DIY Wheelchair Ramp: How to Build a Ramp for Your Home

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have mobility issues, you know the enormous problems they can cause. Besides the everyday struggles, a major issue is the lack of wheelchair ramps in most homes. But if you’re handy with a hammer, you can create a DIY solution that provides easy access to your home while being safe and structurally sound. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through every step of building your own wheelchair ramp, from determining the length to planning the structure and installing the handrail. If you’re ready to get started, let’s jump right in and learn how to make a DIY wheelchair ramp for your home!

However, if you are someone who would prefer to purchase a wheelchair ramp from a reputable brand, Prairie View Industries comes highly recommended.

Quick Review

You can build a wheelchair ramp by following step-by-step instructions for constructing one. When building the ramp, consider factors such as local building codes, the type of materials used, and the needs of the user.

Building a Safe and Secure Wheelchair Ramp

Building a safe and secure wheelchair ramp for your home is essential for increasing accessibility. Not only will it make life easier for those who need wheelchairs, but ramps can also provide safer access for walkers and other mobility devices. It’s important to ensure that any ramp you build is strongly constructed, correctly installed and meets current safety standards.

When it comes to wheelchair ramps, there are two school of thought when it comes to building: wooden or aluminum. Wooden ramps are often considered the more affordable option and are easy to construct, but they require maintenance and may have a shorter lifespan than aluminum ramps. Aluminum ramps on the other hand are often considered the more durable option, but they may require professional installation and be more costly.

No matter which material you choose, both wooden and aluminum wheelchair ramps should be securely anchored at the top and bottom with non-corrosive fixtures. They should also feature a non-slip surface such as concrete, rubber or a non-slip paint in order to prevent slips or falls. You should inspect your ramp at least once a year to check for repairs, loose screws or nails, corrosion or any structural damage caused by weather or environmental conditions.

The next step in creating an accessible home is to measure for the wheelchair ramp design. The process of measuring is critical in order to create a ramp that is safe and usable.

Measuring for the Wheelchair Ramp Design

Measuring for the Wheelchair Ramp Design is an important step that should not be overlooked when building a wheelchair ramp. It is important to accurately measure distances and angles in order to construct a safe, stable, and durable ramp. If completed correctly, this step will ensure a successful finished product that meets all of the specifications needed for the individual’s specific needs.

The approach to measuring for the design can vary based on many circumstances. Some individuals may choose to get measurements from a professional contractor or ramp manufacturer to have an exact replica of the ramp built for their home. For those who are handy and confident in their skills, there are some guidelines that can be followed for customizing an individualized and cost-effective ramp design.

When taking measurements from scratch, it is important to know the space requirements and setback regulations mandated by local building codes. Most codes require openings that are at least 36” wide with a maximum rise of 30” and maximum angle of 1:12 slope ratio. As part of the measuring process, consider wear patterns and slopes, existing ground levels, door clearances or entrances, and wheelchair widths. Note the ground level changes before calculating total horizontal length. Make sure to include rest stops as part of your measurements as well, typically 24” in length with a minimum width of 12” unless otherwise specified.

Once these measurements have been taken into consideration, an accurate plan using standard dimensions can be drawn up. This plan should define what materials will be used (wood, metal, concrete), provide detailed descriptions about each joint and connection point on the ramp (including posts), and incorporate any necessary handrails or gates depending on the application. Taking careful measurements has the potential to save time and money during construction processes, while also providing users with safe access in and out of their homes.

In conclusion, it is important to take accurate measurements when designing a wheelchair ramp for both cost-saving opportunities and safety precautions; this includes taking into account space requirements according to local regulations as well as any special specifications required for stability or convenience in operation. With thorough planning ahead of time through precise measurements, this critical step can transform into a quick construction process before eventually culminating in a successful finished product that meets all of the necessary needs set forth in the design plan.

Next up we will discuss taking custom measurements–a deeper dive into how we can customize our own designs after establishing baseline standards–and what considerations need to be taken when doing so.

Essential Information

Measuring for the Wheelchair Ramp Design is an important step towards constructing a safe, stable, and durable ramp. Take into account the space requirements in accordance to local regulations as well as any special specifications that may be necessary. Thorough measurements are essential for cost saving opportunities and safety precautions. Customizing measurements needs to be considered when designing a ramp which may allow more flexibility with the materials used, layout of joints and connections points, and identifying handrails or gates needed to meet requirements.

