Looking for the right wheelchair ramp? You’ll need to answer a few questions to help you find the best wheelchair ramp for your needs.
Does the wheelchair ramp need to be portable? If you are using the ramp for vehicle access or if you need to transport the ramp, you’ll need to find a portable wheelchair ramp. These types of ramps are lightweight and easy to carry. Some models fold into a “suitcase” with a handle for carrying, or they split into sections for lighter weight.
Permanent wheelchair ramps do not need to be portable or lightweight. They should be able to withstand exposure to the elements (if the ramp is outdoors) and be durable enough for continuous use, including foot traffic and wheelchairs.
Van ramps and utility ramps for vehicles need to attach securely to the floor of the vehicle to prevent slipping. They should also fold for storage inside the vehicle and be short enough to allow easy loading and unloading next to other vehicles.
Threshold ramps can be used indoors or outdoors to make the transition smoother from one room to another or from the outdoor landing into your house. Getting over the threshold requires extra “oomph,” especially if the threshold is raised several inches, but a threshold ramp makes for a smooth, easy transition over the threshold.
Rolling a wheelchair up a ramp is much easier when the slope is gradual (no greater than 2″ rise per 12″ length). If the wheelchair is unoccupied, a steeper slope is acceptable (no greater than 3″ rise per 12″ length).
Follow the ADA slope recommendations for occupied and unoccupied wheelchairs and for home and commercial ramps. You also need to make sure the ramp length will fit in the space available.
The type of material used to produce your wheelchair ramp will affect the cost, durability, and weight. If you need a lightweight ramp, aluminum is the best choice. Aluminum wheelchair ramps are the most popular option for portable van ramps and other portable ramps.
Wood is one of the cheapest materials, but it requires extra care for weathering the elements. Wood is used mainly for permanent ramps outside the home.
Steel ramps are inexpensive but heavier than aluminum. They are also subject to rust and corrosion.
Rubber ramps work well for thresholds. They are easy to cut for a custom fit, and they are silent for foot traffic as well as wheelchair traffic.
Even a small threshold can be a challenge to get over when you’re in a wheelchair, especially with small front casters. A threshold ramp makes the transition a smooth and easy one.
Ramps require less “oomph” and can prevent tripping when using a rollator or walker around the house.
You can either try to build your own ramp or buy a read-made rubber threshold ramp. The rubber ramp can be cut to fit almost any doorway, and it stands up well in harsh outdoor conditions.
Aluminum threshold ramps are also available, at a lower cost than rubber ramps.
Whichever threshold ramp you choose, it should be long enough to make it easy to get over. An abrupt incline is tough to navigate, especially for a wheelchair user with weak arms.
The slope of the threshold ramp should be about 1:12 (1″ height increase per 12 inches of length). For users with more arm strength and for thresholds with less room, the slope can be up to 2:12.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the threshold ramp. Aluminum ramps are either self-supporting or they need to be secured to the top of the threshold. Rubber threshold ramps can be field fitted with simple cutting tools to fit almost any doorway.
Lifting a wheelchair into a vehicle can be heavy work, but a lightweight wheelchair or an ultralight transport chair will make the job easier. Below are some tips on how to load your wheelchair into the trunk of a car or load into a van with a wheelchair ramp.
A steep wheelchair ramp is dangerous and difficult to navigate. For safety reasons, your wheelchair ramp should not exceed a 9.5 degree slope when the wheelchair is occupied. See the tips below to find the right wheelchair ramp for your needs.
To find out what size wheelchair ramp you need, first measure the rise (vertical height) of application. In other words, figure out the vertical distance between where the bottom of the ramp will be anchored and where the top of the ramp will rest. Measure the height of the stairs, landing, vehicle floorboards, or other elevated landing place.
Once you find the rise, use the chart below to find the correct ramp length that you need that is within the slope recommendations for your application.
1:12 Slope (4.8 degrees)
2:12 Slope (9.5 degrees)
3:12 Slope (14.5 degrees)
Before using your wheelchair ramp, make sure it is properly set up and will not slip off the landing. Do not exceed the weight limits for your wheelchair ramp.
Looking for a wheelchair ramp for your vehicle? A van ramp is an easy way to make your vehicle accessible to wheelchairs, scooters, and power chairs. Here are a few tips on how to choose a wheelchair van ramp.
Van ramps are either portable or semi-permanently installed. A portable utility van ramp allows you to use the ramp only when you need it or transfer the ramp from one vehicle to another. If you will be using your van ramp on a regular basis, we recommend a semi-permanently installed ramp. The ramp mounts to the floor of the van inside the doorway. Some mounted van ramps include a spring assist for easy operation by one person.
You can choose from either a rear door van ramp or a side door ramp. When parking, you’ll need to make sure you have enough room to the side or rear of the van to unfold the ramp. The ramp should not stick out into a traffic lane or parking lot row.
A side door ramp mounts inside the sliding door and folds in half to leave the doorway partly accessible for other passengers. A rear van ramp stores vertically inside the doorway and allows you to push the wheelchair into the back of the van. Keep in mind that a rear van ramp will take up most of your rear storage space.
The longer the van ramp is, the easier it will be to push or drive the wheelchair up the ramp. Just keep in mind that the longer the ramp is, the more room you will need around your van to unfold the ramp. The ADA recommends a slope no greater than 9.5 degrees for an occupied wheelchair or scooter and a slope no greater than 14.5 degrees for unoccupied chairs.
