how to build a wheelchair ramp with plywood

How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp With Plywood

You’re probably wondering how to create a wheelchair wood ramp.

If you have a disabled family member or close friend, building an adequately sloped wheelchair shed ramp outside your front door can make a big difference in the long run.

Your mobility-impaired loved one will feel more welcomed the next time he or she visits your home, giving you a sense of accomplishment and affection at the same time.

Learn the fundamentals of rules, safety, and materials, as well as how to construct a solid and lasting handicap ramp that will last for many years.

In most cases, hiring a professional to build a modular ramp or a concrete ramp is the best solution.

However, individuals with a thorough understanding of basic construction concepts, may be able to do it alone.

This is how you can build the mentioned wooden ramp.

How to build a wheelchair ramp with plywood?
How to build a wheelchair ramp with plywood?

Planning The Ramp

Before beginning the actual installation of the wooden ramp, you must thoroughly execute the planning process, which includes everything from conforming to local zoning laws to identifying the primary users.

Even if you know someone who walks with crutches or a walker, you should try to incorporate aspects that make their mobility easier.

Calculate the length of the ramp you’ll need to install, which is measured from its foot to the end that will make contact with the base of the property’s front door.

Tools Needed

Because of your lack of competence in the industry, you must invest in professional-grade equipment and tools to reduce the possibility of collateral damage.

The following are some fundamental components that you will require during the installation process:

  • Wooden board (the type of plywood you require for the task at hand)
  • Drilling machine
  • Screws and galvanized nails
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wooden brackets

How to Build a DIY Wheelchair Ramp

1. Determine the Height

The height of your entryway is the most important number you need to know.

In my instance, this should be 31′′, which was much higher than most tutorial videos, which tended to be in the 16′′ – 24′′ range most of the time.

This is significant since the higher the entryway, the longer your ramp will have to be due to the slope.

2. Determine the Slope

The maximum allowable slope for assisted ramp usage, according to the ADA, is 9.5 degrees.

The maximum slope for a ramp built for someone who will need to utilize it on their own, unassisted, is 4.8 degrees.

3. Determine the Dimensions of the Ramp

Fortunately, all you need to determine the dimensions of a triangle are one side and an angle.

You had the dimensions you needed after specifying height A and the opposing angle – 9.5 in my example.

The ramp would need to be around sixteen feet long to descend from 31′′ at 9.5 degrees.

I was in the form of two ramps.

One ramp down to a platform, followed by a 90-degree ramp off that platform.

The first ramp would drop roughly 10 inches to a 40′′x40′′ platform 20′′, and the second ramp would pivot 90 degrees to drop that 20′′ to the floor.

Importantly, both heights have some wiggle room because I have to account for the thickness of the plywood sheeting.

On the ground, I basically recalculated my right triangle dimensions for 3/4′′ less than the initial height and built the ramps accordingly.

This allowed me to easily fit the sheets in.

4. Prepare a Cutlist

Unlike the right triangle, I have yet to come across an app that can generate a broad cutlist outside of specific, typical use cases like decks.

I used normal 2′′ dimensional lumber and 3/4′′ plywood.

I picked up 11 2 x 6’s, 3 sheets of 8’x4′ 3/4″ plywood, some 2 x 4’s in case I required a railing, and a single 8′ 4 x 4 for the platform legs, or so I thought.

The materials totaled slightly more than $200.

5. Build the Platform

I created the platform because I wasn’t sure of my angles yet and needed something to physically test from. 

It’s just a frame of 2×6’s around 4×4 legs.

6. Build the First Ramp

Build the First Ramp

Here’s where the angles come into play.

To link the platform to the doorway, I needed to know what angles to cut in the joists.

I then returned to my speed square. In my case, it’s 9.5 degrees.

This amounts to a 2″ rise every 12″.

Place the square on your lumber and pivot it “2” on the common scale.

Make a line and then cut to it.

Build the First Ramp

Once I had the angle process figured out, I calculated the platform’s distance from the entryway and secured the former to the back wall so it wouldn’t move.

Then I cut 2 x 6 segments to that angle and cut them to the necessary length before nailing them to the doorway and platform.

