How to calculate the slope on a ramp

Written by christine lehman
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Ramps are everywhere and especially useful for handicap access into a building. Ramps are built in place of or in addition to steps to make it possible for people in wheelchairs to enter a building. The slope of a ramp is an important factor in determining how easy the ramp is to ascend and descend, and usually depends on the space available to construct the ramp. It's useful to calculate the slope of the ramp given various configurations in order to achieve the slightest slope, or the easiest ramp to traverse. Slopes are given in ratios, such as 1 to 12. The lower the second number, the steeper the slope.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Calculator
  • Measuring tape

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  1. 1

    Measure the entire length of the ramp, from one end to the other.

  2. 2

    Measure the distance from the high end of the ramp to the ground. If the low end of the ramp is not on the ground, measure from the highest point of the ramp to the lowest. This is called the rise.

  3. 3

    Divide the length of the ramp by the height. This is the angle, or slope, of the ramp and is the second number in your ratio. The first number is always one. If the ramp measures 12 feet long and the rise is 2 feet, you would divide 12 by 2 to get 6, and your ratio would be 1 to 6. This means that for every foot you go up, you will need 6 feet of ramp to get you there.

Tips and warnings

  • Two completely different ramps can have the same slope. For instance, a 12-foot ramp with a 1-foot rise has a slope of 1 to 12, while a ramp that is 120 feet long and a 10-foot rise will have the same slope.

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