Accessibility is one of the most important factors to take into account when remodeling an existing bathroom or designing a new bathroom. Accessible bathroom remodeling isn’t just limited to aging adults confined to a wheelchair. Homeowners remodeling their bathrooms need to rethink design considerations to best fit their needs as they age in place.
Likewise, having an aging in place specialist who is trained in the needs of the aging population, common remodeling projects and expenditures, codes and standards, product ideas and resources will ensure success on your bathroom remodel.
The first consideration when building an accessible bathroom is the dimensions to the bathroom door. A mobility device accessible room should have a door with a minimum width of 32 inches. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a 5-foot turning radius for a wheelchair. It’s also important to consider the placement and dimensions of the toilet, shower, tub, and sink within the bathroom to make it maneuverable for an individual with a mobility device.
A hand-held shower head with a slider bar increases accessibility by allowing individuals with disabilities to maintain autonomy while showering. Installing a thermostat-controlled and pressure-balanced valve prevents individuals from scalding themselves. A grab bar helps with stability while getting in and out of the shower is an easy installation that makes a bathroom more accessible. If you want to avoid an antiseptic, institutional look, choose a colored grab bar that matches other accents in the bathroom.
A wheelchair accessible sink requires at least 27 inches of clearance under the sink in order for the mobility device to roll up. If there isn’t any allowance under the sink then the individual’s legs will bump into the fixture making access to the faucet difficult. The top of the sink should be 32 to 34 inches off the floor. Also, it is important to remember to hang the bathroom mirror low enough for an individual in a wheelchair to see themselves. A bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to fit the faucets on the side of the sink to make them easier to reach for a seated individual.
Choosing textured flooring in the bathroom can help prevent dangerous slips and falls — especially when the floor is damp. Grip-friendly mosaic tile is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it provides numerous design possibilities that are compatible with any style. Whether you choose small tiles or larger tiles with lots of grout in between, the texture will provide just enough friction to help prevent dangerous falls.
In Short, remodeling a bathroom with universal accessibility presents both design challenges and opportunities. Involving a certified aging-in-place specialist to take careful inventory early in the planning process of all intended users’ capabilities, preferences, and tastes is fundamental. While universal design better accommodates disabled users, it can make a master bath safe and comfortable without sacrificing style.