How to Build Your Own Wheelchair Roll-In Shower

If there is someone in your home who is wheelchair-bound, you know how hard it is to get into a standard tub/shower combination.
Even a walk-in shower with a floor that sits level with the bathroom floor may not provide enough access for the wheelchair. To make it possible for a wheelchair-bound individual to get into and out of a shower, you can construct a shower pan that provides enough space for the entire chair.

Step 1

Locate then measure the area around the drain where you want the wheelchair shower pan to be located in the floor. You will need a space that is at least 30 inches out from the wall and 60 inches wide to accommodate a standard wheelchair. Mark the perimeter of this area with masking tape.

Step 2

Measure approximately 2 feet out from the side of the marked area where you want to place the shower’s entrance. Mark this 2-foot area of the floor separately with masking tape.

Step 3

Cut into the floor with a circular saw to remove the floorboards in the area marked for the shower pan if the floor is wood and trim down the joists inside the marked area by 3 inches. Use a jackhammer or sledgehammer to break up the floor if it is concrete or cement to a depth of 3 inches.

Step 4

Measure the spaces between the floor joists that you trimmed down, if you're working with a wood floor, and cut wood boards that sit at the same height as the trimmed joists to this length. For example, if you trimmed down an 8-inch joist to 3-1/2 inches, use 3 1/2-inch boards. Cut enough boards so that you have one to place every 6 inches between the joists and secure the boards with wood screws drilled in at a 45-degree angle to pass through the cross-pieces and into the joists.

Step 5

Cover the new wood structure of a wood floor with 1/2-inch plywood. Screw the plywood into the joists to create a surface for the shower pan. Remove the broken-up pieces of concrete or cement inside of the marked area on the floor to prepare the shower pan surface.

Step 6

Add enough water to concrete mix to make a thick, just spreadable, material. Use a spade to spread the concrete in the shower pan area so that the concrete sits roughly 1-inch high around the drain and slopes upward toward the edges until it sits level with the surrounding floor. Use a level to check the slope of the concrete surface then wait for the concrete to fully dry.

Step 7

Remove the nails from the floorboards in the second 2-foot section of a wood floor where you want to place the shower entrance and take up the floorboards. Spread mortar between and over the joists to build the floor back up and create a slight slope to the section of floor and angled down toward the shower to make a small hump in the floor. If the floor is concrete or cement, build the floor up at a slope in the same manner to create a small hump approximately 2 feet out from the shower to help keep water in the shower area.

Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Masking tape
  • Circular saw
  • Jackhammer or sledgehammer
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch plywood
  • Concrete mix
  • Bucket
  • Spade
  • Level
  • Hammer

About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.