Wheelchair Accessible Ramps

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

We’ve decided to host the family Easter every year. I guess it’s time that we admitted that we’re adults and can host every year. Besides, our house is centrally located amongst the family, so it just makes sense that we take a holiday regularly. 

That being said, we know we have a few things to do. Like we’ve always borrowed the wheelchair ramps for our Aunty from Dan’s dad. The ramps don’t quite fit our house, but they came close. Well, if we’re going to host on a regular basis, maybe we should have our own wheelchair accessible ramps. And besides that, some of the family members have mobility issues so having ramps rather than two large steps just makes sense for several reasons.

Dan, being the awesome DIYer that he is, set forth to make us custom ramps. Ones that will not have a little gap at the top that Aunty has to bump over as she comes in the house. Ones that we won’t have to push back into place after several people have walked on it. Ones that fit our space.

He made diagrams and drawings. He did his Americans with Disabilities (ADA) research. And, he found out that the slope for public access & walking elderly rise to run ratio is 1:12 per the ADA recommendations. That’s a fancy way of saying that for every 1-inch of height, it should be 1-foot (or 12 inches) in length.

Make sure to account for the thickness of the plywood top when making your risers. The tall end of the risers will have to account for that thickness so that they aren’t too high once you put them in the doorway. And, if you get a piece of wood that’s longer than you need for your supports, you can cut two supports from one piece of wood, thus saving money. 

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

The under side of the ramp, showing the three main supports and the cross bracers

Notice in the picture above that the plywood top hangs over the side risers by 1-inch. Lumber can often be warped or simply not straight, so this overhang will allow the ramp to still look straight.

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

Here’s another shot of the underside. I stood this ramp up to paint it so that I could take a little posture break. This picture also gives you a good idea of how the cross bracers become handles when you need to move the ramp. Just pick it up from the back, and you’re all set.

He attached the cross braces to the center support first. Then attached the outside supports to the cross bracers. You’ll need to use different length screws as you attach the supports to the plywood top (longer at the top of the ramp and shorter at the bottom of the ramp). Also, you’ll want to measure the last point where you can use a screw to attach the supports (you don’t want to go all the way through the ramp and supports).

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

Detail shot of the cross bracers. They’re offset so he could screw each cross bracers into the main supports.

The cross bracers all need to be exactly the same length. Dan set up a stop to cut them exactly. It doesn’t matter what their length is, just that they are all the same. If one cross bracer is a little longer, it’ll cause the whole thing to warp, making the project difficult to put together.

DIY Wheelchair Ramps  |  Life Currents   http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

He even routered the edge of the ramps so that they are more easily accessed by a wheelchair, and this helps to make sure it doesn’t split and break.

After he finished building the ramps I told him I wanted to put some of those non-skid things on it, maybe even some sort of reflective tape on it. You know, safety first! After laughing at my over-protectiveness, he said he’d be ok with it if I painted them with Deckover from Behr. It conceals cracks and splinters, and creates a slip-resistant finish that resists cracking and peeling. Ok, I get that slip resistance that I was hoping for, and you can get lots of different colors.They have a video here as well.

This was my first time using this kind of paint, and I thought it was great. It was a really thick paint, but it went on easily and stuck to the ramp very well. It dried pretty quickly, so multiple coats didn’t take too long to do. I ended up doing 3 coats over the ramps. I wanted to make sure it was thick and well covered.

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

Ramps are all painted, even the undersides

After I painted them we left them out overnight and there was some spotting from the evening’s moisture. I took the hose to the spot, and it washed right off. No stained spots!

The one thing we would do differently is that he would’ve puttied in the screw holes on top of the ramp before I painted them. We thought the paint would’ve filled in the spaces, but you can still see the screw holes.

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

And, just look at how perfectly the ramp lines up with the door. No bumping up over the threshold to get in.

DIY Wheelchair Accessible Ramps  |  Life Currents  http://lifecurrents.dw2.net

The two finished ramps leading up to our door. Nice! Thanks so much, Dan!


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  1. Dave says

    Awesome job. They look great and hopefully this will enable others to build the same thing for their family members.

  2. says

    Awww, thanks Teri! I think it’ll be great for her, and I won’t have to worry about those old ones falling over! :) I can’t wait to see everyone!

  3. says

    Thanks Dave! And, like I told Maria, I think they’ll be great even for people who are walking, but with difficulty. And, it’ll only take us a couple minutes to put them out! :)

  4. says

    Great job! We had ramps all over our house for my dad, who was in a wheelchair, paralyzed. Just putting the ramps in the front and back of the house gave him so much independence.

  5. Louise says

    These are great but I need to be able to get up four steps to my deck to my door. Any suggestions on a ramp for this? I will be having hip replacement surgery soon and need to get this done.

  6. kim mims says

    WOW,will be moving in 1 month and will have to show this to my 16 y.o.to make 2 of these for my small aging blind dogs but I know she’ll sidings on them. Thank you.

  7. says

    Kim, these would be great for doggies as well! Sides would be good for them so they don’t fall off. Such a great way to use the ramps! Thanks! :)

  8. says

    Dan did a terrific job! We haven’t had to do this yet; but if we do, I know my husband could do it with this tutorial. Thanks for linking up with the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board!


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