First Ramp

Make a mark at the same angle you’re cutting the rafter at – 2 and then connect a perpendicular line to that at whatever height you need to remove for it to seat.

7. Built the Second Ramp

Before I started the project, I was unsure about the angle of the joists that connect to the floor.

I understood the technique for determining a rafter angle-like cut as described above, but what about the components connecting to the floor?

As it turned out, this couldn’t be any easier: it’s the same angle as the rafters.

The only difference is that instead of pivoting on the joist’s long side, you pivot from its end, as shown.

Built the Second Ramp

As you can see, this provided me the lengthy angle I required to get the joists to sit properly on the floor.

Second Ramp

I installed some cross supports between the joists for more stability.

Finished Second Ramp

8. Sheath the Ramps and Platform

I’d prefer to cut my sheet products using a table saw if possible, but the cuts I wanted to make here surpassed its maximum fence depth, so that was out.

Instead, I used a handheld circular saw to cut everything freehand.

The work wasn’t great, but it didn’t have to be for this assignment as long as it was usable.

I worked from the doorway down, laying down the OSB as I went.

Another minor detail: I beveled the edge of the OSB where it met the floor to make it even easier to get a chair up on.

9. Install Edging

While the slope is gradual and ADA compliant, I would rather not be held liable for someone careening off a ramp I built, so I added 2 x 6’s around the ramp’s borders.

Angles were trimmed as needed using the same procedure explained in step 6.

Here’s the final result.

Install Edging

There are some rough spots, which I expect one person in particular to locate and point out, and I don’t think this will last forever.

However, as a temporary fix to address an acute requirement, it should suffice.

Rules and Safety Guidelines

As a first step, contact both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local authorities.

To install a ramp, you will most likely need to obtain a permit from the local building authority.

It may also be important for you to adhere to ADA guidelines.

Although not all states or towns enforce ADA standards for residential ramps, adhering to them will ensure that your ramp is safe for wheelchair users.

While the ADA requires ramps to be at least 36 inches wide, check local construction requirements as well, as some states need wider ramp widths.

It is also important to note that any ramp that rises more than 6 inches above the ground must have 36-inch-high handrails for safety.

Our Thoughts

The bottom line is that building a ramp is not difficult.

The only tough aspect is figuring out the angles, but once you do that with a speed square, it’s quite simple.

Some of the cuts, particularly the long cross grain cuts with a circular saw, were a pain in the ass, but the build isn’t overly complicated.

As previously said, the cost was in the $215 – $225 range, providing you don’t buy an extra sheet of OSB you don’t need.

Prices vary depending on the overall length of the ramp, the number of landings, the materials used (wood or aluminum), and whether you build it yourself or employ a contractor.

You may build one yourself for approximately $35 per lin. ft. in materials, or you can pay a ramp contractor to create one for you in a day or two for about $100 per lin. ft.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best material for a wheelchair ramp?

While all types of ramps have their pros and cons, an aluminum ramp is an appropriate choice for most permanent and temporary applications.

They are easy to install, low-maintenance, durable, and easy to remove or relocate. in addition, a qualified aluminum ramp provider is likely available in your area.

Does soaking wood make it easier to bend?

Steaming or soaking the wood in boiling water to soften it.

Saw-kerfing or grooving the back of the wood so it will bend easily without danger of splitting or cracking.

Depending on the thickness of the wood, this should be kept up for anywhere from one to three hours to make the wood fully pliable.

What plywood is used for skate ramps?

CDX, ACX, Burch, particle board, etc. we recommend using any type of smooth and sanded plywood.

Particle board is quite possibly the worst type of wood you could use!

A half pipe outdoors with plywood will need something such as Skatepaint to help protect the wood from rain/snow.

Can plywood be waterproofed?

Plywood is very receptive to waterproofing material.

The smooth finish is still porous enough on a micro level that the plywood will easily bond with sealers and paints.

This means plywood can still be used outdoors and in marine environments.

How do you make a homemade dog ramp?

Steps to make a DIY dog ramp:

Measure and cut the plywood.

Measure and cut the brass threshold.

Measure and cut the side trim pieces, then nail them in place.

Glue down the carpet and let dry.

Attach the metal threshold, add rubber feet, and you’re done!