Freedom Now Ramp Guide

Discover how easy it is to get your mobility back!
January 30, 2024 | Categories: Uncategorized ,

Everyone can relate to the comfort of the place that you call home. At National Ramp, our goal is to help you enjoy your home for as long as possible by ensuring that your home is a safe place for you as long as possible. 

Keeping Your Independence and Living Life To The Fullest

Older Americans are choosing more and more to “Age in Place,” which means to age in the home rather than moving to assisted living or downsizing to a senior living community. While everyone must make the choice that is best for their individual situation, a wheelchair ramp is a key component to making sure that you can safely Age in Place. 

Why Do I Need a Ramp?

Maintaining safety, independence, and freedom in your golden years

You may wonder if you truly need a ramp, especially if you’re not a wheelchair user. Why, it’s even in the name — wheelchair ramp! Instead of purchasing a ramp in response to an accident, fall, or illness, what if you purchased a ramp to prevent an accident or fall?

We believe in the value of fall assessments for older adults to identify tripping hazards around the house. Fall assessments can be done by closely examining the small but powerful ways you can prevent falls within your house. From removing clutter and installing grab bars in the bathroom to increasing lighting and setting up a smart home system, every senior citizen should do what they can to reduce their risk of falling in and around their home.

One in Four Americans Aged 65-Plus Suffers a Fall Each Year

Falls can be costly, they can be fatal, and they can seriously interfere with the quality of your life. If given the choice between buying a ramp or falling on your front steps and spending months in rehab, never to regain your mobility levels from before the fall, which would you choose?

Truly, while wheelchair ramps are essential for those who use mobility devices full time, we believe the best time to buy a stair ramp is before suffering a fall.

What’s Your Fall Risk Score? Take Our Quick and Easy Self-Assessment and Find Out

  1. I use a cane or walker for balance. [Yes] [No]
  2. My health care professional has advised me to use a cane or walker. [Yes] [No]
  3. I use furniture to steady myself when walking inside the home. [Yes] [No]
  4. My walking gait isn’t as steady as it used to be, I often shuffle. [Yes] [No]
  5. I find myself slowing down significantly when approaching my front steps. [Yes] [No]
  6. I’ve had times near-misses, small trips, or minor falls. [Yes] [No]
  7. I’m taking medicine that can make me dizzy or tired. [Yes] [No]
  8. I have a medical condition that affects my balance, leg strength, or eyesight. [Yes] [No]
  9. I don’t use the steps by myself anymore and rely on a family member, friend, or caregiver to help me. [Yes] [No]
  10. I rent or borrow scooters and wheelchairs at grocery stores, shopping malls, parks, and other attractions. [Yes] [No]

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, now is the time to call National Ramp to begin increasing the safety in your home. 

How Will a Wheelchair Ramp Improve My Life?

What will it feel like to regain your independence?

A ramp isn’t just a mobility tool — it’s also independence. It’s the confidence in knowing you can get into or out of your house without a risk of falling. It’s not having to wait for someone to help you up and down the stairs. It’s not having to stack all your appointments and errands into one day so that you have fewer trips outside. It’s the ability to come into and out of your house as you please without ever feeling trapped inside. 

For those customers who use mobility devices, your caregiver can assist you on the handicap ramp. You and your caregiver will be impressed by how much easier and more secure it is to use the ramp. 

What’s the Difference Between a Safe and an Unsafe Wheelchair Ramp?

Here’s a short video from our President, Garth Walker, showing you the difference between a safe and unsafe ramp.

As demonstrated in the video, all ramps are not created equal. There are some homemade ramp solutions we’ve seen that truly are scarier than no ramp at all! This next section will take you through everything that makes a ramp safe.

When we talk with customers about what they need to have a safe ramp, we always start with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Signed into law in 1990 by George H.W. Bush, it sets standards for access to public spaces and buildings, among many other protections. Within the ADA are guidelines for safe ramps.

Now, do you need to follow ADA compliance? Generally speaking, the ADA doesn’t apply to privately purchased ramps at your home. Your local municipality may have guidelines that require ADA compliance, but the ADA is a federal law for public spaces. It doesn’t set guidelines for your home wheelchair ramp. 

Still, the ADA ramp requirements serve specific purposes, and you should strongly consider each one:

Handicap Ramp Slope

The ADA says that for public ramps, ramps should have a slope of at least 1:12. That means that for every inch of height, there should be 12 inches/1 foot of ramp length. So, if your stairs are 15 inches high, you need 15 feet of ramping to be safest for most users. 