Taking Custom Measurements

Taking accurate measurements is a crucial first step when preparing to build a DIY ramp. If professionals are hired to build the ramp, custom measurements should be taken that account for the exact dimensions of the wheelchair and its intended users, as well as the height or steps leading up to the area where the ramp will lead. This will help ensure that the ramp does not sacrifice safety or accessibility in order to be aesthetically pleasing.

Even if a professional contractor is hired, it is generally helpful to be aware of basic measurements so that one can verify that a ramp is being constructed with reasonable dimensions and grades. For instance, measuring angles such as slope angle and rise ratio angle can help one get an idea of how steep or gradual a ramp might appear when complete. It may also be necessary to take measurements of fixtures in and around a wheelchair-accessible space such as doorways, walkways, and elevators—all of which must meet certain ADA regulations for accessibility.

It is important to remember that different kinds of wheelchairs require different dimensions for safe usage. For example, manual wheelchairs will need steeper slopes than power wheelchairs in order for the user to traverse safely. Taking all relevant measurements into consideration is key to building an effective and safe DIY wheelchair ramp.

Leading into the next section: "Ramp Slope Recommendations", understanding custom measurements for wheelchair ramps is essential for creating an accessible space for individuals with various disabilities or mobility limitations.

  • According to findings from the Home Accessibility Modification Program, the average cost of constructing a wheelchair ramp is between $1,200 to $2,000.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates wheelchair ramps can cost up to $2500 depending on length, width, and height.
  • Research suggests that building an inclined plane or wheelchair ramp with a pitch of 1:12 (1 inch of rise for every 12 inches of run) is considered ADA compliant.

Ramp Slope Recommendations

Ramp slope is an important consideration when building a DIY wheelchair ramp for your home. A wheelchair user must be able to access the ramp safely and with minimal effort. Too steep of a slope can make the ramp difficult to navigate, while too flat of a slope can make the length of the ramp too long to be practical.

Therefore, it is important to find a balance between these two factors. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends that the maximum slope for any wheelchair ramp should not exceed 1:12 ratio (i.e., one inch vertical rise for each foot of horizontal run). However, this does not mean that using a lower slope is prohibited or necessarily will create an unsafe environment for wheelchair users. Depending on various factors such as the physical capabilities of the user and the terrain surrounding the ramp, some ramps may benefit from having a lower slope than 1:12.

On the other hand, it is important to note that exceeding the ADA recommendation could lead to several issues. Rolling off the edge of the ramp due to its slippery surface or abrupt end could be dangerous. Moreover, having an excessively steep or long ramp can strain both manual and powered wheelchairs, resulting in frequent maintenance and repairs.

Due to this dichotomy, it is essential to carefully consider all of these aspects before deciding on a specific slope for your DIY wheelchair ramp. As you move forward towards material selection for your ramp project, remember that safety should always come first.

The next section will discuss Material Selection for the Wheelchair Ramp - one of the most crucial considerations when planning your DIY project.

Material Selection for the Wheelchair Ramp

Material selection is one of the most important parts of constructing a wheelchair ramp. Aluminium is typically the preferred material because of its low cost and durability, with optimal height and length being eight feet and 30 inches respectively. Aluminium can be easy to work with, although it is difficult to fit tight curves or corners due to its rigidity. Wood is also a popular choice due to its aesthetically pleasing look and ease of customization with circular curves or other intricate designs. Moreover, treated wood can last longer than untreated wood when exposed to environmental conditions such as moisture. However, some disassembly might be necessary if a moveable ramp is desired and assembly requires miscellaneous tools and hardware. In comparison, galvanized steel can offer a maintenance-free solution for those who don’t want to worry about periodic caulking or painting as it does not need any further protection from the elements after initial installation like some other materials may require. Additionally, there are more lightweight materials available such as polyethylene plastic for ramps that are going in temporary locations or need to be transported frequently.

Material selection must take into account the user’s budget, needs and weight capacity requirements before making a decision since each type of material has distinct advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed carefully. Ultimately, having an understanding of the different types of materials available will enable individuals to make informed decisions on which material best suits their particular project.

Having gone over the various options for material selection, it's time to turn our attention towards installing the wheelchair ramp.

Installing the Wheelchair Ramp

Installing a wheelchair ramp can be a fairly simple process if you take the time to prepare, measure, and assemble your materials correctly. It’s important to consider the overall size of the ramp and whether it meets the requirements outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Once all measurements have been taken and all of the materials have been gathered, it is time to begin installation.

