When you or someone you love has mobility limitations, your home should be a safe and accessible place for day-to-day living. Yet many homes — both old and new — often lack the features necessary for functional independence. 

Wheelchair ramps — and metal ramps are a popular choice due to their durability, strength, and low maintenance requirements. Before you purchase one, be sure to become familiar with your options and how to go about finding the best one for your needs.

The guide below provides a helpful overview of the various types of metal ramps, factors to consider when choosing one, installation tips, understanding ADA recommendations, and more.

Why Are Metal Ramps Important?

Ramps are essential for accessibility around the home for individuals with mobility challenges or those using wheelchairs, scooters, or walkers. They provide a smooth and safe transition between levels of the home, up and down steps, across thresholds, and any other uneven surface.

In older communities, metal ramps can even increase the resale value of your home by making it more attractive to potential buyers with accessibility needs.

Benefits of Metal Ramps

While there are different materials options available, metal ramps offer several advantages over ramps made from wood, plastic, rubber, or concrete:

Durability

Metal ramps can withstand years — even decades — of use without significant wear and tear. They are less susceptible to damage from weather conditions and daily use compared to wood or concrete ramps.

Low Maintenance

Metal ramps require minimal upkeep. Occasional cleaning and inspection for rust or corrosion are typically all users need to ensure their ramp remains in excellent condition.

Customization

Metal ramps can be easily tailored to any homeowner’s specific needs and preferences, with options including handrails, non-slip surfaces, or decorative elements.

Ease of Installation

Many metal ramps are prefabricated and can be installed quickly with minimal tools and expertise. (Keep in mind, however, that it’s always best to have a professional install or inspect any ramp before use.) 

Types of Metal Ramps

Homeowners have numerous options when it comes to metal ramps. The types of ramps available on the market include the following:

Aluminum Ramps

Lightweight and rust-resistant, aluminum ramps are a popular choice for homeowners. They can be easily transported and installed, making them ideal for temporary or semi-permanent use.

Steel Ramps

Known for their strength and durability, steel ramps can support heavier loads and are suitable for high-traffic areas. However, they can be prone to rust and corrosion if not properly maintained.

Galvanized Steel Ramps

These ramps are made from steel that has been coated with a layer of zinc to protect against rust and corrosion. This process extends the lifespan of the ramp and reduces maintenance requirements.

Modular Ramps

These ramps are composed of individual sections that can be easily assembled, disassembled, and reconfigured to accommodate various layouts and needs. They are typically made of aluminum or galvanized steel.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Metal Ramp

With so many models, types, styles, and materials to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start. Before purchasing a metal ramp, consider how the following factors may affect your unique needs:

Purpose of the Ramp

Will the ramp be used primarily for accessibility, loading, or another purpose? This will help you identify the appropriate weight capacity, length, slope requirements, and any possible additions such as rails.

Weight Capacity 

Consider the maximum weight that the ramp will need to support, including users, mobility devices (wheelchair? scooter? walker?), or any additional items being transported.

Length and Slope 

The length and slope of the ramp should be appropriate for your specific needs and comply with ADA guidelines for accessibility (more on this later).

Weather Conditions and Maintenance Needs

Consider how local weather conditions may impact your chosen ramp material’s durability and maintenance requirements.

Budget

Costs for metal ramps vary widely from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Keep your budget in mind when selecting a ramp, but remember that investing in a high-quality product will likely save you money in maintenance costs over time — as well as ensure the complete safety of the residents. 

If you need help financing a metal ramp for your home, call the experts at Omicelo Health. Our team can point you in the right direction for loans, grants, or other possible funding sources.

How to Install a Metal Ramp

We always recommend consulting or hiring a professional to ensure the safest installation of any metal ramp in a home. Before installing a metal ramp, be sure to review all safety precautions and familiarize yourself with the step-by-step installation process.

  1. Choose a suitable location for your ramp, ensuring it complies with ADA recommendations and provides easy access to your home.
  2. Measure and mark the area where the ramp will be installed.
  3. Prepare the ground by leveling the area and removing any debris or obstacles.
  4. Assemble the ramp according to the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring that all connections are secure and properly aligned.
  5. Attach any additional components, such as handrails or non-slip surfaces, as needed.
  6. Test the ramp’s stability and functionality before using it for its intended purpose.

Maintenance and Care for Metal Ramps

To ensure the longevity and safety of your metal ramp, clean your ramp regularly using mild detergent and water to remove dirt, debris, and potential slip hazards. Inspect the ramp for signs of rust, corrosion, or other damage — particularly the underside and any bolted connections — at least once a year (or more frequently if exposed to harsh weather conditions like high humidity).

Replace any worn or damaged parts as needed to maintain the structural integrity of the ramp. If your ramp is not in use for an extended period, store it in a dry, sheltered location to prevent damage from moisture or other environmental elements. 

Customizing Your Metal Ramp

Homeowners can personalize their metal ramps to suit their specific needs and preferences. Some examples of possible customization include: 

Adding Handrails or Guardrails

Handrails can provide additional support for users navigating the ramp, while guardrails prevent accidental falls off the edge of the ramp.

Non-Slip Surfaces

Improve safety by adding non-slip surfaces, such as grip tape or textured paint, to minimize the risk of slips and falls.

Decorative Elements

You can enhance the appearance of your ramp by adding decorative elements that complement your home’s exterior design.

Lighting Options

Install lighting along the ramp to maximize visibility and safety during dark conditions.

Understanding ADA Guidelines for Metal Ramps

While ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines are not mandatory for private homes, their recommendations are extremely helpful for ensuring the safest and most secure installation.

The ADA recommends a slope of 1:12 (one inch of rise for every 12 inches of run) for wheelchair ramps. The minimum width for a ramp is 36 inches, and landings should be at least 60 inches long and as wide as the ramp leading to it. 

Handrails should be provided on both sides of the ramp, with a height between 34 and 38 inches. Edge protection should prevent wheels from slipping off the side of the ramp.

Find More Information from Omicelo Health

Metal ramps are becoming more and more popular for personal home use, especially in residences with older adults or family members with mobility issues. Remember to always prioritize safety to ensure long-lasting use and enjoyment of your ramp.

If you have questions about metal ramps or other home safety and accessibility modifications, please contact Omicelo Health. Our team is ready and able to guide homeowners through the process of making improvements and renovations to their homes, including purchasing, financing, and hiring professionals to do the work for you.