How to Make Your Deck ADA Friendly

Want an outdoor hangout space for your friends and family, but are wondering how to make your deck ADA friendly? Don’t worry, you can have the deck of your dreams: a place that’s fun, safe, relaxing, and accessible to everyone. Whether you know exactly what you want, or are unsure where to start, get a free estimate from Dupont Construction.

We’ll take a look at different considerations and guidelines that will help you make your dream a reality.

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act Concept, business concept

Make Your Deck ADA Friendly: Begin with the Basics

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Before you build your ADA friendly deck, you may find some background on the Americans with Disabilities Act helpful. President George H.W. Bush signed the bipartisan Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990. The ADA represented the world’s first far-reaching civil rights bill for people with disabilities.

This law showed how far America had progressed in its history. Early American colonists treated their family members and neighbors with disabilities as a sort of private inconvenience. In the early 19th century, Americans began to commit family members with disabilities to formalized institutions.

After the first World War, however, the sheer volume of Americans with disabilities required new solutions. Additionally, greater industrialization across the country created more on-the-job accidents along with the need for more workers. America’s large, industrialized economy required people with disabilities to join the workforce.

The national interest changed many Americans’ attitudes toward disabilities. As a result, the country began to favor entitlement programs over institutionalization. Furthermore, world events such as World War II and Korea expanded rehabilitation services and therapies for people with disabilities.

As individuals with disabilities became more visible in American life, awareness grew of the need for reform. 

The ADA of 1990 is only one piece of  legislation intended to improve the lives of Americans with disabilities. Its purpose is to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in different aspects of life. Those areas include work, transportation, and public accommodations, as well as transportation and public services.

Accessibility Guidelines

The ADA website, ADA.gov, provides accessibility guidelines to make structures and services compliant with the law. ADA.gov is a useful tool to make your deck ADA friendly, whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring someone.

On the site, you will find the ADA standards for accessible design. While homeowners are not required to follow these, they are helpful for anyone who is building an ADA friendly structure.

Wooden ramped access, using wheelchair ramp for disabled people.

Ready to Build

Once you have done your research and are ready to make your deck ADA friendly, it’s time to get started.

Wheelchair Ramps

If you haven’t already, you should select an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp for your deck. You may also choose to build one yourself, or contract it out. In either case, you will find it helpful to familiarize yourself with ADA wheelchair ramp guidelines.

The ADA standard for a ramp’s height is a ratio of one foot of ramp for each inch of rise.

That means if high decks require longer wheelchair ramps, builders have additional considerations. Wheelchair ramps must feature a rest or turn platform after a maximum of 30 feet.

Your ramp will also need handrails on both sides to be in compliance with the law’s guidelines.

Make Your Deck ADA Friendly by Building Your Own Wheelchair Ramp

If you opt to build, rather than install a wheelchair ramp, you have some additional considerations. Ramps are far from one-size-fits-all.

For one thing, you need to take into account who will use your wheelchair ramp. What is the nature of their disability? Is the condition or situation of the person with a disability likely to change in any way?

You should also think about any additional requirements the person using your ramp may have, such as service animal accommodation.

Finally, federal guidelines aren’t the only legal framework your deck needs to fit in to be viable. Homeowners Associations may have their own specifications, and your local building office may require you to get a permit. Make sure your wheelchair ramp plans comply with any local zoning laws and regulations before you begin.

While you’re thinking about local requirements, take into account any geographical or terrain features unique to where you live. Are there any standard practices in your area you may want to include to make your deck ADA friendly?

You want to ensure the best deck design and fit for your home. Google Earth can give you an aerial view of your home and its surroundings that may be helpful for brainstorming. Then, when you are ready to design your deck in earnest, Google Earth provides an accurate view of your property.

Other considerations include your deck’s entryways. The whole concept behind wheelchair ramps is ease-of-access, so you will need to look at the width of existing entryways. Find out if your deck’s door or gate – and the door into your home from the deck – are wide enough.

When it comes to materials for your deck, you are mostly free to select whatever suits your taste. That said, be sure to select sturdy materials that will not cause slippage or falls. The ADA has guidance for slip-resistant products that can make your deck ADA friendly.

Composite materials are often the best substance to build an ADA compliant deck. Check with a home improvement store or with your contractor to find out more about ADA compliant building materials.

balcony

Dupont Construction and Remodeling Can Help Make Your Deck ADA Friendly

Making a deck that can accommodate friends and family with disabilities is no small task. You want your deck to provide the safest, most inclusive outdoor hospitality you can. To give your friends and family the very best, you need to trust that your deck is reliable and secure.

Contact Dupont Construction and Remodeling with questions about your ADA deck plans, or for a free estimate. Dupont is a family-owned and operated business that specializes in new deck construction as well as deck remodeling. With Dupont Construction, your dreams for your home are in skilled and experienced hands.