First Aid Building Wheelchair Ramp

ADA-Compliant Wheelchair Ramp Installation – Hershey Park First Aid Building

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Upside Innovations had the opportunity to enhance accessibility at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, with the installation of an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp at their first aid building. This installation remains a significant example of our commitment to creating inclusive and durable solutions in public spaces.

First Aid Building Wheelchair Ramp
ADA-Compliant Wheelchair Ramp Enhances Accessibility at Hershey Park First Aid Building

The Challenge: Combining Durability with Accessibility

Located near a popular waterpark feature, the first aid building needed an access solution that could withstand the humid and wet conditions typical of such environments. The main concern was ensuring the ramp would resist rust and corrosion over time, maintaining its integrity and safety.

The Solution: A Rust-Resistant Ramp for High-Traffic Areas

Working in collaboration with Modular Genius, Inc., we provided a prefabricated aluminum ramp system specifically designed to meet these challenges. Our choice of materials and construction ensured that the ramp would remain durable and safe, even in the moisture-rich environment of the waterpark area.

Integration with Modular Construction

Modular Genius constructed a 700 sq ft modular building, incorporating features like epoxy resin flooring and fiberglass-reinforced plastic walls to withstand regular cleaning and heavy use. Our wheelchair ramp seamlessly complemented this structure, providing an essential accessibility feature that aligns with the park’s inclusive values.

Lasting Impact and Enhanced Accessibility

The completion of this project, which took only 120 days from award to occupancy, marked a significant improvement in the park’s accessibility near the waterpark area. Years later, the ramp continues to serve as a testament to our commitment to providing long-lasting, compliant access solutions in demanding environments.

The wheelchair ramp installation at Hershey Park’s first aid station near the waterpark feature exemplifies Upside Innovations’ expertise in delivering ADA-compliant solutions that are not only functional but also resilient in the face of environmental challenges. It stands as an enduring symbol of our dedication to enhancing safety and accessibility in public facilities.

Bus Terminal stair, ramp and canopy

Project Profile: Upside Innovations’ Access Solutions Enhance DC DGS Adams Place Bus Terminal

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Project Overview

Client: DC Department of General Services
Location: Washington, DC
Project: DC DGS Adams Place Bus Terminal
Collaborators: Modular Genius, Inc., Diamond Builders, Inc.

The Challenge

The Washington DC Department of General Services required a relocatable building for DC Public Schools to serve as a school bus dispatch, breakroom, and assembly space for drivers. The existing facility was outdated, necessitating a new structure on an adjacent parcel of land. The project demanded a design that would integrate seamlessly with the existing architectural landscape and provide effective accessibility solutions.

Upside Innovations’ Contribution

Upside Innovations partnered in this project by providing essential access components:

  • Two Entryway Canopies: These structures were designed to offer shelter and enhance the aesthetic appeal of the building’s entrances.
    Learn more
  • ADA-Compliant Entry Access Stairs: Installed at both entrances, these stairs ensured compliance with accessibility standards, offering safe and convenient access.
    Learn More
  • ADA Wheelchair Access Ramp: This feature was critical in ensuring the building was accessible to all individuals, aligning with ADA guidelines.
    Learn More

The pre-fabricated nature of Upside Innovations’ products was a significant factor in meeting the project’s tight timeline and budget constraints. The ease of installation and compliance with state and local accessibility guidelines were key in the seamless coordination of inspection activities.

The Solution

The modular building, by Modular Genius, Inc., was set up efficiently over two days. Upside Innovations’ prefabricated access systems played a pivotal role in the project’s success, aligning with the need for a flexible and relocatable solution. This adaptability is especially crucial for the ever-changing landscape of the bus terminal facility.


The collaboration on the DC DGS Adams Place Bus Terminal project is a testament to Upside Innovations’ ability to deliver high-quality, compliant, and aesthetically pleasing access solutions. The project not only met but exceeded expectations in functionality, speed to occupancy, and adherence to budgetary and regulatory requirements.

