What's the recommended angle for a wheelchair ramp ?

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  • What's the recommended angle for a wheelchair ramp ?
  • wombat

    You need to refer to Document M of the DDA.

    In short….

    A wheelchair ramp will comply with Part M if it;

    Has a non-slip surface.
    Is 1.5m wide with a minimum unobstructed width of 1.5m.
    Has a maximum individual flight of 10m and maximum
    gradients of 1:20 if longer than 5m, 1:15 if longer than 2m
    or 1:12 if shorter than 2m.
    Has top and bottom landings no less than 1.2m and intermediate
    Landings of 1.8m every 10m.
    Has 100mm high raised kerbs to any open side of ramp or landings
    Has a continuous suitable handrail on each side.
    (see Part M Access to buildings other than dwellings » for guidance on full requirements.

    Premier Icon nickjb

    1:15 is recommended, 1:12 is defined as the absolute max.

    There’s a few other rules such as 1.5m landings every 5m, change of direction on landings only, 100mm kerb on open edges. Not sure how much ‘the law’ and how much is just good design.


    I’ve seen some steep ones, but generally quite a shallow ramp, not just for getting up, but also for not losing control on the way down! Paint em with sand mixed with paint for good grip and barriers (even just a few inches) to each side as it is suprisingly easy to roll off a ramp and hurt yourself!

    Thanks for that.
    Wombat, I take it that’s for permanent ramps on public buildings ?
    This is for temporary ramps in a private house, so I wonder if the rules might be different
    There’s two steps (spaced apart) through the gate and up the path, one through the kitchen door, then another down in to the living room, so that’s four ramps to make, with the highest one being about 200mm.


    Doc M is part of the building regs so applies to most buildings.

    From a practical viewpoint that angles is states are about where you should be aiming in your own house if at all possible as if you go much steeper it’s very hard work to control the chair (including not going whizzing down it out of control and splatting into a nearby solid thing).


    Part M is split into two sections, with the majority being directed towards “Buildings other than dwellings”. The last, and smaller, sections is for dwellings.

    For domestic ramps, 1:12 is the steepest gradient recommended over a horizontal distance up to 5m. Over 5m in length you need to go with 1:15 (up to 10m in length).

    In real world terms, for a height gain of 150mm (standard height to dpc and often to internal FFL), the ramp needs to be 1.8m long.

    MTG – I work for an architects who specialise in disability adaptations so if you want any advice or assistance please e-mail me: mpk@cowan-architects.co.uk

    Thanks for the offer mikey.
    1:12 means a single sheet of 2440×1220 ply will be enough for up to a 200mm step.
    I hadn’t though of barriers/kerbs, that’s a good idea.
    I don’t really need to fit handrails do I ?

    She’s a swimmer, cyclist and runner and I’m sure she would be capable of wheeling herself up or down something far steeper than 1:12, but I’ll stick to the rules to make it easy for her.



    Premier Icon Stoner

    the regs wont apply for temporary adaptations.

    an 18mm osb sheet with appropriate strengthening batons underneath and an anchor of some sort to stop it slipping out should do fine.

    If you really want to then I dont see why you cant fit a 4″ decking plank to each side to prevent wheels rolling of the edge.
    Wouldn’t worry about a handrail for that kind of distance.


    Barriers and kerbs are a very good idea, especially for when she is getting use the wheelchair. 50-100mm high should be adequate, although they will need to be fixed securely, obviously.

    Make sure all ply used is a minimum 18mm thick, and OSB 3 or WBP ply if used outside. Also make sure the surface is finished with something like Coo-var Suregrip anti-slip floor paint.

    I have a drawing for such a ramp. If you want to send me your e-mail address, I could send it to you.

    the regs wont apply for temporary adaptations.

    That’s what I was hoping.
    Obviously I want to make it safe and easy to use, but she is otherwise very fit and sensible. Kerbs are a good idea, but I really can’t see the need for handrails.

