If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair or has special requirements due to accessibility, it’s important that your ADA bathroom layout must meet those needs. It’s your responsibility to provide them or other users comfort and accessibility. 

Nowadays, there are more bathroom designs that are specially designed for the elderly and handicapped. Many home builders now have been including these designs into their homes for such people. It makes sure that the space is accessible and comfortable for everybody. But there are certain steps and rules by ADA bathroom designs that you have to take in order to ensure that the space is easy to use for everyone. 

Designing an accessible bathroom doesn’t mean to look like a hospital room. Depending on the person’s need, you can create fresh, modern bathroom designs that are also accessible. This blog will help you to know how to make a bathroom handicap accessible. So, whether you are retrofitting your existing bathroom or building a new one, this blog will help you to create a modern and usable space for those with physical limitations.

Things You Should Consider 

Below are five crucial things that you should keep in mind while designing an ADA bathroom are:

1. Shower & Tub

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  • Use a rolling shower seat or fixed shower seat in the bath, and the height of the shower seat should be in between 17” to 19”. You can also put a small stool or plastic chair that will help the person to sit while taking a shower. 
  • Try to use a curbless walk-in shower; it is ideal for people using a wheelchair or walker. It also makes your space modern, sophisticated, and appealing. The shower should be 36” wide and 60” wide for someone using a transfer seat and a wheelchair, respectively. 
  • Walk-in tubs are much more comfortable as it allows a person to walk into the tub without climbing over the side of the tub.
  • Don’t forget to include a nonslip floor to prevent falls. A textured tile or a slatted wood tray over a concrete floor will work too. 
  • To maintain safe water temperature and volume, install anti-scald mixing valves. Also, Limit the temperature in the tub and shower to 120 degrees.
  • Always store all the bath accessories and essentials such as hair care, bathing products, soap, washcloth, etc. in low height or at an easily reachable area. 
  • Use as many overhead lights in the shower as it will allow additional light to come and eventually increase the safety. 
  • Install the latest technology, such as shower controls, so that anyone can use them without getting wet. 

2. Bathroom Sink & Vanity 

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  • A sink should be directly mounted on the wall without any cabinet underneath. So that both standing and seated users can use it comfortably. The front of the sink should also have 34” maximum rim height with a 27” clearance space for knees.  
  • Install single-handle faucets or hands-free faucets with a sensor as users can easily use them.
  • Place an extra-long mirror, or tilt mirror at a low height so that everyone can use it.
  • All the bathroom supplies such as hair dryers, curlers, makeup, bathroom linens, bath cleaning stuff, dental care, prescriptions, eye care/contact lenses, and first-aid supplies are always needed to be placed in an easy reach zone. 

3. Bath – Toilet 

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  • According to the ADA guidelines, a toilet should be 17”-19” high as this is the most suitable height for all people. They can easily sit, stand, or can transfer from a wheelchair/walker to the toilet.
  • You can use a wall-hung model toilet that can be mounted at a height depending upon the person. 
  • There must be at least one grab bar to one side of the toilet at the distance of 18”. However, the ideal toilet placement with two support bars is positioned between 36”.
  • Place all the necessary things near the toilet seat such as toilet paper, sanitary products, wipes, and medical equipment. 

4. Bathroom Lighting

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  • Lighting is another safety precaution that you should take care of. You should plan in such a way that there is even lighting to avoid shadows and glares. 
  • You can also use natural lighting and dimmers to softness brightness. 
  • Install switches with a large toggle or push button at a lower height, and you can use Motion detector lights for the individuals who have trouble accessing light switches.

5. General Bathroom Access & Safety Instructions

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  • An accessible bathroom should be 30” x 48” for mobility devices in front of each plumbing fixture so that there will be room to turn around in a wheelchair.
  • Doors should be wide enough for wheelchair access, which means it should be a minimum of 34” wide. 
  • Try to install a door that opens up outwards instead of inwards as it will allow more space inside the bathroom. You can also use a pocket door in small spaces to optimize space.
  • Make sure there is enough space for 2 people if an attendant is needed to assist someone. 
  • All the electrical outlets should be installed at a lower height to use appliances such as hairdryers, toothbrushes, and electric razors. 
  • Never place loose bath mats on the floor; they can be obstacles for people in a wheelchair. All your fittings and fixtures should be comfortable and convenient, which means that they must be easy to control with a single hand motion. 

How to Make a Bath Accessible for the Elderly and Handicapped?

Below are some tips for creating a bath for the Elderly and Handicapped persons in your existing bath. 

  • Retro-Fit Toilets

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Basically, Retro-fitting refers to making some minor changes to an existing space. For example, just by adding extenders to your existing toilet, you can make it more accessible for seniors that have difficulty in lowering themselves or for those transferring to wheelchairs. Additionally, there have been new mosaic tiles installed in the above bath, which makes the floor less slippery. 

  • Senior Friendly Bathrooms

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Use Curbless showers or roll-in shower stalls; they’ll provide more accessibility and ease to the user. The shower valve is installed at a height that can be reached from a seated or standing position. Also, a handheld showerhead and a shower chair are the essential components of an accessible bathroom. 

When designing a senior-friendly bath, consider the below points: 

  • Always install Two grab bars in the shower to prevent falling.
  • Use that kind of showerhead that can be disengaged from the wall for the flexibility of the user. 
  • The bath must be wide enough to support wheelchair movements. 
  • Handicap-Accessible Doors

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Doors are an essential part of the accessible design. They must be wide enough for a typical wheelchair to pass through, which is about at least 36-inches. In tight spaces, the door should open out of the bathroom. Besides this, the Door hardware should include door lever handles that minimize the need for grasping and rotating. 

  • Grab Bars

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Grab bars are very important and they must always be placed in the shower. They should be installed next to the toilet and the bathtub and shower panel at appropriate heights for bathroom handicap accessibility.

For example, a tub- two bars should be installed on the sidewall at standing and sitting range, and for a shower, all three walls should have grab bars. 

ADA Bathroom Design Guidelines

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Here are some additional guidelines for bathroom designs that’ll help you to design for the elderly and handicapped:

  • Always place grab bars parallel to the floor, never diagonally, alongside the toilet and in the tub or shower area.
  • Make sure that the countertops or sinks are 30-34 inches high for someone in a wheelchair, and 40 inches high that is also open from the downside for someone who has trouble bending. 
  • The toilets must be approximately 18 inches high. You can also install seat extenders. 
  • Always hang mirrors lengthwise, along the back of the sink. Also, the bathing benches should be two-to-four inches smaller than the tub width. 
  • The bathroom entrance should be 32 to 36 inches wide, and there’s plenty of room around the toilet so that a wheelchair can move easily. 
  • Eliminate all the clutter from the bathroom, such as Decorative knick-knacks on countertops, extension cords, and hampers because they can become obstacles for someone.
  • Use adjustable lighting, which means those lights that can be easily lowered or brightened. 
  • Install faucets and valves that have lever handles that can be turned without gripping, rather than cross handles that require a tight grip. Also, Install a hand shower rather than a fixed showerhead so that the user can have more flexibility in the shower.

Create a Safe & Happy Environment

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Now, you know how to create a bathroom space that is easily accessible and functional for everyone, and that too modern looking. Believe us, the time and effort that you put into designing and implementing these safety measures can potentially save you quite a bit of stress and risk. Always follow the ADA guidelines and the advice of professionals.

I hope these layout ideas would help you enhance your current bathroom design, and you will create an easy to use bath space for everyone. For more home improvement and decoration tips and guidance, keep coming to Homedesignnow