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11 Solid Steps To Build A Temporary Ramp Over Stairs With No Experience

how to build a temporary ramp over stairs

Building a wheelchair ramp over stairs is one of those projects that actually looks more challenging than what we expect. In this article, we will be providing you with an easy to follow guide on how to build a temporary ramp over stairs.

Once built correctly, the wheelchair ramp will be strong, reliable, and last for a long time. Follow the 11 steps below and you will have an excellent wheelchair ramp in no time.

11 Steps to Build an Excellent Wheelchair Ramp

Step #1 – Get your Measurements Right

Measure the length from the ground to the doorsills top. This should help you determine the ramp’s angle of rising. The Americans With Disabilities Act

suggests that for every 1 foot of rising, it needs 12 feet of length. So, you need to multiply the height of the stairs by 12 to get to the ramp’s length.

If you are building a ramp for unassisted wheelchair use, the angle of the slope should not be more than 4.8 degrees. To put it simply, for a height of 2 feet, you need a ramp length of 24 feet.

For assisted wheelchair use, the angle of the slope could be up to 9.5 degrees. This means for a height of 2 feet, you need a ramp length of 12 feet.

Step #2 – Cut The Plywood to Required Size

Grab a circular saw and cut 6 x 3/4 inch thick plywood to the previously measured length of the ramp. Their length needs to be 5 feet and they are meant to be placed at the top of the stairs. Their goal is to serve as a sort of a landing once the wheelchair hits the top.

11 Steps to Build an Excellent Wheelchair Ramp

11 Steps to Build an Excellent Wheelchair Ramp
11 Steps to Build an Excellent Wheelchair Ramp

The idea of a landing ramp is to help maneuver the wheelchair to change direction once the wheelchair reaches the top. If you are looking for a good quality wheelchair, do check out our post on the best types of wheelchairs in the market today.

Step #3 – Create The Posts That Support The Ramp

Use a handsaw to cut 4 wood posts the size of the length of the ramp. The posts needs to support the ramp’s landing. In addition to that, cut 2 more posts for every 2 feet of ramp’s length to provide support for the ramp.

It is important that the ramp stays robust and does not rock. Make sure you measure the post heights carefully and each pair is even in height.

Step #4 – Get The Angle Of The Ramp Right

circular saw cutting on marked line

With the help of a protractor, form an eight-degree angle at the post’s tops that bring support to the ramp itself. Use a circular saw to cut each post on the marked line. However, don’t make the angles on the post’s landing support.

Double-check to make sure the ramp sits on the posts with no gaps and that it does not rock. The bottom of the posts should be in full contact with the floor surface.

Step #5 – Get The Ramp Ready

plywood sheets

Find the 3 identical plywood sheets. Apply some wood glue to them before placing them on top of each other. Make sure that they match each other before securing them with the glue.

Next, put 2-inch nails on each of the edges of the plywood to further secure it. The nails need to be six to eight inches apart.

These sheets form the ramp. Using three ¾ inch plywood sheets reinforce the strength of the ramp. Make sure there are no bulges or bubbles between the plywood sheets, since this can weaken the ramp over a period of time.

Step #6 – The Landing Platform

Take the 5-foot-long plywood sheets and glue them on top of each other. After that, reinforce them with some nails on the edges of the sheet.

The landing needs to be absolutely flat. You also need to ensure that the joint between the ramp’s edge and the landing platform is seamless and smooth. This is how you will create the landing on the top of the stairs.

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Step #7 – Erect Posts To Support The Landing Platform

Grab a post hole digger and dig two holes, on both sides of the stair’s top. Each of the holes needs to be 12-inches deep, with 38-inches between the two of them. Next dig another pair of holes 5-feet away from the original ones. The four holes need to keep the landing posts stable.

Measure the length of the posts after inserting them in the holes until you are sure that all posts are even and at the height you require. This will ensure the angle of the ramp stays within the recommended limit.

Step #8 – Support The Ramp

Continue to dig other holes along the span of the ramp. Their purpose is to provide support for the posts.

Again, measure the height of the posts and make sure each pair is even and the slope cut at their tops match the angle required.

Step #9 – Plant The Posts Properly

Before you lower the posts, add some concrete in the holes. Don’t forget that the posts angled ends need to be faced upwards. Give some time for the concrete to cure.

At every stage, measure each pair to make sure they match each other in height. Use the ramp to check it seats nicely on all posts without any gap.

Step #10 – Secure The Landing Platform

hammer and nails

Lower and center the plywood on the four posts. Use 4-inch nails to fasten the plywood to the posts. You have now created the landing! Check to see if it is even and sturdy and that the posts don’t rock.

Step #11 – Secure The Ramp And You Are Done!

Place the plywood for the ramp on the angled posts. Again, use four-inch nails to secure the plywood. 

Before and after securing the nails, check to ensure the ramp sits evenly on the posts. The edge of the ramp where it meets the landing should be without gaps and blend nicely with the horizontal landing platform.

Also, check the edge where the ramp meets the floor to make sure there are no gaps and ensure that the bottom edge merges with the floor. If not, the wheelchair will jerk when it starts on the ramp.

Once again, check each and every part of the ramp to make sure it is sturdy and there are no loose joints. If all things check out, you are done!

double check the ramp

This is the easiest and fastest way on how to build a temporary ramp over stairs without any experience. All it takes is some confidence and the use of the right power tools. Most importantly, follow this guide as explained in this post.

