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How-To Guide

How to Build a Handicap Ramp

 Posted on: April 11th, 2022

How to Build a Handicap Ramp

Whether you or a loved one are aging, recovering from an illness or are living with a disability, accessibility to your home is an absolute must-have. Wheelchair ramps come in all shapes and sizes, which can make it overwhelming to decide what type of ramp is best for your unique situation. Before you start considering whether it makes more sense to build your own ramp or purchase a manufactured one, we recommend reading How to Choose a Wheelchair Ramp so that you know exactly what you’ll need for your space and can make an informed decision.

If you’re leaning towards building your own wooden handicap ramp, read the difference between wooden and aluminum wheelchair ramps because there are many factors that might influence which one will work for you, including whether you need to pour footings, whether you need a permanent or temporary installation, what maintenance will be required, etc.

Roll-Tek Modular Ramp in use
Roll-Tek Modular Ramp in use
Roll-Tek Modular Ramp in use

Reasons to Go with a Manufactured, Modular Aluminum Ramp

Although the sticker price can come as a shock to many people, aluminum mobility ramps have many benefits over building a DIY ramp.


Aluminum ramps are engineered to strict safety standards and have multiple safety features such as:

  • Handrails
  • Side rails to prevent roll-offs
  • Extruded traction or grit-coat traction to prevent slipping
  • Weight capacity ratings that are rigorously tested, anywhere from 600 lbs. to 1,000 lbs.
  • ADA-compliance (altogether not required for personal residences, it means you won’t have to worry about a ramp that’s too steep or not quite accessible enough)
 Watch our video on Silver Spring Mobility Ramps


As a building material, wood is known to degrade over time and be prone to insect damage, rot, mold, and weathering. To combat this, it needs to be treated and often painted or stained seasonally to keep moisture from soaking in. Aluminum has the benefit of little to no maintenance, and the impermeability of the metal means no bug, moisture or damage from the elements.


Because of the professional engineering that goes into an aluminum ramp, you can the peace of mind knowing that you get the quality you pay for.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

Unlike a DIY ramp, aluminum ramps will carry a warranty ensuring against defects in workmanship or other unexpected issues. Depending on the company, one-year or limited lifetime warranties are the most common. Knowing that issues will be handled by professionals adds to peace of mind, especially since they stand behind their products.

Temporary Use

Depending on the situation, such as post-surgery or after a long illness, you may only need a ramp for a few weeks or months. A portable aluminum wheelchair ramp might be a better solution because it doesn’t require permanent mounting, and with the cost of lumber it could also be a cheaper, less time-intensive way of increasing access.

How to Build a Wheelchair Ramp out of Wood

Disclaimer: This step by step guide is intended to give you a generalized overview of the process to build a homemade wooden wheelchair ramp. Because ramp needs differ based on the individual and the location, please ensure you take accurate measurements and/or differ to a professional if needed to ensure that the ramp is built as safely as possible and to the specifications you require.


  • Belt sander
  • Level
  • Framing nailer (nail gun)
  • Power drill
  • Circular saw
  • Chop saw
  • Masonry bit
  • Galvanized roofing nails (necessary to withstand harsh weather)
  • Shims
  • Pressure-treated wood boards (varies by the size of your project, also pressure-treated wood is absolutely necessary if the ramp is to be used outdoors)


Cut Frame Pieces

Keep in mind that the ADA says any platform (think of a landing on a ramp or staircase) needs to be at least 5’x5’. This size is required because it allows wheelchairs to easily and safely turn around if they need to. Use your chop saw to cut the pieces to the appropriate sizes. Getting all of your wood cut at this stage (doublecheck and trust all of your measurements!) gives you the chance to save quite a bit of time later in the process.

Create the Frame

Your ramp’s frame should be thought of as a “skeleton” upon which the boards will be laid that will actually support your weight. Build this part carefully, as it will set the tone for the rest of the project, and don’t forget to add cross joists for additional stability.

Create the Frame

Place the Frame

Once you’ve completed building the frame, add it flush along the edge of the doorway and make sure that it’s level in all directions. Again, don’t forget that anything you do early on will affect the rest of the project, so make sure that everything is squared away. If things are out of level, simply add some shims here and there until everything is straight. This can frequently involve a degree of trial and error but trust your level to point you in the right direction.

Attach Frame to Building

Now is the time to break out your framing nailer. Attach the ramp to the house using a nail about every 8 inches to ensure that you have a suitable amount of support and strength.

Add Ramp Supports

This next part is tricky; you need to use your saw to cut angled pieces of wood that are going to make up the actual ramp. These are difficult cuts, as they need to be angled down to a point to allow for an angle to form. Once you’ve cut three of these, attach them to the side of the landing frame.

Add Ramp Supports

Add the Deck Planks

Finally, use additional boards to start building the actual deck surface. Use the framing nailer to attach these boards to the frame. It’s okay if there’s some overhang. Once they’re all attached, go back through with the circular saw and trim off all of the excess wood from deck planks that’s hanging over the edges, and you’re done!

Finally, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to build your own wooden mobility ramp versus purchasing a manufactured option, reach out to an experienced professional! We would love to assist you with identifying your ramp needs and can offer you a selection of ramp styles to help you make an informed decision about what’s right for you.