How to Build a Temporary Wheelchair Ramp

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.
Here is a video along with instructions on how to build a temporary wheelchair ramp.


There are several different ways to build a wheelchair ramp.  The above video demonstrates how to build a temporary wheelchair ramp.  When building a temporary wheelchair ramp you'll need pressurized lumber:
  • 2'x 6' joists, spaced 16" on center.
  • The ramp will need to be 4' wide.
  • 4'x 4' posts.
  • Posts need to be 5'-7' on center.
  • The railing will need to have posts no more than 7' apart.
  • The railing will need to have kneeboard and a handrail.
  •  5 quarter inch decking.
  • 2"-2 1/2" ribbed nails, these make the ramp easy to repair when boards warp or split.

Approximate materials cost:  $8.00 per square foot.

No plywood it requires tons 'o screws to prevent warping.  Also screws when counter sunk are difficult to remove if a board needs to be replaced.

When installing posts, dig down past the frost line then put in brick or paver and tamp down.  Put in post and back fill.  Temporary ramps don't require 36"-42" deep installation or concrete.

All ramps require the following:
  • Built to code (another blog post.)

    • 1:12 slope
    • 5’x 5’ landing platform at top of ramp.
    • 5’x 5’ landing platform at bottom of ramp.
    • Minimum 3’ wide, 4’ wide works better and is easier to cut boards, less waste.
    • No more than 32’ feet of run without a 4’x 4’ resting platform.
    • Inspection.
    • Solid, level landing area, either a 5' x 5' paver landing area or a solid concrete landing area.
    • Landing area needs to be flush with the earth and have an accessible means of egress such as a driveway or a sidewalk that it butts up to flush.
    • Ramps require a wood or aluminum transition piece from the ramp to the landing platform so there is no 'lip' for the wheelchair user to go over.
    • If a ramp is temporary it cannot be screwed or bolted to the house. 
    • Ramps for people over 300 pounds or that need extra stability may require cross bracing. 
    • The railings must be a minimum of 36" high with a knee board and a top board to mount a handrail.
    • Do not install ramp under drip edge of roof it will cause ice build-up and the ramp to rot.
    • Ramps need a skid resistant surface such as textured anti-slip paint, or traction strips. 

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