If you’ve built your shed raised a few inches to allow for airflow underneath to limit potential moisture problems, you’ve done a good job. However, now you have to step up to get into the shed.
You can build a step or two for yourself, but you’ve got some wheeled yard equipment. Wagons, walk-behind mowers and tillers can be lifted up into the shed, although this will soon get tiresome. However, this won’t work for that riding mower or ATV. The only solution is to build a ramp.
If you’re building a shed, include the ramp in your building plans when seeking a building permit. If you’re adding it later, you may need another permit. Be sure and check into this before starting.
If you choose to build a ramp using paving stones, be sure to choose stones with a rougher surface rather than a smooth one. Smooth stones will tend to be more slippery when it rains. Watch out for algae growth on the stones.
Just a thin film of algae can make stones extremely slippery during wet weather. Since your ramp is a slope, this will double the chances of a slip and fall and will make heavier equipment harder to move into the shed. It’s important to keep any growth from the surface of the stones. See other options for shed ramps in my article How to Build a Ramp to a Shed.
What is a Good Angle for a Shed Ramp?
Many public building codes hold to a maximum slope of 1:10, or one inch of rise for every ten horizontal inches. With this angle, if your floor is nine inches above the ground, your ramp should be 72 inches or six feet long. This slope is something riding mowers can handle with no problem.
However, if you can make the slope a little less steep, it will just make it that much easier to move equipment in or out. Many people like to push their mowers into a shed instead of riding it in so they aren’t subjected to deafening noise and fumes from the running engine.
Another reason to be cautious with the slope is the increased chance of slipping. Steeper slopes can cause problems when carrying something heavy out of the shed on a rainy day.
How to Prepare Ground for Shed Ramp?
You’ll need to start with flat, level ground. You may need to tamp the soil down to firm it. Consider how water will drain from your ramp. Make sure that there is no rise around the foot of the ramp site that may hold water and cause it to stand on the end of the ramp. You may find some useful information in my article How To Prepare The Ground For a Storage Shed for your ramp.
How to Attach Ramp to Shed?
While most wooden ramps are attached right to the shed or installed with the front just under the shed threshold, with a paving stone ramp, you won’t need to actually attach the ramp to the shed. Once built, the ramp is not going to move, and you don’t want any of the ramp materials to touch any wooden parts of the shed.
The stone, soil and gravel can transfer moisture to the wood. It would be a good idea to install some sort of plastic sheathing to any wood that will be under or could touch the ramp before starting.
If you choose to build a wooden tray to hold your pavers, this can be attached to the wood of the structure as a wooden ramp would be. Just make sure that any wood is protected from the dirt, gravel, sand and paving stones.
Step by Step Guide to Build Ramp with Pavers
Choose your stones with handling weight in mind so that they can handle your heavier equipment without strain. Mark the sides of your ramp path with stakes placed every six inches along the path. You’ll need some heavy-duty lawn edging material to contain your gravel. Some sources recommend using road base, as it contains different sizes of stone that tends to tamp down more firmly, limiting shifting.
Lay down landscape fabric along your path. Then put in a layer of gravel. Some people create most of the ramp with dirt, allowing for a layer of gravel three inches thick. Others prefer building the whole ramp with gravel.
However you choose to build it, be sure to tamp the gravel down firmly for every two inches that are laid down. Wetting it down with a hose will make this easier.
Spread a layer of bedding sand a half-inch thick over the gravel. Bedding sand is specially made of sharply angled grains that help it to lock the stones into place and keep them there more firmly than common sand. Some recommend using cement sand. Pull a 2×4 piece of wood over the sand to smooth it and make sure it’s level.
Lay the pavers on the sand, starting with the top middle and going out to the sides. For each course, start again with the middle. Tamp each one down with a rubber mallet. Depending on the pattern you want to make with the pavers, you may need to cut some at either end to create a straight edge. Spread a layer of sand over the pavers and sweep it into the joints between the stones. Tamp down the stones again to make sure they are level.
If the slope is higher than the edging material covers on the sides, you can put treated planks on the sides following your slope. You can also use pavers laid on edge to contain the dirt on the sides. Cut the pavers to match the slope of the ramp. You can also make a brick wall or block wall to hold everything together.
This would best be constructed with cement to keep any dirt from escaping and should be done before constructing the actual ramp. Another choice is to spread the dirt fill of the ramp wider than needed for the actual ramp size where the stones will be laid. Plantings of small or dwarf bushes along the sides will hold in the soil and make a pleasing appearance.
Another way to make the ramp is to build a frame or tray of treated lumber to place on top of your soil and gravel to contain the sand and stones. Use a moisture barrier under the sand. This will keep the wood in good shape and better enable water to run off. Put a small strip of wood along the bottom, just enough to keep the stones and sand from sliding off.
Paving stones seem to be an uncommon choice for a shed ramp. They do require more work, but the finished job should impress anyone who sees it.