Wheelchair ramps are a great option for mobility challenged individuals and help make their lives more comfortable. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, and offer various functionalities. These ramps are designed to make access easier to the buildings for elderly people, to people who use wheelchairs, vehicles, and provide great support for anyone with any type of mobility issue.
There are many types of ramps – permanent, non-permanent and portable ramps. These are made of wood, aluminum and concrete, and the most common options are either wood or aluminum. Even if they both serve the same purpose, there are some key differences that can impact your decision to choose one over the other.
There are some important things you need to consider to choose the right wheelchair ramp:
- Permanent or Non-permanent: Unlike wood, aluminum ramps are not always permanent. Wooden ramps cannot be easily removed or adjusted; they may require permanent concrete anchors as part of the installation.
Aluminum ramps can be changed or customized after installation, because most of the aluminum ramps come in a modular design. Individual components like ramps, stair, platform, or handrail sections can be purchased to design a custom ramp that can be altered to fit your requirements. The set up is easy and cheaper than wooden ramps. These ramps are cost-effective. So, if you need modifications to your home or if you need change over time aluminum ramps can be customized accordingly.
- Any plan to resell your home?: Even if aluminum and wooden ramps serve the same purpose, there are some key differences that can impact your decision to choose one over the other.
As wooden ramps are permanent and often require concrete anchors to ensure safe use, it is better not to choose wooden ramps if you have any plan to resell your home. Because once they are installed, it is very difficult to remove or adjust them. And this can lower the value of your home.
It is better to choose an aluminum ramp, because aluminum ramps do not require these anchors and are available in a range of colors to give them a homely feel and help them match your own taste and décor. They are lightweight and yet strong, easy to remove and even re-use. In effect, you can remove the ramp with no damage to your home or yard.
- Installation time: Wooden ramps need at least 2 days to be installed by a licensed contractor or a team of experienced builders, and in order to complete the job they usually need a professional set of builder’s tools.
Aluminum ramps are easy to install, and depending on the system, the installation time can range from 30 minutes to a few hours. Some even come with an assembly kit, so that makes the installation procedure easy and can be done by the homeowner, business owner, or a handyman, using household tools.
Ensure that any contractor you use is well-versed in local codes. Because once the ramp is finished, the local municipality will come to inspect the ramp to verify compliance with local building codes and ADA guidelines. Aluminum modular ramps save you from this headache by providing a pre-built solution.
- Maintenance: Wooden ramps should be maintained regularly with pressure treatment and painted each year to prevent rotting, cracking, warping and fading. Besides this, these ramps can be slick in wet weather, for that, non-slip treads should be considered.
The maintenance needed for aluminum ramps is minimal, the worst damage that can occur to them are minor dents. But these ramps can withstand wear and tear due to the powder-coated finish, resist rust and corrosion, and will not need to be painted and refinished.
- Weather: Wooden ramps can be slippery in wet weather, non-slip threads are added to reduce slipping. But even if non-slip threads are added, water can pool on the surface and increase the risk of slipping.
At the same time, aluminum ramps provide perforated surface that encourages water and other debris to drain through and not to stand on the surface of your ramp. There are a variety of aluminum ramps with different non-slip surfaces, and are therefore safe.
So, when you choose a ramp, consider all these things and opt for the right wheelchair ramp. Check whether it is wide enough to fit your wheelchair or scooter comfortably. This will help you take a decision that will keep you safe and happy for years.