, inHaving a bathroom that is accessible, safe, functional and still beautiful is easy to achieve with one of Countertops and Cabinetry by Designs knowledgeable designers. Our daily living aids include grab rails, shower seats, chairs, stools, fold down rails, toilet plinths, bath boards, and bath seats. We can provide an extensive range of high-quality independent living products which are designed and developed to provide extra confidence and accessibility for those with some degree of difficulty performing day to day tasks in the bathroom.
What Makes a Bathroom Wheelchair Accessible?
One of the things many people can forget about when remodeling a bathroom is planning for future accessibility. You may notice that more and more people are accommodating their home for wheelchair access, whether due to a disability, or advancing age. There are now at least 30 million Americans who use wheelchairs—a number that is only expected to increase as the baby boomer generation continues to age. The bottom line is that more and more people face challenges when looking for ways to continue to live independently in their home.
It’s also important to remember that the bathroom can truly be one of the most dangerous places in your home, particularly for someone who has a disability or is elderly. In fact, as many as two-thirds of all emergency room visits are the result of a fall in the bathroom. Issues related to wet floors, small spaces and the bending and lifting necessary to access tubs, showers and toilets are multiplied exponentially for the person in a wheelchair.
Bathrooms that provide wheelchair access can certainly present design challenges. First and foremost, it’s extremely important the bathroom is barrier-free and larger than average. Wheelchair access requires at least a five feet diameter space to allow for easy maneuverability. There must also be at least four feet of clear space in front of the toilet, the tub or shower, and the vanity. If the sink and toilet are on the same wall, you also have to have an appropriate amount of space between the two. This space not only gives room for a wheelchair but also for a caregiver, if needed.
It’s also important to consider doorway space. Doorways must be at least 36” wide to allow a wheelchair to easily pass through, with a door which swings out, rather than inward. Instead of a doorknob, the bathroom door must be equipped with a lever-type handle. In case the hallway outside the bathroom is particularly small, a pocket door could be a good option to consider. Additionally, there are vanities that are specifically sold for wheelchair use, allowing the wheelchair to pull closer to the base of the vanity.
You also have to think about the shower entrance. There cannot be any stall threshold that would impede the entrance or exit of a wheelchair. A sturdy grab bar in the shower is essential, along with a built-in shower seat. Grab rails beside the tub and toilet are other typical bathroom accessibility products, as are light switches mounted in a lower position, a telephone or other method of contacting someone in the event of a fall, and faucets designed to reduce the risk of scalding.
When planning an accessible bathroom, there are certain questions you must ask yourself, including:
- What level of assistance does the person using the bathroom require?
- Are specific medical supplies necessary and, if so, where will these supplies be placed?
- Will there be a tub or shower in the bathroom?
- Where should grab bars be placed?
- Will there be additional needs in the bathroom in the future?
One of our professionals from Countertops and Cabinetry by Design can help you answer these questions, offering you the information and education necessary to make your choices easier. Below are some of the specific bathroom accessibility products to consider when planning a wheelchair-accessible bathroom:
Shower and Tub Accessibility
Level entry shower bases can be incorporated into any design. While still using standard tile materials, we can make your shower accessible and luxurious without drawing attention to the accessibility. A level entry shower base is a good investment in any remodel at any stage in life.
A shower seat should be between 17” and 19”, and for some, a rolling shower seat might make showering easier. You must have a curbless shower with the opening to the shower level with the floor, and the interior sloped to the drain. Additionally, for those using a wheelchair, the shower must be at least 60” wide, but if you’re simply installing a shower seat, the shower must be at least 36” wide. If you need to install a tub, consider a walk-in tub for easier access, with tub controls installed near the front edge. Regardless of whether you’re installing a shower or tub, it is essential that you have non-slip surfaces to avoid unnecessary falls. It could also be useful to install overhead lights in the shower or tub area to increase safety. Also, towel shelves or hooks should always be within easy reach of the shower or tub for easy access.
Bathroom Sinks and Vanities
For those in wheelchairs, it’s important that sinks are mounted on the wall, with no cabinets underneath. This allows users—whether seated or standing—to have sufficient clearance and knee space. If storage is a concern, consider low storage drawers which fully pull out. You should use single-handed faucets because it allows the faucet to be easily turned on without twisting. You might even consider hands-free sensors on the water faucets. Universal design can sometimes present a challenge in bathrooms. Cabinetry can be designed with taller and deeper toe kicks to allow easier wheelchair access to cabinets and countertops.
Most importantly, any furniture or vanities used in the bathroom should be very sturdy in case someone needs to quickly grab on to one in order to maneuver around the bathroom.
According to ADA guidelines, the toilets in “standard” bathrooms are generally from 17”-19” high. A higher toilet seat will make it easier for people with disabilities to lower, stand and transfer from a wheelchair or walker to the toilet. Additionally, it’s important that the toilet paper dispenser placement is adjusted according to the height of the toilet. There should also be at least one grab bar on one side of the toilet, although it would be ideal if there were a grab bar on either side, with about 36” in between the two grab bars.
It is important to have bright, even lighting in an accessible bathroom to increase the level of safety. Lower light switches, or motion detector lights which turn on when a person comes into the bathroom, can be extremely helpful. Rather than a typical light switch, a large push button is a good choice.
What Should I Think About Before Talking to a Professional About Making My Bathroom Accessible?
Before you talk to a Greater Cincinnati professional from Countertops and Cabinetry by Design, you will need to know the preferences of the person who will be using the bathroom, as well as his or her taste, the budget for the product, the types of products you are interested in, the dimensions of the existing bathroom and the overall décor of your home. You will also need to know whether all these choices are your own, or whether the bathroom must be ADA compliant.
How Can We Help You?
Outfitting a bathroom to make it accessible can be an overwhelming task, but our team will make the task both faster and simpler than it would otherwise be. We have a deep understanding of the logistics involved in creating an accessible bathroom for you, and our approach is vastly different from that of our competitors. In fact, our business model allows for faster turnaround and a higher degree of customization than others within our industry. Our design and installation teams are committed to getting your job done quickly, causing you the least amount of disarray in your home as possible. We complete your job in the same manner we would complete a job in our own home, never cutting corners in installation, and never compromising the end product simply to reduce cost. We want you to fully understand every option in the design and installation process, and because we deeply understand the industry, our work reflects this fact. Above all, we value our clients’ trust, and always work hard to gain this trust and keep this trust. Contact us today so we can discuss the best path to make your bathroom accessible.