View full case study by Modular Genius

snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp

Snow & Ice Melt for Aluminum Ramps

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snow covered ada aluminum wheelchair ramp
Snowy ADA Ramp

As a leading manufacturer of stairs and ramps, Upside Innovations understands the importance of maintaining safe, ice-free surfaces. Our aluminum ramps have a knurled decking, providing slip resistance in dry and wet conditions. However, snow and ice build-up on your ramp is a safety hazard and should be removed properly. As you probably know, removal from any metal surface has always been tricky because metal doesn’t react well with salt.

In regions with harsh winters, selecting the proper ice melt is crucial for facility and commercial property managers. We suggest three common ways to minimize any safety issues arising from weather-related problems.

1. A stiff-bristled broom

A simple way to remove any light snow accumulation from the ramp with knurling is to use a stiff-bristled or push broom. The bristles of these brooms are strong enough to remove the snow from the ramp and from the grooves in the decking surface that give the ramp the grip in the first place. On the ramp surface, you will have to push the snow up or down a ramp to a platform or to the ground since the wheel guard at the ramp’s edges will not allow the snow to be swept off the side. Once the snow is on a platform, it can be swept across and pushed off the edge or through the rails. The key to using a stiff-bristled broom is to push hard enough to get into the grooves of the ramp surface and remove the snow, but you don’t want to scrub the surface so hard that you scratch the aluminum. If the aluminum is scratched, oxidation will occur more quickly.

What is Knurling?

Knurling is a manufacturing process that adds traction or grip by cross-cutting smooth metal surfaces, typically resulting in a diamond pattern.
extruded knurled stair decking

2. Effective Snow and Ice Management for Aluminum Surfaces

If the snow and ice are too much for a broom to handle, you may want to think about some chemical snow melt. We do not recommend using common rock salt on the aluminum. Typical rock salt will cause a reaction with the aluminum and will eventually cause some pitting and weaken the structure. We recommend that our customers use a magnesium chloride ice melt for most applications. This is particularly beneficial due to its non-corrosive nature on aluminum, ensuring the longevity and integrity of your installations. As an alternative, especially for government entities or large businesses seeking cost-effective solutions, calcium chloride is a viable option.

Additionally, we have identified the Melt Premium Enviro Blend Ice Melter as an excellent alternative for use on our aluminum ramps. This environmentally friendly product can be effectively applied to snow and ice, ensuring no damage to the metal or concrete surfaces.

Calcium Chloride vs. Magnesium ChlorideComparing the Two Ice Melt Solutions

When choosing between calcium chloride and magnesium chloride, consider the specific needs of your area. Calcium chloride requires less quantity for effective melting and works faster, even in lower temperatures. However, magnesium chloride is more environmentally friendly, posing less risk to lawns, pets, and people.

Magnesium Chloride Ice Melt

Magnesium chloride is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly ice melt solution. It acts quickly, preventing ice formation and leaving minimal residue, thus reducing clean-up efforts. It’s also skin-friendly. However, it’s more expensive than traditional rock salt and only effective at temperatures of 0ºF or above.

✓ Eco-friendly; safe for plants and animals.
✓ Fast-acting with immediate results.
✓ Minimal skin irritation.
✓ Leaves little residue.
✗ Ineffective below 0ºF.
✗ Costlier than calcium chloride.

Calcium Chloride Ice Melt

A common choice among governments and large businesses, calcium chloride is highly efficient, working instantly upon application, and effective even in extreme cold (as low as -25ºF). It’s also more affordable. However, it can be harmful to pets and plants if overused.

✓ Works in temperatures as low as -25ºF.
✓ High melting capacity; acts quickly.
✓ Environmentally safe, according to the EPA.
✓ Less damaging to surfaces like concrete.
✗ Potentially harmful to plant life.
✗ It’s more expensive than most rock salts.

