Whether someone in your family unexpectedly becomes wheelchair-bound or you would like to make your home more accessible for elderly family members, installing a wheelchair ramp is a great way to go. With the right preparations and materials, building your own wheelchair ramp is relatively easy. Before you begin building, select the best location for your ramp where it will provide easy access to the house but not impede access to sidewalks. For the best results, choose a side door or back door as a site for installing a wheelchair ramp.
Measure the height difference between the doorframe or landing and the ground in order to determine the length of your ramp. Wheelchair ramp safety standards dictate that every 1 inch of rise requires 12 inches of ramp. Use this formula to determine the length of your ramp. For example, if the landing is 8 inches off the ground, your ramp will need to be 96 inches, or 8 feet, long.
Cut three lengths of pressure-treated wood board to the length determined in Step 1 with a jigsaw or hand-held circular saw. The boards should be at least 2 inches thick and the width should be equal to the height difference between the landing and the ground.
Create a slope on the three boards by cutting along the length of the board at an angle. One end of each board should be equal to the height of the landing and it should slope down to a point at ground level.
Determine the desired width for your ramp and cut two pieces of pressure-treated 2-by-4 wood to that length. The width of the ramp should be no less than 36 inches and it can be wider, depending on the width of the doorframe or landing.
Line the three angled pieces up on a completely flat surface so the distance between the outer two is equal to the desired width for your ramp and the third piece is spaced equally in between. These will become your ramp supports.
Lay one of the two lengths of 2-by-4 wood upright on the ground, lining it up with the vertical edge of the angled ramp supports. Secure the board in place with galvanised roofing nails from a nail gun. Align the other length of 2-by-4 with the top edge of the ramp supports and nail it in place.
Attach the ramp frame directly to the landing. Line the frame up with the landing or doorframe and secure it in place with galvanised roofing nails through the two horizontal braces.
Install wooden cross braces between the ramp supports for added stability. Measure between the inside edges of the ramp supports and cut four pieces of 1-by-4-inch pressure-treated wood to that length. Insert two cross braces between the ramp supports about halfway down the length of the ramp and secure them with the nail gun. Install the other two braces about 6 inches from the end of the ramp or wherever the ramp supports are just over 1 inch off the ground.
Cover the ramp with pressure-treated deck planks set horizontally on the ramp. Lay the first deck plank perpendicular to the ramp at the very top, flush with the doorframe or landing. Secure the plank in place with galvanised roofing nails through the three ramp supports.
Install the rest of the deck planks until the entire ramp is covered. There should be no space between the planks and, if the angle of the slope is even, the surface of the ramp should slope smoothly down to the ground. Trim away any excess wood on either side of the ramp with a jigsaw or hand-held circular saw.
If your ramp is more than 6 inches off the ground, you may choose to install a railing for added safety. To install a railing, sink 4-by-4-inch posts in concrete on either side of the ramp at 18-inch intervals. Trim the posts to the appropriate height and top them with 2-by-4-inch pressure-treated boards.
Wheelchair.ca recommends that no singular section of a wheelchair ramp exceed 30 feet in length. If there is more than a 30-inch difference between the height of your top step and the ground, you will need to divide your ramp into two or more sections with a landing in between as a resting place.