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Building access ramp slope, pitch or angle specifications & codes: this document provides building code specifications, sketches, photographs, and examples of defects used in inspecting indoor or outdoor building access ramps.
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Bottom line: the preferred slope for a building access ramp is between 7 and 15 degrees, and permitted slopes range between 0 and 20 degrees.
This article series on access ramp design & construction explains and illustrates the requirements for safe, useable interior and exterior access ramps in buildings. Readers should note that the design specifications for permitted slope and other specifications for ramps that are not used for building entry or exit, such as curb cuts, are different from those used at building entrances.
For example a steeper slope may be permitted on non-access ramps. For complete details about building access ramp construction: slope, width, railings, non-slip surfaces, steps, landings at ramps, etc. See the standards, code, and ADA references at the end of this document.
The combination of a sloped surface with conditions that can make that walking surface slippery, especially at outdoor building access ramps, forms a falling hazard at both ramp ascent, and ramp descent for nearly everyone. These hazards are particularly increased if the ramp pitch is too steep. The desirable ramp slope standard, one inch of rise in 12 inches of run (about 8.3 percent slope), has been adopted by most building codes regardless of whether or not the access ramp is specifically for people with disabilities.
Our illustrations above and below describe the recommended slope range for building access ramps, fixed stairs, and other structures.
How to measure the slope of an access ramp
Ramp Slope Example 1: if your ramp is twelve feet long (144 inches) and the rise is twelve inches (12 inches) then the slope of the ramp is 12:144, or simplifying, dividing both sides of the equation by 12, the slope can be written as 1:12 - which meets the desired ADA standard.
Ramp Slope Example 2: If the ramp is twelve feet long (144 inches) and the total rise is four feet (48 inches) then the slope of the ramp is 48:144, or simplifying by dividing both sides of the equation by 12, the slope of this ramp is written as 4:12 (and the ramp is too steep, likely to result in a fall).
Access Ramp Landing slope
Separately from the slope of the access ramp walkway itself, in some situations a landing or platform may be required along a rampway, depending on the ramp length and the requirement for turning space. (Also see RAMP LANDING CODES.)
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