A Homeowner’s Guide To Bathroom Accessibility

Mobility issues or difficulties in physical functioning are a reality for 15 percent of the population in the U.S.—that’s 38 million adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Private, residential homes are not covered by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Studies indicate that fewer than five percent of homes in the U.S. have the features necessary to accommodate a person with moderate mobility difficulties.

So, what should you do if you need a bathroom in your home that is handicap accessible?

Consider Room Size

If you would like your bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair (now or in the future), it’s essential to think about the square footage you must work with.

Ideally, a roll-in shower would be 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep with no curb. If you don’t need to accommodate a wheelchair, a shower should be a minimum of 36 x 36 inches with a curb no higher than ½ inches off the ground, according to the ADA.

While not all of us have the square footage in our homes to allow either of these configurations, luckily, there are even more creative options.

Turning your entire bathroom into a wet room can work for a shower solution. Everything in the bathroom will share one large open space, with an extra floor drain in the center of the room, sloped for drainage.

Sink, Toilet, and Tub Options

While it may not be possible to implement all the recommendations (especially for an older bathroom), you should still consider the ADA’s guides for clearance space around sinks and toilets. The more you can do, the more comfortable it will be for you or your loved one.

An ADA-compliant restroom will include the following:


  • 30-inch by 48-inch access to the sink—the door cannot swing into this rectangle.
  • 27 inches of clearance below the sink. A wall-hung sink may be a good option rather than a pedestal sink because the user can get closer to the basin.


  • A toilet seat height of 17-19 inches.
  • The centerline of the toilet must be between 16 and 18 inches from the sidewall.
  • Grab bars must be secured into the studs of your wall.
  • Ideally, there will be grab bars on both sides of the toilet. This has often been difficult if there isn’t a wall on both sides of the toilet. But nowadays manufacturers make hinged grab bars that can be attached to the wall behind the toilet and pulled down when needed.
  • Another option to consider in a handicap-accessible bathroom is a combination toilet and bidet to assist the user with cleaning him or herself.

Clear Floor Space

  • A clear circle of 60 inches to allow a wheelchair to turn.
  • One of the keys to an accessible bathroom is plenty of space to accommodate a cane, walker, or wheelchair. It’s essential to keep the bathroom as free from clutter as possible, especially things like hampers, garbage cans, and decorative rugs. They can present an easy trip hazard.

Grab Bars

  • Grab bars are essential safety features to include in several places around the bathroom—particularly areas like the sink and inside the shower. You or your loved one may have the ability to act independently but will still have a grab bar there in case you lose your balance. Grab bars also are vital when entering the tub or shower.


  • While most homeowners prefer a tub to shower conversion when making a bathroom handicap accessible, others prefer to keep their tub. In this case, a safety tub might be a good option. It has a swinging door, making it easy to step inside and sit down, and the tub fills and drains once you are inside.
  • Other features to consider are hand-held showers with a 60” hose, faucet controls that are located in an area where the user can adjust them without getting wet and handles that can be pushed or pulled so the user can turn them on and off with the palm of their hand.

Request a Free In-Home Estimate for Your Choice of New Jersey Accessibility Products

By getting in touch with Bath Planet today, you could be enjoying a safe, worry-free bath in just a matter of days. So why wait to get the accessible upgrades you and your family need? Call us today to discuss your needs with a New Jersey accessible bathing specialist, or fill out our quick online form now to start with a free cost estimate in your home.