If you or someone you know has mobility issues, building a wooden ramp over stairs can make a huge difference in accessibility. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to create a sturdy, safe ramp that can be used by wheelchair users, people with walkers, and anyone else who needs assistance navigating steps.
Step 1: Measure the Space
Before you begin building your ramp, it’s important to measure the space where it will be installed. Measure the height of the steps and the distance from the top of the steps to the ground. You’ll also need to measure the width of the steps, as this will determine the width of your ramp.
Step 2: Choose Your Materials
When building a wooden ramp, it’s important to choose materials that are sturdy and weather-resistant. Pressure-treated lumber is a popular choice, as it’s strong and can withstand the elements. You’ll also need screws, bolts, and other hardware to secure the ramp to the steps.
Step 3: Design Your Ramp
Once you have your measurements and materials, it’s time to design your ramp. You’ll need to decide on the slope of the ramp, which should be no steeper than 1:12 (one inch of rise for every 12 inches of run). You’ll also need to determine the length of the ramp and any landings that may be necessary.
Step 4: Prepare the Area
Before you begin building, you’ll need to prepare the area where the ramp will be installed. This may involve clearing away any debris or vegetation, leveling the ground, and creating a base for the ramp using gravel or concrete.
Step 5: Build the Frame
With the area prepared, it’s time to start building the frame of the ramp. This will involve cutting and fitting the pressure-treated lumber to create the frame of the ramp. Be sure to use screws or bolts to secure the frame to the steps.
Step 6: Install the Decking
Once the frame is in place, you can begin installing the decking. This is the surface on which people will walk or roll, so it’s important to choose a material that is slip-resistant and durable. Pressure-treated lumber is a good choice, but you may also want to consider composite decking or other materials.
Step 7: Add Handrails
Handrails are an important safety feature for any ramp. They can provide stability and support for people as they navigate the ramp. You’ll need to install handrails on both sides of the ramp, and they should be at a height of between 34 and 38 inches.
Step 8: Install the Ramp
With the frame, decking, and handrails in place, it’s time to install the ramp. This may involve securing it to the steps using bolts or screws. Be sure to check that the ramp is level and stable before allowing anyone to use it.
Step 9: Finish the Ramp
Once the ramp is installed, you may want to add some finishing touches. This could include painting or staining the wood to protect it from the elements, or adding non-slip treads to the decking to improve traction.
Q. Do I need a building permit to build a ramp?
A. It depends on your local building codes. Be sure to check with your city or county building department to find out if you need a permit.
Q. How wide should the ramp be?
A. The ramp should be at least 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair. However, you may want to make it wider if you have space.
Q. How long should the ramp be?
A. The length of the ramp will depend on the height of the stairs. As a general rule, for every inch of height, the ramp should be one foot long.
Q. How do I make sure the ramp is safe?
A. It’s important to follow building codes and guidelines for the slope and width of the ramp, as well as the height and spacing of the handrails. You should also use materials that are sturdy and weather-resistant, and make sure the ramp is level and stable.
Q. Can I build a ramp myself, or do I need to hire a professional?
A. It’s possible to build a ramp yourself, but it’s important to have some basic carpentry skills and knowledge of building codes. If you’re not comfortable with DIY projects, or if you have a complex situation (such as multiple levels), you may want to hire a professional.
Building a wooden ramp over steps can be a great way to improve accessibility and make life easier for people with mobility issues. By following these steps and guidelines, you can create a safe, sturdy ramp that will last for years to come.