3. Canopy over the ramp.

Of course, the best way to get out of the snow shoveling and ice-melting business is to add an aluminum walkway canopy over your ramp or step.  Our canopy systems are a great way of keeping precipitation off the ramp. They significantly reduce snow and ice build-up and are a great way to finish your project.

No matter what you choose, remove the snow and ice from your ramps, be safe, and stay warm!

wheelchair ramp installation

Wheelchair Ramps for Public Spaces: Improving Accessibility and Inclusivity

wheelchair ramp installation
This wheelchair ramp was installed at a modular building in Forest View, IL.

Regardless of a person’s physical capabilities, accessibility is a fundamental right that should be protected. Yet, despite recent advancements, accessibility for people with impairments remains a problem. The absence of wheelchair ramps in public areas is among the most frequent issues. We’ll talk about the value of wheelchair ramps in public places and how they can increase inclusion and accessibility in this article.

It is crucial first to comprehend what a wheelchair ramp is and why it is required. A wheelchair ramp is a sloping surface that serves as an alternative to steps and allows users of wheelchairs or other mobility aids to enter a building or public area on their own. For everyone to have equal access to public spaces, including those with mobility impairments, wheelchair ramps are crucial. However, they have several advantages for everyone, including parents with strollers, delivery personnel, and those who have sustained temporary ailments.

TK Render of Wheelchair Ramps

Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.

The APEX System is a line of integrated access products that can be configured to meet the most challenging applications.

View our wheelchair ramp installations

The fact that wheelchair ramps encourage inclusivity is one of its main advantages. People with disabilities can participate in activities and events that they might not otherwise be able to attend by providing wheelchair ramps in public areas. This could be visiting friends, shopping, attending a show or athletic event, or attending class. People with disabilities feel more at home, have more independence, and value themselves more when allowed to enter public spaces.

Moreover, wheelchair ramps increase safety. Without a ramp, those in wheelchairs may have to travel across steep or uneven ground, increasing the risk of accidents and injury. People with mobility issues can enter public areas and move around more safely, thanks to wheelchair ramps.

Wheelchair ramps also increase the number of clients or guests in shops and public places. For instance, a restaurant’s revenue will increase if it features a wheelchair ramp that attracts people in wheelchairs. Similarly, more people can visit parks if they have wheelchair ramps, which will promote tourism and benefit the neighborhood’s economy.

In summary, wheelchair ramps enhance inclusivity and accessibility in public spaces. They promote inclusivity, make traveling easier and safer for those with disabilities, and generate income for local companies and the community. No matter how physically disabled someone is, society must ensure that public spaces are accessible to all.

wheelchair ramp installation

10 Reasons to Install Wheelchair Ramps in Retirement Communities and Nursing Homes

wheelchair ramp installation
This wheelchair ramp system was installed for Brookdale Retirement Home in Emporia, KS

As we age, navigating stairs and other obstacles can become increasingly challenging. This is particularly true for retirement community and nursing home residents, who often face mobility limitations.

TK Render of Wheelchair Ramps

Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.

The APEX System is a line of integrated access products that can be configured to meet the most challenging applications.

View our nursing home wheelchair ramp installations

Installing wheelchair ramps in these settings can significantly improve the quality of life for residents. Here are 10 reasons why wheelchair ramps are essential in retirement communities and nursing homes:

