June 1, 2016

How to Size a Ramp? Here’s a helpful guide.

size a ramp suitcase style

If you or a loved one uses a mobility aid every day, access over even a small threshold or step can present a challenge.

I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to correctly size a ramp, and discuss different options that are easy, affordable and available.

If you look at ADA guidelines on how to size a ramp, the regulations are based on what would be a comfortable slope for a person in a manual wheelchair to propel themselves up the ramp without assistance.  Under those assumptions the recommendation is 1 inch of rise for every foot of ramp length. That make for very long ramps, indeed! That is the slope that is acceptable for permanent ramps on commercial buildings.

For today’s discussion we’re going to concentrate on Pre-fabricated portable ramps. This is the type you would use to allow access for an individual using a chair or walker going up a curb or a couple of steps. If you are using a scooter, power wheelchair or if you will have the assistance of a caregiver to help you the rules on how to size a ramp are much more flexible.

If someone is pushing from behind, you can easily size a ramp at 2 inches of rise to one foot of ramp length. The calculation looks like this: to get up a 6 inch curb, your ramp would need to be 3 feet long. (measure the height of the step and multiply by .5 to get that slope)  That is an easy size for a portable ramp, and perfect to carry along with you in your car for access when there is no curb cut available. That style is called a suitcase ramp.

When using a power wheelchair or scooter, the slope can be increased even more. You can comfortably size a ramp at 3 inches of rise to one foot of ramp length. That calculation looks like this: to get up two steps (approximately 15 inches multiplied by .33 to get that slope) your ramp would need to be 5 feet long. For that application you could use either a suitcase ramp for portability or a solid aluminum ramp for something more permanent.

size a ramp solid style

solid aluminum ramp



If your rise is higher, just measure from the ground level, straight up to the top level you need to access, and then do your calculations accordingly.


Here’s an example of how to size a ramp to climb to a 24 inch porch:

By ADA guidelines, with a manual chair user self-propelling the ramp is 24 feet long. That would not be a portable installation.

With a manual wheelchair with assistance, the ramp is 12 feet long. A multi-fold ramp can be used for this purpose. It’s still portable, but it folds lengthwise to make it transportable.

size a ramp

Multi- fold ramp

If you’re using a scooter or power wheelchair, the ramp is 8 feet long. A multi-fold ramp is a great choice!

For door thresholds, sliding door access and smaller rises throughout the home a Threshold Ramp is all you need. Threshold ramps come in various sizes and are pre-made to the height you require.


Threshold access

Threshold ramp






See the full selection of ramps we have to offer at Spinlife.com today!



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