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Types of Threshold Ramps
Mobility aids like scooters, wheelchairs, and walkers require changes to a home or work environment to work correctly around obstacles including doorways. There are threshold ramps that can make the transition from one side of the entrance to the other smooth and easy. At first, it might be a bit overwhelming to see all the options available, and you may have questions about choosing the right one and installing it. We are going to go over all of that and more in the sections below.
There are five main types of threshold ramps that you will want to use. Which one is right for you and your home or workplace will depend on several characteristics of the doorway and surrounding environment.
Aluminum Threshold Ramp Plates
The aluminum ramp plates are ideal for very short rises of 3-inches or less. They are sturdy, easy to move, and can be placed quickly. Most of these plate lips can hold up to 600-pounds and can reach a width of 36-inches. You will need to screw it into place over the door base plate.
Aluminum Self-Supporting Threshold Ramps
Self-supporting ramps butt up against the door but do not actually interact with it. All of the weight goes onto the ramp and the supporting structure built into it. Many self-supporting ramps can hold up to 750-pounds and can be used on rises up to 3-inches. You can use two self-supporting ramps (one indoors and one outdoors) if you have a stand-alone threshold like a sliding glass door.
Rubber Threshold Ramps
Rubber ramps come in a wide variety of shapes and styles. They can be incredibly heavy depending on their thickness, and these should not be used if you intend to transport or install and uninstall the ramp regularly. If you have an oddly shaped door, then a rubber threshold ramp will be a perfect choice because it is easy to cut them into shape for your needs. They are also naturally weatherproofed. The main downside of rubber ramps is that they can become slippery in wet, icy, or snowy conditions.
If you have a high step of up to 9-inches, then an adjustable ramp will help you get the length you need for the ramp. These ramps have strong legs that keep them secure despite the increased size, and they are perfect for doorways that are at a non-standard height. The adjustability lets you match it to the doorway precisely. Some have protective skirts for safety, and they can often handle the highest weight capacities.
Bariatric Threshold Ramps
These ramps are designed explicitly for high weight loads over the 850-pounds that other ramps can support. These are excellent for people who have a body mass index of over 40 or if their mobility device is unusually heavy. Some wheelchairs with added accessories can be well over 100-pounds.
Measuring for a Threshold Ramp
You will need to have the dimensions for width, rise, and length on hand before you can begin looking for a ramp. Below are the straightforward steps for getting those accurate measurements. You can use a standard tape measure or a laser distance measurer, but whatever you use, make sure that you are using straight lines and starting on the interior of the doorway and not the outer edges of the doorframe because the ramp needs to fit inside the door.
1. Measure both sides of the door from the threshold to the surface of the landing. Some doorways have a slight difference in rise from one side of the entrance to the other, which is why you must measure both. If there is any inconsistency, you can adjust the ramp accordingly. This measurement determines the rise of the ramp.
2. Measure the width of the door from one side to the other. To get an accurate measurement, you will want to check the interior measurements of the door from one side to the other.
3. Measure the distance from the threshold out to determine the angle and ramp length. How high the rise is will determine how far the ramp will need to extend. For a rise up to 4-inches, the rule of thumb is for every inch of height, there should be one foot of the ramp. Any elevation above 4-inches changes to two feet of ramp for every inch of rise. This step will help you figure out if a ramp will fit in the space that you want to place it.
Selecting the Right Threshold Ramp
You will need a ramp that is right for the threshold you are trying to cover and can handle the weight and size of whatever mobility device you intend to move over it. You need to consider three main things when looking for the right ramp: dimensions, material, and weight capacity.
This is a crucial thing to check when you are looking at products to purchase. If the dimensions do not match your doorway, then you will not be able to use it. You should be fully aware of all sizes before you ever start looking at threshold ramps. You will need accurate dimensions for the rise, width, and length of the ramp you need. We went over how to do this in a previous section, but here are a few more details that will help you find the right ramp.
- Rise: Solid and stand-alone ramps usually come with a fixed rise. You should buy adjustable ramps that are as close to the needed size as possible because they do not have an extensive range.
- Width: You can trim some materials like rubber to fit the width of a doorway, but most ramps cannot be adjusted, so you need to make sure this measurement is accurate.
- Length: The most common ramp lengths are between 8-inches and 42-inches. You want to make certain you follow the rule of the thumb for rise and length mentioned in the section on measuring the threshold ramp.
The most common weight capacities for threshold ramps are 600-pounds, 750-pounds, and 850-pounds. If you have people and machines on it that are over the weight capacity, it could crack and buckle. You need to take into account the following.
- Weight of person and the weight of their mobility device
- Weight of person, mobility device, and assistant if another person is required to push it
- Weight of anything that will be moved over the ramp, including things other than mobility devices
Choose the Right Material
You want to make sure that the ramp is made out of materials that are right for your threshold, the devices you will be moving over it, and any weathering that it might encounter if you are placing it outdoors.
For threshold ramps that might need to be moved, the aluminum option is perfect because it weighs much less than rubber but is still sturdy and able to handle heavy loads.
- More lightweight and mobile than other materials
- Non-slip treads for safety in most weather conditions
- Limited adjustability to height and width
- Weight capacity is usually less than rubber, with some being as low as 300-pounds for pre-assembled aluminum ramps
One of the most common materials for threshold ramps is rubber which is sturdy, weather-resistant, and long-lasting. It is also more malleable than aluminum and can be adapted to fit into oddly sized doorways.
- More affordable, and it holds up well to continual use.
- Naturally slip-resistant in non-wet weather
- It easily conforms to the door surface and can be installed without drilling
- The maximum weight capacity for most rubber ramps is 850-pounds
- It can become slippery in snow and rain or when there is ice present
- Heavier than other materials like aluminum
Stairs, Turns, and Angles
Threshold ramps are designed for around a 9-inch rise or a single step. They are not meant for longer staircases. You may also have trouble placing some threshold ramps if there are sharp angles or turns directly in front of or beyond the threshold. In those cases, you may need specialized equipment, which most ramp companies sell.
Installing a Threshold Ramp
After you unload your threshold ramp, but before you start the installation process, you should read all accompanying handle. There should be an installation instructional booklet that comes with it, and you will want to read through that thoroughly. manufacturer guidelines so that you understand the device fully and what it can and cannot
Before installing the ramp, make sure the threshold, doorway, and nearby ground surface are all clean and remove any debris. If you skip this step, there is always the possibility that some lingering debris could damage your doorway or your ramp. Once everything is clean and ready, you can install your ramp. The majority of ramps will be permanent or semi-permanent, and so you will want to take it slow and follow all directions provided.
You will most likely need tools like a drill for aluminum and wood ramps to screw them into place. Rubber ramps usually require no additional tool. Make certain that you check the instructions and kit to determine if you will need different tools or other equipment before you begin the installation process. This will save you time and frustration if it does not include some necessary components.
If you require a visual aid, most manufacturers will have video instructions on their website, or you may be able to find them on other sites like YouTube.