It’s best to start by setting up the stringers that will support the ramp structure. Stringers are support boards that run the length of the ramp and provide the necessary strength and stability to hold the weight while in use. They should be placed parallel from each other, approximately 2” apart with pre-drilled holes for attachments. When bolting down the stringers, make sure all bolts are properly tightened for maximum security.

Next, lay down several layers of pressure-treated plywood or lumber panels above wooden planks on top of floor joists or concrete slab. Securely attach each layer together with construction screws for stability, making sure to leave at least 1 inch gap between each board for drainage. The wood used should also be rated for outdoor use in order to reduce rotting and weather damage.

Attach handrails and guardrails along both sides of the ramp at intervals determined by local building code requirements. Handrails and guardrails must adhere to ADA standards which usually require that they stand up 30” high along any side where people will be entering or exiting, such as ramps with a landing or turns. For additional safety measures, add non-slip grip paint or strips along each side for extra traction and support.

Finally, secure plywood at an incline (3:1 ratio) from one end to the other using lag screws and washers so that it’s flush against existing siding materials and lies flat on top of ground level below. Make sure it stays secure enough by compacting crushed stone underneath until fully tamped and level before adding more layers.

After installation, prepare the site by thoroughly cleaning away debris such as dirt clumps, roots, tree stumps etc., and mopping up any excess moisture around its perimeter so that dirt won't accumulate over time which can cause slippery conditions on snow or wet days. Before usage is allowed, check that all nuts and bolts are tightened securely as well as verifying that handrails/ guardrails meet ADA regulations once again before opening up to pedestrians.

Now that installation has been completed, it’s time to prepare install site by making sure everything else around it is safe for use. This includes checking walkways around it for obstructions or potential hazards such adding guard rails if needed for added security or clearing away vegetation near its base so that leaves won't become slippery when wet during rain or snow storms.

Prepare the Install Site

Preparing the install site is a critical step in the construction of a DIY wheelchair ramp. It is important to have a level surface before any building or installation begins. Ensuring the foundational space for your ramp is adequately prepped will help guarantee a smooth and safe ride.

The installation site space should be cleared of any decorative fixtures, foliage, or other items that might disrupt the process or interfere with the alignment of the ramp. If you plan to install on a slope, pick an area with enough space for two adjoining slopes, one for each platform. Before beginning construction, always check to ensure measurements are correct by making use of carpenter's level and measuring tape.

For those DIY builders installing on dirt surfaces, it is important to consider if the build will create significant soil run-off when exposed to rain during regular wet weather days. To prevent soil erosion, gravel may need to be added to areas prone to water collection and soil displacement. Carefully compact and even out any uneven terrain leading up to the installation site and monitor throughout the building process so as to keep surfaces from shifting post-construction.

When constructing ramps next to stairs, it is important when possible to also keep both levels at similar heights or alternate rising heights between stairs and ramp segments where needed. Depending on the amount of space available, larger landings may need to be incorporated into design plans due to limited maneuvering space direct next to stairs entrances or exits.

Once you have fully prepped your installation area and measured everything out, you can begin constructing your wheelchair ramp platforms and aligning them with all safety regulations and installation considerations. This will be discussed further in the next section: "Construction of Wheelchair Ramp Platforms".

Construction of the Wheelchair Ramp Platforms

Constructing the wheelchair ramp platforms is the primary focus of this project and must be done with care and precision. Since each platform is bespoke to your own individual home, it is important to ensure that the measurements are accurate.

There are two different approaches you can take when constructing the platform: either through buying pre-cut boards or by cutting them yourself. Pre-cut boards tend to be more time-efficient but can cost more. However, cutting boards yourself requires the proper saws and other tools, as well as knowledge of which types of wood to use for outdoor construction.

Safety is paramount when building anything for a wheelchair ramp, so using durable lumber such as pressure-treated spruce or treated pine that's resistant to rot and insect damage is essential. Measure twice, cut once! Careful consideration must also be taken when attaching the pieces together; screws should be used rather than nails as they will provide superior support within the structure. Finally, make sure to level each platform before advancing in the construction process.

Once the construction of the platforms is completed and all measurements have been double checked, it’s time to move on to the final wheelchair ramp installation.

Final Wheelchair Ramp Installation

Once the wheelchair ramp has been designed and constructed, it is time to move on to installing the ramp. Depending on the type of need, the size of the wheelchair ramp and the support structure in place, there are several different installation options available. It is important for DIYers to take into account both financial and safety considerations when deciding which installation path to pursue.


