How do you Build an ADA-Compliant Concrete Wheelchair Ramp?

curb ramp The Americans with Disabilities act, signed into law in 1990 by President George Bush, Sr., was created in order to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities, allowing them to remain a part of mainstream society.  A part of ADA legislation requires all public buildings and private businesses to ensure physical access to their property for people with disabilities.

For wheelchair-bound people, ADA requires ramps to be constructed.  They don’t necessarily have to be constructed from concrete, but many are.  If you are curious how this process works, or if you are a contractor with a project that requires ADA certification, we have step by step fabrication instructions and the regulations guiding the actual construction of the ramp.

Instructions For Building an ADA Compliant Wheelchair Ramp

  1. Ramp regulations.  Before you begin constructing the ramp, know the minimum regulations yours must follow.  At minimum, a ramp must be 36 inches wide, have edge protection to prevent people from slipping or falling off, have landings at top and bottom that are as wide as the ramp and at least 60 inches long, must have handrails on both sides if the rise is greater than 6 inches or if length is longer than 72 inches, and also must have slip-resistant and stable surfaces, as well as cross-slopes with a rise of 1 unit for every 12 units of run maximum.
  2. Choose your building materials.  Concrete is the most expensive material for building a ramp, but works great for ramps that will be permanent.  Alternative materials you might use include wood, steel, or aluminum.  In this case, of course, we’ll be discussing construction with concrete.
  3. Planning.  First, measure the area where the ramp will be constructed.  You’ll remember from the guidelines before that the ramp must be at least 36 inches wide and cannot have a  slope greater than 1:12.  As you measure, use stakes and string to mark the width of the ramp.  Finally, measure the height of the ramp and determine how long the ramp will have to be, keeping in mind the maximum ratio of 1:12 for slope.
  4. Create the forms.  Cut wood planks to create the forms.  Typically, your planks should be 2x6s.  You’ll need to place stakes around the form to provide extra insurance the concrete will hold in place.  Remember to cut the top level of the form work to stay in line with the 1:12 slope.  Place rebar inside of the form.  3/8″ rebar spaced 6 inches apart works well for providing additional strength and reducing cracks.  Be sure to tie the rebar together with wire.
  5. Pour the concrete.  Now that your forms are all set up, it’s time to pour the concrete.  Mix it as recommended by the manufacturer, and pour it out, beginning with the deepest part of the ramp first.  Vibrate the concrete to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Complete the ramp.  Trowel the concrete smooth.  Use a medium-bristle broom to create lines on the concrete.  This helps create texture, which allows you to comply with the ADA guideline stipulating your ramp must do everything it can to reduce the risk of people slipping.  Finally, remove the form work once the concrete has hardened.

That’s how you add an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp to a concrete walkway.  Believe it or not, there still are some businesses out there who do not comply with the law, as well as private residences who still have the need.

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One Response to How do you Build an ADA-Compliant Concrete Wheelchair Ramp?

  1. Pingback: Concrete Surfaces in Office Parks and Commercial Rentals Must Be Maintained to City Code

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