  1. Improved Accessibility – Wheelchair ramps offer a safe and straightforward way for residents using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids to move around the community or facility. With ramps, residents can maintain their independence and enjoy greater freedom without depending on others for help.
  2. Compliance with the Law – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all public buildings and facilities be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including wheelchair users. Installing wheelchair ramps is crucial in complying with the law and ensuring equal access for all residents.
  3. Increased Safety – Ramps provide a stable and secure surface for walking, reducing the risk of falls and other accidents. Additionally, ramps are designed to accommodate mobility aids such as walkers, canes, and crutches, making it safer for residents to use these devices to move around.
  4. Improved Quality of Life – The ability to navigate the community or facility without barriers or obstacles fosters a sense of independence and freedom. Residents who can move around freely are more likely to engage in social activities, attend events, and participate in community life, leading to increased happiness, reduced isolation, and improved quality of life.
  5. Easy to Install – Wheelchair ramps are simple to install and can be customized to meet the unique needs of each community or facility. They can be constructed from various materials and designed to blend in with the surrounding environment.
  6. Cost-Effective – Installing wheelchair ramps is a cost-effective way to enhance accessibility in retirement communities and nursing homes. The cost of ramps can vary depending on the materials used and the size of the installation, but overall, ramps are a relatively inexpensive solution to accessibility challenges.
  7. Long-Lasting – Wheelchair ramps are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, making them a long-lasting solution for improving accessibility in retirement communities and nursing homes. Our ADA-compliant wheelchair and access ramps feature modular components that bolt together. The solution eliminates custom fabrication, code compliance issues, and time-consuming engineering while reducing costs, installation time, and complexity. Weather-resistant aluminum can be reconfigured to adapt to changing applications or remobilizations, ensuring the industry’s longest service life.
  8. Easy to Maintain – Once installed, wheelchair ramps require minimal maintenance. They can be easily cleaned and inspected periodically to remain safe and secure.
  9. Aesthetically Pleasing – Wheelchair ramps can be designed to blend in with the surrounding environment and architecture of the community or facility. This can enhance the property’s overall aesthetic appeal while also improving accessibility.
  10. Inclusivity – Installing wheelchair ramps promotes inclusivity and demonstrates a commitment to providing equal access to all residents, regardless of their mobility challenges. This can create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

In conclusion, installing wheelchair ramps in retirement communities and nursing homes is vital in providing accessible, safe, and inclusive living environments for all residents. Wheelchair ramps can significantly improve the lives of seniors and people with disabilities by making it easier for them to get around, keeping them safe, enhancing their quality of life, and fostering a sense of belonging.

How to Clean Aluminum ramps

How to Clean Aluminum Ramps

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Cleaning Untreated Aluminum Ramps

Aluminum is a light but strong material common for outdoor and commercial applications because of its weather-resistant properties; aluminum doesn’t rust because it forms a natural oxide layer. Oxidation is a confusing process because it is a form of corrosion. Still, unlike oxidation that occurs on other metals, it does not jeopardize the structural integrity of the aluminum – it strengthens the material. Oxidation creates a protective barrier against water and rust, but it can make the aluminum less attractive over time. Cleaning the ramp will decrease the chances of severe oxidation.

Step 1: The first step is to ensure all debris, including mud, dust, and leaves, is cleared off the ramp. To do this, you must start at the top of the ramp with a stiff-bristled push-broom and sweep all the debris down the ramp; the edge guards that run along both edges of the ramp prevent the debris from being pushed over the sides. The stiff-bristled push-broom is recommended to clean out the grooves of the ramp, but don’t try to scrub the ramp with the broom as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: After brushing off the aluminum ramp, rinse it with water and a mild detergent such as dish soap. Use a generous amount of dish soap over the length of the ramp, and put a concentrated amount on tough spots. Let it sit for a couple of minutes. Next, hose off or lightly pressure wash the ramp to remove the soap and dirt. If possible, it is suggested to use filtered water because unfiltered water may contain sulfur, chlorine, fluoride, and other minerals that could damage the aluminum over time. Ensure all dish soap is washed off before the wheelchair ramp is used.

Step 3: If there is dirt on the ramp still, use a towel and dish soap to scrub the area. Do not use steel wool or scouring pads because these materials can scratch the aluminum and give it a dull appearance. Do not use harsh cleaners like baking soda or alkali-based cleaners, as these can cause discoloration. If you want to try a new type of cleaner, test an area on the underside of the ramp to see if it discolors the aluminum.

Step 4: If the wheelchair ramp has already oxidized, try spot-treating the oxidized areas with an aluminum cleaner like Aluma Kleen or Aluma Bright (not sponsored links).

