Wheelchair Ramp Frequently Asked Questions

Amramp ramps are made from 100% recyclable steel. This guide compares the features and benefits of steel, wood, concrete and aluminum ramps.

What about cost?

Steel is almost always the lowest in cost. Wood can be the lowest if the labor is donated or provided by a family member. Wood is the highest in cost if the labor is done by a contractor.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Lowest or Highest Lowest   Highest Medium
       

What about maintenance?

Concrete and Aluminum wheelchair ramps are best for maintenance. Steel will rust, as do porch rails and picket fences. Some touch-up is occasionally required. Wood needs to be regularly treated with a wood sealer.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Worst Medium Best Best
       

What about safety?

Wood rots. Wood, concrete and aluminum wheelchair ramps all have solid surfaces that allow moisture to accumulate and freeze, creating a dangerous ice film. Steel wheelchair ramps have a gripping texture that prevents skidding. Steel wheelchair ramps also have an open-pattern ramp surface that allows moisture to pass through, eliminating the danger of ice film. Steel and concrete are fireproof. Wood and aluminum cannot withstand the heat of a fire.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Worst Best Worst Worst
       

What about rentals?

About 45% of wheelchair ramps should be rented when they are not needed permanently. Wheelchair ramp rentals are convenient for short term disabilities, recovery from surgery or special events such as weddings, graduations or family gatherings, with no minimum time or amount of ramp required.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes No Maybe
       

What about durability?

Wood rots. Steel and concrete wheelchair ramps last for ages. Aluminum has one-third the strength of steel and is three times softer. The little nonskid grooving on an aluminum wheelchair ramp surface wears down quickly, becoming smooth and slippery in wet weather. Aluminum is fine for aluminum siding and down spouts.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Worst Best Best Medium
       

What about proper ramp design?

Carpenters and family members have limited knowledge of what is a safe and ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp. Aluminum wheelchair ramps are not measured or installed by the manufacturing personnel. Steel wheelchair ramps, on the other hand, include a free evaluation by the wheelchair ramp manufacturer's expert, who is based in your community.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes No No
       

What about appearance?

Depending on the property, wood wheelchair ramps can match an existing deck; steel wheelchair ramps can look like wrought iron; concrete wheelchair ramps can match a walkway. Aluminum wheelchair ramps are shiny and commercial-looking – not suitable for residential applications.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes Yes No
       

What about moving or changing my wheelchair ramp after it is purchased?

If you move, you can take all or part of your steel wheelchair ramp or aluminum wheelchair ramp with you, and add to it or shorten it as necessary. If your needs in terms of equipment or caregiver change, the steel wheelchair ramp or aluminum wheelchair ramp can be corrected to the new situation. If you find the wood wheelchair ramp or concrete wheelchair ramp is too steep after you buy it, no correction is possible.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes No Yes
       

What about the possible resale value of the wheelchair ramp?

There is a market for used steel wheelchair ramps and aluminum wheelchair ramps when you no longer need them.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes No Yes
       

What about availability?

Because steel wheelchair ramps and aluminum wheelchair ramps are delivered from pre-manufactured stock, you can get these wheelchair ramps in days. Wood or concrete wheelchair ramp availability depends on a contractor's responsiveness.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Worst Best Worst Medium
       

What about excavation of the property?

Concrete frost footings are required for wood wheelchair ramps. As frost heaves and concrete settles, these rigid structures will become damaged and misaligned. Steel wheelchair ramps and aluminum wheelchair ramps are easily realigned, as they are designed with adjustable support structures. Steel wheelchair ramp adjustments are done free for the life of the original wheelchair ramp installation.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Yes No Yes No
       

What about possible devaluation of the property?

Upon resale, wheelchair ramps will bring down the value of the home, as only one out of 200 people uses a wheelchair. There are significant costs to digging up and disposing of wood and concrete wheelchair ramps and their footings.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Worst Best Worst Best
       

What about building permits?

Wood and concrete wheelchair ramps are permanent modifications to the home, requiring permits. Steel and aluminum modular wheelchair ramps are classified as reusable durable medical equipment (DME) and do not usually require permits.

       
Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Yes No Yes No
       

What about taxable revaluation of the property after the wheelchair ramp is installed?

The building permit process includes reassessment of the property after the permit is issued.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
Yes No Yes No
       

What about recycling?

Steel wheelchair ramps are made from 100% recycled steel and are 100% recyclable. Pressure-treated wood, used in wooden wheelchair ramps, contains dangerous chemicals, cannot be reused and is not allowed in landfills.

Wood Steel Concrete Aluminum
No Yes No Yes


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