Guide to Building a Wheelchair Ramp

Wheelchair ramps are critical for several reasons…

  • They make buildings more accessible.

  • They reduce the risk of injury.

  • They allow greater independence for wheelchair users.

  • They are more inclusive of those with disabilities.

  • And they provide support for caregivers.

Whether you’re adding a wheelchair ramp to your home or commercial building, this guide will help you with the building process.

Plan Your Wheelchair Ramp

Before you build your wheelchair ramp, you must have a good grasp of the proper regulations and guidelines. 

Some things you’ll need to consider:

  • Location – Choose the door that is closest to handicap friendly parking and has lots of clear space around it.

  • Slope – The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) suggests a slope of 1:12. That means for every foot traveled horizontally on the ramp, the elevation should only change by a single inch. 

  • Rise – No ramp should come more than 30 inches above the ground at its highest point.

  • Handrails – If a wheelchair ramp is taller than 6 inches or longer than 72 inches, it should have handrails.

  • Landings – There should be flat landings at the top and bottom of the ramp.

  • Shape – Will you build an L-shaped ramp or a U-shaped ramp?

  • Length – Measure the height of the upper landing and calculate the required length based on the ADA’s 1:12 slope (rise over run) suggestion.

  • Width – The width between handrails should be at least 36 inches.

  • Local building codes – You’ll need to check up on building codes in your area. Don’t forget to reach out to the city and/or your homeowner’s association. You may need to get a ramp permit from a local building inspector.

Next, you’ll need to gather all of your materials and equipment. For a basic DIY wooden wheelchair ramp, you will need lumber, a hand saw, and a drill (at minimum).


Build Your Wheelchair Ramp

Your plans are intact. Now it’s time to build that ramp!

  1. Prepare the space. Make sure the ground is level and free of debris or other materials.

  2. Mark the ground. Before you make your frame, measure and mark where you will place your landings and ramp edges.

  3. Install a frame. Use pressure-treated lumber for maximum stability and the dimensions calculated in your design phase.

  4. Build the decking. Secure your chosen decking material onto your joists.

  5. Apply handrails. Attached vertical posts to the ramp base. Then, add the handrail parallel to the ramp.

  6. Add non-slip precautions. To increase ramp traction, use non-slip paint or coating. 

  7. Inspect and review. Test the stability of each ramp component and ensure you’ve met all the necessary safety regulations.


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