Installing a ramp is one of the most helpful adaptations we make to the homes of people who use a wheelchair or have difficulty with mobility. Ramp installation is possible both inside and outside of the home and makes navigating entrances and steps far easier and much safer for the user. 

But what is the installation process? We answer all of your questions here

The Types Of Ramp

There are multiple types of ramps available, and these fall into two categories.

Temporary Ramps

Sometimes a permanent ramp isn’t suitable. Temporary ramps are less costly, lighter and can be easily moved. Let’s look at the different styles:

  • Suitcase ramps. As the name suggests, these ramps fold into a carryable case, making them extremely functional and easy to take around.
  • Roll-up ramps. These are typically aluminium ramps constructed in a way that enables them to be easily shortened, lengthened and even rolled up for simple storage. 
  • Broad ramps. This type of temporary ramp has a fixed length and is super strong.
  • Threshold ramps. Wedge-shaped and perfect for single-step elevations, threshold ramps are small and lightweight but make a big impact. 
  • ‘Up and over’ ramps. Last but not least, this ramp style continues over the top of the threshold of a property and extends down the other side, creating a safe ‘hill’ for wheelchair users to climb.

When buying a temporary ramp, be sure to check the weight limits that it can safely handle. Although portable ramps like these are handy if you’re short on space, they often can’t manage as much weight as a permanent ramp.

modular accessible ramps

Permanent Ramps

Fitting a permanent ramp makes sense if it will be used long-term. There are two main types:

  • Concrete ramps. Ramp installation for these involves waiting for the concrete to set, and it’s not always a feasible option. 
  • Aluminium ramps. Faster to install than concrete and simpler to remove, aluminium ramps also come in modular designs, which bring many benefits. You can read more about modular accessible ramps here

Permanent ramps provide consistent and sturdy home access but tend to be more expensive than temporary ramps and may require planning permission.

Assessing Your Needs

When you’re thinking about ramp installation and what will best suit the loved one, patient or client in question, there are many factors to consider.

Who Will Be Using The Ramp?

Ramp installation can significantly enhance the lives of anyone using walking aids or anything with wheels. 

Wheelchair users and individuals who rely on mobility scooters and rollators will all benefit from the smooth incline of a ramp rather than having to rely on assistance to get into the comfort of their homes.

Where Will It Be Installed?

Access ramps form bridges between uneven surfaces to make moving between rooms or over thresholds safer and easier. 

As well as installing ramps at the entrance to the home, ramps leading down from the back door to the garden or between rooms in the home itself can help those with reduced mobility to regain, or retain, their independence. 

How High Are The Steps?

When considering ramp installation, the height of the steps is crucial in working out how long your ramp will need to be. 

For every 30cm of height, the ramp should be at least 360cm long. Though shorter ramps are more space efficient, the gradient could be impossible to wheel or walk up for some users.

To work out the potential ramp gradient, divide the height of the ramp by the length of the ramp. If the ramp will be used by someone self-propelling, it should have a minimum gradient of 1:12. 

How Much Space Is There? 

Making your ramp work for the space available is important. 

How much space is there extending away from the doorway where the ramp will be installed? If the height of the ramp means you’ll need a good 6 metres of length, will it fit in the available space? And remember to consider turning space; the user will require an area at the end of the ramp to change direction safely in. 

When there isn’t enough space for a single run of longer ramp, it may be possible to install an L-shaped ramp instead. 

Do You Need A Ramp Landing?

For your potential ramp installation, think about whether or not you’ll need a landing. This is a flat space at the top of the ramp where the user can steady themselves and open the door, for example. 

Not everyone will need a ramp landing, especially if you have an electric door opener, but it makes operating the door much easier for most people with reduced mobility if they want to enter and exit their homes independently. 

How Long Will The Ramp Be Needed For?

Will the ramp be needed for years to come? Perhaps you’re looking after a relative with limited mobility for a short, fixed period, or maybe they’re just visiting for the weekend. 

