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DIY Wheelchair Ramp Installation Tips

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

A wheelchair ramp is essential for people who struggle using the stairs such as seniors or recovering patients using a walker, those who use a personal scooter or wheelchair bound individuals. Adding a wheelchair ramp can make your home even more accessible to those who can’t use the stairs. Thinking of installing a wheelchair ramp in your home? Consider these installation directions and tips:

Installing a Wheelchair Ramp

Usually, installation of wheelchair ramps is best left to the professionals but this can be done by DIY-ers too. Our advice is to check the building codes in your area first before going ahead with the project. Below are tips to help you install the ramp properly:

Slope Ratio

The wheelchair ramps must have a maximum slope ratio of 1:12. This means each foot of elevation should be 12 feet. However, if you want a gentler slope, adjust to 1:14 or 1:16. A gentler slope is best for individuals who struggle with steep slopes. You can also opt to build a concrete ramp especially if you have an aging, disabled individual at home.

Leveling the Ramp

It’s equally important to keep a level area on the top and bottom of the slope. If say, you do not have  a porch at the top of the ramp, a platform must be placed over the steps of the front door to avoid any accident. The platform can be either a turning platform or a straight one.

Cramped Spaces and Hand Rails

If say, the room for installing the ramp is cramped, you may have to build cross runs from side to side. And if the ramp has an elevation of at least six inches or it features a horizontal projection that’s beyond 72 inches, you have to install additional handrails on both sides to prevent any accident. Also, the handrail must be mounted between 30 to 34 inches above the ramp.

Ideally, the ramps have to be at least 36 inches in width to allow maneuverability. However, a 44 to 48-inch width is best for ramps with handrails installed inside it.

General Guidelines for Residential Wheelchair Ramps

Checking Your Area’s Codes and Restrictions

While the codes and guideline for building ramps in residential areas are not as strict as those imposed on public areas, you still need to check structural guidelines in your local area. This is the only way to build a ramp that’s acceptable as per the standard of your community.

No Skid Surfaces

It’s imperative to build ramps with non-skid surfaces to reduce the chances of an accident. If the ramp is built outdoors, it should be placed in areas where water cannot reach it and create a slippery slope. Consider the height and position of the hand railings for extra safety and protection. If the ramp is installed directly in an entry way – like a door – check the direction in which the door swings. You’ll have to alter the direction in which the door swing so it does not crash with the ramp.

Maintenance and Safety

A poorly-maintained wheelchair ramp can turn to a safety hazard so make sure to care for the ramp. If you installed a wooden ramp, check for weak spots or boards that need replacing. You’ll have to repaint and re-seal the wooden ramp regularly to protect the wood from decay.

Old ramps must be fitted with non-skid surfaces to prevent accidents and improve stability. The metal handrails must be re-welded if needed.


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