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Building Wheelchair Ramps

Rohit Bandri Oct 29, 2018
Building a wheelchair ramp in the house or on the approach road can make life a lot easier for those who are bound to a wheelchair. Let's see a step-by-step process of building a wheelchair ramp.
The staircase is a huge hindrance for wheelchair bound individuals. They need other people to lift them from one place to another in order to tackle the staircase. This not only makes them dependent on others but also hurts their self-esteem. By building a wheelchair ramp, we can help these restricted people to a large extent.

Procedure for Building Wheelchair Ramp

This procedure adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandates.
In some cities, a permit is required to build wheelchair ramps. Contact the local authorities to check if you need one.

Length of the Ramp

First define the length of the ramp. For every 12 inches of the length of the ramp, the downwards slope should not be more than 1 inch. Calculate the height of the place that the ramp will be leading to, in inches. Multiply this number by 12. The result will give you the minimum length of the ramp to be built.
You cannot build a ramp shorter than this length. Exceeding this length is however, allowed. While building wheelchair ramps, always ensure that the ramp leads to the driveway or a sidewalk to facilitate the person sitting on the wheelchair an easy access. Decide in advance, the entry and exit points for the ramp.

Chalk It Out

Mark the length and width of the area where you will be building the wheelchair ramp. Use a snap chalk to do the markings. The width of the ramp should ideally be about 45 inches, although, 36 inches is the minimum requirement.

Mark the Sites for Posts

Mark the places on the line where the posts supporting the ramp will be erected. The posts on the same sides should be separated by 48 inches from its neighbor and they should be present on either side of the ramp. Deep holes (24 inches) should be dug at the places marked for the posts.

Fix the Posts

Now cut posts that are long enough to be 24 inches below the ground level, then reach the ramp and stick 36 inches above the surface of ramp. Because the ramp is sloping, length of the posts changes as the distance from the ground to the surface of the ramp changes.
Use two by four boards to erect the posts and pour concrete into the space around the posts to fix them. Make sure the erected posts are perpendicular to the ground.


Next step is to determine the positions of the sideboards to be attached. Starting with the post at the high-end of the ramp. Mark the spot on the post that is at the same level with the surface to which the ramp planned to meet.
At 2.75 inches below this level, make another marking on the inside and outside the posts on the both the side to accommodate the space that will be consumed by the thickness of the flooring. Make points on each post, just a little bit below the mark on the previous one.
This step creates the one-inch slope that was discussed in step 1. If this process is properly followed, you will have marks on each posts that are four inches below the mark on the previous post.

Fix the Sideboards

Now use two-by-four inches stud sideboards and connect them to the posts such that there is one side board on either side of each post. Drive a single nail through the sideboards and the post to attach them to each other.
Use only a single nail at this stage, so that you can do adjustments later on if required, after nailing the other sideboards. In the end, ensure that at least 2 to 3 nails have been hammered into each side board to attach it strongly to the posts. Safety is of utmost importance.

Fix the Joists

This time use two-by-four inches studs to create floor joists. The length of the joists should be enough to extend from one side of the ramp to the other side. Placing the boards horizontally across the top of the sideboards, nail them appropriately.
These joists should be placed such that they are located at every 24 to 36 inches down the length of the ramp. These joists should also be present at each end of the ramp and at every edge.

Plywood or Deck Board

Using a circular saw, start cutting plywood or deck board pieces for building the floor of the wheelchair ramp. Cut the pieces to length and nail them in the joists using shorter nails. Place multiple nails in each joist so as to avoid the creaking of wood.

Side Rails

This step includes building the side rails. The posts must be installed in the ground such that their length extends about 36 inches over the surface of the ramp. Boards of size one by four are then attached to the posts by appropriately nailing them to it. Thus, the side rails are built.
Wheelchair ramp building is therefore, an intricate task but it is worth the effort. The procedure explained here is the most common one for building wheelchair ramps. However, you might have to do some modifications to this procedure depending on the location, where the ramp is to be built.
Modifications may also be needed if the ramp is to be built indoors. But, under no circumstances should the safety measures be compromised while building it. Hope this information helps you bring smiles on many faces.