11 February 2014


A few weeks back I mentioned our dog and the joint supplements we give her. While they do seem to help, she is 12-1/2 and a few months ago we noticed that she seemed to be having a bit more difficulty getting up the stairs when we came back from walks.

Winter only makes this more difficult, so we decided to find someone who could build us a ramp for her. I looked through some handyman-for-hire postings on craigslist and found a guy who had 30 years' experience and was based in Arlington, which is nearby. I emailed him with a description of what we wanted done and a photo of the steps. He responded and we arranged a time for him to come by to look over the area in person and take measurements.

A few days later he submitted a thorough proposal, outlining the materials he would use, how he would construct the ramp, and his price. We thought it over for a day or so and decided to go ahead. He called during my minor phone crisis a couple of weeks ago to ask if it would be okay for him to come and do the job that Saturday, so I had to wait until I got my phone working the next day to return his call.

That Saturday turned out to be one of the nice days between snowstorms. The contractor arrived right on time and set up his sawhorses and gear. I showed him where he could plug in a power cord in the basement and he set right to work. It took him less than two hours to complete the project, which I found impressive. The only thing we needed to do was add some sort of traction-providing material to the surface.

We went to the hardware store the next day, thinking we could find something with an adhesive backing, but the closest we came was some sort of tape that was only 2" wide, so we settled for rubber doormats which the Mrs. attached to the ramp with a staple gun. We then brought the dog outside and did a few practice runs with treats, to get her used to using the ramp.
Over the next couple of days we led her to the ramp after her walks. At first I picked her up and set her on the bottom of it, and she did go up the ramp fairly readily, though she seemed a bit unsure of it and sort of hopped up it at first. But she adapted to it very quickly and within another day or so she was going up the ramp without hesitation when led to the bottom. We've yet to get her to go down it again, but going down the stairs isn't as difficult for her as going up them. If she decides she needs it for going down, I think she'll know what to do.


Gramy said...

This is really great! Kudos to the handy man! I tried to picture it in my mind but now I get it! Hugs for London to use it & treats too. Gramy

Anonymous said...

Can I ask you how much this cost? Our dog is in a similar position, and I'm wondering whether it's worth it to hire someone or make it a DIY project.

Some Assembly Required said...

Anon: send me an email at someassembly (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll reply to you directly. If you are handy enough it's probably a fairly easy DIY project, but I have neither the skills nor the tools to build anything like this.

Allison said...

I came across this through Pinterest and it's just what we need for our dog - I'd love to hire someone and If I'm reading the page correctly, you're in the MA/RI area? I'd love any recommendations you may have for hiring someone, especially if you used someone that would be local - we're in Attleboro, MA

Some Assembly Required said...


The person I used is based in Arlington, probably not convenient for you. I searched under "skilled labor" on craigslist to find candidates.

If you contact me directly via email at someassembly (at) gmail (dot) com I can provide you with more details about materials and cost.

Unknown said...


I live in Watertown, MA and need one of these for my old Lab. I will email you directly at the above address some assembly@gmail.com in hopes you can put me in touch with the person who built this for you.



Debra said...

What a great ramp- can you tell me how long it is?

Some Assembly Required said...

Debra: on the angle side (the ramp itself) it's approximately 11.5 feet long. I don't know what the horizontal measurements is; I never bothered to measure it. The height from the ground to the surface of the porch is just about 5 feet, and if I could remember any of my geometry I suppose I could figure out the horizontal measurement. I can tell you that the angle of the ramp is about 40 degrees, and I would have liked to make that number smaller if possible (a shallower angle), but our outside space was limited and this was the best we could have.

Debra said...

Thank you so much for your response and the info. We have a 11 year old Basset Hound with arthritis in her back and this would be perfect for her as our steps are also an issue for her.
Thanks again for your help.

sunshine23111 said...

I love this. I have someone coming out to give me an estimate to build a ramp coming off of my deck. I grabbed your picture to give them an idea of what I would like. I wonder if outdoor carpet squares would stick to the wood.

sunshine23111 said...