Cleaning Powder-Coated Aluminum Ramps

If the aluminum wheelchair ramp is powder-coated, there is less chance of oxidation because the powder-coating provides an extra layer of defense. However, it is possible for the layer to be breached and form oxidation spots. Most cleaning steps are the same as non-powder-coated aluminum, but the powder-coating is a little more delicate than the aluminum.


Step 1: Brush off the ramp, moving from top to bottom, with a stiff-bristled push-broom. Do not try to scrub the wheelchair ramp with the broom, as it might scratch the aluminum.

Step 2: The most efficient way to clean outdoor aluminum ramps with a powder-coating finish is with a pressure washer using filtered water at low pressure. Use a mild detergent such as dish soap, and DO NOT use chlorine or harsh cleaning solutions. A high-water pressure and aggressive cleaning products can damage the powder-coated finish. The commercial cleaning solutions will clean the surface but remove micro-layers of finish. The coating might later become hard and crack while losing its protective barrier.

Step 3: As stated above, use a soft brush or cloth to clean the surface; do not use anything with stiff bristles or a scratchy pad.

Step 4: To keep powder-coated wheelchair ramps looking nice, try a high-grade, non-abrasive car wax that contains a U.V. blocker and/or U.V. inhibitors. Be sure to wipe off residual wax because it could bake in the heat and cause permanent staining. As with any other product applied to the ramp, making a test area on the underside of the ramp is recommended. 

Handling Snow and Ice on Your Ramp

How to clean aluminum stairs

Material Properties

Test Your Knowledge of Wheelchair Ramps [10-Question Quiz]


Handicap Ramp Slope and Length Calculator

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Our ADA ramp length calculator determines the required ramp length for your project. Our calculator also tells you the number of resting platforms that you need to have to be ADA-compliant. As a guide, the ADA ramp requirements are 1 foot of ramp for every inch of rise for a 4.8° incline.

Handicap Ramp Slope and Length Calculator

Ramp Length Calculator

A. Elevation height
The height from the ground up to the bottom of the door or existing walkway. (How to measure elevation)

B. Ramp run length

C. Total ramp system length in feet
Includes the minimum number of 5′ x 5′ resting platforms and the 5′ x 5′ platform at the top of the ramp.

D. Minimum number of resting platforms
A 5′ x 5′ (minimum) resting platform is needed every 30 feet of ramp.

+ 5′ platforms
A 5′ x 5′ (minimum) platform is needed at the top of the ramp if there is not an existing one already.

1:12 Slope: For every inch of height from the ground, you need 1 foot of ramp length to achieve a 4.8° incline.

Ramp length based on the number of stairs

StepsTotal LengthLanding(s)Ramp Run
1 Step12′5′7′
2 Steps20′5′15′
3 Steps27′5′22′
4 Steps35′5′30′
5 Steps47′10′ ( 2 x 5′)37′
*For reference only. Estimations based on a 7 1/2″ stair height (riser).
Building codes specify riser heights of no less than 4″ and a maximum of 7 3/4″.

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 2 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 20′ (5′ landing, 15′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 3 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 27′ (5′ landing, 22′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 4 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 35′ (5′ landing, 30′ ramp run)*

How long of a wheelchair ramp do I need for 5 steps?

For ADA compliance, the estimated ramp length should be 47′ (2 5′ landings, 37′ ramp run)*

Billy & Eli Upside Innovations Podcast Poster

Upside Podcast – How to Prepare for a Successful Modular Stair & Ramp Installation

If there’s one thing we know for sure, things change fast in the modular construction industry. Last-minute design changes and a long list of variables over which we have very little control can impact the budget and timeline for your modular installation project, and our integrated Apex System was designed to make adapting on the fly easy and affordable.

In this episode of the Upside Podcast, Upside’s Billy Lippert and Eli Boyd discuss how the Apex System makes wheelchair ramp and metal stair installations straightforward and successful. Topics covered include project estimates, proper budgeting, leg anchors, stacked designs, installing surfaces, proper measuring techniques, anticipating common variables, assessing site conditions, ADA ramp heights, last-minute site changes, passing inspection, and making sure the material matches the specifications for your project. Modular industry challenges are common, but our Apex system ensures the product delivered is well matched to the final design.

