Just like the other rooms, bathrooms must be designed in such a way that it could be accessed easily by the disabled people with wheelchairs. This is important for every home with a wheelchair user. Currently, there are about thirty million people in America using wheelchairs, which makes it important to think about a bathroom remodeling for disabled access. As the responsible individual of our home, we need to look in for the ways by which we can make the disabled persons of our home live independently. Here, let’s discuss the things to consider while thinking about a bathroom remodel for disabled access.
Need for a Universal Design:
Bathrooms that are built for universal access would present us with several design challenges, as well as opportunities. As such, we need to take into account the intended capabilities, preferences, as well as our tastes, in the process of planning our bathrooms. Most of the contractors at Topremodelers.com say the universal design would accommodate the disabled people in wheelchairs in a better way. At the same time, these models would make a bath more comfortable for normal users too! In this, no one is required to sacrifice their taste and style.
Priorities to Consider:
Expert builders say the first priority to consider in a bathroom remodel for disabled access is the plenty of space for access and maneuvering. In general, these kinds of bathrooms will be larger than usual. Therefore, it’s important that you remember this point while planning. Next priority will be to leave an open space in the bathroom for at least 5-feet diameter. This would enable an easy turning for the disabled people. In addition to this, the remodelers are asking the people to leave an additional 4-feet space in front of all the fixtures and the sink/toilet. These would be helpful for the disabled persons to make an easy move.
Doors and Doorways:
Next, we shall move to the doorways. These should be at least three feet wide in order for the wheelchair to pass by. As such, the doors should be made to swing outward rather than inward. Most of the builders suggest that the doors should be fitted with lever-type handles rather than a knob. When the bathroom space is limited, pocket doors could be the best choice.
Besides these, the ADA requires a minimum of 30 X 48 inches of clear floor space on either side of the doorway so as to accommodate the disabled person, as well as the wheelchair turning in positions. However, here you have the option of customizing it for ramps and other things. Alternatively, if you are remodeling to accommodate a larger electric chair, you would need even more space than this.
Shower Stall Considerations:
The shower stalls should have at least 5 X 3 feet dimensions with no curb. Personally, if you need a curb installed, go for a rubber one so that the chair can roll over easily. While you can choose to use a net shower chair with wheels, the much-preferred option will be to use a built-in shower seat. Expert builders at Topremodelers.com suggest sloping the bathroom floor toward drain at least six inches outside the shower curtain.
Finally, the shower stall should not have any threshold that could impede the entrance/exit of the wheelchair.
Handheld Shower Considerations:
When it comes to hand-held shower, the slider bar for the shower hose and shower head should be at least four feet above the floor. This would make it easier for the shower head to be slid up to six feet high. Topremodelers suggests using a thermostatically controlled shower valve, which is also pressure-balanced so as to prevent the users from scalds. As such, the control valves and the showerheads are to be installed at two different heights. Alternatively, you can also try to include a handheld nozzle that could be used from sitting position. An additional layer of comfort and utility could be provided by the built-in seat in the shower and its sturdy, colored grab bar. In case if the disabled person wants to have a full body wash, the ordinary shower head can also be included.
Sink and Clearance:
The best sink that can be used is a wall mount or pedestal type due to the presence of an open space beneath. However, it’s to be noted that any sink should be installed in such a way that it could give enough space for the wheelchair to move around. Therefore, you are advised to leave at least 17 inches from the wall. Also, the space between the bathroom floor and the bottom of the sink should be at least 29 inches, although you can adjust this according to your preferences. Here, we’d like to remind that anything beyond three feet will be hard to reach. Alternatively, if you are installing the sink within an actual counterpart and vanity set, you should leave only a few inches of space between the edge and your sink.
Now, let’s turn to the faucets. The faucets could be fixed on the sides of the sink to give an easy access for the disabled persons. It’s even better if you could install infrared faucets that could detect motion. You can also hang a mirror low enough for the wheelchair user to view themselves.
Toilet and Toilet Placements:
The toilets should be wide enough for the disabled person to have an easy access. They should be installed in such a way it’s easy to grab bars and seat. As such, it has to accommodate the width of the wheelchair. We’d suggest you install a horizontal grab bar as well on the back wall and at the sides. These grab bars should be installed 36 inches apart. The toilet must be around 17 to 19 inches off the bathroom floor. However, you can make it even higher according to your wish. The flush levers should be reachable from the toilet seat and so, plan it accordingly.
Apart from the grab bars described above, you would also need some grab bars to be installed directly into the wall studs. These should be fixed at about 34 to 38 inches from the bathroom floor, although you can adjust them according to your needs. All the grab bars should have rounded edges and must be mounted directly to the walls for providing the maximum support to the disabled persons. As such, the clearance between their handles and the walls should be no more than 1 ½ inches. You may have to use anchor bolts for installing these grab bars depending on the thickness of the material.