I love this! I have a company coming out this week to give me an estimate to build one coming off of my deck steps. I grabbed this picture to give them an idea for a ramp. This will work perfectly. I wonder if outdoor carpet tile squares would stick to it.

Unknown said...

Are those 2 x 4s or 2 x 6s?

Some Assembly Required said...

Michael: the side pieces are 2 x 6s, the ramp surface is 3/4" plywood, everything is pressure-treated. Email me if you want more details.

Anonymous said...

What did you use to secure the ramp

Anonymous said...

Also how do you measure for the ramp, we are going to try to do this ourselves

Some Assembly Required said...

Good question, one that has not come up before. Technically the ramp is not secured to the building in any way. That is partly because we are renters (though I think we could have gotten permission from our landlord), but also, the ramp is very heavy, so it stays in place on its own. Were we to want or need to move it, it would likely require three or four people to do so safely. If we had secured it, we probably would have used eye hooks set into holes in the foundation, or something similar.

Some Assembly Required said...

To Anonymous 4/30/17: it is much easier to respond to inquiries such as yours via email. Please contact me at someassembly (at) gmail (dot) com and I will do my best to answer all your questions.

sunshine23111 said...

My ramp turned out perfect. Wish that I could post a picture of it. Thanks for the awesome idea!!!

Some Assembly Required said...

Marie: I'm glad to hear it. If you email a photo to me, I'll post it on the blog.

Anonymous said...

I just rescued a 8 month old puppy & he is having his front leg amputated. (Stupid people) This looks like it will work.

Jagger8 said...

I KNOW you've got to be tired of hearing from fans of The Ramp, but I'm a new convert. A Cambridge Resident, elderly dog own, and a proud a proud patron of Ink Hound Arts (https://www.instagram.com/inkhoundarts/?hl=en).

I'll send you an email asking for more details. I live on the Arlington line, but I'm planning to build a ramp myself.

Thanks for sharing.


Billy Coulter said...

Thank you S.A.R. for replying with more details about your ramp. I built one like it this weekend for our 15-year-old black Lab, Sweet Pea, and she took to it right away. If you don't mind, I'd like to share a little about the construction process for anyone who is interested in DIY. Below is the materials list and some other build info for a 16"x10' ramp we made to span a six-step 48" tall concrete staircase (your dimensions may vary):

Two Pressure-treated 2"x6"x10' (you might want to add a spare)
One Pressure-treated 2"x4"x10'
One Pressure-treated 4'x8'x1/2" plywood (cut in thirds at Lowes to be 16"x8')
Exterior coated 2" Deck Screws

Electric drill and 1/8" bit
Electric circular saw
Electric screw gun
Staple gun and 1/2"staples

Cutting the angles was the hardest part, and one in which I enlisted the help of my more skilled neighbor. He suggested we start by laying a 2x6 in place on the steps and measuring the bottom angle to be cut by sliding a level up from the ground where it stood to get our mark. Then we measured and cut the top angle to lay flush against the first step (adding the 1/2" of plywood top to the calculation). With those two cut, we were then able to measure the notch angles for it to rest securely on the second step.

Using the first 2x6 as a template I transferred the angle markings of these cuts to the other 2x6. (Note: you may want to buy a third 2x6x10' for this purpose in case you do not get the angles right the first time.) I then cut several of the 2x4s to 13" wide (1.5"+1.5"+13"=16") for support. It was important to do the angle cuts first so that I could place the 2x4s around them without obstruction. I attached the 2x4s with two screws on the side supports every 18' or so, with them aligned flush at the top of the 2x6s so that I could also screw the plywood top to the these.

I screwed-down the 8' and 2' pieces of plywood top to the side frames and to the 2x4 supports and, wait for it... covered the ramp top by stapling down two YOGA MATS! They grip well and are fairly weatherproof.

I hope that helps you and your dog. ~billy

Here are a couple pics of the finished product--not perfect, but, hey, it works.

Unknown said...

How did you get the right cut out for the step above for it to sit on the stairs ?

Some Assembly Required said...

to Unknown 4/13/19: The person who built the ramp took the measurements of the steps and made the cutouts so it would fit over them. That's the best way I can think to explain it. I think he used a circular saw to make those cuts.