One option for installing a wheelchair ramp is for the individual in need or their caretaker to install the ramp themselves. Self-installation can lead to substantial cost savings when compared to enlisting the help of a professional contractor. Additionally, many local jurisdictions do not require permits when a homeowner self-installs a wheelchair ramp on their own property. A potential downside associated with this route would be any lack of experience in construction work or use of tools, which could compromise the safety and quality of the final product. When selecting this method of installation, it is recommended to thoroughly read through user manuals and consult with experienced professionals prior to taking action.

Professional Assistance

Another option for DIYers who are considering installing a wheelchair ramp is to hire a professional contractor or company with experience in performing these tasks. This may involve performing a background check on potential providers, requesting estimates and references, and ensuring all necessary permitting requirements have been met before any construction activities are initiated. In some cases, hiring a professional can even provide additional design input that may make for a better overall product than what could be feasibly achieved without their assistance. Doing so generally comes at an increased cost over the self-installation option and can add complexity due to the need for applicable permits from local authorities.

Regardless of whether one chooses self-installation or professional assistance, it is essential that extra precautions are taken during installation to ensure maximum stability and durability of the final product for years to come. This includes regular reevaluation of supports and making sure no loose pieces remain once assembly is complete. Accessible handrails should also be installed alongside all ramps as an added measure of safety when transitioning into wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Taking all these factors into account are key determinants in ensuring success of a quality wheelchair ramp installation project.

Responses to Common Questions with Detailed Explanations

What materials are needed to build a wheelchair ramp?

Building a wheelchair ramp requires some basic tools and supplies. You'll need pressure-treated lumber for the frame and platform, lag screws to attach the boards together, code-approved handrails, deck screws, and paint or stain for a finishing touch. The dimensions of the ramp will depend on how it's being used and how wide your doorway is. You may also need wedges and braces to hold it in place while building. If you're going to include a slope, you'll also need materials such as gravel or stone, wood chips, and leveling sand to control erosion and help prevent slipping. Finally, you may want to add functional accessories such as grab bars and lighting.

What regulations should I consider when building a wheelchair ramp?

When building a wheelchair ramp, it is important to consider safety regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to ADA regulations, there are specific guidelines that must be followed when constructing a ramp.

The ramp should be as long and as wide as possible, with a maximum slope ratio of 1:16. This means that for every inch in elevation, the ramp should extend at least 16 inches. If the slope increases beyond this ratio, handrails must be added along the sides of the ramp. Furthermore, the handrail should always be placed on both sides and should have a diameter of between .75" and 1.25". The distance from rail to ground should also not exceed 12 inches.

In addition to these requirements, any ramps should be equipped with non-slip surfaces and landings for smooth transitions. The landing area should be at least 60 inches in width and 48 inches in length with a flat surface area large enough for wheelchair turns.

It is crucial to adhere to ADA standards when constructing any wheelchair ramps in order to ensure safety for all users of the structure. Understanding these regulations and requirements can help make building a wheelchair ramp easier, safer and more compliant with ADA standards.

What are the steps to build a wheelchair ramp?

The steps to build a wheelchair ramp for your home involve some basic carpentry techniques. Here is a brief overview of the necessary steps:

1. Measure and mark the width and height of the ramp. Make sure to account for the prescribed requirements for a safe ramp grade, which is typically 1 inch of vertical rise per 12 inches of horizontal run (1:12).

2. Gather the necessary materials and tools, such as lumber, screws, lag bolts, drill bit, saw, and deck screws.

3. Cut the lumber to match the measurements taken in step one. This will require use of a circular saw or jigsaw. For a stringer-style ramp, two pieces of 2x8 lumber should suffice.

4. Construct the frame on level ground, usually by connecting galvanized lag bolts and screws to secure both side frames together at the top by forming a triangle shape.

5. Support posts can be installed around every 4 feet along with pieces of 2x4 lumber for handrails and other support bars as needed.

6. Add plywood along the frames to form a base for nonslip decking such as composite boards or pressure treated wood planks.

7. Add metal flashing along seams to protect from water damage if using pressure treated wood or you could use waterproofing sealer specifically made for outdoor use before adding any wood paneling or metal flashing over it.

8. Lastly, add nonslip strips for traction over the entire ramp surface and attach handrails where necessary as part of final safety measures required by most municipalities when building/installing ramps in homes or businesses.

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