Universal Design In The Bathroom

Universal Design | Entry & Access | Kitchen

[jbox title=”Universal Designs To Fit All Needs”]Whether buying or remodeling, all homeowners aim for accessibility, usability, and comfort for everyone in their homes. Universally designed homes easily achieve these goals in each room of the house. A barrier-free bathroom is a must for independent living and many of the design recommendations in this article can be done at any time without undertaking a major remodel. If you are planning a bath makeover soon, why not include some Universal Design features?[/jbox]

Accessible Toilets

  • Locate toilets 18″ from side walls, both for freedom of access from chair or walker and/or to allow room for grab bars.
  • Use an offset flange to move the toilet forward up to 3″ without having to relocate the waste pipe.
  • Choose a toilet with an easy-to-use flush handle and an extended seat. Add reinforcement for bars (now or later) in the wall.
  • Add wood blocking or solid plywood backing behind the surface wall. The wood provides the support necessary to support the weight of an adult.
  • Toilets with chair height seating can also provide greater comfort for those who have difficulty getting up from traditionally low toilet seat heights.

Lavatory and Vanity Accessibility

  • Provide knee space for seated users. To allow access, an open roll-under vanity needs to be 34″ high from the countertop to the floor and 29″ from the bottom of the sink to the floor.
  • A vanity or wall-hung sink needs to have at least a 17″ depth to allow space for knees.
  • Place the sink as close as possible to the front of a vanity cabinet to allow the user easier reach to the sink basin and faucet.
  • Removable cabinet allows conversion from regular vanity to an accessible lavatory. Simply mount the sink to the reinforced wall. Add a vanity case below that can be easily removed when needed.
  • Install lever handle faucets.
  • Exposed hot water pipes should be insulated and/or covered.

Bathtub Accessibility

  • Walk-in tubs offer the safety of a low step-in height and the comfort of showering or bathing in a seated position. Plus, some units include additional luxury features such as hydrotherapy spa jets to help soothe aches and pains.
  • Shower door tracks restrict movement in and out of the tub. Replace with a trackless door system.
  • Provide 30″ of open floor space in front of the tub when approaching from the end (head) and 48″ if the tub is approached straight-on (side).
  • Use lever handle (preferably single lever) faucets rather than hard to handle knobs.
  • Locate water control near the entry to the allow bather to turn on water while outside the tub.

Shower Accessibility

  • Shower dimension should be 36″ x 36″ with seat; 30″ x 60″ without a seat.
  • Locate water control near the entry to allow the bather to turn on water while outside the tub.
  • Curbless or roll-in showers are available for those who are unable to move from a wheelchair or have difficulty lifting their feet.

Install Grab Bars

  • Install grab bars instead of towel bars. Diameters should be 1-1/4″ – 1-1/2″.
  • Leave a space between the grab bar and wall of 1-1/2″. An opening that is too wide could allow a hand to get stuck and in effect, trap the user.
  • Look for replacement surrounds with built-in reinforced panels capable of accepting grab bars.

Other Tips for an Accessible Bathroom

Many other Universal Design principals apply in the bath as well as the rest of the home:

  • Install full-length mirrors or regular mirrors mounted lower.
  • All water supplies should have anti-scald temperature controls.
  • Thresholds should be no higher than 1/2″. No threshold is best.
  • Extra lighting and color contrast increase visibility.
  • Doorways with a width of 32″ minimum, although 36″ is best.
  • Swing-away hinges allow full use of door frame.
  • Easy to grasp cabinet hardware and door handles fit all hands.
  • Room to turn a wheelchair – (5′ x 5′)
  • Nonskid floors