How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp For Stairs

How To Build A Wheelchair Ramp For Stairs

Are you tired of struggling to get your wheelchair up and down steps? Say goodbye to the hassle and build your wheelchair ramp for stairs! Our step-by-step guide will help you through the process, even if you have little to no experience. Not only will you have a handy ramp to make your life easier, but you’ll also save money and provide a safe and accessible environment for yourself or a loved one. 

There is no need to hire expensive contractors or buy pre-made ramps – with just a few supplies and some simple steps. You can have a perfect ramp.

Let’s get started on this DIY project that will leave you feeling accomplished and empowered! Here’s how to build a wheelchair ramp for stairs.

8 Easy Steps To Build A Wheelchair Ramp For Stairs

Building a ramp on stairs is a practical addition to any structure and necessary to ensure accessibility for everyone, including those with mobility challenges.

In Australia, ramps must adhere to specific standards for safety and usability.

This step-by-step guide will take you through building a wheelchair ramp on stairs, conforming to Australian standards.

Step 1: Understand Australian Standards

Before you start your ramp construction project, it’s vital to have a deep understanding of Australian Standards, particularly AS 1428.1, which outlines the requirements for accessible ramps.

This standard covers various aspects, from slope gradients to handrail specifications, to ensure your ramp complies with national regulations.

Understanding these standards is not just a formality; it’s crucial for the safety and accessibility of the ramp. Failing to adhere to these standards can result in potential hazards and legal complications in the future.

Step 2: Precise Measurement of the Ramp Configuration

The cornerstone of a successful ramp construction endeavor lies in meticulous measurements. Start by gauging the width and length of the stairs where your ramp will reside. But don’t halt your measurements there; delve deeper to accurately measure the stairs’ rise (vertical height) and run (horizontal length).

Creating a ramp on stairs demands careful consideration of slope inclination. In accordance with Australian Standards, the maximum allowable slope for wheelchair ramps is 1:14.

This means for every 1 meter of vertical rise, the ramp should span horizontally by 14 meters. Calculate the ramp’s required length by integrating these slope guidelines with your stair measurements.

Step 3: Crafting the Top Landing

The top landing isn’t merely an entry point; it’s the threshold of accessibility. To comply with Australian Standards, your top landing must be level and sturdy. Guarantee a minimum width of 1200mm and keep it free from any hindrances or tripping hazards.

Furthermore, in sync with AS 1428.1, installing tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs) at the entry is imperative. These TGSIs serve as tactile and visual cues for individuals with vision impairments, enhancing overall safety and accessibility.

Step 4: Preparing the Ramp Structure

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork with precise measurements, it’s time to prepare the ramp’s structural foundation. Before embarking on the ramp assembly, gather all the necessary materials and tools.

You’ll often choose from treated timber, concrete, or metal materials. Ensure your material selection is resilient and suitable for outdoor use, considering exposure to the elements.

The next vital phase involves planning the support structure for your ramp. This might necessitate constructing a robust frame or substructure capable of withstanding the ramp’s weight and user traffic.

To cement stability, ensure your support structure is firmly anchored to both the stairs and the top landing.

Step 5: Commencing Ramp Assembly

You’re ready to commence the ramp assembly with the support structure firmly in place. Kickstart this process by securely attaching the chosen ramp surface material to the frame or substructure.

Remember to vigilantly adhere to the 1:14 slope ratio specified by Australian Standards. Employ suitable fasteners for securing the ramp surface to guarantee security and evenness.

In line with safety protocols, don’t overlook the installation of handrails on both sides of the ramp. Handrails are indispensable components of wheelchair ramps, furnishing users with crucial support and stability.

Step 6: Achieving Seamless Ramp Transitions

Seamlessness is paramount when bridging the gap between the ramp and the top landing. To achieve this:

  • Lower the ramp surfaces adeptly.
  • Verify that the ramp’s termination aligns impeccably with the top landing, eliminating lurking tripping hazards.
  • Utilize beveled edges or threshold ramps to smoothen the connection, eradicating potential safety hazards.

Moreover, contemplate the application of non-slip surfacing materials on the ramp. This precaution is vital for thwarting accidents in slippery conditions, bolstering the overall safety quotient.

Step 7: Vigorous Ramp Testing

Before giving your ramp project the seal of completion:

  • Subject it to rigorous testing to ensure it meets Australian Standards.
  • Initiate the process by scrutinizing the slope, confirming that it adheres to the 1:14 ratio.
  • Conduct a meticulous assessment of the handrails, verifying their stability and adherence to prescribed height and spacing standards.

To ascertain the ramp’s usability, undertake a test walk or wheelchair roll up and down the ramp. Bring individuals with mobility challenges in the testing phase; their firsthand feedback can be invaluable in fine-tuning the ramp’s functionality and accessibility.

Step 8: Ongoing Ramp Maintenance

Constructing a wheelchair ramp on stairs is a long-term commitment. To ensure sustained safety and usability:

  • Establish a routine maintenance schedule.
  • Regularly inspect the ramp for wear and tear, loose fasteners, or potential safety hazards.
  • Keep the ramp clean and free from debris to prevent slips and falls.

The consistent application of maintenance efforts serves a dual purpose: it extends the ramp’s lifespan. It guarantees that it remains compliant with Australian Standards throughout its lifecycle.