While those walking or using power mobility devices can likely have a steeper slope than 1:12, we strongly recommend that those using manual wheelchairs stick to 1:12, whether you use the chair yourself or with a caregiver.

However, not every slope is a safe slope. A ramp that feels like you’re climbing a mountain isn’t helping you regain your independence! If you use a mobility device, refer to your manufacturer’s guidelines on safe slopes. 

Use the chart below to determine the appropriate ramp length. Any slopes in RED should be avoided wherever possible. 

While the ramp slope is the most important factor to get right, it’s not the only component that makes a ramp safe. Platforms, turns, and resting areas are also crucial to ramp safety.

Resting Platforms

A resting platform of 4 x 5 feet or 5 x 5 feet should be included for every ramp run longer than 30 feet. This guideline ensures that the user and/or caregiver have a safe, level resting place if they become weary while traveling the ramp. 

Level Surfaces

Ramps should start and end on a hard, level surface. This requirement allows ramp users to safely turn around at the top and bottom of the ramp and ensures the ramp doesn’t end on a surface like grass or dirt that can be difficult to traverse.

Examples of Unsafe Handicap Ramps

Just because a homemade ramp bypasses stairs does not mean it’s safe for travel. Using these unsafe ramps can cause injury to ramp users and their caregivers.

  1. Unsafe slope: Ramps that are too steep are dangerous for caregivers and users.
  2. Flimsy materials: Plywood is not a supportive surface for the weight of a ramp.
  3. No handrails or toe guards: These safety measures keep people and mobility devices on the ramp where they belong!
  4. Slippery traveling surface: If the ramp is too smooth, it can become hazardous to use in snow or rain.
  5. Too narrow: National Ramps come standard in 36-inch widths, with 48-inch widths available for bariatric and large powerchairs.  

How Your Ramp Consultant Will Measure for a Safe Handicap Ramp

Every home and every person is unique. A no-obligation in-home assessment with a certified ramp consultant is the best way to know that all measurements are considered and that you’re being presented with the safest ramp layout possible. 

Prior to your appointment, read this overview of what to expect and how to get the most out of your consultation. 

Your ramp consultant will measure the distance from your door to the ground, including the height of the door to the top step or porch (called the threshold), the width and length of the porch and steps, and any change in the grade of the property as you move from the door to where the ramp will end, and take all of these measurements into consideration to create a ramp layout that will provide the safest route possible from your home to your vehicle. 

Types of Wheelchair Ramps

Choosing a specific ramp design depends on your unique requirements. Options include portable and installed ramps consisting of various materials.

Portable vs. Installed

A portable wheelchair ramp is one that you can use on an as-needed basis. You can pack it in your car, put it in a closet, or leave it in a place where you use it most frequently. If you are using it as a permanent or semi-permanent option, then you may wish to secure it using screws. Aluminum threshold rampstemporary aluminum folding ramps, and rubber threshold ramps are all different kinds of portable ramps. 

Portable wheelchair ramps can be used on their own or with installed ramps, depending on your needs. 

Installed ramps are longer than 6 feet and are secured to your property. They require Manskilled installers to assemble and secure them with various design and hardware elements. They are too heavy to try moving on your own. 

National Ramp offers all these types of wheelchair ramps for sale. 

Choosing Your Material — Aluminum vs. Steel vs. Wood. Is There Really a Difference?

National Ramp’s most popular wheelchair ramp products are our variety of aluminum ramping products. Customers love how low maintenance and durable these metal wheelchair ramps are. They even come with lifetime guarantees! 

Some still like the look of powder-coated steel. While the steel ramps are very handsome, they require more upkeep and are prone to rusting, unlike aluminum. 

And when it comes to wood ramping, a National Ramp wood system offers many benefits over having a contractor-built ramp, but wood is a product that by its nature has a time limit. It requires the most upkeep and offers the least features and flexibility. 

Here’s a guide to help you see the benefits and features of each product:

How to Tell the Difference Between High-Quality and Low-Quality Wheelchair Ramps

  1. Materials are your first giveaway to a low-quality ramp. Plywood should be nowhere near a ramp being used by anyone or their mobility device. Metal wheelchair ramps are your first sign that a ramp may be high quality. 
  2. ADA-compliant ramp slopes are gentle and smooth. Ramps shouldn’t have angles or bumps, and you should never mistake a wheelchair ramp for an Olympic ski jump! 
  3. High-quality ramps are customizable to your specific needs. While there are portable ramps and threshold ramps that are out-of-the-box options, a high-quality ramp will be customized to fit your home and your property. There may be multiple egress points to maintain access to your porch, or a ramp might be long and winding to smooth out the challenges of a bumpy terrain. Not every home is the same, and not every out-of-a-box option is right for you.
  4. A professionally installed ramp will have high-grade components, an even travel surface, seamless handrails, and caps to prevent sharp edges from scraping or cutting, showing the level of care in both the manufacturing and installation processes.
  5. A low-quality handicap ramp will have handrails that lack structure and security. And of course, some don’t have them at all. We’ve seen some wheelchair ramps that are so poorly designed that you can tell from pictures that the handrails are loose! Even if you only use a scooter on the ramp, strong handrails are important for your safety.  
  6. ADA ramp guidelines for level surfaces at the start and end of ramps have true value for ramp users. You need to open your door without sliding down the ramp. And after locking a door, you need to be able to fully turn around comfortably. A ramp that ends in dirt or grass was designed by someone who hasn’t considered your ability to get from the ramp into a vehicle on a rainy day. 
  7. Some ramps need to change direction. Turn platforms should be flat and provide room for your mobility device to turn safely without popping tires. If your ramp designer doesn’t ask what device you’re using, they’re not making sure the ramp is practical for your needs.

What Are the Benefits of a Modular Wheelchair Ramp?

Modular means that the pieces are manufactured off-site and installed on-site. The same concept for modular home design applies to ramps. After a modular ramp is designed, the ramp layout is turned into a custom design with the specific part list needed to create a ramp for a particular property. 

Permanent ramps are generally made with wood or concrete. For wooden permanent ramps, ramp posts are installed into poured concrete so they stay in place. 

There are several reasons why someone would want to choose a modular ramp, including layout flexibility, easy fixes, and speedy installation time. Here’s an article explaining the benefits of a modular system compared to permanent ramps.

How to Buy a Wheelchair Ramp

You have several options for buying and installing a ramp, including:

Online Purchases

Ramps can be purchased online from a variety of retailers as well as directly from consumers on social media. Without a professional guiding the process, this method is a gamble for guaranteeing the final product meets the safety requirements of the ramp’s users.

Professional consultation is critical. Purchasing online or directly from the manufacturer might limit your knowledge and expertise in selecting the right product for your unique needs. A ramp expert can assess your situation and recommend the most suitable ramp based on your home’s layout, the user’s mobility limitations, and safety requirements.

Without consulting an expert, you may overlook critical installation considerations. If the ramp is not installed correctly, it could pose safety risks or lack its intended functionality. Professionals have the experience and knowledge to ensure proper installation, considering factors like slope, stability, and adherence to the required codes. In addition, a ramp expert can provide valuable guidance on maintenance and any modifications or adjustments you might need later.

DME Providers

Ramps can be purchased through a durable medical equipment (DME) provider, or by contacting the manufacturer to be connected directly with a local dealer. If you are working with a DME provider, you will want to verify that they are a certified ramp expert by contacting their manufacturer. 

DIY Options

There are certainly times when DIY is appropriate, but your ramp might not be the time for it. A novice can certainly safely install a threshold ramp, but we strongly advise that when it comes to your safety, leave the large ramps to the professionals. 

Professional Installation

If you want to have a professional installer, contact a ramp specialist. Not every contractor or carpenter is knowledgeable in the ADA or what components are required to make a ramp safe for an individual.

Maintenance and Upkeep

What maintenance is required with a ramp?

The maintenance required for a ramp depends on the type of ramp you have. Here’s an overview, but refer to the maintenance instructions provided with your ramp system for more details.

  • Breeze Series™ or Liberty Series™ aluminum ramps require the least amount of maintenance as the 100% aluminum won’t rust or corrode. The solid surface Liberty™ system will require a broom for light snowfall and a shovel or a Calcium-Chloride salt remover to prevent ice from forming on the ramp. If any of the legs start to settle over time, they can be tightened with a wrench. 
  • The Triumph™ open mesh steel ramp won’t need any special winter weather care, but routinely inspect the ramp for scratches or dents, and immediately paint any scratches in the powder-coated finish to prevent rusting.
  • The Victory Series™ wood decking features pressure-treated wood that must be painted or stained immediately after installation. Much like you would for your deck or porch, the Victory™ ramp must be treated yearly to extend its longevity. Contact your ramp specialist if the wood shows signs of rotting, moisture damage, wood splintering, or other issues.  

We Have Answers to Your Questions

You may still have questions about the ramp and ramp process. Here are some we get from our customers:

How long does the ramp process take?

Modular ramps can be installed very quickly! An in-home evaluation takes a few hours and can often be scheduled for the same or next day. Ramp components are kept in stock for a quick turnaround, and most ramp systems are installed within a few hours. It’s quite rare for an installation to take more than one day, and your ramp professional will be able to give you an estimated timeline based on the size and layout of your ramp.

