Building a Deck Access Ramp

Follow these instruction to build an access ramp for your deck.

Access Ramp

An access ramp could be viewed either as an angled deck or flat stairs, and it shares construction techniques with both. Place the ramp for the most convenient and unrestricted access to the deck.

Keep the maximum pitch (the number of feet the ramp rises for every foot of horizontal run) to 1 in 12, and if possible, build it 42 or 48 inches wide. (The minimum width is 36 inches.) Have the building inspector review your plans before starting construction on the project.

Construct a single-tiered ramp -- one whose entire rise is on a single stringer -- as shown here. To build longer ramps, set posts on footings at equal intervals along both sides of the run. Mark the angle of descent on the posts, and cut and install stringers with angled ends. Install handrails on ramps and landings.

Prestart Checklist

10 to 12 hours for a 10- to 12-foot ramp

Tape measure, speed square, hammer, carpenter level, small sledge, circular saw, jigsaw, cordless drill, trowels, concrete tools

Measuring, marking patterns, cutting, fastening, working with concrete

Remove sod and install landscape fabric and gravel

Lumber, fasteners, concrete, framing hardware

Step 1

Measure the rise of the ramp and adjust the run to comply with pitch requirements. Drive stakes at the location of the landing pad. Lay out the landing pad with a sheet of plywood or batterboards. Remove the sod; excavate, form, and pour the landing pad.

Step 2

Spread landscape fabric and gravel on the site, then lay out the stringers. Mark the angle of descent on the bottom of the stringer and a 3/4x4-inch notch at the bottom end. This notch will fit over a cleat fastened to the landing pad. Cut one stringer and use it as a template for the others.

Step 3

Cut a pressure-treated 1x6 to the outside width of the ramp. Then set your circular saw to cut a 5-degree bevel on one edge of the 1x6. Reset the saw to 0 degrees (or 90 degrees) and cut a 11/2-inch strip from the bottom of the 1x6.

Step 4

When the concrete is cured, mark the stringer positions on the joists and fasten the stringers to the joist. Drill 3/8-inch holes in the cleat at the locations for threaded studs and slide the cleat under the stringers. Square the whole assembly to the deck and drill locator holes into the pad with a masonry bit. Remove the cleat, drill holes for the studs, epoxy them in place, and reinstall the cleat with nuts and washers.

Step 5

Predrill and screw the beveled strip to the ends of the stringer (wide face to the stringers).

Step 6

Cut the decking to length allowing a 1-inch overhang, and attach it to the stringers. Space the boards with a spacing jig.

Step 7

To ease the transition between the pad and the ramp, brush a latex bonding agent on the existing concrete and trowel on a 6- to 8-inch-wide transition strip at the bottom edge of the decking. Tack scrap from the stringers to the outside edges of the ramp to form the concrete. Force the concrete under the first decking board and trowel the concrete at the same angle as the scrap forms.

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