If you have a mobility issue serious enough to prompt you to buy a wheelchair, that’s only the first step.

Depending on where you live or how you plan to use your new chair, you’ll also need one or more ramps to make your home and your vehicle accessible. 

If you’ve been scratching your head trying to work out exactly how to measure for a wheelchair ramp, this article is for you.  Below, we’ll step you through the process and don’t worry; it’s easier than you might think!

The single biggest consideration is determining the height of the incline you’re facing.  For example, if your home has a porch, and you want to build a ramp that will allow you to get from the porch to your sidewalk or driveway, the important number is the height from the porch to the ground.

In terms of how to measure a rise in stair for a wheelchair ramp, don’t measure the height of each individual step leading to your front porch, just focus on the total height that needs to be traversed.  Once you have that number, just remember 3, 2, 1.  Here’s what those numbers mean:

Three – If you’re planning to wheel the chair down the ramp with no one in it, and then have the person who uses the chair get in it after the chair is down the ramp, you can get away with dividing the height by three.  So if your porch sits 24” off the ground, you need a ramp that’s 8 feet long (24/3).

Two – If you’re planning to wheel the chair down the ramp with the user sitting in the chair, divide the height value by two.  In the example above, you’d need a 12’ long ramp (24/2).

One – If you want to build an ADA compliant ramp, divide the height number by one, which would mean building a 24’ long ramp in the example above.

Finally, if you’re wondering how to measure for a portable wheelchair ramp, the same calculations apply, but given the realities of portable ramps, you’ll almost certainly want to divide the height by 3, which will mean that you’ll be wheeling the chair up the portable ramp without having the person in it.

In terms of the width, just measure the width of the wheelchair the person is using, adding 2-3” to that value.  Taken together, those figures will give you a firm idea of not only how big the ramp will need to be, but how much building material you’ll need to turn it into a reality.

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