Worker putting a ramp together.

Tips for Maintaining Ramps and Other Accessibility Solutions

When you invest in accessibility solutions for your home, business, or any other type of building, you want them to have long lifespans. The longer they last, the more value you get—and you won’t need to stress about replacing them any time soon. Many factors play into how well an access solution withstands time, such as the material it’s made with, but proper maintenance also impacts the lifespan of your accessibility equipment. EZ-ACCESS® has some tips to help you keep your access solutions in great shape as well as insight on how to minimize maintenance needs.

How to Maintain Ramps and Access Solutions

Effective maintenance of your accessibility solutions is founded on regular inspection of the equipment. Perform routine checks on them as part of your regular household or facility maintenance. Plan to look over the joints, surfaces, and other components of the access solutions consistently. If you include this step as part of other regular maintenance, it will help you stay on schedule and avoid forgetting. For commercial or industrial facilities, regular inspections of ramps, lifts, and other accessibility features should be part of your scheduled facility management plans. If you have a work order system, schedule accessibility maintenance activities as a recurring task.

Cleaning will go a long way toward ensuring your access solutions stay in tip-top shape. For aluminum structures, simple water and dish detergent are sufficient to clean off any debris or dirt. No special solutions, chemicals, or products are needed, which simplifies your process. Other materials like wood may require different cleaning solutions and even pressure washing depending on what is growing on them, followed by intermittent sealing. No matter the material of the ramp or stairs, be sure to follow manufacturer guidance on cleaning and avoid chemicals that could cause damage. If you aren’t certain what to use, it’s best to reach out to the company and ask directly. In the winter, if you use ice melt or magnesium chloride salts to prevent the surface from being slippery, these compounds should be cleaned away from the surface once the weather has passed. Maintaining ramps and other accessibility items is a year-round job!

As part of your regular checks, you may find areas that look worn. Consider seeing if the piece could be refreshed or replaced, especially if it’s important to the safety of the structure. It’s not uncommon with wood ramps for sections to break down due to the nature of the material. Areas with greater exposure to water, like the legs of a ramp or platform, may see accelerated decay. These will need to be replaced or repaired to prevent further deterioration or even collapse. For ramps with adherent slip-resistant materials on the surface, keep an eye on whether the strip is coming off. If the adhesive begins to fail and the edges are turning up, or if the slip-resistant texture has worn down, it may be time to replace the material. With most EZ-ACCESS modular ramps, the slip-resistant surface is achieved through the structure of the aluminum itself instead of an added material, leaving one less item on the to-do list.

Accessibility lifts are less common than ramps or stairs but have additional maintenance considerations owing to their mechanical features. A professional can help inspect the lift yearly to ensure bolts and screws are tight, moving pieces are working correctly, and no components are worn out. Cleaning of the lift may vary by manufacturer, so check with them for details, but clearing debris and dirt from it regularly will help keep it in good condition. Lift maintenance can require more skill due to the moving parts, so it’s important to regularly care for these devices with help from a pro.

Good maintenance includes knowing what things look like when new or in great condition. Having a clear mental picture of what your access solution should look like normally will provide a frame of reference to help you catch when something is off. When installing a new accessibility feature, take photos and notes to help document the appearance for future reference. When checking your ramps or stairs, if you see something questionable, like a spot that could be wearing down or a loose fitting, take a photo and have the installer provide feedback.

Ways to Minimize Maintenance 

When researching how to make a building more accessible, be sure to investigate the difference between materials. For example, an aluminum ramp is going to require significantly less maintenance than a wood ramp. Aluminum is more resilient to weather and won’t rot with constant exposure to rain like wood ramps and rails could. It’s also resistant to rust, unlike other metals. This means maintaining your access solution is easier from the start and will require less attention, time, and money to keep it in good condition. No matter what kind of ramp, stairs, or other access solution you have, regular checkups help to catch issues early.

It’s important to note that when selecting access solutions, be sure the one you’re choosing is right for the intended setting. Residential ramps will have less traffic, whereas commercial or industrial ramps are likely to experience higher volumes of use. Commercial ramps may also have a variety of regulations governing the allowed design, so look for ramps like those from EZ-ACCESS that are intended for those settings and are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as most local ordinances.

The Difference in Maintaining Wood Versus Aluminum Structures 

Caring for any accessibility feature is dependent on the type of material it is made from. Certain materials are going to be more durable than others in the face of traffic and weather as well as time. This is why EZ-ACCESS uses aluminum for its ramps, stairs, and platforms. While wood has historically been the common choice for these structures, aluminum generally has a longer lifespan with a greater ability to withstand the elements. Its natural ability to avoid rust, rot, and wear means the ramp or other structure inherently has a longer lifespan. It will also require less maintenance and repair since the material holds up to use. Aluminum allows users to have the safe and accessible features they need without the burden of constant maintenance.

Aluminum access solutions are also easier to install, move, or update. The lightweight nature means the components are easy to lift and arrange for installation. Many EZ-ACCESS products are modular builds using combinations of pre-built segments that reduce the number of steps required to install. This configuration also makes it easy to customize or move your solutions as needed.

With our aluminum solutions, there is a native slip-resistant design to the surface that’s embedded as part of the manufacturing process. Instead of using adhesive material with a roughened surface to reduce slippage, our solutions don’t lose slip resistance over time the way attached strips will. It also means maintenance is reduced; while slip-resistant tape or sheets used in wood solutions have to be replaced regularly, our aluminum solutions eliminate the need.

Another benefit of using aluminum access solutions is that they will not need sealing, staining, or sanding like wood. While wood has to be periodically coated to keep it weather-resistant, aluminum is naturally resilient. You’ll save plenty of time and money with aluminum structures. Plus, there is no risk of splinters in a handrail that's not wood!

Longer-Lasting Accessibility

Maintaining ramps and other accessibility solutions is easiest when you have a plan and set yourself up for success. Knowing what material your features are made of, how to care for it, and what your regular maintenance schedule is can be the keys to keeping access solutions in good condition. If you’re considering a new accessibility feature or replacing an existing one with aluminum, EZ-ACCESS is here and ready to help! Whether you need a ramp for your home or an entire modular access system for a commercial or industrial space, we’ll help you navigate the options available. All it takes is a message to our Customer Service team, and we’ll help you select the best low-maintenance ramp, stairs, or platform for your needs!

Celebrating Older Americans Month 2024

Accessibility in Warmer Weather: Four Considerations for Those With Mobility Differences This Summer