How To Remodel Your Bathroom Shower To Accommodate A Wheelchair

Posted on: 6 December 2016

One reason to complete renovations inside your home is when a family member has a new disability requiring them to use a wheelchair to get around. This can be a difficult and challenging time for you and your family member with all the new life-style adjustments that need to be made. Fortunately, making the alterations around your home can be made simple by following the recommendations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here are some ways you can implement these features inside your home bathroom for your disabled family member.

Bathroom Doorway

Before you install the new enclosure, make sure the space and entrances are all the right size to accommodate a wheelchair. First, the doorway into the bathroom should be at least 32 inches wide to accommodate your family member's wheelchair, as recommended by the ADA.

It is helpful if the door to the bathroom swings open to allow the family member in the wheelchair to move inside the bathroom then close the door behind them. You may need to adjust the swing of your door to allow for this adjustment or install a pocket door to free up additional space for the door to open and close.

Shower Area

For your disabled family member, it is important to set up a showering area in their bathroom that allows them to roll in and out of the shower area in their wheelchair. This requires you to remove any existing type of bathtub or shower insert that has a raised edge that can block the wheelchair's access. By tearing out all the old fixtures and linings, you can install an all-new enclosure within the bathroom's framing.

Shower inserts are available on the market, and you can install them in the shower area to replace the old, conventional bathtub or shower you are removing. Or, you can install a new shower enclosure by laying tile and installing grout. Be sure to leave the entrance elevation flat or a threshold of up to one-half inch to allow a wheelchair access to move from the outside area and into the shower area. Make sure the shower pan installed on the floor around the shower's drain is sloped to drain the water from the shower and to prevent water draining into the bathroom.

Transfer Shower

A transfer shower is one in which the family member moves from their wheelchair and onto the seat inside the shower. So, make sure you have a shower seat available inside the enclosure, either with a portable seat or a seat installed into the shower wall.

A shower area you are converting to be a transfer shower is recommended by the ADA to have dimensions of at least 36 by 36 inches inside the compartment with an entry opening at least 36 inches wide. This is a common size for a shower if you are converting a stand-up shower to a transfer shower where the individual will not roll the wheelchair into the area. 

Roll-In Shower

If your pre-converted bathroom contains a bathtub-sized shower area, the size recommendations increase to a width of at least 30 inches and 60 inches deep. It can be helpful to install a shower seat at one side of the shower. If the shower insert is enclosed along the front of the shower area (60-inch opening) with an access opening, the opening should be at least 32 inches wide to allow your family member's wheelchair to fit.

If your shower enclosure is not the proper minimum required size, you will need to enlarge the enclosure area before installing the new shower lining or tile.

Grab Bars

The ADA does not require grab bars to be installed in your private residence's shower area for your family member, but it can make their life easier when moving in and out of the shower area. Installing grab bars can also help promote your handicapped family member's independence.

A grab bar is most helpful installed along the shower control wall in a transfer shower, continuing 18 inches across the back wall in one length. In a roll-in shower, install a grab bar along the back and side wall opposite of any installed shower seat. If there is no installed shower seat, it is helpful to install a grab bar on the third shower wall.

The recommended height for horizontal grab bars inside a roll-in shower stall is 33 to 36 inches from the floor. Then, in a transfer shower, the bottom of your vertical grab bar should be three to six inches above an installed horizontal grab bar.

Use this information to help remodel your bathroom to allow handicap accessibility. For more information and assistance with renovations, talk with companies like Herl's Bath Solutions.


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