Shed Ramps – Should You Build or Buy?
Whether it's trouble getting your tractor, car or push mower in there, shed ramps make life easier
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WHETHER YOU BUILT YOUR GARDEN SHED or bought one that was ready to go, chances are good the door into it isn’t sitting at ground level.
While sitting above ground is the best way for your garden shed to be sitting, it makes getting the mower, ATV, bikes, or motorcycles in and out a major challenge.
If this is the situation you find yourself in a spot like this, you need some kind of shed ramp to make life a lot easier. Ramps make getting anything in and out of your shed much easier.
The big question is; “Should I buy a set of shed ramps or build my own?” Here we take a look at your options to help you make the right choice.
The Case for Building Ramps
If you built your own garden shed, chances are pretty good you have the skills to build your own shed ramps.
There is a lot of satisfaction in building a shed ramp to go with the shed you built or even with one you bought ready to go.
For the most part, ramps are relatively easy to build, depending on the materials you plan to use. In fact, the average handyman can probably knock a set of ramps together in just a few hours on a weekend.
While building your own mower ramps might seem like an idyllic situation, doing so is not without its share of problems.
First and foremost, you must have the time to get the job done right. Then you have to decide whether or not you have the skills and the tools for the job.
If you are working with wood, this should not be a problem. However, if you need metal ramps for the mower or want a cement ramp, you need special tools and skills. Bear in mind that metal and cement are also quite expensive, even if you are doing the work yourself.
The Case for Buying Shed Ramps
If you are in a hurry or don’t feel like you have the skills to build your own shed ramps, you can always buy ramps that are ready to use.
Alternatively, you can pay someone to come to your home and build a ramp for you. In most cases, what we are looking at are ramps you can order online or buy from your local warehouse discount hardware superstore.
Ramps like these are mostly “plug and play.” All you have to do is prep the spot where they go and drop them in place. You may have to secure the ramp to the ground and/or to your shed.
Ready to go mower ramps are generally well-built and ready to go. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you should get ramps that will provide you with many years of service.
For example, a good set of aluminum ramps will not rust or rot. However, when you buy a set of pre-built shed ramps, you are stuck with what is being offered.
When you build your own, you can customize them to look like your shed, which might be more aesthetically pleasing.
There are a number of different materials you can use to build your shed ramps. Some are easier to work with like lumber. Others like cement are harder to work with but give a more permanent and stronger ramp. Here we take a look at the most popular options.
You will need 2 x 4 and 2 x 6s to build the frame. Since your ramps will spend their life exposed to the elements, buy pressure treated lumber for extended life.
Bear in mind pressure treated lumber requires a special saw blade to cut. Depending on the height of your ramp, you may even find it useful to build the support posts from 4 x 4s.
For added stability, you may want to sink the posts into the ground and cement them into place.
Plywood makes a good floor surface for a homemade ramp. Again you need to use pressure treated wood for its resistance to rot.
Use ¾-inch or thicker plywood for best results and add some kind of furring strips or anti-slip material to keep the ramp from being slippery on rainy or snowy days.
You can use regular plywood for the surface. But if you do, be sure to seal it well before painting it to match your shed.
One more thing, you can add sand or a commercially available anti-slip material to the paint to reduce the risk of it being slippery.
You can build your entire ramp out of steel (or buy one). Steel framing is very strong and is made to last for many years. However, you will need to keep it painted on a regular basis to keep it from rusting.
Not only does a rusty shed ramp look terrible, in time it will become weak and no longer able to support the weight of your mower. A checkerplate or diamond plate surface will provide you with years of service, but can be very slippery when wet or icy.
Steel is also very expensive, whether you choose to build or buy.
If you need a strong ramp that is going to provide you with many years of service and can handle just about anything you can throw at it, aluminum may be a perfect choice.
Aluminum does not corrode, it cannot be attacked by pests, and does not require any maintenance to keep it looking good. But much like steel, it can become very slippery when wet or icy.
Aluminum ramps range in price from relatively affordable to ridiculously expensive, depending on where you shop.
Although typically used in warehouse and factory applications vulcanized rubber is very heavy duty. Hardened rubber is very strong and can handle very heavy loads. The difference being it is typically a wedge so the height of the ramp is not adjustable.
