How An ADA Compliant Ramp Must be Built

ADA Ramp Construction Guidelines

Log Building Wheelchair Handicapped Wooden Access Ramp
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In many projects, if not all, you will need to build an ADA compliance ramp to provide access to wheelchairs or walkers, and that can be used for strollers too. All ramps should be built following ADA guidelines providing a safe and reliable access to the building or housing unit. We will try to cover all related aspects of an ADA approved ramp and all the components associated to meet the minimum requirements. Before building a ramp check with your local codes for additional restrictions or guidelines required in your county.

ADA Ramp Specifications

If you are building a wheelchair ramp pay close attention to these important guidelines:

  • A sloping route constructed with a slope greater than 1:20 is considered a ramp in ADA specifications.
  • The ramp, per ADA standards, must be a minimum 36 inches wide.
  • All edges must be protected to keep anyone from slipping off.
  • It is required that all ramps shall have top and bottom landings as wide as the ramp itself and at least 60 inches long.
  • Ideally, the size of the landing will always be a minimum of 5 feet square.
  • ADA requires handrails on both sides of ramps whose rise is greater than 6 inches or whose length is greater than 72 inches.
  • Cross slopes must be less than 1:50 and surfaces must be slip-resistant and stable.
  • The ramps must have level landings both at the bottom and at the top of each ramp.
  • Three-quarters of an inch (19 mm) are the maximum threshold height for exterior sliding doors or half an inch (13 mm) for other types of doors without modification.

ADA Ramp Handrails

When a ramp has a rise greater than 6 inches or a horizontal projection greater than 72 inches, then it shall contain handrails on both sides. However, handrails are not required on curb ramps. When installing handrails on an ADA ramp, please be sure to follow these specifications:

  • The ramp must have handrails on both sides of the segments. The inside handrail on switchbacks shall always be continuous.
  • When a handrail is not continuous, they shall extend at least 12 inches beyond the top and bottom segment and must be parallel with the floor and/or ground surface.
  • A clear space of 1 1/2 inches must be provided between the handrail and the wall where the handrail is installed.
  • When the handrail is located in a recess, it has to be at least three inches deep and shall extend at least 18 inches above the top of the rail.
  • Surfaces of the handrail shall be continuous without interruption or obstructions.
  • The top of the handrail surface shall be placed between 34 inches and 38 inches above ramp finished floor surface.
  • The diameter of width of the gripping surface of a handrail used in a ramp shall be 1 1/4 inches to 1 1/2 inches, or the shape shall provide an equivalent surface.
  • The handrail shall be free of any sharp or abrasive elements. Edges shall have a minimum radius of 1/8 inch.

ADA Ramp Slope

The ADA guidelines recommend a slope ratio of 1:16 to 1:20. (A 1:12 ratio is too steep for some people to navigate.) These ratios must be followed in all public places. Depending on the material used to build the ramp and the slope of it, you will probably need to add some extra anti-slip texture to help prevent slipping.Remember that all components of a ramp must meet these requirements even the sides of the ramp. Start by building the ramp at the landing section attaching each section one at a time.

Attach your first section to the house with concrete and anchor bolts. Install your posts at the far end of the first section and make sure you have the right slope. Layout the subsequent section and so on. Install the new support post at the far end, bolt sections together and repeat until complete. Install a beveled transition from ramp to surface that will prevent wheels from getting caught where the ramp ends, and the surface begins.