How to Remodel a Handicap Bathroom

A well-designed handicap bathroom allows an individual the ability to maneuver a wheelchair freely to access the sink, toilet and shower.
Create a wheelchair accessible space.Create a wheelchair accessible space.
The floor plan allows easy access to all features of the bathroom. Personal care procedures can be done while sitting down. There are many products to assist with personal care, raised toilet seats, walk-in bathtubs, roll-in showers, anti-scald regulators, handrails, hardware and more. The American Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) provide a universal design guideline for remodeling a handicap bathroom.

Step 1

Widen the doors. The width of the bathroom door should be at least 36 inches if entering at an angle. Widen the door jam and install a new door. If the door approach is straight into the bathroom, a width of 32 inches is acceptable. An alternative to installing a new door is to use an offset hinge. An offset hinge will add an additional two inches to most existing doors. Install a pocket door if space is limited in the hallway or bathroom. Select lever handles for the doors to allow ease in opening. Mount the handle no more than 48 inches from the floor.

Step 2

Allow at least 30 inches by 48 inches of clear floor space to maneuver a wheelchair. If the space is small, include the area under a sink as long as there is open space for your knee to foot to maneuver under the sink. Install a flooring material that has a hard non-skid surface such as linoleum or tile. Avoid tiles that become slippery when wet and large grout spaces.

Step 3

Choose a walk-in bathtub or a roll-in shower. Both the bathtub and shower should have a seat for bathing. The controls for the shower need to be reachable from a sitting position. Install several grab bars for entering and exiting the tub/shower area.

Step 4

Design and install an accessible sink. The front of the sink should be at least 17 inches from the rear wall. Under the sink, leave an open space of 29 inches for a wheelchair. Install the counter no higher than 34 inches from the floor. Select a countertop with round edges. When mounting the sink in the countertop, allow no more than two inches from the front of the counter to the front of the sink. Select a faucet with a single-lever handle. Install an anti-scald regulator to maintain the water temperature.

Step 5

Install grab bars in the bath area and around the toilet. Provide support for grab bars by placing wood blocks or plywood behind the dry wall.

Step 6

Install light switches at 42 inches from the floor. Select a rocker-style light switch. Install electrical outlets at 18 inches off the floor.

Step 7

Install a toilet that is 17 to 19 inches off the floor. An alternative to a new toilet is to install a raised toilet seat adapter that attaches to a existing toilet. Select a toilet with a bidet for someone who may have trouble cleaning himself. Leave at least 18 inches of free space in front of the toilet and 42 inches on the side. Install grab bars around the toilet.

Step 8

Locate the towel bars at 48 inches off the floor. Place the toothbrush holder and soap dispenser in reaching distance from a sitting position. Install a full-length mirror or a mirror that tilts.

Step 9

Set up an emergency medical alert system in the bathroom. The choices are a portable phone or an emergency medical help button. Place the alert system in an area that is reachable if someone falls on the floor.

Things You Will Need

  • Grab bars
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Rocker-style light switch
  • Anti-scald regulator
  • Offset hinge
  • Single-lever faucet
  • Shower seat
  • Walk-in tub
  • Roll-in shower

About the Author

Sharon Meier began writing in 2008. Her articles appear on various websites where she specializes in science, senior living, interior design and computer programs. Meier also created and developed a touring hands-on science museum for elementary students. She attended Milwaukee Area Technical College and Waukesha Technical College.