    My grrlfriend’s going to be coming home from hospital soon in a wheelchair.
    I need to make a few ramps around the place.
    She should be getting a home visit on Friday where they bring her home and assess her ability to get around.
    I can discuss the requirements with the people who bring her home then, but I’d like to have the ramps in place ready for the visit.

    Is there an official maximum slope for a wheelchair ramp in a house ?

    Premier Icon nickjb

    Double post

    Premier Icon nickjb

    I think the handrails are as much for pedestrians, especially as the kerb creates a trip hazzard.

    Yeah, that makes sense, nick, for a ramp in a public building where it’s also used by people with crutches or walking sticks.

    there should be some occupational therapist input if she is coming home in a wheelchair and they might have temporary ramps you can borrow


    There are allowances for when its impossible to provide ramps/access at those grades such as on sloping sites etc. Just been thro this with my building inspector. At the end of the day any “ramp” is better than a step!! Also if you’re girlfriend is pretty fit and able bodied other than the obvious restrictions then she will be able to negotiate a steeper access ramp.

    Good point, TJ, I suppose there has got to be some sort of practical help available.
    I was trying to get the ramps made ready for the home visit. Everything’s happening in the Hospital in Birmingham and I’m just trying to find useful things I can do here.
    Maybe I should hold off and see what they say. I can be there and bump her up and down the steps for the visit.


    Probably worth checking the chair will fit through your doorways if possible, some of my doors are pretty tight for a wheelchair.

    Is she having a home visit prior to discharge? That will be to assess the house and to see what is needed. In that position I would make up atimber temporary ramp you can use on that day perhpas. You should also be able to get some guidence from the occ therapists


    remember to install detachable stunt ramps as you will now be allowed to ride your bike in the house.

    Is she having a home visit prior to discharge?

    That was the plan, but it seems to have changed now.
    I thought she was having a home visit on Friday, the day after tomorrow. I’m still working full time, which is why I was in a bit of a rush to find out the details and get them made by then.

    She’s just phoned and it now looks like she’ll be brought home on Thursday next week and, if all goes well, will stay there.
    She doesn’t think they’ve got ramps to lend out, but it takes a bit of pressure off me as I’ve now got a week to build the ramps.

    Another question that I should have thought of earlier, what’s the maximum step up ?
    Can I just leave the square end of the 18mm ply at the bottom of the ramp, or should there be a tapered end ?

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    she would be capable of wheeling herself up or down something far steeper than 1:12

    My experience when in a wheelchair for a few days following a broken hip were;

    1) there’s a lot of technique to learn and as a novice even getting up gentle slopes is a lot of effort.

    2) don’t let your wife push you over the road. If a car comes around the corner too fast towards you she’ll make a dash for the kerb without you and leave you to fend for yourself – “I didn’t want the children to be left with no parents”.


    MidlandTrailquestsGraham – Member

    Another question that I should have thought of earlier, what’s the maximum step up ?
    Can I just leave the square end of the 18mm ply at the bottom of the ramp, or should there be a tapered end ?

    Tapering it will be better but not essential


    She’s a swimmer, cyclist and runner and I’m sure she would be capable of wheeling herself up or down something far steeper than 1:12,

    Exactly my thought, not sure why you’d really be bothered using the rules – common sense, it’s for a bit of temporary easing of difficulties, not permanent public building installation.

    Premier Icon sweaman2

    A collegue is in a wheel chair permanently. He is fit, strong and “experienced” but walking with him around town is a revelation in what is “do-able”. I personally think it is very hard for an able bodied person to work out what is manageable for a wheelchair user without lots of practice.

    Make them as gentle as you can.

    I think you would be surprised just how tricky it is to self propel a wheelchair up slopes of any description.


    Considering the adaptions are for a specific person in a non-public place then the guidance in Part M / DDA / CAE guidelines can be, largely ignored.

    You should remember that this guidance is designed to accomodate the largest range and variety of disabilities and not suitable for an individual in their home. Indeed there is plenty of contradiction in them.

