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How to Build a Wheelchair Ramp

Wheelchair Ramp Building Process

The type of ramp you build and the materials you use dictate how you build the ramp. In this section, we'll learn the general process for building a wooden ramp for a private home. Before we get started, though, keep the following things in mind:

  • Electric wheelchairs can be very heavy; therefore, you must use 2-by-6 lumber frameworks
  • Nails work their way back out of wood decking, causing a hazard. Use screws instead of nails
  • Exterior grade plywood should be used on decks, unless you are using a better material
  • All wood will need to be treated with a varnish or sealer to prevent rot [source: Young]

Generally, it is easier to build a ramp in sections, or modules. Starting with the doorway/landing section, you will attach each section one at a time, ensuring they are installed at the correct slope. Attach your first section to the house with concrete anchor bolts. Install your support posts at the far end of the first section [source: DallasRamps].

After making sure the slope ratio is correct, lay out the second section. Again, place support posts at the far end, double-checking your slope, and then bolt the sections together. Do this with each section until complete [source: DallasRamps].

The last section will have a beveled transition from ramp to surface. This transition will prevent wheels from getting caught where the ramp ends and the surface begins. It will also prevent wheelchair users from feeling a big bump when they come off the ramp [source: NewDisability].

Wheelchair ramps that follow ADA guidelines and are well-constructed can be helpful for pedestrians too. For more information about wheelchair ramps, check out the links on the next page.