ADA housing banner image

ADA Ramps and Steps for Modular Housing Facility

A Bridge Home initiative in Los Angeles, California was put into place in 2018 in an effort to help individuals who are living on the streets to find jobs and homes. To accomplish this, the city has deployed dozens of bridge housing sites and has plans to deploy many more. Each site contains several modular housing units and resources for mental health, employment, addiction, and future housing placement.

Design Space Modular Buildings, Inc. supplied the modular buildings and partnered with us to design and manufacture the aluminum walkways, ADA ramps, and ADA stairs. There is a total of 8 modular buildings, 1 sprung structure, 8 modular ADA ramps, 12 sets of ADA stairs, and roughly 3,900 square feet of aluminum walkway platforms.

We specialize in large, modular facility projects because we have a large stock of ADA ramp, step, and platform material, and we offer hands-on project management from quotation to installation. We have in-house engineers and project managers that worked with Design Space Modular Buildings to develop a layout and timeline that fit within the city’s schedule for opening the facility.

“Upside has provided the nicest looking product, we have had compliments from the City of LA accessibility inspectors. [The] product is the nicest I have worked with. Response time on the sales side, engineering and installation have been of great quality. The installation team has been great to work with on even the challenging sites, they always work to accommodate issues that come up due to site conditions, inclement weather, and tight schedules.”

– Jose A.
Design Space Modular Buildings

Graphic of Wood VS Aluminum Ramps

Wood vs. Aluminum Ramps

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We all know there are many material options to consider when purchasing a commercial ADA ramp for wheelchair access. Two of the most popular materials people typically consider are wood and aluminum. While project cost is important, it is also important to meet the project specifications and make the best choice for the building tenant and the people using it.

Wood vs. aluminum ramps
Wood vs. aluminum ramps

Here is a technical analysis of the different types of ramp material based on tensile strength and corrosion resistance.

When it comes to wood vs. aluminum ramps for commercial use, here are the 3 main reasons to choose aluminum.

Benefits of Upside Aluminum Ramps vs. wood

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Wood vs. Aluminum: Cost

Wood Cost:

Material cost: A wood ramp costs an average of $100-250 per linear foot, according to, so, although variable, a 30′ ramp can cost around $4,600. If you add a 5’x 5′ platform which is required at the door, it would cost a total of about $5,500 for the material.

Install time: A 30’ wood ramp with a platform takes roughly (2) 8-hour days for two carpenters to cut and install.

Install cost: To build the ramp, you will likely need two carpenters ($60 per hour) for the two days. That means that labor costs will be roughly $1,440. In total, a wood ramp costs about $7,240. Plus, you will have to factor in the price of a building permit which usually costs a couple of hundred dollars.

Aluminum Cost:

Material cost: Aluminum ramp manufacturers charge a wide range of prices because there are different grades of aluminum and the varying size and load requirements for commercial versus residential. You can expect to spend between $6,400 on material for a 30’ commercial, aluminum ADA including a 5’ x 5’ platform.

Install time: You don’t need any prior experience to install an aluminum ramp, and it takes about 3-5 hours to complete the installation of a 30′ ramp.

Install time: A novice can install an aluminum ramp system on his/her own, so the installation cost would be free if you decide to install it yourself. Installation costs for an aluminum ramp are typically less than half the cost of a wood ramp installation.

Aluminum vs wood ramps
Aluminum and wood ramps initially cost about the same amount of money when you consider installation cost.

Wood vs. Aluminum: Maintenance

Wood Maintenance:

Wood requires a lot of attention and maintenance to keep it in decent condition. Maintenance costs include:

  • Yearly paint or stain touch-ups to protect against moisture
  • Termite prevention and/or treatment
  • Replacing warped or rotted pieces
  • Replacing non-slip grip tapes on the walking surfaces because they will wear down and lose the grip

Aluminum Maintenance:

Aluminum requires very little to almost zero maintenance because it never rusts, which is the main reason why other metals lose their structural integrity. The only maintenance aluminum ramps require is to clear off any snow, brush, and mud that builds up on the ramp.