How will I know how to take care of my ramp?

Your ramp installer will provide you with detailed maintenance instructions (but don’t worry, it’s not a long list!). 

How do I pay for my ramp?

Most ramp purchases are private pay. Insurance coverage (both private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid programs) varies greatly by policy. Financing options may be available in your state. National Ramp also has consumer financing options available. For assistance and more information, contact National Ramp. 

What happens if I no longer need the ramp?

National Ramp does not buy back ramps, but your ramp installer may have a buyback program or assist in recycling the ramp. Once the ramp is fully purchased, it is your property. You can donate or sell the ramp or recycle an aluminum ramp. Contact your local recycling or transfer stations to see if they accept painted steel or wood. 

I’m only going to need a ramp for a short time. Can I rent a ramp?

National Ramp does not have a corporate ramp rental policy, but your local installer may offer rentals as an option.

Where can I find feedback from other customers?

Please visit our testimonials page to find out what our happy customers have to say.

How long has National Ramp been in business?

National Ramp has been in business since 2000 and under current ownership since 2010. 

Do you service my area?

We’re proud to offer a network of licensed, certified, and insured ramp installers coast to coast, ready to assist customers with their ramping needs.

What if I need a ramp for my business, school, or other publicly-accessed building?

The ADA requires a commercial ramp for these applications. If you need a commercial ramp, please contact our commercial ramp division. 

Why National Ramp?

Who Is National Ramp?

National Ramp isn’t a start-up. We’re an innovator in the modular ramping industry. We don’t just do what’s always been done, we look for ways to improve the ramp experience for our clients. 

Consumers used to only have two options for their residential ramps — solid decking aluminum or hand-painted steel open mesh. National Ramp was the first to marry the best of both options and give consumers a ramp that allows rain and snow to pass through with a maintenance-free material in the Breeze Series™ aluminum mesh ramp. 

National Ramp owner Garth Walker worked in the DME field before purchasing the company. Having worked directly with patients, he saw the impact that mobility devices had in improving one’s quality of life, which has directed additional innovations at National Ramp, including:

  • Using powder-coating rather than hand painting for the steel Triumph™ ramp, creating a more durable and clean finish than competitor’s ramps.
  • Offering the Victory Series™ as the first widely available modular wooden ramp system. This solution allowed customers who wanted the aesthetics of a wooden ramp to have the benefits of a modular system over a ramp that a carpenter would require weeks to finish.
  • Improving on the standard solid decking aluminum ramp with the Liberty™ ramp to provide a more cost-effective ramp system for consumers. High-quality manufacturing and fast turnaround times have made this ramp a customer favorite. The Liberty Series offers a low-maintenance solution with a non-slip deck surface, helping users get in and out of their homes safely, whether they use a scooter or wheelchair or simply require added assistance.
  • Investing in training for local dealers has resulted in coast-to-coast expert installation teams.

Why Choose National Ramp?

National Ramp didn’t just disrupt the ramps available on the market. We also reinvented how manufacturers and dealers work together, with engaging training programs that ensure our dealers have the support they need to benefit the end consumers. 

National Ramp operates under the motto Freedom Now. It’s not just our mission, but our purpose. Not just our purpose, but our promise. It’s who we are and what we do. The very nature of our business and of every team member is purposefully built to deliver to you this promise. 

Our commitment to innovation and disruption is a challenge to constantly elevate the quality of our products and services. Because your safety depends on it. 

Regain Your Freedom Now — Get in Touch With Us Today!

Installing a new wheelchair ramp in your home now instead of later offers several advantages, including immediate accessibility for individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobility challenges. Having a ramp allows them to move freely and independently, enhancing their overall quality of life. More importantly, you can design a product that helps prevent any accidents or injuries that may occur with an ineffective solution.

Contacting us now allows us to help you in the following ways:

  1. Our live customer service representatives will talk to you on the phone to start the process.
  2. We’ll outline your best options right on the phone.
  3. We’ll arrange an appointment with a top installer in your area.
  4. We can design a customized solution for your home and specific mobility needs.
  5. We can streamline the installation process, allowing you to enjoy your new ramp as quickly as a few days.

We hope this information has explained why a ramp is a great option to help you safely stay in your home as long as possible. Are you ready to begin the ramp process and regain your Freedom Now? You can fill out our easy online form or call us at 877-596-7293. 

Don’t Risk Injury To You Or A Loved One

Why wait? Give us a call at 877-596-7293 or contact us online to get started!

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