Different Types of Exterior Home Wheelchair Ramps
Comming to terms with a disability has its challenges. It requires changes to your lifestyle and the way you use your home. Wheelchair accessibility is one of the most basic and, probably, the most important part of this process.
You want something that is both safe and practical. At the same time, you want a look that is in keeping with the style of your home. Of course, there’s that ever important factor to consider – your budget.
So, as with any home improvement task, knowledge is king. After reading this guide, you should be in a position to make your decision with absolute confidence.
What are your options?
There are four basic methods used to construct exterior wheelchair ramps.
- Wooden wheelchair ramps
- Steel wheelchair ramps
- Aluminum wheelchair ramps
- Concrete wheelchair ramps
In order to decide which is the best option, it’s important to know a bit more about each type.
Wooden Wheelchair Ramps
For many homeowners, wooden wheelchair ramps would be the first choice. The natural look of wood can be very appealing and fit in well with the general aesthetics of both your home and your garden.
Though there are a few practical considerations to take into account. Building a wooden wheelchair ramp can be a time-consuming project and may take as long as a week. The labor involved can make wood more expensive than your other options. The more complicated and ornate, the more a wooden wheelchair ramp will cost.
A wooden ramp might not be the best in wet weather as it can become slippery. So you should consider non-slip treads. Wood usually requires continuous maintenance, in order to prevent rot and general degradation.
These ramps aren’t easy to disassemble. This could become costly, even impossible in some cases. So it won’t be that practical to relocate.
Steel Wheelchair Ramps
Some may consider metal wheelchair ramps, fabricated from aluminum or steel, to be industrial-looking and not too pleasing to the eye. This need not be the case as there are modular systems available that can have a modern or classic design. So, it’s possible to install a steel wheelchair ramp that will enhance the look of your home.
Steel can handle more weight than aluminum, but it’s a heavy material. This means that using steel could prolong the installation process. This extra weight will also make a steel ramp more difficult to move – not entirely practical if you need to relocate.
Steel treadplate offers a non-slip surface, making it safer in wet or icy conditions. As with wooden ramps, steel will require long-term maintenance to prevent rust.
Aluminum Wheelchair Ramps
As an easy to install, modular ramp, aluminum is probably the best option. It is, however a more expensive material than steel. That would be the only real drawback.
The lightweight benefits of using aluminum are that it won’t take as long to install and is relatively easy to dismantle for relocation. Aluminum does not rust and, therefore, requires basically no maintenance. This option also provides for non-slip treadplate.
Concrete Wheelchair Ramps
A concrete wheelchair ramp is probably the most durable method of construction. It can take a long time to construct. But once built, a concrete ramp will last a lifetime and require no maintenance.
One thing to bear in mind when using concrete is that it has a propensity to crack. This makes it vital that you use a trusted and experienced contractor who understands the intricacies of working with concrete.
Planning Your Wheelchair Ramp
Planning in advance will ensure that your project runs smoothly and avoids unpleasant surprises. Before you start your planning, here are some important considerations.
Look at your available space and make the best use of what you have to work with. A wheelchair ramp needs a gradual gradient. A steep slope is not easy to negotiate and can be unsafe. So if your door is elevated well above the ground level, you’ll need a longer ramp.
A wider ramp will be safer and give the user more confidence. Being close to the edge of a sharp decline can be a source of great discomfort. The type of surface is equally important. You need to provide enough traction for the wheels.
Choosing a contractor who is experienced in providing facilities for disabled people, could be the best decision you’ll ever make. Having someone who knows the finer details of this type of work will mean that you’re getting the best advice. Because of their specialized knowledge, the contractors at Community Renovations understand the safety concerns and can offer many solutions that you may never have thought of before.