What comes to mind when you think of designing a handicap-accessible restroom for your home? You probably think of grab bars, walk-in tubs, lower countertops, and other additional features to ensure a wheelchair user could comfortably use the restroom. But don’t forget the floor plan! Without room to manuever the wheelchair, other special features won’t be much help.
A carefully designed floor plan is just as important to a handicap-accessible bathroom layout as any other alteration. A wheelchair user needs room to comfortably move around without hitting anything and potentially injuring themselves. As you draw up your wheelchair-accessible bathroom layout, consider the following crucial factors.
ADA Regulations and Recommendations
Since the ADA only applies to businesses, you aren’t necessarily obligated to follow ADA guidelines for a bathroom in your home. However, the measurements and recommendations provided give you a very clear picture of what a wheelchair user requires to comfortably use the bathroom. Turning space for a wheelchair, permissible accessories, and more are outlined in detail in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design online booklet. If you aren’t sure how well a particular feature will work in a handicap-accessible floor plan, see if the ADA has addressed the issue.
ADA requirements for a handicap-accessible toilet include the following:
- The toilet must clear the floor by at least 30 inches.
- The toilet must be located against a wall, either behind it or on the left or right. The center of the toilet cannot be further than 18 inches from either wall.
- At least one side grab bar is required. This bar must be 42 inches long, at most 12 inches from the rear wall, and 33-36 inches above the floor.
- Any rear grab bar must be 36 inches long and positioned exactly over the center of the toilet.
An ADA-compliant sink meets the following criteria:
- The sink cannot be higher than 34 inches off the ground.
- The area under the sink must provide feet and toe clearance of 27 and 9 inches, respectively. This ensures that the sink can be used comfortably while sitting down.
- The sink handles must be easily turned on and off with one hand.
Shower and Bathtub Guidelines
Pro Tip: Most walk-in tubs meet ADA requirements and provide a comfortable experience for a wheelchair user. All you have to do is add grab bars.
To safely use the shower or tub, a wheelchair user will need several of the same spacing accommodations required for the toilet. A few other key components include:
- Grab bars should be placed at the same end as the faucet and drain, at the same height and length as required for the toilet.
- A bathtub needs either a permanent or removable seat for the user at the same end as the faucet.
- For a shower with a seat or roll-in design, plan for at least a 36 by 36-inch clearance space and add grab bars on the nearest walls. Once again, the guidelines for grab bars by the toilet give you an idea of height and length.
- The shower knob should be between 38 and 48 inches off the ground.
Remodeling Your Bathroom for Handicap Accessibility
As you remodel your bathroom to accommodate your wheelchair-bound or handicapped loved one, remember that their safety and comfort is your priority. Providing plenty of floor space and other accommodations in your ADA-compliant bathroom will ensure they can care for themselves safely.
Looking for more ideas on how to incorporate ADA guidelines into your project? Connect with us and see how other people designed a fully handicap-accessible restroom.