Most commercial-grade ramps are built out of four different types of materials: wood, aluminum, steel, and concrete.
The type of material you choose depends on why the ramp is being built and where it’s being built. For example, if the access solution will need to be relocated at any point in the future, you’ll want to choose a material that can easily be removed and transported. Below we walk through the pros and cons for each of the four main building materials, and when you’ll want to use each.
Pros: The material itself is generally inexpensive, which means lower cost up front for the ramp. Many property owners also prefer the aesthetic of a wood ramp over a metal one, giving the property a quainter feel.
Cons: Wood ramps take several days to build, which means higher labor and building permit costs. Ramps made out of wood also require quite a bit of maintenance after the initial build, because wood rots and warps faster and easier than other materials, and can also be dangerous when wet. When it comes time to remove a wood ramp, you’ll not only need to factor in the labor costs once again to take the ramp down, but you’ll also have to figure out the disposal of the materials.
Pros: Aluminum modular ramps are also great for creating customizable access solutions, and are virtually maintenance free. Since the modular parts are shipped pre-made, experts can install and take down an aluminum ramp system in a matter of hours. This makes aluminum ramps great for both temporary and permanent solutions.
Aluminum ramp systems will last a lifetime and will stand up to the harshest of environments, along with repeated, everyday use. With their permanent, slip-resistance surface and smooth, continuous handrails, these ramps ensure safe access for all individuals.
Cons: Due to the material and pre-assembled parts, these ramps typically cost more money up front.
Pros: Modular steel ramps allow for a design that enables customization for any property.
Cons: Steel easily rusts over time, especially in wetter climates, creating an increased need for regular maintenance to ensure a safe access system. This material is also very heavy, which makes for a difficult tear down for temporary situations.
Pros: Concrete ramps are a low-maintenance option that is also very durable. They have a high weight capacity as well, which is great for regular, repetitive use of the ramp.
Cons: Installing and removing a concrete ramp can be very costly and take quite a bit of time and prep work. Over time they are also prone to cracks and deterioration, requiring the occasional repair. Lastly, it’s difficult to build a customized concrete ramp, so it may not be possible to construct if the existing building does not allow for it.