If a member of your household uses a wheelchair or has other requirements related to mobility, your bathroom should accommodate those needs. Make sure the space is accessible and comfortable.
This guide highlights how to make a bathroom handicap accessible and gives tips for fixtures and handicap bathroom accessories that can help create a useable space for those with physical limitations.
Handicap Bathroom Dimensions
The the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that bathrooms be large enough to provide space for wheelchairs. While ADA requirements don’t apply to private residences, the guidelines may be used when determining the needs for you and your family.
The ADA suggests handicap bathroom dimensions of at least 30-inches by 48-inches to provide parallel or forward access to bathroom fixtures. In order for a typical wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn, a space with a diameter of 60-inches is needed. The space may include unobstructed floor beneath bathroom fixtures, such as a wall-mounted sink or toilet, provided there is enough toe and knee clearance.
Handicap bathroom doors must be wide enough for a typical wheelchair to pass through. If the door provides straight entry – at the end of a hallway, for example – the passage must have a minimum width of 32-inches.
If the bathroom is off the side of a hallway, the accessible door width must be at least 36-inches to accommodate a turning wheelchair.
There are additional considerations with handicap accessible bathroom doors:
- In tight spaces, the door should open out from the bathroom.
- Door hardware should include door lever handles that minimize the need for grasping and rotating, which can be difficult for those with dexterity limitations.
Lighting for Handicap Accessibility
When deciding how to make a bathroom handicap accessible, remember that traitional light switches must be within reach for a wheelchair user.
Toilets in Accessible Bathrooms
ADA requirements stipulate that toilet bowl rims must be 17- to 19-inches from the finished floor. Toilet seats, which can vary by thickness, add to that height. For most wheelchair users, the ideal toilet seat height should be level with the wheelchair for easier tranferring.
Other people with limited mobility might prefer chair-height toilets, which can be easier to sit down on and stand up from.
Another option is toilet seat risers. These handicap bathroom accessories easily fit on top of the existing toilet to provide an elevated seat. Many varieties of elevated toilet seats have padded arms to help individuals who need a boost sitting down or standing up from the toilet.
If you’re remodeling a bathroom to make it handicap accessible, consider wall-mounted toilets. This type of toilet creates the floor space necessary for turning a wheelchair. Plus, if installed as part of a renovation, a wall-mounted toilet can be positioned at a custom height.
People who have difficulty using their hands might benefit from bidets to help maintain personal hygiene.
Grab bars must be properly installed next to the toilet as well as the bathtub and/or shower at appropriate heights for bathroom handicap accessibility.
Vertical and horizontal grab bars are used for leverage and stability when standing or sitting. To ensure safety, follow ADA guidelines regarding placement and manufacturer instructions for secure installation.
Installing grab bars is one example of bath safety products and accessibility projects that can benefit everyone in the residence, no matter their age or range of mobility.
Accessible Showers and Bathtubs
Curbless showers, or roll-in shower stalls, permit entry without having to step over a threshold. Many barrier-free shower kits fit into standard 60-inch bathtub openings for easy conversion and have a built-in benches.
If stepping into a standard tub isn’t an issue, but balance or endurance issues prevent standing for lengthy periods, use a shower chair that can be easily removed for other bathers. A handheld shower head is an essential component of an accessible bathroom.
Walk-in tubs accommodate those who may not be able to step over a standard bathtub apron. Many models have a door that opens to the floor for easier mobility. Users step through the low threshold and sit on an ADA-compliant built-in bench. Most have handheld shower heads and some feature a range of therapeutic massage jets.
Maximum sink height in a handicap-accessible bathroom is 34-inches. Additional criteria regarding bathroom sinks include clearance for a wheelchair beneath the bowl, making wall-mounted sinks a good option.
However, if a user is able to walk but has difficulty with bending, consider a higher sink and countertop.