Did you know you could save money and learn how to build a wheelchair ramp out of wood yourself?
A wooden wheelchair ramp is easy to construct and cost-effective, making them an excellent solution for those with limited mobility. All you need to build a wooden handicap ramp successfully are some essential tools and supplies.
So whether you are a contractor or someone who needs a little help getting around, keep reading for step-by-step instructions on making your wheelchair ramps.
- A wooden wheelchair ramp can provide an entrance to your home or business for those with limited mobility.
- It is essential to follow safety procedures when constructing the ramp and use the right tools and supplies.
- It is essential to consider factors such as soil conditions, incline angle, the desired width of the ramp, and other site-specific considerations when constructing a wheelchair ramp.
Table of Contents
The Basics of How To Build a Wheelchair Ramp Out of Wood
One of the best ways to make your home more wheelchair accessible is to build an access ramp. This will give you the INDEPENDENCE to come and go as you please without relying on others for assistance.
While many different materials can be used to build a ramp, WOOD is often the best choice because it is strong and durable. Plus, it can be stained or painted to match the exterior of your home.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when building a wooden wheelchair access ramp:
1. Getting Approvals
Before you begin building your ramp, you should check with your local municipality to ensure that you follow all the necessary regulations. You may also need approval from the municipality to construct a wheelchair ramp.
You can do this by submitting a simple ramp plan to the building department in your area. They will also provide information about a building permit that might be required for your project .
In this video, I’ll be sharing my tips and tricks on how to use a walker to go up and down stairs safely and comfortably:
2. The Ramp Width and Length
First, you will need to DETERMINE the ramp length and width. It should be long enough to allow the wheelchair user to get up comfortably and down the incline but not so long that it becomes a trip hazard.
The ramp width should be at least 36 inches so the wheelchair can SAFELY navigate the ramp .
The ramp length should be calculated based on the SLOPE (the upper landing). A 1:12 slope is recommended for wheelchair ramps, which means there should be 12 inches of horizontal travel for every inch of the vertical rise.
Pro Tip: If you need help calculating the ramp length and width, there are many online calculators that can help.
3. Type Of Lumber
Next, you will need to select the TYPE of lumber you will use. Pressure-treated lumber is a good option because it is resistant to rot and insect damage.
However, it is essential to note that pressure-treated lumber may contain CHEMICALS that can be harmful if inhaled, so be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
4. Cutting The Lumber
Once you have the lumber, you need to cut it to size using a saw. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves while doing this. Once the pieces are cut, you can start ASSEMBLING the ramp by screwing or nailing the pieces together.
Plenty of videos online can help you with the assembly process.
5. Installing Handrails
Finally, once the ramp is assembled, you will need to INSTALL handrails on both sides. These handrails should be placed at a height that is COMFORTABLE for someone in a wheelchair to grab onto.
Pro Tip: Make sure the handrails are securely fastened to posts that have been set correctly in concrete for added strength and stability.
Different Parts Of A Wheelchair Ramp
It’s essential to understand the different parts of a wheelchair access ramp. Common components include:
The deck is the surface of the ramp that wheelchair users roll on. It should be at least 36 inches wide and constructed from pressure-treated lumber to PROTECT against rot and insect damage.
Pro Tip: A concrete ramp is the most durable but requires a lot of specialized equipment and expertise.
Stringers are wood pieces that SUPPORT the decking boards and keep them in place. They should be 6-10 inches wide and spaced every 16 inches along the ramp length.
Handrails are mounted on both sides of the ramp for added STABILITY and safety when using the ramp.
They should be 36-42 inches above the walking surface with a minimum clearance between them of at least 4 inches.
4. Concrete Footings
Concrete footings are used to anchor the posts into the ground and provide additional STABILITY. They must be set in concrete at least 18 inches deep and extend 6-8 inches above grade.
By following these steps, you can quickly build a safe and sturdy wheelchair ramp that will provide access to those with limited mobility.
Materials and Tools Needed
Once you have decided on the design and measurements of your ramp, it’s time to gather all the materials and tools needed for construction. Here are the basic materials and tools you’ll need:
- Pressure-treated lumber
- Galvanized screws/lag bolts
- Masonry anchors
- Hammer drill/impact driver
- Tape measure
Planning Your Ramp
When you are creating a wheelchair access ramp, there are several things that you will need to take into consideration when it comes to the wheelchair ramp plans:
The first is the location of the ramp. It is essential to make sure that the ramp is located in an area that is level and FREE of any obstacles.
If the ramp is not located in a level area, it could pose a SAFETY hazard for those who use it. It is also essential to ensure the ramp is situated so that it does not create a TRIPPING hazard for anyone walking near it.
2. Type Of Wood
The most important thing to consider when choosing the type of wood is its STRENGTH. You will want to select a wood that is strong enough to SUPPORT the weight of a wheelchair and any passengers that may be riding in it.
You will also want to ensure that the wood is treated as RESISTANT to rot and insect damage. When choosing the type of wood for your ramp, you may also want to consider its APPEARANCE.