Wood vs. Aluminum: Ease of Assembly

Wood Ease of Assembly

Building out of wood is extremely time-consuming and tedious, and it’s difficult to get all the walkways and platforms level.

One of our installers, who also builds wood ramps and decks, describes building a 30′ wood ramp as such:

“Wood [takes] 2 or 3 days, assuming you can even build one to suit a picky building inspector or fire marshal. If I build one, I’ll buy steel or aluminum handrail components for it, because that’s about the only way to satisfy all the code requirements. We have done a fair amount of building a wood common landing between numerous buildings, but then installing aluminum rails, ramps, and steps on that.”

– John B.

Aluminum Ease of Assembly

Our prefabricated aluminum ramp sections consist of 3 components:

  1. Ramp walking surface
  2. Guardrails with pre-welded balusters and standoffs
  3. Handrail pipes

Prefabricated products are always faster to assemble than products you have to build on-site. Our prefab ramps take a few hours for a novice to assemble.

This is how simple our prefabricated ramps are to put together:

ramp section guardrail handrail connection
ramp section guardrail handrail connection

Wood vs. Aluminum: Slip-Resistance

Wood Slip-Resistance

Wood can acquire a slimy, slippery film from moisture accumulation, and you must apply grip strips to the surface. You will need to replace these strips multiple times throughout the life of the ramp to maintain the ADA-required coefficient of friction.

Aluminum Slip-Resistance

Aluminum ramps have slip-resistant decking that provides better traction than wood ramps and is much safer for those who use them. Upside Innovations uses a solid, extruded decking with small, raised ridges for traction.

Old, rotting wood ramp that has become very slippery
Aluminum ramp with non-slip decking that remains intact


Total Costs$7,240$6,800
AssemblyTime-consuming and custom.
About 2-3 days
Ships with 3 primary components that bolt together.
Assembled in a few hours, not days.
• Annual paint or stain
• Termite prevention/treatment
• replace warped or rotted pieces
• Onting replacement of non-stick tape.
Requires almost zero maintenance.
Slip-ResistanceWood ramps tend to become slippery over timeAluminum ramp with non-slip extruded decking keeps traction over time
means of egress parts

Means of Egress

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The means of egress requirements are part of the International Building Code (IBC) which refer to the ability to exit the building and the path to get outside. Every new building must have means of egress, but the number of means of egress paths and sizes differ from building to building.

What is means of egress?

A means of egress is a continuous, clear path from any occupied portion of a building, structure or space to a public way, such as an outdoor sidewalk. A means of egress consists of three parts: exit access, exit, and exit discharge.

Means of egress

A means of egress consists of three parts:

  1. The exit access – path within the building that leads to an exit
  2. The exit – doors to the outside, enclosed exit stairways, and horizontal exits
  3. The exit discharge – the route from the exit to the public way

Are you looking for an IBC-compliant stairway?

Part 1: Exit Access

Exit access is defined as a corridor, hallway, or path in a room to an exit. When the IBC talks about “accessible,” it means that somebody in a wheelchair can use whatever thing they are referring to. Therefore, an “accessible space” means that a person in a wheelchair can enter and exit that space via an “accessible means of egress” (i.e. walkway, ramp, or elevator).

Accessible spaces must have two accessible means of egress, and they are typically required to be no less than 36″ wide.

For Non-accessible spaces, which are floors above or below the ground floor, the accessible pathway must lead to an exit stairway, elevator, or horizontal exit. These areas serve as an Area of Refuge where emergency responders will come to help people in wheelchairs.

The required number of means of egress is determined by occupant load:

Occupant LoadRequired Means of Egress
*Exception: Buildings that have a low occupant load, such as mercantile spaces, only require one exit.