Whether a ramp is needed short-term or long-term will strongly influence the type of ramp you choose to install. 

Initial Consultation

Before you can get on your way to ramp installation, you will need to meet with your chosen contractor so that they can professionally assess and measure the space. Not sure what to look for in an adaptations contractor? Read this

Working with the right contractor is critical. Ramps are a specialist piece of equipment, and extensive knowledge is required in the planning stage to ensure your ramp will be long enough and of the correct incline to be usable. 

During your consultation, your contractor will review your needs in-depth and discuss the different ramp installation options in detail so that you can work out what’s best together. 

Ramp Design

Following your consultation, your contractor will have all they need to design your perfect ramp. When they come back to you to show you their proposed layout and design, your contractor will also advise you on the best materials to use to suit your needs.

If you have questions, ask them! Communication is key throughout the ramp installation process. 

Ramp Installation

Once a design has been agreed upon, installation day can officially be scheduled. But before the ramp goes up, there’s a bit of pre-work required…

1 – Prep

Ramp installation can be a little invasive and very messy depending on what needs doing. Clearing and preparing the area can, in some cases, mean removing the current ground surface, levelling it or simply clearing what’s there already.

2 – Ramp Construction

The process of putting the ramp together looks different depending on the type of ramp.

If you’ve opted for an aluminium modular ramp, constructing the ramp is fairly simple. The process doesn’t take long at all and looks like this…

  • Install the mounting brackets.
  • Assemble the ramp.
  • Secure the ramp to the mounting brackets.
  • Inspect the ramp to ensure it’s ready for action. 

For concrete, the process is much more complicated:

  • First, a wooden structure is erected. This is called formwork and is essentially a mould for the concrete.
  • Concrete is then mixed up and carefully poured into the formwork.
  • The concrete is then left to cure. Depending on the size of the ramp, this can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks! Because of this, you might not be able to use your door for a short while and will need to factor this into living arrangements for the time being. 
  • Lastly, any sealants and other finishes are applied. 

3 – Safety & Compliance

No matter which type of ramp you get installed, it will be checked thoroughly to make sure it is compliant and safe. Your contractor may have discussed incorporating safety features like handrails and a non-slip surface with you initially. 

Temporary Ramp Installation

If it’s a temporary ramp you need, getting it up and running tends to be a far quicker process. 

The space where it will sit still needs to be cleared to ensure the ramp can sit level and steady, but thereafter it’s as simple as putting the ramp together, moving it into the correct position and checking it thoroughly before use.

After Your Ramp Installation

Once your ramp is installed and has been tested, you’re free to use it. If you’ve been waiting a while for concrete to set, this will mean you can use your front door again… yippee!

However, like any other structure or equipment, ramps require proper maintenance. Looking after your ramp will make sure it lasts and functions as it should. If you neglect to maintain your ramp, it could become unsafe, require costly repairs or even become unusable! 

Inspecting your ramp is the first step. Check for loose bolts and screws, not forgetting the handrail, as well as any cracks, especially if you have a concrete ramp. Any damage needs to be addressed quickly to prevent the problem from worsening. 

Regular cleaning of your ramp is also essential. Sweeping away dirt and any other debris that might have accumulated both maintains the integrity of your ramp and reduces trip and slip hazards, and hosing the ramp down will ensure it’s fit for use. 

Ramp Installation Requires Professional Know-How

Ramp installation is more complex than you think – especially if you’re after a permanent ramp.

Hopefully, this blog has helped you better understand what’s available, the process, and what to expect at each stage. Installing ramps changes lives; it’s important to use a professional contractor with a proven track record of knowledge and experience to make sure you end up with a usable and super-safe piece of equipment that will fully meet your needs.Happy with your recent ramp installation but at a loss as to how to look after it? Unsure which type of ramp will best suit your situation? Get in touch today to find out how we can help.