Many homes normally have a few exterior steps, but those steps can become challenging for an individual who is mobility-challenged. Adding in a wheelchair ramp could make it easier for a wheelchair-bound family member or a frequent visitor.
Building a wheelchair ramp at home might seem like a challenging task but with the right tools and instructions, you can create a safe ramp outside and even inside the house to allow your loved one to lead an independent lifestyle.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you with building a wheelchair ramp at home.
Things to Consider Before Starting
The materials you would need would be dependent on your personal preferences. Ramps need to be stable and strong to ensure the safety of people, which is why you need to use slip-resistant and firm materials that are also weather resistant. The tools and materials used in this guide are highlighted below.
Composite materials that are low maintenance are an ideal choice, along with durable handrail materials. While all ramps don’t require handrails but they are a must if the ramp rises more than 6 inches or is a minimum of 72 inches long.
Be sure to install handrails on both sides of the ramp for enhanced safety. There must be at least 1 inch space between any wall or a solid surface and the handrail. If the ramp you are adding is more than 30 inches from the surface level, you must add in spindles and crutch stops to prevent the wheelchair from slipping off the ramp.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Plumb Bob
- Post Hole Digger
- Line Level
- Ratchet Sockets
- Circular Saw
- 4-ft level
- Framing Square
- Chalk Line
- Drill or Driver With Bits
- Hand Saw
- Eye Protection
- Work Gloves
- Cord or Mason Line
- Joist Hangers
- Concrete Mix
- Galvanized Deck Screws – 2-1/2-in
- Galvanized Deck Screws – 2-in
- Lag Screws – 3/8-in x 4-in
- Carriage Bolts – 1/2-in x 6-in
- Carriage Bolts – 1/2-in x 7-in
- Standoff Post Base
- Composite Deck Board
- Pressure-Treated Lumber – 2-in x 4-in
- Pressure-Treated Lumber – 2-in x 6-in
- Pressure-Treated Lumber – 4-in x 4-in
Step By Step Guide For Building A Wheelchair Ramp At Home
The main thing you need to keep in mind before you start this DIY project is to get all the measurements right and use high quality materials. This would greatly impact the safety of the ramp you build. Keep in mind that the steps highlighted here are for the general procedure of building a wheelchair ramp at home and might differ based on the needs and requirements of your project.
Here are the major steps you need to follow to build a ramp.
Step 1: Deciding The Location
Certain factors must be considered when planning this project, including:
- The entry point of your home you want to install the ramp. Be sure to take into consideration other elements, like porch, platforms, stairs, and width of the door, to determine whether a ramp can be easily accommodated.
- The space available and whether there are any obstacles in the way that you might have to remove, like a tree or walkway. This will indicate if there needs to be a specific shape the ramp needs to be in.
- Moreover, you must also consult the specific area building codes in your area that must be followed.
Step 2: Figuring Out the Ramp’s Length
Once the location of the ramp has been finalized, you can determine the measurement. Start by measuring the height of the deck, porch, or whatever the upper landing is to the surface level. Once you have the number, you can calculate the length of the ramp.
Step 3: Deciding the Ramp’s Shape
Once you know the total length of the ramp needed, you can determine the right configuration that could work for your home. If the total height of the porch from the ground level is 24 inches, you will need a ramp that measures 24 feet.
Such a ramp could be built in a U-shape or L-shape with a landing. The lengths and configuration of the ramp would be specific to your home and the area where you are building a wheelchair ramp at home.
Step 4: Measuring the Landing
Start measuring the upper landing platform by using a reference nail on both corners of the landing. The minimum landing size should be 60 inches long. Use batter boards that are 7 feet in measurement from here you place the reference nails. Use a mason cord to check the square and mark the right spot.
fix a line level to the mason cord and adjust the string to level it. You would have achieved the level line. Use the same method to measure the other side of the landing platform.
Step 5: Adjusting the Batter Boards
Let’s assume the landing platform is 60 inch, measure around 58 1/4 inches along with the cords from the wall on both sides of the platform and mark them. Place the batter boards 2 feet outside the layout lines.
Step 6: Marking Your Ground
You would have achieved three level and squared lines. Use stakes to mark the ground where these lines meet where you will add in the footings.
Step 7: Adding in The Footings
Place the footings in a way that they are beneath the frost line. It is important to check the building codes of your areas as they will give you the required shape, diameter, and depth of the footings.
Step 8: Pouring Concrete
Once the footings have been installed, it is time to add in the concrete. A tabular concrete form is recommended here or you can also directly pour the solution into the holes.
Step 9: Finding Post Centers
Once you have filled in all the holes with concrete and smoothened the top, mason cords can be replaced and a plump bob can be used to find the centers. You can now add in the J-bolts into the wet concrete.
Be sure to leave around 3/4 inches from the threaded portion where the center of posts would be. Let the concrete set.
Step 10: Getting Post Anchor Secured
When the concrete hardens, use a washer and nut to fasten the metal post anchor to J-bolt. You can do this by placing the post in the post anchor, plumbing it using a 4-foot level, and fastening it to the post anchor with fasteners.
Step 11: Constructing Other Sections
Use the run and slope you had determined and continue following the above-mentioned steps to continue the ramp, create another platform, or place posts. Another crucial thing about building a wheelchair ramp at home is to continuously check the measurements before adding another platform or other installations.
Step 12: Installation of Joists, Decking, And Railing
Use 16d nails and joist hangers to attach the joists. You can enhance the stability by adding cross-braces after 4 feet. Keep in mind if the ramp is longer, you would need to add in more support. Once the joists are installed, you can move on to the decking.
Make sure to screw down the decking material to the joists to avoid the risk of boards eventually lifting. Composite material can reduce maintenance and enhance durability. Make sure to follow the installation guidelines of the manufacturer when installing the decking.
Utilize the corner posts to structural support for the railing post and other ramp surfaces. It is important to check the local building codes and requirements to avoid any issues. You can get the specific requirements from the municipal building codes. Railings can be installed according to the recommended instructions of the manufacturer.
Keep in mind the sections of railings must not exceed 8 feet. If the ramp exceeds this measurement, center the middle posts throughout the edges for better stability.
Step 13: Building the Landing
Build a landing at the end of the ramp using the same materials or concrete. The size of the landing platform must be as wide as the ramp and should be at least 60 inches long.
These are the steps you have to follow to successfully build a ramp in your house to make it easier for a wheelchair bound individual to navigate in and out of the house.
Building a wheelchair ramp at home is not an easy feat. Keep in mind that your local building authorities get the final say on the specifications and designs. Therefore, get the design and relevant permits approved before you actually start building the ramp; otherwise, you will end up redoing the work, costing you money, time, and effort.
The wheelchair ramp must be stable and secure to ensure the safety of your loved ones. Therefore, if you are unsure how to build the ramp or don’t have the necessary skills, consult a professional.
Moreover, also consider the specific needs of your house and of your area when planning the design. Take time during the planning process to make sure you create a safe ramp.