Some people prefer to use pressure-treated lumber because it has a more natural look, while others prefer cedar because it resists fading and has a more consistent grain pattern.
Whichever type of wood you choose, make sure that it is rated for outdoor use so that it will WITHSTAND the elements.
3. Size Of The Ramp
Once you have selected the location and type of wood for your ramp, you will need to determine the size of the ramp.
The ramp size will need to be BASED on the width of the doorway or opening that it will be used to access. You will also need to consider the RISE of the step or stairs leading up to the door so that the ramp slopes at a safe angle.
In general, ramps should have a 1:12 ratio, which means that for every 1 inch of rise, there should be 12 inches of run. This ensures that people using wheelchairs can SAFELY navigate the ramp without having to worry about tipping over.
Prepare the Ground
Once you have gathered all the materials and tools needed for your wheelchair ramp, preparing the ground where the ramp will be installed is essential.
This includes CLEARING away any debris that may prevent the ramp from being built properly and making sure that the area is level and free of holes. It’s also essential to make sure that the ground is stable enough to support the weight of a wheelchair and any passengers using it.
Use gravel or fill material to create an EVEN surface before beginning construction. Additionally, you may need to install FOOTINGS if you are building on soil or grass to provide additional stability for your wheelchair ramp.
Pro Tip: As you are constructing the ramp, use a level to ensure it is even and properly supported.
Build The Ramp
Start by laying out the deck boards on top of the stringers. Make sure to measure TWICE before cutting any wood. Once all the boards are cut to size, use galvanized screws or lag bolts to secure them.
Next, install posts at each end of the ramp using galvanized screws or lag bolts. These posts will be used to SUPPORT the handrails, which will help provide extra stability and security while using the ramp.
For added SAFETY, it’s essential to install posts every 6-8 feet along the length of the ramp. These posts should be securely fastened to the deck using galvanized screws or lag bolts.
Once your wheelchair wood ramp is complete, it’s essential to INSPECT it regularly to ensure it remains in good condition. This includes checking for signs of erosion or damage and making necessary repairs as soon as possible.
Cut the Stringers
The next step is to cut the stringers supporting the deck boards. Stringers should be cut with a mitre or circular saw according to measurements taken from the ramp width and rise.
It’s essential to make sure that each stringer is SECURELY fastened in place, using galvanized screws or lag bolts for added stability.
Pro Tip: When installing the stringer, drive the screws or bolts downward towards the ground to provide additional support.
Assemble the Railing System
Once the stringers are in place, it’s time to assemble the railing system. For added SAFETY, install railings along both sides of the ramp. These railings should be at least 36 inches high and securely fastened using galvanized screws or lag bolts.
If desired, you can add decorative caps to create a more finished look for your ramp.
Finally, ensure that all the stairs, handrails, and other components have been installed PROPERLY and that they meet local building codes and regulations before allowing anyone to use the handicapped ramp.
Pro Tip: Apply a coat of weather-resistant sealant or stain to protect your wheelchair ramp from moisture, UV rays, and other elements.
The Cost of Building a Wheelchair Ramp
The cost of building a wheelchair ramp depends on SEVERAL factors, including the size and complexity of the project.
On average, most DIY wheelchair ramps can be built for about $200-$400 in materials. Professional installation may cost more but is usually necessary for custom projects or complex designs.
To save money, consider using RECLAIMED materials or buying second-hand when possible. You may also find discounted materials at local home improvement stores.
Also, don’t forget to check our guide on DIY threshold ramp for wheelchair.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Ramp Rise?
The ramp rise is the distance between the ground and the highest point of your wheelchair ramp. It should not exceed 30 inches in height, per ADA guidelines.
Are There Any Local Building Codes I Should Be Aware Of?
Yes, it’s essential to be aware of local building codes and regulations that include minimum ramp widths, rises, and requirements of handrails. Be sure to check with your local building authority to ensure you are compliant.
What If My Property Is On A Slope?
If your property is on a slope, you may need to consider special design considerations such as terracing or anchoring the ramp. You can also use landscape timbers or pavers to create a level surface for the ramp.
How Do I Know If The Ground Is Stable Enough To Support A Wheelchair Ramp?
If you’re unsure if the ground is stable enough to support a wheelchair ramp, it’s best to have a professional inspect your site before beginning any construction. This will help ensure your safety and the longevity of your ramp.
Wheelchair ramps allow people with disabilities or limited mobility to quickly enter and exit a home or building.
It may seem daunting, but learning how to build a wheelchair ramp out of wood is not as difficult as you would think.
Following the steps outlined in this article, you can quickly and affordably construct a safe and reliable ramp that will enable those with special needs to enter your home or business.
So are you ready to build your own wooden wheelchair ramp? Don’t forget to let us know about your experience!
- 1. BENEKE J. Understanding the Construction Permit Process [Internet]. The Spruce. 2022. Available from: https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-a-building-permit-1398344
- 2. Wheelchair Ramp Information [Internet]. BrainLine. 2008. Available from: https://www.brainline.org/article/wheelchair-ramp-information