    For example I was tasked by a Central London University to convert some of their halls of residence flats into Accessible Flats. My advice was to ask what the specific needs of the students were. They ignored this advice and instructed me to comply to Part M / DDA. Result? Of the six students that turned up, two due to their requirements couldn’t use the toilets, shower, cooking or sleeping facilities.

    You need to consider what your girlfriend needs and requires rather than trying to comply with Part M. The healthcare professionals should be able to advise you as to the options but, ultimately, it is what you girlfriend needs and is able to ‘use’.


    As i used to work in Occupational therapy, a few pointers, everything everyone above has said is correct, but for the ramp make sure you coat it with some sort of non slip tape or paint, or even thickly apply paint and sprinkle dry sharp sand on it, to make it non slip, ramps when damp or wet are dangerous for the pusher.

    The steeper the ramp the shorter it is the harder it is to propel somebody up it, and the FASTER they roll down it, not very much fun for the user,

    Depending on her mobility,it may be of use to get a length of 18mm ply about 3 foot long and 12 inches wide, slope off the edges, and radius the corners, this you use as a sliding board to transfer her from wheelchair into car or bed etc,plas one end on wheelchair and other on seat, and she can then slide,

    Always apply both brakes when wheelchair is static, easy to forget, but very alarming for the user.

    Check the width of door some internal doors are to small for wheelchairs, best to remove them, or see if you can open them wider, by moving furniture,

    Remove all rugs and loose mats, as they can stop a wheelchair,

    Remember she may not be able to reach the kettle, so place it on a lower table with the tea and coffee when youre not there to make drinks,

    User propeled wheel chairs, big wheels have beter mobility than the samller wheels,

    have a bike pump handy to pump up the tyres, the chair will move easier,


    Apply some hazard tape to the top and sides of the ramp, so you can see it is there, or you or visitors will fall over it, i did frequently,

    Its backwards down kerbs,and either tilt back to go up, or backwards but almost level going up the kerb, or youll eject the user from the chair,

    Finally B and Q will cut timber free of charge to size from a sheet, so makes transport easier.

    Best wishes to your Girlfreind in her recovery.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    User propeled wheel chairs, big wheels have beter mobility than the samller wheels,

    Another vote for 29ers right there……

    …not sure why you’d really be bothered using the rules…

    Because she is being brought home on Wednesday for a home visit to assess her ability to use her home, and hopefully to stay at home. If the ramps don’t comply, she may be taken back to hospital and not allowed home until they do.

    I personally think it is very hard for an able bodied person to work out what is manageable for a wheelchair user without lots of practice.

    That’s why I asked about the 18mm step. I have no experience of wheelchair use myself, so I really don’t know how much of an inconvenience it would be. I’ve fetched my router and planer from home, so I’m sure I can do something to taper the ends of the ply.

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply, Project.
    Mary, for that is her name, is a carer for a severely disabled man, so she has plenty of experience of pushing a wheelchair. His parents have offered the use of their wheelchair adapted car, but she’s getting pretty good at swapping between bed and chair in the hospital on her own, so I don’t think we’ll need it.

    She made the local paper.


    Home care is a lot cheaper than hospital care, so very hopefully Mary will be allowed to stay at home.

    She sounds very lucky in her accident,perhaps ask her to pick 6 random numbers for the lottery.

    Some wheelchair ramps this afternoon.

    Posted by Graham Phillips on Sunday, 22 April 2012

    Premier Icon Stoner

    Id love to applaud your handiwork MTQG, but you appear to have posted your photos on satan’s fridge door.

    Is ths any better ?

    Spot on I would say.

    Premier Icon Stoner

    someone’s been having fun with their rip saw 🙂

    Look like a nice bit of work.

    Will Mary’s chair get through that first doorway or do you have plans to move the table?

    (PS, someone will be a long in a minute to start clucking about anti slip whatsit)

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