Loading ramps are very useful pieces of equipment, whether in a home, business, or industrial setting. They can be used to load heavy equipment such as forklifts and bobcats. They can also be used to load recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles, dirt bikes, and ATVs. Furthermore, they can be used to load lawn tractors, farm equipment, and wheelchairs. They can also be used simply to get a wheelchair to a higher part of the home. There are just so many ways you can make use of a loading ramp.
There was once a time when wooden ramps were the only kind of ramp available to those who wish to move large or heavy items over an elevated area. However, there were many problems encountered with the use of wood ramps, among the most notable of which is the use of CCA, a wood preservative that was made from a toxic chemical and later phased out by the EPA. Less toxic preservatives were used after that, but they were more expensive and still carried a certain amount of environmental and health risks.
Fortunately, a healthier and generally better alternative was found—aluminum ramps. As far as environmental guidelines are concerned, aluminum is definitely more EPA-friendly than wood ramps. It is non-toxic and is a lot less expensive. It is no wonder that as time went by it became more and more popular. Today, it is perhaps the most popular type of loading ramp available. Other than its non-toxic nature and affordability, there are plenty of good reasons why aluminum is an excellent alternative to wood as a loading ramp material.
Here are some of the most common reasons why many people choose an aluminum ramp over any other type of loading ramp:
- Ease of Use
Aluminum requires very little maintenance, which makes it very convenient to use. It doesn’t need treatment the way wood does and you can simply wipe it clean after every use. Most aluminum loading ramps are also very easy to assemble, taking only a few minutes and using only the most basic hand tools. Unlike wood ramps, you can easily reconfigure an aluminum ramp in case a particular loading activity requires additional installation.
Aluminum is highly resistant to rusting and chipping, thereby making it last a very long time. It is also non-flammable and does not splinter. And unlike wood, aluminum does not crack or warp as it ages, so you can be sure it weathers several uses and the elements pretty well. This kind of durability makes an aluminum loading ramp a very wise purchase indeed.
Ramps made of aluminum are strong enough to hold practically any load. They’re also tough enough to survive abuse. You can use it to load items carried on dollies, pallets, or even a forklift. You can use it to load lawn mowers, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, or ATVs onto a trailer or the back of a pickup truck. There are even ramps made of aluminum that are used as floating docks for ships and as loading ramps for heavy equipment. Of course, you’ll have to make sure you choose a ramp with the right maximum weight capacity so it can hold the heaviest item you plan to load.
Most, if not all, ramps made of aluminum have a built-in non-skid surface, making the loading process a lot safer, even in such conditions as mud, rain, and snow. The surface of these ramps is also very smooth, which reduces the risk of you getting hurt by splinters as you probably would with wood. Furthermore, aluminum doesn’t require the use of chemicals to keep it in mint condition, so there is no danger of you inhaling toxic fumes when you use it.
There are aluminum loading ramps that are fixed. There are also those that are portable. There are ramps that can be folded and there are those that cannot be folded. There are those that can be folded in half and ones that can be folded in thirds. There are straight ramps and there are arched ramps. There are even aluminum loading ramps that can be used not only as a ramp, but also as a truck bed extender or a pickup truck tailgate. There are just so many ways you can use this ramp, which makes it truly cost-effective.
There are basically two categories of aluminum loading ramps. Which type of ramp you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
Mounted Ramps – These ramps are very easy to deploy. They come with either a manual or motorized mechanism for setting up. Whatever type of mechanism it has, though, it takes very little effort to position, and storage is very easy as well. This type of ramp is typically attached to the side door or rear door area of a van; it can also be permanently attached to the back of a pickup truck. It is important to make sure that the ramp is securely bolted to the vehicle. It is advisable to have this type of ramp installed by a professional.
Detached Ramps – These are basically portable ramps that are assembled and disassembled as needed. The most popular style of detached ramp is the track ramp, which is made of two separate ramps or runners placed alongside each other. The biggest advantage if this type of ramp is its portability, which makes it very easy to use, carry, and store. It also has the advantage of allowing you to walk between the runners as you guide whatever it is you are loading up the ramp.
Choosing a Ramp
It is important to take a few things into consideration when you shop for an aluminum ramp to make sure the ramp you buy perfectly suits your needs. As mentioned earlier, you need to look at the maximum weight capacity. The ramp has to be capable of holding the heaviest item you plan to use it for. If you plan to ride an ATV up the ramp and onto the back of a pickup truck, be sure to choose a ramp that can hold the weight of the ATV, plus your own weight and that of any tools or gear that may be on the ATV as you load it.
Note as well that some ramps have a textured surface. Others have rubber padding. Still others have holes drilled at intervals. All these styles are meant to prevent slippage, especially when you’re loading in wet conditions. Of course, they have their own set of advantages and disadvantages; you’d do well to learn as much as you can about each surface style before making your choice.
You also need to decide whether to buy a straight ramp or an arched ramp. Arched ramps are generally advisable if you’re loading a mower or any vehicle with low ground clearance. You should also make sure the length of ramp you choose is just right. This means the resulting incline shouldn’t be too steep so as to reduce the risk of falling over backwards as you reach the top of the incline.
When you shop for an aluminum ramp, bear in mind that you could be making decision for a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Since aluminum does not rust or chip, you may never have to replace your aluminum ramp ever. That is why it is important to make sure you get the right one.