Building a basic outdoor wooden ramp is a great way to add a new level of accessibility to your home. Not only can a ramp help elderly and disabled individuals enter your home with ease, but it can also make your entryway safer when the weather turns bad. While wooden ramps can be expensive to purchase and have installed by professionals, building one yourself is relatively inexpensive and hassle-free. In fact, by following the steps below, you can build a basic wooden ramp on the outside of your home in no time.
Step 1 - Plan Your Design
The first step in building a basic wooden ramp is to make some building plans. In particular, the most important thing to determine is the slope that will be needed to build the ramp. In general, for every inch of height, one foot of length will be needed for the ramp. For example, if the steps to your home are 12 inches in height, then your ramp will need to be at least 12 feet long. This will help make the slope a manageable angle for wheel chair accessibility. This measurement will vary depending on the height of the stairs. Additionally, it is always a good idea to check with your local government to see if you need a building permit as some localities may require one.
Step 2 - Acquire Your Materials
After you determine how long your ramp needs to be, you can then start to draw plans for the ramp. Depending on the needs and length of your ramp, the amount of lumber you need will vary. Basically, the 2x4s will be used to construct the frame of the ramp, the 2x6s will make up the rise of the ramp, while the plywood will serve as the top.
Step 3 - Cut the Frame Pieces
After you have purchased the necessary lumber, you can start by cutting out the pieces for the frame. The frame should be significantly larger than the width of the doorway and will need to accommodate a full sized wheel chair. With that in mind, simply cut the 2x4s to the appropriate length and assemble into a frame with the wood screws. Once the frame is constructed, attach cross beams for extra support. As a rule of thumb, one cross beam should be used for every 16 inches of lumber.
Step 4 - Attach the Frame to the House
After the frame is completed, you will need to attach it to the side of the house. This will help to ensure that the ramp is kept securely in place while people use it. You can add a few spacers under each corner of the frame in order keep the frame from contacting the ground directly.
Step 5 - Cut the Ramp Pieces
With the frame firmly attached to the house, the last step is to build a ramp that attaches to the frame. This is where your slope calculations will come in handy. Use these calculations to determine the length of the ramp. After this is done, simply cut three of the 2x6s to the appropriate length. Then, you will need to cut each piece to an angle that tapers all the way down on one end to form a proper ramp.
Step 6 - Attach the 2x4s
Now that the main pieces to the ramp have been successfully cut, connect the pieces together using 2x4s. Again, the width of the ramp should be enough to accommodate a wheel chair, and remember, the more room the better. Once you have cut the 2x4s to the appropriate length, screw them in as cross beams to make one solid ramp.
Step 7 - Attach the Ramp to the Frame
The only thing left to do is attach the ramp to the frame with wood screws. Once this is done, you can cover the frame and ramp with the plywood. If the plywood proves to be slippery, then you can always add a few rubber mats for better traction. Additionally, it's a good idea to use pressure treated lumber for pieces that will be making contact with the ground as this type of wood will hold up better in the weather. Also, consider adding a few rails to the ramp that will prevent anyone from toppling over the side.