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HOW TO BUILD A DECK RAMP STEP BY STEP

Building a deck ramp is a great DIY deck project that benefits the homeowner, visiting guests, and any future homeowners down the road. Building an ADA-compliant access ramp makes your home more inviting and inclusive, while also increasing your home’s value and curb appeal.

REQUIREMENTS FOR BUILDING A DECK RAMP

When you start your DIY deck ramp build, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind to to follow ADA (American Disability Association) ramp requirements. Take note of these ramp requirements as you create your wheelchair ramp plans. Start by carefully choosing the location and layout for the most convenient and easy-to-build entry ramp.

Use a tape measure to find the distance between the ground and the top-level surface. This is called the total rise of the project. The rise of one single incline run must not exceed 30 inches. If your deck incline is more than 30 inches from the ground, you’ll need two or more ramp sections separated by flat, level landings.

The steepest slope that is compliant to ADA standards for a ramp is the ratio of 1:12. Slope is a mathematical term measuring the total vertical rise compared to the total horizontal length. A 1:12 slope means the ramp rises one inch over every 12 inches of length.

More gentle ramp slopes such as 1:16 or 1:20 are not as steep and therefore easier to navigate for wheelchairs. Keep in mind, however, that these DIY wheelchair ramps will be longer in length and will require more decking material.

OTHER IMPORTANT NOTES TO BUILD A WHEELCHAIR RAMP

  • The recommended minimum ramp width is 36 inches, to allow easy movements and maneuvering.
  • The handrails and/or deck railing along the sides of the ramp must be 36 inches high.
  • Landings between sloped runs should measure at least 3 feet wide and 5 feet long for easy wheelchair movement.
  • Level landings on ramps where a change in direction occurs between runs should measure at least 5 feet by 5 feet to allow for wheelchair turns and/or resting.
  • The bottom and the top areas of the ramp should have a smooth transition space to prevent wheels from becoming stuck when entering or exiting the ramp.

HOW TO BUILD A RAMP FOR A DECK

Step 1) Plan the Access Ramp Design and Layout

Measure the distance from the ground or sidewalk to the bottom of the access door. This will help determine your ramp length. The higher the doorway is off the ground, the longer the ramp will need to be. Consider creating a ramp layout with two or more landings to create an L-shaped or U-shaped design for safety.

Using the slope requirements listed above, find the appropriate length of your ramp based on the height of your deck from the ground. With your length decided, plan out the positioning of your support posts. Support posts should be spaced no more than 8 feet apart.

Step 2) Prep the Ramp Site

To create your support posts, dig down below the frost line of your area and set a concrete tube or mold in place. Pour the concrete and either insert a 4x4 board cut to the height desired into the wet material to cure in place, or allow the concrete to dry evenly and attach the deck post with a structural bracket.

If your deck ramp isn't beginning on the nearby driveway, create a frame for your landing pad and set with concrete as well. We recommend removing the top layer of grass or sod before pouring to ensure that the concrete surface can appear flush with the ground for easy accessibility.

Step 3) Cut and Mount Joists and Stringer Boards

At the house, hold a level or chalk line in place at the top of the ledger board even with the deck surface. Mark on the post where these two lines intersect, this will be where the top of your joists will attach to the posts. Cut two 2x8 pieces of lumber to length to be used as side joists for the ramp frame. Attach these joists to the posts using through-bolts or carriage bolts. You can attach the side joists to the ledger board with strong structural L-brackets, or fasten them to existing corner posts on the stoop with carriage bolts.

If installing over an existing front porch or stoop, you may need to plan out and cut a notch in the bottom of the joist so they run flush with the floor surface.

Then mark out where the floor joists will attach to the end joists. Floor joists should be spaced every 16 inches on-center for maximum support. Rather than toe-nailing the floor joist in place, mount using structural joist hangers for a solid hold. If any bridging is desired, install bridging between floor joists now.

Verify that your slope is accurate using a speed square and a chalk string against the initial post in your deck ramp before continuing.

Step 4) Attach Decking

Cut the composite decking or decking material to the width of the ramp and set the initial deck board at the bottom of the ramp. Ensure that the decking plank is flush with the edge of the joist.

Secure the deck board in place via deck screws or hidden deck board fasteners. If using standard deck screws, use deck board spacers to create the recommended 1/8th inch deck board gapping. Hidden deck fasteners will automatically create the proper deck board spacing without any additional tools required.

Once you reach the final few deck boards, you may need to cut the deck board to fit properly. Set the last composite deck board in place and use a framing square to mark the edge so that it is flush with the rim joist. Use a power saw or planer tool to cut the deck plank at an angle for a smooth ramp transition.

Step 5) Install Railing Along Deck Ramp

Choose a deck railing system to complete your outdoor space and increase accessibility even more. Browse vinyl railing, metal railing lines, composite railing, and more to find the ideal deck rail to perfect your home's aesthetic.

Follow the railing manufacturer's installation instructions to install the ramp railing. Typically this follows as mounting deck posts, trimming railing sections to length, and attaching rail sections in place between the posts.

This deck railing design will ensure that guests, friends, and family will have a graspable rail when walking up the ramp to the deck.

Step 6) Add Slip Resistance to Top and Bottom of Ramp

To increase the safety of the area, especially during rainy days or slippery winter months, add a slip resistance to your deck ramp. This is especially true for the landing pads at the bottom and top of the slope.

Apply non-slip exterior paints, non-slip tread tape, or aluminum treads to the landing pads for heightened grip and security for family members and friends that are mobility challenged.

Check out the step by step installation instructions on how to build a deck ramp and increase your home's accessibility


Learn more about the basics of deck framing and building in our Deck Framing Guide and learn deck parts and terminology in the DecksDirect Glossary of Deck Terms and Lingo.

Browse more deck design and railing style notes to upgrade your backyard space and deck in the DecksDirect Railing Style Guide: the quickest way to learn if your home is more suited for a classic aluminum deck railing or a strong, composite railing line.

The more you know, the better your deck and backyard projects will be! Whether you're looking at a brand new start or a fresh end-of-season deck renovation, give our deck designers a call at 1-888-824-5316 or send us an email at hello@decksdirect.com. Our deck experts will help you get the information, products, and tools you need for an awesome deck completely personalized to your needs!