When designing the entryway to a home, or considering ways to transition between floors at different heights within a home, the most common options are stairways and ramps. However, determining whether stairs or ramps are best suited for your particular situation can be difficult. By evaluating the pros and cons of both, as well as your mobility needs, getting up or down will be a breeze.
When choosing to install a ramp or a staircase in home building, you must consider any physical mobility limitations of the people living in the home. Stairs may be convenient for people who can walk without any assistance; however, individuals requiring a wheelchair, walker, or cane will have an easier time walking up and down ramps where large strides are not required. Likewise, small children will also have an easier time navigating ramps.
Both ramps and stairs have safety benefits and risks. A stairway that is properly lit and equipped with handrails can be a safe way for able-bodied individuals to move from one area to the next. However, stairs can pose a major fall risk for the young and elderly. Meanwhile, ramps with handrails provide a safe way for people of all mobility levels to change elevations in a home. However, outside ramps can become especially slick and difficult to maneuver when icy or covered in debris, like leaves.
Staircases are considered the most economical choice when creating access to a raised area of a home. The reason for the affordability of stairs is that they come in prefabricated designs and can be constructed in limited space. Meanwhile most ramps require a custom design to fit the area that they will be used in, which can add a significant amount to the cost of construction.
While stairs may limit mobility where ramps allow people of all mobility levels to move about, there are other limitations to consider. Stairs can be built nearly anywhere that there is a difference in height between landings and take up only one small area. Conversely, ramps require far more space to allow for the proper rise. Typically, ramps rise at a ratio of 1:12, meaning that if you needed to build a ramp that had one foot in elevation rise, it would have to be 12-feet long. Thus, space can be the most limiting factor regarding ramp design.