How to Build a Concrete Ramp

Learn how to build a concrete ramp to make your home more attractive and accessible.

June 2014

Guide to Concrete (Creative Publishing International, 2008) takes readers through some of the most popular home concrete and masonry projects. Endorsed by Quikrete, this book includes tips and expert advice that can help readers save hundreds or thousands of dollars in their DIY home projects. The following excerpt is from "Walkways, Patios and Steps" is a great resource on how to build a concrete ramp.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Guide to Concrete.

Book Cover

a finished ramp
Concrete is a great material for small ramps. It's strong enough to support heavy equipment and can be made with non-slip surface for sure footing in wet weather.

• Form-building tools
• Concrete mixing tools
• Shovel
• Concrete float
• Concrete edger
• Fine-bristled broom or wood concrete float

• Compactible gravel
• 3/4 inch exterior-grade plywood
• 2 x 4 lumber
• Wood screws
• Stakes
• Isolation board (if required)
• Vegetable oil or form release agent
• Concrete mix

A simple concrete ramp can be the perfect solution for moving heavy equipment in and out of a backyard shed or for easing the transition between a walkway and a raised patio, driveway, or stoop. Constructing a ramp is much like building a poured concrete walkway or a small slab: you build a wood form over a compacted gravel base, then place the concrete, and finish the surface so it’s level with the top of the form. To create the slope of the ramp, build the sides of the form with pieces of plywood cut at an angle along the top.

The key to shaping the concrete into a slope is to use a stiff mixture; if the concrete is too wet, it will slump down to the bottom of the ramp, seeking its own level. As you fill the form, flatten and smooth the concrete with a float, working from the bottom up. Determining the length of the ramp — and thus the slope — is up to you (the longer the ramp, the gentler the slope). However, if you’re building the ramp for wheelchair access, make sure its dimensions, slope, and nonslip finish meet the requirements of the local building code.

estimating the concrete for your project

Instructions for Building a Concrete Ramp

prepare a subbase for the ramp
stake and brace the form securely
1. Prepare a subbase for the ramp with 4 inches of compacted gravel. Build the ramp form using 3/4 inch plywood and 2 x 4 lumber. Make sure the side pieces are identical and will sit level with each other across the top. 2. Stake and brace the form securely, checking it for level. If either end of the ramp will meet a walkway, slab, or other permanent structure, attach a piece of isolation board at the juncture.
mix the concrete so it's just wet enough
round over the edges of the ramp
3. Mix the concrete so it’s just wet enough to be workable. Fill the form, and use a float to pat and smooth the concrete as you go, working from the bottom up. Use a shovel to settle the concrete as you place it, and rap the form sides to help create a smooth finish on the sides of the ramp. 4. Round over the edges of the ramp using an edger. Texture the ramp surface for slip resistance by brooming it or using a wood float for the final finishing. Moist cure the concrete for five to seven days. The form can be removed after three days.

More Concrete Projects:

• DIY Concrete Landscaping and Garden Borders
• How to Mix Concrete
• Setting Posts in Concrete

Reprinted with permission from Guide to Concrete: Masonry and Stucco Projects published by Creative Publishing International, 2008. Buy this book from our store: Guide to Concrete.

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