How long should a wheelchair ramp be? Shorter ramps might be cheaper and easier to handle, but don’t skimp on length. If a wheelchair ramp is too short, you’ll have a difficult time pushing a wheelchair up the ramp (which can be dangerous) because of the steeper incline. Steep ramps can also be dangerous if there is snow, ice, or water on the ramp.
The ramp must be long enough to clear all of the stairs in the distance from the top of the landing to the bottom.
Do you have enough room at the bottom of the ramp to turn the wheelchair? If the end of the ramp is too close to a wall, fence, railing, or other obstacle, you could run into the obstacle or have a difficult time turning to avoid it. There should also be sufficient room at the top of the ramp to maneuver the wheelchair.
While longer wheelchair ramps are easier to navigate, they can also create difficulties when it comes to parking and clearance. The longer the ramp, the more room you need to set it up. Parking can be tricky, especially since you don’t want the ramp to extend into an area where other vehicles will be driving.
To find the correct wheelchair ramp length, measure the vertical rise from the bottom of the landing to the top. Then use the recommended incline for your wheelchair to find the proper ramp length using the incline chart below.
Instead of bumping your wheelchair over a tall threshold, why not make it a smooth transition with a threshold ramp? Rubber and aluminum threshold ramps are easy to install and can be used in a variety of doorways, both at home and for office or commercial settings.
There are two basic types of wheelchair threshold ramps that are widely available: aluminum and rubber. Aluminum ramps provide the most affordable option, while rubber ramps are made with recycled rubber for an eco-friendly choice.
Aluminum threshold ramps are durable and lightweight. They are coated with an anti-slip, high traction surface that keeps your wheels from slipping when the ramp is wet. Self-supporting aluminum ramps line up directly against the door threshold—no installation needed. They are designed for doorways that swing out. Other aluminum ramps can be installed easily, using the holes punched in the top corners.
Rubber threshold ramps are available in different colors to complement your home or office. Foot traffic on the rubber is quiet and solid, and there are no load weight limitations. Simple cutting tools allow you to field fit the ramp for inset doorways and various obstacles near the door. As a bonus, PVI rubber ramps are made with 100% recycled rubber for earth-friendly construction. Rubber ramps can accommodate up to a 2-inch rise, while aluminum ramps can be used for up to a 4-inch rise.
Since, setting up a folding ramp takes only a few minutes, portable folding ramps can be used either as semi-permanent or temporary ramps. The following instructions from PVI Industries will help you learn how to set up a multi-fold ramp.
1. Position the portable ramp about a ramp’s length away from the step, van, or platform where you want to set up the ramp. Stand the ramp up on its end with the open ends down and the handle side facing you. Reach down and lift the first half of the ramp toward the step or landing area, and set it down on top of the landing. Make sure the hook is pressed firmly against the step.
2. Open the top half of the ramp.
3. Unfold the top half of the ramp towards you and make sure that the ramp hooks are pressed firmly against the landing area.
A rubber threshold ramp provides a smooth transition through doorways and over raised thresholds. This makes it a lot easier for wheelchair and scooter access.
To find the right size threshold ramp for your doorway, measure the height of the threshold. The higher the threshold, the longer the ramp needs to be. Choose a ramp that is the closest in height to your threshold. If the ramp is too high, it could interfere with opening and closing the door. If the ramp is too low, the transition will not be as smooth.
Depending on the setup of your doorway or raised threshold, you may need a ramp on both sides. Measure the threshold height on each side of the doorway, since the height on each side might be different.
If the ramp is for an entrance with double doors, you will need either purchase a wider ramp, install a shorter ramp for access through only one of the doors, or place two ramps side by side.
One of the benefits of a rubber threshold ramp is that you can cut it to fit almost any doorway configuration. Simple cutting tools allow you to cut notches out of the ramp for a tight, secure fit.
Before cutting the ramp to fit, we recommend using a piece of cardboard as a template. If you mess up on the cardboard, you can always start over. Cut the cardboard to fit, and then use the cardboard template to mark where you need to cut the ramp.
Installation is quick and easy, with no fasteners required. The weight and non-slip rubber of the ramp keep it in place.
Loading a wheelchair into a vehicle can be cumbersome. Even a lightweight wheelchair can be awkward and heavy to lift, especially when the vehicle has a high threshold. But there are ways to make it easier to transport a wheelchair.
A folding wheelchair is easier to handle than a rigid frame or a standard power chair. Removing accessories such as the leg rests, arm rests, and quick release wheels (if available) makes the wheelchair lighter and easier to lift.
If you are lifting the wheelchair into the trunk or rear hatch of a vehicle, cover the bumper and sill with a thick rug or moving blanket to protect your vehicle from scratches. You can use the rug to cover the wheelchair and protect it from sliding around in the trunk. If you are lifting the wheelchair into the back seat, use a rug or heavy blanket to cover the seat and keep it from getting dirty or snagged.
Check the weight of the wheelchair and make sure it does not exceed the recommended weight for lifting. If the wheelchair is too heavy to lift safely, consider using a van ramp or vehicle lift instead. It’s better to play it safe than risk injuring your back.
A wheelchair van ramp can be installed semi-permanently or used as a portable ramp for temporary or occasional use. A manual ramp requires a little more effort to use but is cheaper and easier to install than a powered ramp or lift.