5 Tips to Consider when Designing Your Accessible Bathroom

Accessible bathroom remodeling isn’t limited to individuals with disabilities or aging adults confined to a wheelchair. Homeowners renovating their bathrooms need to re-evaluate design considerations to best fit their needs as they age in their homes. Common aspects of a bathroom like wet shower tile and a low toilet can pose a threat to the elderly. However, installing handicap showers or a handicap bathtub can transform a space into an accessible, handicap bathroom.

1.  Generous Dimensions

The first consideration when building a wheelchair-accessible bathroom is the dimensions of the bathroom door. A wheelchair-accessible room should have a door with a minimum width of 32 inches. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 5-foot turning radius for a wheelchair. It’s also important to consider the placement of fixtures (toilet, shower, tub, sink) within the bathroom to make it maneuverable for an individual in a wheelchair.

Handicapped disabled access bathroom bathtub with electric handles for people with disabilities

Your door dimensions are another thing to consider. A standard wheelchair is 24-27” (approx. 600- 690 mm) wide. In order to accommodate a wheelchair, the bathroom door should be at least 32” (815 mm) wide but ideally 36” (915 mm) wide. The extra space allows for easy access for a wheelchair, especially if the door is accessed from a hallway, and you’ll have to turn the wheelchair to enter.

2.   Extra Space Around Toilet

The toilet should be positioned between two support bars 36 inches apart to make it easy to sit down and stand back up. A toilet seats 17 inches off the floor is the ideal height for someone in a wheelchair. If you need a handicapped bathroom, it is recommended to leave a space on one side of the toilet to be able to move the wheelchair close, and for those requiring transfer assistance. Grab bars near the toilet can also be helpful.

A “comfort height” (taller) toilet may be easier to use and a bidet can also be helpful. Finally, consider where the flush controls are for these devices. Make sure that they are in a location that will be easy for the user.

3.  Wide Shower Entry and Grab Bars

An accessible bathroom often includes a shower rather than a bathtub, for easier access, and safety. Additionally, a caregiver or spouse may need to help with the bathing process, so a shower space should be generously sized. The recommendation is generally 32” – 36” (915 mm) wide and 60” (1525 mm) deep so that it can accommodate a wheelchair as well as an extra person. The entry should ideally be 36” (915 mm) wide and flat (curbless) or close to flat at the entry point – you want the ability to wheel directly in, without a high curb.

4.  Add Clearance Beneath the Sink

A wheelchair-accessible sink requires at least 27 inches of clearance under the sink in order for the individual to roll up. If there isn’t any clearance under the sink then the individual’s legs will bump into the fixture and he or she won’t be able to access the faucet. The top of the sink should be 32 to 34 inches off the floor. It’s also important to remember to hang the bathroom mirror low enough for an individual in a wheelchair to see themselves. A bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to fit the faucets on the side of the sink to make them easier to reach for a seated individual.

5.  Smart Fixture Placement

Beyond showering and bathing, the rest of your bathroom can also be optimized for your accessibility needs. Here are some of the best features we’ve seen to improve bathroom safety for those that need it:

  • Emergency Call Buttons: These are usually placed by the toilet or next to the bath or shower area. Emergency call buttons can be connected to an app that can alert a caretaker or household member of a potential emergency. They can also be set-up to contact 9-11 directly.
  • Digital or Sensor Faucets: Traditional faucet accessories can be difficult to operate for those suffering from arthritis or other physical conditions. Instead of rotating fixtures, opt for press-button or sensor faucets that turn on and off without the hassle.
  • Lighting Upgrades: Similarly, light switches can cause problems for people suffering from arthritis or other conditions. Push-button or sensor lighting can be excellent upgrades for increasing usability in the bathroom.

New Jersey’s Choice for Bathroom Upgrades

If you’re interested in a safer bath experience at a surprisingly affordable price, Bath Planet New Jersey is here to assist you. We’d love to help you regain independence with better bathroom accessibility with the highest quality products, professional installations, and personalized customer service that we’re known for as a leading New Jersey bathroom remodeling company.