Some homeowners may find the need to install an exterior access ramp at an entry door to the house for a family member who may have difficulty navigating steps. This could include an older parent who is living with you.
The main purpose of a ramp is for the user to have access to areas of different elevations, while providing safety and comfort. A ramp’s design should incorporate many features that help make it safe to use, including, but not limited to, railings, handrails, and the angle at which the ramp is sloped.
If you need to install a ramp, you will need to determine, for the issue of slope, whether the user of the ramp will be using it assisted, or unassisted. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has set design standards for all the features of a ramp that would be used in public areas to accommodate the widest range of users.
The ADA recommends an access ramp slope of 1:12. This slope is better for someone who has to use the ramp unassisted. A 1:12 slope means that there would be a 1 foot change in elevation for every 12 feet of ramp length (not including landings). A steeper slope of 1:8 is an acceptable ADA slope. But this slope may not be suitable for unassisted use.
While the ramp itself is sloped, all landings at the top and bottom of a ramp should provide a stable and level surface. Ramps can be segmented with level landings to change the direction of the ramp and for economizing space. There should always be a landing at any entry door, large enough for safety and maneuverability while opening and closing a door.
Typically, a homeowner will have specific needs for a home ramp and does not have to accommodate a wide range of users, as in a public space. Check with your local building department to comply with any local building code for all the features of a homeowner’s ramp.