While wood ramps were common in the past, homeowners, stores, and other facilities are replacing their old wood with aluminum. When considering accessibility options for a building, solutions that will last and won’t require a lot of maintenance are key for safety, value, and convenience. Aluminum ramps offer a more modern and durable approach to ensuring those with mobility differences can get around. From holding up against the elements to easy installation, there are several reasons why EZ-ACCESS® relies on the high quality of aluminum over wood for our ramps. We’ll explain the differences between the two materials and how easy it can be to replace your wood ramp with aluminum.
What Is the Difference Between Wood and Aluminum Ramps?
- Ease of Installation: Wood ramps require extensive work to properly measure, cut, and fasten each piece. This is not only time-consuming but labor-intensive, and it can be costly if a mistake occurs during construction. Rework, wasted materials, and lost time are common when building a wood ramp. During the extensive installation, which could take days to weeks, the area may be out of commission, making getting into the home or building even more complicated. Aluminum ramps like the EZ-ACCESS PATHWAY® HD system are modular, meaning the sections are pre-built and simply have to be assembled to best suit the space. It’s a faster installation process and is significantly less stressful than building with wood. In expert hands, the installation of a modular ramp solution from EZ-ACCESS can be completed in a matter of hours.
- Maintenance Requirements: Even the highest-quality wood is subject to decay. Wood ramps, especially those at the entryway of a building, are exposed to rain, snow, wind, and other elements that cause the material to wear down. Even if the wood is treated or sealed regularly, this has to be done repeatedly and becomes costly. There’s also the potential for infestations in wood, such as termites. Aluminum is much more durable as it is better able to withstand harsh conditions without negative effects. Whether you live in a humid environment or have feet of snow each winter, aluminum is better suited than wood to all climates. Cleaning an aluminum ramp is simple: use soap and water without harsh chemicals or treatments (which wood requires). Overall, aluminum ramps have little to no maintenance, giving you peace of mind while saving you time and money.
- Safety: Since wood is more prone to wearing down or decaying, you have increased maintenance requirements and added concerns about safety. If a wood ramp is rotting, especially underneath where it isn’t obvious, there’s a risk of the ramp malfunctioning under the weight of someone using it. Wood requires added materials to be slip-resistant since the surface can get slick depending on the kind of wood and its treatment. There are aluminum treads for wooden ramps and tape or strips of material to improve grip, but those come at added cost and labor. They also need to be replaced periodically as the material wears down or loses adherence to the wood. Meanwhile, aluminum is resistant to wearing down, so you can use it without fear of crumbling. Plus, aluminum ramps are constructed to be slip-resistant, which is extremely important for those with mobility or balance concerns. For ramps with handrails, aluminum offers a smooth surface for hands to slide along without fear of splinters. Business owners and homeowners alike can appreciate the fire safety aluminum provides over wood; with a burning temperature of over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, your aluminum ramp won’t be unusable in the event of a fire.
- Appearance: Aluminum isn’t prone to corrosion, rotting, and changes in color the way wood is. This can be particularly important for businesses, as consumers make instant decisions on whether or not to enter a store or restaurant based on its exterior appearance. A professional-appearing, sturdy, and clean aluminum ramp portrays care and investment into the business that will be appreciated when potential customers generate their first impression. We all judge a book by its cover, and the exterior of a building is no different!
How Do You Replace a Wood Ramp With an Aluminum Ramp?
You'll need to assess the space if you have a wood ramp and are upgrading to one of the EZ-ACCESS aluminum solutions. Every building or home is different, and you want an aluminum wheelchair ramp that meets your needs. This starts by gathering measurements, including the rise. Rise is the height from the lowest to the highest point of the landing, porch, or stairs. You’ll also need to know what incline angle or ratio you’re looking for. While this ratio can vary based on what your mobility equipment instructions recommend, the Americans with Disabilities standard is 1:12. This means for each inch of rise, there should be 12 inches in ramp length. For example, if you had a two-inch curb or lip, you’d need 24 inches of ramp length. This ratio is the standard because it’s the best slope angle for someone using a wheelchair or walker to navigate without it being too steep. There are variances between different types of equipment, and you should always check before deciding what ratio to use. You can use our Incline Calculator to determine how long the ramp will need to be by plugging in your rise and ratio selections.
From here, you’ll narrow down which EZ-ACCESS ramp models meet your needs. There are different options to suit homes, businesses, and industrial settings and different features within each of those groups. With everything from permanent options to portable aluminum loading ramps, you’ll want to learn about the differences and features to see what speaks to you. Our Incline Calculator will help suggest options once you input your measurements, helping you narrow things down! Our Customer Service team will happily answer questions to guide you through the decision process.
The next step is finding a dealer in your area who can come out and assess your home, business, or building to confirm your measurements, get you scheduled for installation, and give you the final product for better accessibility. Their work should include removing the existing wood ramp and disposal of the material, any preparation of the space, and installing the prefabricated pieces from EZ-ACCESS. Once the assessment is done, the type of ramp is selected, and the demolition of the wood ramp is complete, the dealer will likely be able to install the new aluminum ramp in a few hours. Note that commercial settings requiring a more extensive ramp setup could take longer but still be vastly quicker than building a wooden ramp.
Cost varies depending on what kind of ramp you need, how long it needs to be, and what building it will be used for. Residences and commercial buildings such as stores or restaurants will have different requirements, and you’ll want a ramp that conforms to the type of location. It’s best to start with our Ramp Selector Tool to narrow down which EZ-ACCESS solution is best suited to your situation. In combination with our Incline Calculator, you’ll be able to explore product types and lengths that will give an idea of the price. For residential and commercial ramps of a more permanent nature, the costs range in the thousands but are very comparable to wood ramps with all installation and material costs considered.
Labor costs for an aluminum ramp are generally less than a wood ramp since the modular construction is prefabricated, meaning installation is quicker and requires less effort than building a wood ramp from scratch. Aluminum options from EZ-ACCESS generally take just a couple of hours to install, while wood would require several days of labor. This can vary by region and dealer but should be a part of the conversation when you contact an EZ-ACCESS dealer in your area.
There are also long-term savings when selecting aluminum over wood that should be factored into the cost. An aluminum ramp will have less maintenance, saving you on repairs over the years. Since aluminum doesn’t require sealing or painting, there are also cost savings in eliminating those regular purchases of materials. Aluminum ramps are less likely to need replacing than wood ramps, meaning you don’t end up paying for a ramp and its installation twice.
In With Aluminum, Out With Wood
Replacing an existing wood ramp may seem daunting, but we promise it doesn’t have to be. With our range of options, modular customization abilities, dedicated guidance from our Customer Service team, and our network of trusted dealers, EZ-ACCESS will make the swap simple. Upgrade your ramp for good with the long-lasting and trusted aluminum solutions from EZ-ACCESS—it’s worth the peace of mind.