Building a wheelchair ramp built for your home is an easy do-it-yourself project as long as you follow the specific codes and requirements set forth by the ADA as well as any local requirements regarding width and rise of the wheelchair ramp.
Gather Your Materials
Building a wheelchair ramp is a basic project that includes some easy to use power tools that you probably own or can rent easily.
- Circular Saw
- Post Hole Digger
- Ready Mix Cement
- 4x4 treated posts
- 2x12 ledger board
- 2x8 treated stringers
- 2x6 treated decking
- Metal flashing
Design Ramp with Considerations
Before digging any holes or cutting any wood, you need to lay out where the wheelchair ramp will go. Usually the front of the house is the place where most ramps are located, but it will depend greatly on the landscaping, ground levels, and height ratio of door to ground.
Once you know where you want to build the ramp, you must adhere to certain codes set forth by the ADA.
- You must build your ramp one foot for each 1 inch of vertical rise. This means that if the height of your door is 3 feet off the ground, then your ramp must be 36 feet in length.
- The wheelchair ramp must be at least 3 feet in width.
- You must have a series of rails along the wheelchair ramp.
Very few homes will allow for the use of a 36-foot long ramp to be built straight out from the front or to the side. In these case the wheelchair ramp is usually built with a series of switchbacks that go back and forth for the length of the ramp. Think of a big 'Z'.
Lay out Design with Landscape Paint
Once you know the location and general layout, begin marking the outline with landmark paint, making sure of measurements. Drive small stakes where the posts will be dug for the ramp and switchbacks, if any.
Install Header and Flashing
Against the house where the wheelchair ramp will enter, install some metal flashing and a 2x12 ledger board to secure the ramp to and keep out moisture.
Dig Holes and Set Posts
Dig the holes at least 18 inches deep and set posts in them anchored in the ready made concrete. Do this for each corner and along the length of the ramp, every six feet.
Attach the 2x8 stringers to the posts with galvanized lag bolts. Follow the outline of the posts until you can level off at the bottom.
Using the 2x6 decking, attach across the stringers with the galvanized screws. Keep a distance of at least 1/8 inch between boards for rain run off.
Buying pre-made rails is the easiest way to install the rails.