How to Build a Wheelchair-Accessible Bathroom

If you experience an accident or you find yourself caring for a loved one who uses a wheelchair, it is important to make all areas of your home wheelchair-accessible.
An accessible bathroom allows individuals in wheelchairs to use the room in privacy.An accessible bathroom allows individuals in wheelchairs to use the room in privacy.
Making a bathroom wheelchair-accessible can give you or a loved one more freedom and autonomy when it comes to caring for personal hygiene matters and preventing injuries. For an individual newly diagnosed with a disability requiring a wheelchair, an accessible bathroom can help make the transition into a new lifestyle easier, especially if the condition is not temporary.

Step 1

Install wide doorways. If the bathroom is accessible from a straight-in approach, make the door at least 32 inches wide, but 36 inch wide doors are better for access. The door for hallway bathrooms should be at least 36 inches wide so a wheelchair has room to turn. If you install a swing-away door hinge, add an extra two inches to the door’s frame.

Step 2

Install a tub transfer seat in bathrooms that have tubs. This seat allows a wheelchair user to take a bath without the need to lower herself to the tub’s floor.

Step 3

Build a wheelchair-accessible shower. Install a shower equipped with a seat, a roll-in shower or one that has a small curb that contains the water to one area, as full roll-in showers have the tendency to make the whole bathroom floor get wet. It is also a good idea to provide a handheld showerhead at chair height so an individual can place the stream of water where needed. If you do not have a wheelchair an individual can use in the shower, provide or install a waterproof shower seat.

Step 4

Equip tubs and showers with grab bars. Grab bars provide extra balance support when getting in and out of a shower or tub.

Step 5

Install a toilet seat that is 17 to 19 inches tall. Place a toilet grab bar on the wall or in the form of a fold-down grab bar.

Step 6

Use a pedestal style sink, wall-mounted sink or a sink that does not have lower vanity cabinets beneath the basin. The bottom of the sink should be about 29 inches above the floor and the counter should not exceed 34 inches in height so a wheelchair user can roll under the basin to gain access. Use a single-lever control in place of two faucets to control the water flow and temperature. Insulate or cover any exposed pipes to prevent burns.

Step 7

Include a large mirror that tilts so all individuals using the bathroom can adjust it as needed.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.