Modular Ramp vs. Wood Ramp

AmRamp treated deck ramp

A Modular Ramp is either powder coated steel or aluminum that comes in premade pieces that screw/bolt or snap together to make a ramp.  It is kind of like an erector set.

The wood ramps that I will be referring to are TREATED Lumber ramps made out of EXTERIOR grade wood framing and 5/4 deck boards.   Under NO circumstances do I recommend using plywood (even exterior grade) outside for ramp building.  Never, ever never.

Pros of Modular Ramps:

  • Quick Estimate and Install – They are easy to estimate and installs can be done in a day.  Because there are no footers to be put in the ground and they are considered temporary, they do not require permits in most municipalities.
  • Modular ramps can be rented.
  • Modular ramps can be resold or sold back to the dealer.
  • Some steel ramps (Amramp) have holes so that water, snow and dirt fall through.
  • Basically no maintenance is required.

Cons of Modular Ramps:

  • They don’t look like they belong with a house.  They scream someone handicapped lives here.
  • They cost more to have installed initially.  I am a dealer for EZ Access and we also do wood ramps.  Wood ramps are usually 30-50% less expensive to install.

Pros of Wood Ramps:

  • Can be made to look like it is part of the house. It can be an attractive addition. One great tip– have a painter use white stain. It looks like white paint and will match of the bent aluminum and trim on a house.
  • Less expensive for initial install.
  • Any decent carpenter or a handy son, neighbor, etc can install a wooden ramp.

Cons of Wood Ramps:

  • Will require a permit in most municipalities.
  • Will require maintenance such as staining, fixing boards, screws working out, etc.
  • No resale value

My thoughts—

We mostly do wood ramps.  My belief is that is not so much the cost, but the fact that customers don’t want to put something on the front of their house that doesn’t match anything else and says “I’m handicapped.”  We use 5/4 deck boards and nice handrails with pickets so that the ramp looks much like an upscale deck.  We have also on occasion used Trex on ramps, but holy cow the price really jumps.  In my experience, the VA and other institutions like the ALS Assoc. really like the modular ramps because they are quick and they can get them back for reuse when the customer is done with them.  Obviously, there are pros and cons to each and every situation is different.  I will be interviewing a friend of mine that is an AMRamp dealer and I’m sure he will have some good insight into the modular ramp world.  

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