If you’ve decided to remodel your guest bathroom to make it both universally functional and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible to persons with mobility issues, you need to begin by carefully detailing your needs. Start by considering what features a guest with disabilities might need to have easy access to – such as mirrors, faucets, toilets, vanity countertops and towels/accessories – to make their experience as comfortable as possible.

Think about your own mobility and how someone challenged in similar ways would need to be accommodated. Once you outline these considerations, you can start planning your new universally accessible guest bathroom. A universal design bathroom remodel can make your space more comfortable, safe, and accessible for all users. Here are just a few of the major considerations to keep in mind.

Remodeling for Wheelchair Access

For guests that are confined to wheelchairs, you have to make sure there’s enough space in your bathroom to maneuver a wheelchair in, out, and around the floor space.

Wheelchair users are concerned with the space along the sides of the entryway so that they can open a door without hitting their wheelchair. So, most doorways should be a minimum of 28 to 36 inches wide, which is about standard for the width of wheelchairs. Floor space should be able to accommodate a 5-foot turning circle. And be sure the floor levels are equal so the wheelchair user feels no strain. The bathroom should be large enough so that wheelchairs can turn and make rotations inside.

Planning Proper Sink Heights

Installing sinks for easy wheelchair access involves choosing styles that have nothing underneath them to obstruct access. Pedestal sinks or special, sinks with long counters, or wall-mounted sinks are perfect options you can consider. These sinks allow for the wheelchair and person to roll up to use it without splashing water on themselves or the floor. If you have exposed pipes, make sure they’re shielded with insulation and/or padding so that heat or cold from the pipes doesn’t harm the legs of wheelchair users.

For tall people, creative options such as raising the vanity to a height above the standard 30 inches will make sinks easier to use without stooping or bending way over. And although it’s more expensive, you can also design your accessible bathroom with an electric height-adjustable vanity to make it easy for all users. Plus, single-handle faucets or hands-free faucets with sensors to detect hands and automatically turn on water are also great accessibility options.

Installing the Right Toilet

accessible sinks

Toilets require a lot of detailed attention. You should install grip bars and handrails so that people with limited strength in their legs can get from their wheelchair to the toilet. The more handrails you can install, the better. They should be placed diagonally on walls and horizontally near the toilet. And wheelchairs need space next to toilets, so make sure you’ve planned your remodel with space allocation in mind.

Raised toilets with comfort seats make it easier for not only wheelchair users to access, but also make it safer and more convenient for individuals with arthritis, mobility impaired individuals, and people who are larger framed, big and tall or plus sized. Comfort seats feature open-front toilet seats that can fit round or elongated toilets. They’re ideal for everyone. You might also consider installing a toilet transfer bench to assist people in wheelchairs.

Walk-in & Curbless Showers and Tubs

Walk-in tubs are perfect for people with stability and functional issues, and curbless showers are ideal for people who use a wheelchair, a walker or anyone who might have stability issues with walking or stepping. Shower openings should be level with the floor and sloped downward toward the middle for the water drain inside. The shower stall should be at least 60 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair and allow it to turn around, or for a rolling shower seat. Fixed shower seats can also be installed that can lower and be raised depending on need.

Grab bars must be included in all bathing areas, along the sidewall within standing and sitting range for tubs and walk-in showers, and on all three walls in roll-in showers. If feasible, you can place controls near the grab bars. Non-slip floors are also a must, and very important. Choose textured tile or a slatted wood tray over a concrete floor to achieve the result.

Proper Bathroom Lighting

Good bathroom lighting is essential to making your bathroom remodel feel comfortable and safe. Lighting should be planned to help avoid shadows and fill the space evenly. If you can incorporate natural light, that’s ideal. Make sure light switches are reachable for anyone who might be in a wheelchair, and dimmers to regulate light intensity as users need. Motion detector lighting is also a good option for people who might have trouble accessing switches.

There are a many more options you can look into to make your bathroom remodel fully accessible, comfortable and safe for all users. It’s best to discuss your plans and needs with your architect and designer, so that you can learn all of the available options and features to meet your needs.