Accessible bathroom with grab bars

Accessible Bathroom Guide: 5 Tips to Make Your Bathroom More Accessible

Designing your bathroom to be accessible for all will increase your home’s value and be more accommodating to your guests.

If you choose to sell your home one day, it might be purchased by families with young children, seniors, or someone with a disability. Ensuring your bathroom already accommodates the needs of any of those people will make it more saleable.

Or, perhaps you or a loved one has a disability and you’re renovating the bathroom for their benefit.

Regardless of your reason, ensuring your new bathroom is accessible to all will only add value to your home and life. To learn the 5 most important tips when upgrading to an accessible bathroom, keep reading.

1. Access to the Bathroom

Physically entering a bathroom can be a challenge for someone in a wheelchair or walker.  Most doorways are too narrow and the door knobs are difficult to manoeuvrer from a sitting position.

To combat this challenge, ensure your new accessible bathroom has a door frame of at least 34″ / 86cm wide. That should allow all wheelchairs to roll in and out comfortably.

You should also address the doorknob issue. From a seated position, it’s much easier to open a door with a lever handle than a knob.

Attaching the door so that it swings outward instead of into the bathroom will allow for more space inside.

Speaking of size, the minimum floor space required is recommended to be 30″ x 48″ for full mobility of wheelchairs and walkers. And, some people with a disability will require a carer or relative to assist them, so ensuring two people can fit comfortably is key.

2. Bathroom Lighting

Light switches are often out of reach for people in wheelchairs. Consider installing them lower so that everyone can access them.

The amount of light in your bathroom is important for the safety of whoever’s using it.

With reflective surfaces, there can be a lot of glare from the lights. You can remedy this by including a dimmer on the light switch, and by positioning the lights in strategic places.

There shouldn’t only be lights above the mirror, but in the different sections of the bathroom for full visibility.

Another option for accessible lighting is to install motion detector lights so that a switch isn’t necessary. This is a luxury disabled and able-bodied people will love.

3. Shower and Bathtub

Regular showers and bathtubs can be a nightmare for someone with a disability to use. Not only are they usually quite small but accessing them requires stepping over a ledge.

Consider building a wheelchair accessible shower that doesn’t have a ledge to step over.

You can still have a glass door, but once inside, the shower floor should gently slope towards the drain. And, if someone who requires a seat transfer into the shower will be using it, make sure it’s big enough.

Once in the shower, it could be helpful to place a plastic stool or chair, so the user can take a break and sit down. Or, install a fixed shower seat with the same tile as the rest of the shower for aesthetic appeal.

Bathing areas should always have grab bars. There should be a bar on each wall of the shower and at least two outside the shower. Plus, the towel bar should be within easy reach.

An obvious adjustment you can make to your bathroom is installing textured tiles or a non-slip mat to the shower floor to prevent slips.

Shower Products

The accessories you place in your shower should also focus on accessibility.

Having a hanging shampoo shelf attached to the shower head will be out of reach for someone sitting down. Ensure all necessary products are placed within reach.

Lower shelves can be installed or built-in to a new shower.

4. Bathroom Sink

The bathroom sink needs to be accessible to all who use the bathroom for sanitary reasons and for comfort.

Although it looks nice to have a built-in cabinet under the sink, this can prevent seated users from being able to reach the tap. There needs to be space under the sink for a wheelchair to approach comfortably.

Consider using motion detection water controls for the tap instead of traditional handles.

The sensors can be placed under the sink and below the tap. This way, users who are standing can signal the water to turn on with their hands, and seated users can signal the water to turn on with their lap.

The vanity needs to be strong enough for any user to lean on or use for mobility. There should also be grab bars within reach in all bathroom areas.

5. Toilet

It’s the one feature of the bathroom that everyone has got to use at one point or another. Making it accessible to all is the most important renovation you can do in this room.

When purchasing a toilet, choose one that is at least 17″ tall and no taller than 19″. A comfort height toilet allows easy transfer from wheelchair to the toilet as well as a shorter distance from standing to sitting.

Another option for a wheelchair accessible toilet is one that is wall-mounted.

When installing one that is attached to the wall, it can be mounted at the appropriate height for someone approaching it with a wheelchair.

The placement of the toilet roll holder is crucial to sanitation and ease of use. Ensure that it is in front of the toilet so that the user doesn’t need to reach backward. It should also be around knee-height.

As with other spots in the bathroom, there should be grab bars on either side of the toilet. This is important if the user needs to lean or place their weight somewhere to sit down.

Looking for More Ways to Create an Accessible Bathroom?

There are lots of other ways to increase the accessibility of your bathroom- some without any renovation.

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who uses a wheelchair and needs to utilize the bathroom. Consider the slipperiness of the floor, the height of commonly reached-for items, and the space required to move around.

For more ideas on creating an accessible bathroom, choosing the right bathroom fixtures, and new bathroom renovation trends, check out our blog.

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