How to Build a Simple Wheelchair Ramp

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It's not difficult to construct a simple wheelchair ramp with fill dirt and fine gravel. A ramp for use with a wheelchair must have a slope no more than 1 foot for every 12 feet, and the ramp must be at least 36 inches wide. Landings must be at least 5 feet by 5 feet and landings with a outward swinging door must be at least 5 feet by 6 ½ feet. You will need to have a landing made before starting this project if your ramp is coming down from an entrance to a house.

Things You'll Need

  • Fill dirt
  • Tamper
  • Fine gravel
  • Measure the starting point or high point's height and calculate how long your ramp needs to be. Hammer stakes on the sides the full length of the ramp, making sure that the stakes that are across from one another are at least 36 inches apart for the width of the ramp. Run string between the stakes to make an outline of the ramp.

  • Pile fill dirt in between the outline with a shovel. Slope the dirt away from your high point down to make a gentle slope away from it. Measure the height of the slope often to make sure it does not exceed 1 foot tall for every 12 feet long. Dampen fill dirt with water while piling to help settle the fill dirt, let it dry, then tamp it with a tamper. Repeat until desired height is achieved.

  • Let the ramp settle for a few days, then tamp with a tamper and adjust as needed with fill dirt. Let it settle if adjustments were needed. Tamp the surface with a tamper.

  • Lay a 1- to 2-inch layer of fine gravel on top of the dirt ramp. Tamp the surface down with a tamper. Test the ramp before using with a wheelchair.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add handrails connected to the ground and 32 inches above the ramp for ease of use.
  • Make sure ramp is sturdy before use.
  • Simple dirt ramps are not as hardy as concrete constructed or wooden ramps.
  • Ramps may require maintenance or reshaping due to rain washout.

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References

  • "Step By Step Landscaping"; Better Homes and Gardens; 2007
  • "The Complete Guide To Creative Landscapes"; Black and Decker; 2000
  • Photo Credit gravier 1 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com
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