, portable ramps are the solution for temporary use in many residences and locations.
You see portable ramps to bridge a few steps into your home. Portable ramps can also fold and fit into a car, van or truck and be used when you visit your friends that may not have an accessible entry to their home.
Portable ramps are also an economical solution. You will find them made mostly of aluminum, yet the new breeds of composite materials offer a lighter weight that make the latest ramps much easier to handle and carry.
This category of ramps is designed to bridge a few inches of height, such as a door entrance threshold. There are many materials for these transition ramps, including aluminum, plastic, rubber, and wood. You will also find many that have decorative motifs that look more like a welcome mat than a transition ramp.
These transition ramps are popular and available from many manufacturers. Some manufacturers offer products that will last the test of time. Other vendors offer looks over performance. Consider the application as small transition ramps will need some form of anchor as, otherwise, these lightweights may move when you cross them with your wheelchair.
Permanent Wheelchair Ramps
In this case, we are addressing those wheelchair ramps that are expected to remain in place for the life of the building. You will find these permanent ramps in commercial or government buildings to meet with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and all of its requirements.
At the same time, residential needs for permanent wheelchair ramps can be addressed from the early design phases of home construction by including other universal design elements for home mobility and accessibility built in a way that the end results are attractive and not out of the ordinary.
Should you be considering ramps into a home you are about to build, your architect and you should involve the talents of CAPS certified individual. This person has received training and certification to help you with accessibility and mobility designs within and outside of your home.
For those looking at remodeling their homes, a permanent ramp should also be considered into the overall design. Again, architects, general contractors and CAPS-trained individuals should collaborate for best results. Universal design continues to evolve offering the customer many alternatives that are both esthetically and functionally appropriate for the home.
In some cases, people have associated a permanent ramp with any ramp that is not easily moved. As you have read, even a small threshold ramp that is anchored is not easily moved without tools. Modular ramps, due to their size and heft, have been considered also a permanent ramp. It is not the intent to decipher what each situation fits, but the options available to you for your particular situation.
Next Step Mobility offers its customers a no-cost assessment of their home to select a wheelchair ramp solution that best fits their needs and budgets. We offer Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders. Our team will assist you in considering potential factors for your situation – home mobility and accessibility, home modifications, budgets, type of disability, user limitations, and other factors. Our team works with home remodelers to include universal design and attractive and functional solutions.