Building a Wheelchair Ramp Over Stairs: Important Considerations

Before embarking on such a construction, several critical factors must be considered. These factors ensure that the ramp is not only functional but also safe and compliant with relevant regulations. Below are key considerations to keep in mind:

1. Local Building Codes and Regulations

One of the foremost considerations when constructing a wheelchair ramp on stairs is adherence to local building codes and regulations.

These regulations can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it’s crucial to be well-informed about the specific requirements in your area. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to safety issues and legal complications.

2. The Slope and Length of the Ramp

The slope of the ramp is a fundamental factor to consider. The slope, typically expressed as a ratio of 1:12 or 1:14, represents the ramp’s rise (vertical height) compared to the run (horizontal length).

The choice of slope should align with relevant guidelines and standards.

For instance, in Australia, the maximum slope for wheelchair ramps is typically 1:14. Calculating the required length of the ramp based on the slope and the stairs’ height is essential to ensure it is user-friendly and compliant.

3. Space and Landing Requirements

To ensure safety and ease of use, adequate space and landing areas are critical. The top landing where the ramp begins should be level and free from obstructions.

It should also have sufficient room for a wheelchair user to maneuver comfortably.

Additionally, landings should be incorporated at regular intervals along the ramp’s length to provide resting points and allow for changes in direction if necessary.

4. Handrail Design and Placement

Handrails are an essential safety feature for wheelchair ramps on stairs. Proper handrail design and placement are crucial to support and stabilize users.

Consider handrails’ height, material, and location, ensuring they meet the required standards. Handrails should be continuous, with appropriate extensions at the top and bottom of the ramp.

5. Material Selection

Choosing the right materials for the ramp is essential for durability and safety. Common materials include treated timber, concrete, metal, or composite materials.

The choice of material should take into account factors like weather conditions, maintenance requirements, and budget constraints. The selected material should provide a slip-resistant surface and withstand outdoor exposure.

6. Budget and Cost Considerations

Constructing a wheelchair ramp on stairs can be a significant investment. It’s crucial to establish a realistic budget for the project and consider all associated costs, including materials, labor, permits, and any modifications to the existing structure. Balancing your budget while meeting safety and accessibility requirements is essential.

7. Aesthetics and Integration

While the primary focus is on functionality and safety, the aesthetics and integration of the ramp into the existing architecture should not be overlooked.

A well-designed ramp can enhance the overall appearance of a property while seamlessly blending with the surroundings. Consider architectural elements, colors, and finishes that complement the existing structure.

8. Accessibility for All Users

Beyond accommodating wheelchair users, consider the needs of other individuals with mobility challenges, such as those using walkers or crutches.

The design and construction of the ramp should be inclusive and accessible to a wide range of users with varying abilities.

Wheelchair Ramp on Stairs According to Material

Choosing materials for constructing wheelchair ramps is crucial in ensuring their durability, safety, and functionality. Following are the various materials commonly used for wheelchair ramps and their respective advantages and disadvantages.

Wooden Wheelchair Ramps

Wooden ramps have been popular for residential accessibility solutions for many years. They are relatively affordable and can be customized for specific dimensions and aesthetics. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when using wood as a ramp material.


  • Cost-effective: Wooden ramps are often more budget-friendly compared to other materials, making them a popular choice for homeowners.
  • Customizability: Wood is easy to work with, allowing for the creation of ramps that suit the home’s architectural style.
  • Traction: These types of ramps can provide good traction when properly maintained and coated with non-slip materials.


  • Maintenance: Wooden ramps require regular maintenance, including sealing, painting, and repairing any damage caused by weather or wear and tear.
  • Durability: Wood is susceptible to rot, warping, and splintering over time, compromising the ramp’s structural integrity.
  • Compliance: Wooden ramps may not always meet Australian Standards guidelines without additional modifications.

Concrete Wheelchair Ramps

Concrete ramps are a durable and long-lasting option for both residential and commercial settings. They offer a sturdy surface and require minimal maintenance, making them a preferred choice for many.


  • Durability: Concrete ramps can withstand harsh weather conditions and heavy use, making them a long-lasting option.
  • Low maintenance: Unlike wood, concrete ramps require minimal upkeep, reducing long-term maintenance costs.


  • Installation cost: The initial cost of installing a concrete ramp can be higher than other materials due to the labor and materials involved.
  • Aesthetics: Concrete ramps may not be as visually appealing as wooden or metal ramps and may require additional treatments for a more attractive appearance.
  • Slipperiness: These can become slippery when wet, posing a potential hazard. To mitigate this, anti-slip coatings or textured finishes may be necessary.

Metal Wheelchair Ramps

Metal ramps, typically made from aluminum or steel, are known for their strength and versatility. They are often used in both residential and commercial settings, including schools, hospitals, and public buildings.


  • Strength: Metal ramps provide excellent structural support and accommodate heavy loads, including power wheelchairs.
  • Low maintenance: Aluminum ramps are resistant to corrosion, while steel ramps can be coated for added protection, reducing maintenance needs.
  • Modular design: Metal ramps are often available in modular configurations, allowing for easy installation, modification, and relocation.


  • Cost: Metal ramps can be more expensive upfront than wood, although they offer long-term cost savings due to their durability.
  • Heat and cold conductivity: Metal ramps can become very hot in the sun or cold in freezing temperatures, making them uncomfortable to touch. This can be tackled with the use of handrails and proper insulation.

To Sum Up

When constructing a wheelchair ramp on stairs, consider safety, budget constraints, aesthetics, and integration into the existing architecture. There are many materials available for wheelchair ramps, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Choose the one that best fits your needs and requirements while ensuring accessibility for all users.