There are many new types of home modifications and home remodeling that can help people with disabilities to confidently and safely navigate their living spaces. Before we can even consider the interior of the home or mother in law suite we first have to make sure that they can enter and exit the dwelling place safely and with the least amount of difficulty.

The proper construction and design of an accessible ramp to enter and exit the home or mother in law suite is essential to creating a place where your love one can feel secure and enjoy the highest level of independence possible. The stairs that most homes have designed into their entryways can be very problematic and even dangerous to many elderly people with disabilities. Constructing a step-less or barrier free wheelchair entry ramp is an effective solution. A properly constructed ramp can offer safety and security to those with minor disabilities, those using walkers and canes, and even those in wheelchairs. A well designed handicap ramp can serve the elderly person now and in the future.

Wheelchair Ramp Main Components

Before we talk design and aesthetic requirements of the ramp, lets first take a look at some of the main components of the properly built wheelchair ramp.

wheelchair ramp

  • Guard Rail – these are the main rails that have the balusters attached to them to protect the users of the wheelchair ramp form falling off the side.
  • Hand Rail – graspable rails with a comfortable round or oval shape located between 30 to 36” above the step or ramp surface. Handrails that extend beyond the end of the ramp greatly help the stability of the user as they continue to grip while they enter or leave the accessible ramp.
  • Balusters – posts or picket attached in a vertical fashion and are used to fasten the guardrail and/or hand rail. Most building codes call for a spacing of less than 4” to make sure they are safe for children as well as adults.
  • Stairs – If stairs are included in the ramp design they should be built without stair nosing to prevent tripping hazards. The stair can also be built with an inclined riser design at an angle of 75degrees to give as much protection as possible from tripping. Also a wider tread size such as 11” deep X 7” rise will aid the elderly user in successfully navigating the steps.
  • Decking - Decking material is usually wood 2x6 material though can sometimes be made of other materials if a more non-slip surface is needed.

Read Part 2 of the Wheelchair Ramp series! Part 2 focuses on the proper Design of a wheelchair ramp. Wheelchair Ramps Part 2 - Design