How to Build a Handicap Ramp to ADA Recommendations


The Americans With Disabilities Act sets out specific regulations concerning ramps in public places. Requirements for slope, width and length are all part of the regulation and must be followed. Planning the ramp is the most important step to meeting all the appropriate ADA guidelines.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Planning paper
  • Measure the vertical distance between the surfaces. This constitutes the rise of the ramp and will be used to calculate the other measurements of the ramp.

  • Plan the ramp. The maximum slope of the ramp is 1 vertical inch for every 12 inches of horizontal space. Minimum width is 36 inches. Basically the ramp will have to be 1 foot long for every inch of rise. In addition, place a 5-foot-long flat landing at the top and bottom of the ramp. A ramp may rise no more than 30 inches before a landing is placed.

  • Plan the handrails for both sides of the ramp. Permitted heights for handrails vary between 34 and 38 inches from the surface of the ramp to the top of the handrail. Handrails should be continuous without breaks that could cause an individual to lose his grip. Round the ends of the handrail, or, if they are made of metal, bend the handrail downward and connect it to the floor.

  • Plan 2-inch curbs along the edge of the ramp anywhere the risk of slipping off the ramp exists.

  • Build the ramp. The ADA regulations do not require any particular construction method. However, construction techniques and materials must be sufficient to carry the weights required in your particular situation.

Tips & Warnings

  • ADA regulations specify that outdoor ramp designs should minimize accumulations of rain or moisture limiting the possibility of ice or frost buildup.

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  • Photo Credit ramp leading to boats image by Larry Roberg from
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