Have a deck that is hard to get to? Vertical lifts may offer you an easy way to access and enjoy your deck if you have mobility issues. Having a beautiful single or multi-level deck can add beauty to your home, but when it these outdoor living spaces are 3′ to 14′ above ground, traveling to a lower level or down to the patio can be a difficult feat for people with impaired mobility.
Basic Deck Protections
Even deck users who are not wheelchair bound, but may require other mobility devices, need the protection of strong, sturdy railings, steps, and handrails. Both local ordinances and the IRC (International Residential Code) have strict criteria that govern what is required to protect all users, and they spell out requirements for height, width, load bearing abilities, and placement. These vital parts of the deck offer a stabilizing force for those who need a cane, walker, or crutches.
Those in a chair or on a scooter will need more help in the way of a ramp or vertical lift.
The Problem with Ramps
While a small ramp can accommodate someone who is trying to go down the equivalent of one step from the house, longer ramps quickly become too steep. ADA regulations state that the slope cannot exceed 1:12, which means for every inch of height, you need 12″ of length. A 2′ height requires a ramp 24′ long, while an 8′ height would need a ramp 96′ long plus landings. The higher the deck elevation, the more yard space the ramp would take. Additionally, the ramp must be finished with slip resistant material.
The Convenience of Vertical Lifts
Since a ramp of these proportions would take up a sizeable amount of real estate, a vertical lift is often a more practical – and affordable – option. Usually requiring no more than 5 square feet of space, it can be more easily integrated into the design of the deck and can even be covered to make it usable in inclement weather. Operating vertical lifts only requires the proximity of a standard electric outlet. Since the device is covered on three sides and operates at a slow pace, it is safe for a person in a wheelchair or one who is supporting themselves on a walker, crutches, or cane to use.
If you are looking to improve the usability of your deck for all family members, including those with mobility problems, be sure to work with an ADA-certified contractor for proper equipment and installation.
With years of experience installing mobility equipment and making home renovations to help customers age in place, Western Stairlifts can make your deck safer and more accessible with easy to use vertical lifts.