If a family member or regular visitor to your home has difficulty accessing the property because of some steps, why not consider building a DIY mobility ramp to help them. If the person concerned does not currently use a wheelchair you might be tempted to build a relatively narrow ramp just to help someone who has difficulty walking up and down steps. However, you might want to apply a bit of forward thinking and consider building a wider ramp that can also accommodate a wheelchair.
Material Options for a Ramp
A DIY ramp could be built using a mould and pouring concrete into it. Whilst this would be an incredibly strong ramp it would also be an expensive way to install it. An alternative would be to construct a steel frame onto which you could fit either a metal or wood ramp surface.
Again, this could be quite expensive as the cost of metals is soaring and at present, you would end up pay much more for a metal ramp compared to a timber one. The cost alone for a steel ramp surface would be several hundred dollars. So, a sturdy timber frame and ramp surface is to be recommended.
Designing a Mobility Ramp
Quite simply you want the slope to be as low as you can make it. The degree of slope is obviously determined by the space in which you’ve got to build the mobility ramp and having one continuous length might be important in your consideration.
If you are building a ramp just for someone to walk up then having a turn, or corner, or two might be possible. If the ramp is also to accommodate wheelchair users you should make sure that any ‘turns’ are wide enough for the wheelchair to get around them.
You should aim to keep the slope of your DIY ramp at a rise of 1 inch for every 1 foot along the ground. So, if the height of each step is 6 inches – you’ll need a run of about and 6 feet for the ramp to rise by the height of one step.
Before planning the ramp you’ll need to know; how high is each step, how many steps have you got and how long is your drive or path? Finally, the top and bottom of the ramp must have a level platform to act as a landing stage. If you have any turns in the ramp they also must have a level platform, so that the person using the ramp can adjust to the new orientation.
Building the Ramp
Regardless of where you live you must check to see if there are any local or national guidelines and regulations to consider when building a ramp to aid people with their mobility. Using pressure treated timber you need to construct a series of supports for the ramp surface. These can be secured in a variety of ways. You could secure them to a wall and /or posts that you’ve concreted into place, or if you already have a concrete base you might also use concrete bolts.
At some point you will need to have posts fitted and secured as the ramp will at least need a handrail on either side. The material you use for the ramp surface can be something as cheap as plywood or an expensive hardwood; obviously one would need replacing sooner than the other. Whatever material you choose consider putting some batons across the ramp surface so that in wet or icy weather anyone using the ramp can have a sure footing on it.
photo by Daquella Manera / CreativeCommons