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Wheelchair Ramps Vs. Vertical Platform Lifts (VPL)

Updated: Apr 17

Helpful tips, benefits and differences to consider when choosing between installing a ramp or a vertical platform lift.

For people with mobility challenges, making your home accessible is essential - and getting in and out of your home is one of the first places to start. Two common installation options are ramps or vertical platform lifts. Both are great solutions, but they differ in terms of design, functionality, and benefits.

An accessible ramp connects the ground level to an entry point of a home. It can be made of various materials such as wood, concrete, or aluminum, and can be installed in different configurations based on the available space. Ramps should be designed to comply with building codes and accessibility guidelines to ensure they are safe and functional for all users. A 1:10 grade is code in Ontario; but BuildAble generally follows a best practice with a 1:12 slope (that is, for every 1 inch of rise to the door/entry, the ramp should extend 12 inches outwards). Find out more from BuildAble's team here.

Photo & Project by BuildAble

On the other hand, a vertical platform lift is a compact, partially enclosed elevator that can transport a person and their mobility device directly up and/or down by holding a button. Unlike exterior ramps, vertical platform lifts take up less space and can be installed almost anywhere that can accommodate the lift's footprint. They are also designed to comply with building codes and accessibility guidelines and come in a variety of sizes, styles, and features.

When it comes to benefits, both exterior ramps and VPLs have their unique advantages. For instance, exterior ramps are often less expensive to install and maintain. They can also be custom designed to blend in with the home's architecture and landscaping - or space permitting, can even be installed within a garage. Additionally, ramps can be used by anyone, including people who do not use mobility devices.

Vertical platform lifts, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and convenience in terms of space requirements. They can be installed indoors or outdoors (or also within a garage), and can transport people and their mobility devices safely and comfortably. This is especially important if there is any muscle degeneration or weakness that would make using a ramp a challenge. Read more on BuildAble's VPLs here!

VPL Installation by BuildAble

When it comes to snow removal, both exterior ramps and vertical platform lifts require maintenance to ensure they are safe and functional during the winter months in Canada.

In conclusion, both ramps and VPLs are excellent options for making homes accessible to people with mobility challenges. Choosing one over the other depends on factors such as space, budget, and individual health needs. However, it is essential to keep in mind that both options require regular maintenance, especially in snowy areas like Canada.

Consulting with accessibility experts, like the team at BuildAble, can help homeowners determine the best option for their specific needs.


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