# How To Calculate A Gradient For Drainage, Ramps, Slopes Etc

## We Show You How To Calculate Slopes & Gradients By Hand and Using Our Calculator

**Article By:** Tom Ayre

**Last Update: **August 2019

Calculating a gradient slope is an important element of building and civil design. Gradients are crucial to a number of elements of construction. Typical situations to get your gradients correct are:

- Pipe drainage fall rates – without a correct gradient the water in the pipe may not flow.
- Access ramps – standards are very strict on things like disability ramps.
- Stairs – like access ramps, stairs are a very important element to get right in terms of gradient/slope design.

In this blog article, I will be showing you how to calculate the gradient by hand which will be useful for sites where you don’t have a calculator. We also have a calculator for each section making the process even easier.

We have also added a free, downloadable spreadsheet to make calculations offline nice and easy!

Lets get started!

## A Brief Introduction to Gradients

A gradient is a complicated word for quite a simple concept. The gradient refers to the change rate of a slope. Take for instance a gradient of slope that is 1 in 40 (1:40).

A 1:40 slope means that for every 40 metres along the ground, the slope height increases by 1 metre. A 1:0.5 slope means that for every 1 metre along the ground, the slope height increases by 0.5 metres.

A gradient can be expressed in 2 ways, a number or a ratio.

For instance, a 1:40 gradient number is shown as 0.025 (an example is shown in the calculation section).

The same number can be converted into a ratio

For instance, a ratio is shown as “1:40”

The following sketch should help.

**Need Assistance Setting Pipe Position and Heights On Site?**

THS Concepts provides Setting Out Engineers to help building contractors precisley positon pipes, piles, kerb lines, drainage runs and more.

## How to Calculate a Gradient Number

So how do you calculate a gradient? This is very simple. This is very simple. Just make sure you keep your run/rise units the same (meters, centimetres, miles, km etc)

**Step 1:** Work out the run length. This is the horizontal distance along the ground. Example number 60 metres.

**Step 2:** Work out the rise length. This is the vertical length going up. Example number 12 metres.

**Step 3:** Divide the rise length by the run length, in a calculator this would be 12 ÷ 60. This would equal a gradient of 0.2.

**Example Calculation**

Run length = 25 metres

Rise Length = 0.8 metres

Gradient = 0.8 / 25

Gradient = 0.032

Run Length = 500 mm

Rise Length = 1200 mm

Gradient = 1200 / 500

Gradient = 2.4

## How to Calculate a Gradient Ratio

So how do you calculate a gradient? This is very simple. Just make sure you keep your run / rise units the same (meters, centimeters, miles, km etc)

**Step 1:** Work out the run length. This is the horizontal distance along the ground. Example number 60 metres.

**Step 2:** Work out the rise length. This is the vertical length going up. Example number 12 metres.

**Step 3:** Divide the run length by the rise length, in a calculator this would be 60 ÷ 12 . This would equal a gradient of 5, this would then be shown as a ratio so = 1:5

**Example Calculations**

Run length = 25 metres

Rise Length = 0.8 metres

Gradient = 25/ 0.8

Gradient = 1:31.25

Run Length = 500 mm

Rise Length = 1200 mm

Gradient = 500/ 1200

Gradient = 1:0.4166

## How to Calculate a Gradient Slope %

So how do you calculate a gradient slope %? This is very simple. Just make sure you keep your run / rise units the same (meters, centimeters, miles, km etc)

**Step 1:** Work out the run length. This is the horizontal distance along the ground. Example number 60 metres.

**Step 2:** Work out the rise length. This is the vertical length going up. Example number 12 metres.

**Step 3:** Divide the rise length by the run length, in a calculator this would be 12 ÷ 60. This would equal a gradient slope of 0.2 which is 20% (multiply by 100 if you need to).

**Example Calculations**

Run length = 25 metres

Rise Length = 0.8 metres

Gradient = 0.8/ 25

Gradient %= 0.032

Gradient % = 0.032 x 100

Gradient % =3.2

Run length = 3200 mm

Rise Length = 750 mm

Gradient = 750/ 3200

Gradient %= 0.234

Gradient % = 0.032 x 100

Gradient % =23.438

### Outline British Standard Drainage Guidance

**Rainwater Drains**

- Rainwater drains at 75 & 100 mm should be laid at ratios of 1:100 or less.
- Rainwater drains at 150 mm should be laid at ratios of 1:150 or less.
- Rainwater drains at 225 mm should be laid at ratios of 1:225 or less.

**Waste Water Pipes (Self Cleaning)**

- Flows Less Than 1 litre per second (pipes not exceeding DN100) – should be laid at ratios of 1:40 or less.
- Flows More Than 1 litre per second (pipes not exceeding DN100) – should be laid at ratios of 1:80 or less with at least 1 toilet connected to it.
- DN150 pipe – should be laid at ratios of 1:150 or less with at least 5 toilets connected to it.

## Free Download – Gradient Calculator Spreadsheet

- Calculate gradient number
- Calculate gradient ratio
- Calculate gradient slope %

**Need Assistance Setting Pipe Position and Heights On Site?**

THS Concepts provides Setting Out Engineers to help building contractors precisley positon pipes, piles, kerb lines, drainage runs and more.

Hopefully this explains what a gradient is and how it is calculated. If you have any questions or queries I can help with then please let me know in the comments section. Happy to assist!

SanamSeptember 13, 2019 at 7:59 pmGradient can also be expressed in a 3rd way: percentage.

For example, a 1:40 gradient (i.e., 1 unit rise over 40 unit run) is equal to fraction number 1/40 = 0.025 which in turn is the same as 2.5%.

Percentage expression for gradient/slope is quite commonly used in civil engineering.

Francesca BurkeSeptember 20, 2019 at 7:59 amHi Sanam,

That’s a good point, thank you! We hope you enjoyed our post. :)

THS Concepts