Everything you need for proper wheelchair ramp installation

Medical Supplies & Equipment

When installing a wheelchair ramp, it’s best practice to follow the guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure a safe and durable ramp for the user.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

What do you need for proper wheelchair ramp installation? 

There are many circumstances that may require you to install a wheelchair ramp in your home. Someone in the household may require the use of a wheelchair, walker or mobility scooter due to illness, injury or old age. In these instances, a wheelchair ramp ensures they can enter and exit the home safely and independently. But installing wheelchair ramps for homes needs to be done carefully and precisely to ensure the safety of everyone who uses it and to avoid breaking any local or federal regulations. 

Types of wheelchair ramps

There are two main materials used to build the frame and handrails of a wheelchair ramp. For most DIY ramp installers, your best bet is to purchase pre-fabricated, modular ramp sets. Just be sure to choose one with the right measurements, dimensions and components for your home and the wheelchair user who will be using the ramp.

Aluminum wheelchair ramp

Aluminum wheelchair ramps are generally sturdier and longer lasting. Many pre-made modular threshold ramps are made from aluminum. If you install a wheelchair ramp using these types of materials, it’s important to make sure that the platform and handrails have composite material laid over them. Otherwise, they can become slippery and dangerous in wet weather.

Wooden wheelchair ramp

While you can build wheelchair ramps made complete from wood, the material must be sturdy enough to support the wheelchair user. Many ramps are made from concrete with wooden handrails only for this reason. 

Understanding guidelines for wheelchair ramp installation

Installing a wheelchair ramp for a commercial property comes with a strict set of codes and regulations as set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Commercial properties must follow these guidelines to the letter.

While following these rules may be more difficult for residential properties, it’s a good idea to follow them as closely as physically possible. You should also check any local residential building rules and consult with your Home Owners Association before getting started with your ramp installation.  

According to the ADA guidelines, accessibility ramps should adhere to certain ratios and measurements when it comes to the slope, width, length and height of the ramp, amongst other things. For example, you must include handrails on both sides if the ramp rises more than 6 inches. All ramps should also have a flat platform or landing at both the bottom and top. 

How to install your wheelchair threshold ramp

Modular DIY wheelchair ramps come in different widths, materials and components. But there are a few basic steps to follow when it comes to installation.

Step 1: Location and placement of your ramp

If you’re dealing with a large front yard and wide front door, you should have no problems installing a straight ramp. If you have less space to work with, you may need to consider a L-shaped ramp from the yard to the entryway instead.

First, measure the total rise between the ground where your ramp will begin and the elevation where it will end. You can use these measurements to understand the incline you’ll need to build your ramp and how long your ramp will need to be. Most modular wheelchair ramp vendors provide measurement charts to help you understand these figures.

Step 2: Select the right modular ramp for your measurements

Now that you have a grasp on the measurements, you’ll have a much better understanding of the type of wheelchair ramp you’ll be constructing and the different modular parts you’ll need. Choose a ramp installation set that fits the lengths and angles you’ll need.

Step 3: Lay out your modular parts and assemble your tools

Use the installation guideline drawing to lay out all parts of the modular ramp as they appear in the drawing. Leave room between each part so that you can work around them when putting everything together.

Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need on hand. Different ramps may use different types of nuts, bolts and attachments. But you’ll likely need a: 

  • Measuring tape
  • Socket wrench
  • Level
  • Power drill
  • Allen wrench
  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Metal file
  • Hammer 

Step 4: Follow the installation guidelines closely

It’s essential to follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer step by step to perform a proper installation that results in a safe wheelchair ramp. Make sure you assemble each section of the ramp and handrails before putting them together at the entryway of your house.

Step 5: Test your newly installed ramp

Once the ramp is installed, test its stability and sturdiness. Ensure all legs are touching the ground both before and during use. Go over each component carefully to ensure all screws, nuts and bolts are properly secured. 

What you need for wheelchair ramp installation

E-Z Access PATHWAY 3G 16 ft. Wheelchair Ramp Kit

E-Z Access PATHWAY 3G 16 ft. Wheelchair Ramp Kit

Available in lengths between 4-30 feet, this modular ramp kit is suitable for yards and entryways of all heights and sizes. It’s also easy to install and highly durable, no matter the weather. 

Sold by Home Depot


Stanley 35 ft. PowerLock Tape Measure

Stanley 35 ft. PowerLock Tape Measure

If you’re installing a wheelchair ramp alone, this measuring tape makes it easy to keep accurate measurements with 10 feet of standalone measurement and a blade that locks securely. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


DEWALT ATOMIC 20V MAX Cordless Hammer Drill

DEWALT ATOMIC 20V MAX Cordless Hammer Drill

This cordless drill is compact but powerful to use and should handle your ramp installation needs with no issues. Its compact size and storage case also make it easy to store away for future DIY projects. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Kapro 12-inch Box Level

Kapro 12-Inch Box Level

This affordable spirit level is super accurate and comes with wall grips, so it’s easy to use for one-handed leveling tasks. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


TEKTON Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

TEKTON Ball End Hex Key Wrench Set

This Allen wrench set comes with 26 different pieces, so no matter what type and size of components your modular wheelchair set uses, you’ll have the right tools on hand for assembly. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Klein Tools Profilated 4 inch Phillips Head Screwdriver

Klein Tools Profilated 4-Inch Phillips-Head Screwdriver

It can take a little while to put your wheelchair ramp together, but the cushioned grip on this screwdriver makes it a more comfortable job. The head is also precisely defined and sturdy to prevent slippage. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Estwing 20 oz Straight Rip Claw Hammer

Estwing Straight Rip Claw Hammer

The grip on this hammer is specially designed for shock absorption, making it comfortable to use. Since it’s made from one solid piece of steel, it’s particularly well balanced too. 

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.