5 Important Things to Know Before Building a Ramp

Ramps are typically made in addition to steps so that those in wheelchairs or having problem in climbing the stairs can step inside an edifice or move further while traveling. Thus, there are wheelchair ramps along with other types of ramps.

These ramps are typically designed for boosting accessibility and minimizing stress while entering or leaving a venue.

A successful construction project dedicated to accessibility needs meticulous planning. Doing so helps in ensuring that the construction fulfills the users’ requirements as well as the local rules. This is applicable even to ramps.

Such ramps are safe and sturdy, which can withstand themselves in any weather or harsh situation. To make one such ramp, you need to know certain things. Let’s find out!

1) How long does a ramp need to be for 3 steps?

This is a common question that most people have while looking for a ramp that can allow a wheelchair to proceed over 3 steps.

It makes one think of how steep the inclination should be and how to increase convenience for our loved ones crossing it.

The hike of rise to overcome proportionately determines the required ramp length. To know the height the hike, just individually measure each step and add those measurements.

Frankly speaking, apart from this, there are a few factors that help in determining the right ramp length for 3 steps.

As per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a single ramp foot is required for each inch of rise. The ADA gives guidelines for making highly accessible ramps.

Stairs usually are approximately 7.5 inches high. Thus, a normal rise for 3 stairs will be 22.5 inches. So, keeping the ADA rule in mind, the ramp’s length needs to be 22 feet.

Some other factors to consider are the weight on the wheelchair, the weight of the person on the wheelchair and the strength of the assistant moving the chair or the (wheelchair’s power) if it is automatic.

To make the right decision, it is wiser to consult an expert. Doing so helps you comprehend all the options as per your needs so that you can choose the best.

2) How Do You Make an ADA Compliant Ramp?

These days, several new construction projects are required to build a wheelchair or a handicap ramp that fulfills the ADA’s minimum requirements. Such ramps never fail to give safe access to their users. To make them, it is necessary to go through these specifications or guidelines.

The primary ADA specifications cover the ramp length, its slope, handrail, and landing size. Some of these specifications apart from the ones already mentioned in this post are:

  • Width: Minimum 36 inches
  • Edges: Anti-slippery
  • Landings: Both top and bottom, and minimum 60 inches long; minimum of 5 feet square size
  • Handrails: On both sides if length over 72 inches and rise over six inches
  • Cross Slopes: Below 1:50
  • Level Landing: At both top and bottom

3) How Do I Figure Out the Slope of a Ramp?

A ramp’s slope is a critical factor in recognizing the ease of ascending and descending the ramp. Its dimensions typically rely on the available area for making the ramp. For computing the slope, you simply use a straightforward equation of rise by run. The higher the denominator, the less steep is the slope.

As per the ADA, the slope of a ramp must be in within the 1:12 ratio. In simple words, a 20-inch rise would need a 20-feet long ramp. In addition, a 5×5 foot flat area should be there atop the ramp and should not have any hurdles.

A 1:12 ratio is too vertical for a few individuals. Further, a lower slope is required for a few public edifices.

For computing the slope, you start by gauging the horizontal distance of the ramp and then measuring its base (without the angled area). Next, you compute the rise by gauging the distance from the ramp’s high end to the ground.

In case the low end is not on the ground, consider gauging from the highest to the lowest point, which is termed as the rise. Ensure that you gauge both the horizontal distance and the rise using either inches or feet. 

To mathematically compute the slope, just use division. Put the ramp’s length as numerator and height as the denominator. For example, if the ramp is 14 feet long and the rise is 2 feet, simply divide 14 by 2. The quotient is 7 and the ratio will be 1:7. So, for every foot you ascend, 7-feet ramp is needed to reach there.

It is vital to comprehend that two unique ramps may have the same slope. For example, a 15-foot ramp having a rise of 1 foot will have a slope of 1:15, while a ramp having a length of 150 feet and a rise of 10 foot will have the same slope.

4) How Far Can a Ramp Go Without a Landing?

For wheelchair ramps, the maximum slope ratio is 1:12. In this case, one question that can arise is how long a ramp can go prior to a landing. If the stairs are over 12 feet in height, a landing is required. However, this is not right for ramps. So, without a landing, a ramp is likely to go 30 feet in length.

5) Do Wheelchair Ramps Need Handrails?

Yes! If a wheelchair ramp’s rise is over 6 inches or length is over 72 inches, ADA suggests to build handrails on both sides.

It is wise to put them along these sides. The internal handrail should be persistent on switchback ramps.

The handrail’s top needs to be mounted in the range of 34 to 38 inches over the ramp. There should be a minimum of 1.5 inches of gap between any solid surface and the handrail. Spindles are necessary for ramps that go above 30 inches from the floor level. Well, these are the ADA guidelines!


Keeping these things in mind while making a ramp takes care of your safety and ramp’s sturdiness. After all, everyone will be able to access it unhesitatingly. However, if you wish to avoid all the mess in building a ramp, check out our post on the best wheelchair ramps where we have listed down the best ready made ramps in the market today.

Verner Ellen

Verner Ellen

Hi, my name is Verner Ellen. I am a homebody whose interest is in getting the best home tools and equipments to help with the the everyday house chores. I also love fitness, cooking and grilling. Maintaining a clean and comfortable home is my lifelong passion.

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