Image Courtesy of Discount Ramps
Rubber made ramps are typically kept indoors as well so were not to sure how long they will last outside, if left outside
Another strong and durable solution. If your shed is on a slab then this makes sense.
The downside of a concrete shed ramp is that it will take time to build and pour, can't be relocated easily and can be slippery
FAQ About Shed Ramps
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about shed ramps and our thoughts about them.
How do I know what size shed ramp I need?
The size of your ramp should be based on several very important factors. First how wide is the door and do you want the ramp to cover the whole width of the door. Second the angle of the ramp, the longer the ramp, the shallower the angle and the easier it will be to get your mower, ATV, or bike in and out of the shed.
How do I know if the shed ramp will be strong enough?
The most important thing about your shed ramp is that it needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of whatever will be going in and out of your shed. Most ramps can be built to hold the weight of you and your mower, just be sure to add in plenty of bracing and support. Those you buy are rated for the weight they can typically handle. Just be sure to take into account the weight of your mower or ATV and your weight.
What should I be on the lookout for?
Whether you are buying or building your shed ramps, they have to meet your needs and be safe. Check to make sure the ramp does not bow excessively when you and your mower or ATV are going up or down it. If your ramp is wood or steel, be sure to keep it sealed or painted on a regular basis. Also with a wood ramp, be sure to keep an eye out for screws or nails that are backing out or splinters as they can ruin your tires.
Where are the cheap places to buy shed ramps?
If you have made the decision to buy your shed ramp, the next step is to find somewhere to shop for them. You need somewhere that is not going to charge you an arm and a leg for your ramps, but at the same time is going to supply you with quality ramps. Here are three of our favorites for you to consider:
Ebay - Online Auction Style Buying
Ebay is a great place to shop for anything, including shed ramps. Here you can find a number of businesses selling brand new ramps at great low prices.
You can also find a number of individuals who are selling used ramps. Be sure to check the seller’s reputation and for shipping charges. You may find it cheaper to buy locally by the time you factor in shipping costs and the risk of not getting what you are paying for.
Go straight to Ebay's range of shed ramps here.
Amazon.com - The word's largest online superstore
Much like Ebay, you can buy just about anything at Amazon, including a wide range of steel and aluminum, shed ramps for ATVS, lawn mowers, and bikes. Not only does Amazon carry plenty of varieties for you to choose from, but like Ebay you can find new and used ramps for sale.
You may or may not find the prices higher than EBay, but Amazon guarantees the sale and that your item will be shipped to you.
Shipping fees are shown up front and if you are an Amazon Prime member, you may even qualify for free 2-day shipping. Go straight to Amazons shed ramps here.
Wal*Mart - Offers discount online and in store shopping
Wal*Mart has thousands of stores in the U.S. and thousands more all around the globe.
They offer an incredibly diverse range of products including aluminum shed ramps. You can buy them in some of the larger Supercenter stores or order them online. When ordering online, you can have your ramps shipped to the nearest Wal*Mart store for free or pay to have them shipped to your house.
Be aware that you are buying from a store that specializes in discount merchandise, you need to pay close attention to the brands you are buying and compare prices to get the best deals.
Go straight to their selection of shed ramps here.
How do you build a shed ramp?
If you have decided to build your own mower ramp, it is important to start out with a good plan of action.
You need to have a set of plans or drawings showing the design, measurements, and materials needed and perhaps some type of written guideline.
Alternatively, you can also watch video tutorials online.
We recommend this particular instructional video:
We also highly recommend a set of written instructions by secrets-of-shed-building.
Both of these individually or used in conjunction with each other will help you build shed ramps that will get the job done and last for a very long time.
Onwards and Upwards
Half the battle of choosing the right shed ramps stems around whether you have the time, skill, and ambition to build your own or would prefer to buy pre-made ramps. Both are equally capable of getting the job done.
In the end, at least for most guys, the final decision comes down to time and money. Keep in mind that it is not always cheaper to build your own shed ramp. There are times when it is more practical in several senses to find ramps online and have them delivered to your home. No matter which way you go, at least getting the mower, ATV, or bike in and out of your garden shed will be much easier.
If you know of any other great types of mower or shed ramps, contact us via the contact page.
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