Part 2: Exit

The exit consists of an exit stairway or elevator with standby power. The exit is separated from other interior spaces by fire-resistant construction. Refer to the IBC stair and handrail specifications sheet and the refuge areas to ensure your means of egress are compliant.

Part 3: Exit Discharge

The exit discharge consists of either an accessible route, such as an ADA ramp or walkway, or a stair and platform with a refuge area. Can be inside the building such as the main lobby or outside to an egress court, courtyard, alley, or public way. A public way is defined as an area outside the building between the exit discharge and a public street with a minimum clearance height and width of at least 10 feet.

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Hurricane header

Secure Aluminum Ramps and Steps for Hurricane

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A hurricane anchor and strap are the most reliable way to keep any outdoor aluminum ramps, steps, or canopies secure.

If the product is made and installed by Upside Innovations on concrete, the product should withstand winds from a category 5 hurricane. On concrete, we always install ramps and steps using 3/8” wedge anchors, and canopies are secured with 5/8” wedge anchors. The brand we use is Red Head. If the product is installed on asphalt, we may use asphalt anchors. Below are some of the common anchor types used for securing exterior ramps, stairs, and canopies.

Anchor Options for securing Stairs and Ramps

Anchor Options for securing Stairs and Ramps

Wedge Anchor

Concrete wedge anchors are the perfect choice for heavy-duty applications that require a secure hold. These anchors are extremely popular and offer one of the strongest possible bonds, making them ideal for securing materials and equipment to solid concrete or masonry surfaces. Wedge anchors look and function like a sleeve anchor, but feature a smaller sleeve near the bottom of the anchor. This design provides added holding power and makes them ideal for use in challenging applications.

  • Drill a hole with a diameter equal to the nominal anchor hole at least 1/4” deeper than nominal anchor embedment; align the holes with the holes in the ramp, step, or canopy footplates.
  • Clean out the hole with pressurized air or a vacuum.
  • Hammer the hurricane anchor into the hole, but do not hammer the nut as it will ruin the threads.
  • Upside typically uses Red Head wedge anchors

Asphalt Anchor

Asphalt is relatively weak when it comes to anchoring structures to it. As the name implies, asphalt anchors are ideal for attaching items to an asphalt surface and are installed by drilling an oversized hole, adding expanding cement or low shrink epoxy, and then pushing in the anchor. After curing, the bolt can be removed.

  • Drill a hole in the asphalt that is equal to the diameter of the anchor; make sure the holes in the asphalt align with the holes in the footplates.
  • Fill the hole with grout.
  • Push in the hurricane anchor.
  • More detailed installation instructions at BoltHold Anchor Installation Guide

Hard Rock Anchor

Hard rock anchors are designed for applications that are solid rock with rods that are driven into the rock.

  • Drill a 5/8” hole 5.5” deep and on a 90° angle on the center of the anchor location for the pilot stud.
  • Drill (2) 3/4” holes at 45° angles using the anchor head as a location guide.
  • Place the rod through the top of (1) square tube and into the hole.
  • To achieve minimum allowable pullout resistance, drive the rod at least 24” into the surface.
  • Place the second rod through the other tube.
  • The distance from the square tubing to the ground surface should not exceed 1”.
  • Use the strap to wrap around the cross-bracing of the ramp or step; secure the strap with the bolts and nuts at the top of the anchor.

If the product is resting on soil: you can secure it by using an earth auger anchor.

Auger Anchor

Auger anchors are easy to install and screw directly into soil, sand or gravel.

  • Use a metal rod through the eye of the anchor to drive it into the ground.
  • Wrap the strap around the cross-bracing of the ramp or step, and loop through the eye of the anchor.

Still don’t know which product is best? Give us a call.

Our Services

Our team designs, manufactures, ships, and installs ADA & IBC-compliant stairs, ramps, and canopies to fit YOUR custom project. Our experts will work with you throughout the project to ensure your installation is correct to your specifications and code-compliant.

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