9 Design Secrets for an Accessible Bathroom

Are you planning and designing an accessible bathroom in your home? These 9 design tips and ideas are easy to incorporate in your new build or remodel.

1 – Curbless Level Entry Shower

It goes without saying that since curbless, accessible showers are our bread and butter we also think they are one of the best decisions you can make when designing an accessible bathroom. Removing the shower curb makes it easier to maneuver mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers, but it also removes a tripping hazard. Considering that the most dangerous slips and falls happen in the bathroom, it only makes sense to remove as many obstacles as possible in wet spaces.

VIM Products Inc, The Level Entry Shower System | Universal Design & Accessibility | Curbless Shower by Hobart Builders | www.vimproducts.com
Shower by Hobart Builders

2 – Slip-Resistant, Small Tile Floors

While we are on the subject of the shower, removing obstacles is only the first step. You also want to make sure the tile used on the shower floor is slip-resistant. Smaller tiles work better for this because they provide better grip. Smooth, large-format tile can be extremely slick when wet and should not be used in wet spaces like the shower. Consider as well that as you exit the shower your feet will still be wet, so even stepping out onto large format or slick tile can cause slips and falls. Using a small or slip-resistant tile throughout your bathroom is ultimately the safest choice for preventing slips and falls.

3 – Handheld Showers on Slide Bars

Including a handheld shower on a slide bar significantly increases the usability and accessibility of your shower. This slider feature allows for a handheld shower to be set at any height or angle, in addition to being used as a handheld. What makes this great for accessibility is all the options it provides to accommodate the physical needs of the user.

4 – Thermostatic Valves

A thermostatic valve allows you to control both the temperature and volume of your shower independently. Thermostatic valves allow the user to set the temperature and then turn the water volume on and off without changing the temperature. You can even adjust the water volume to conserve water. This is particularly helpful for children, the elderly, or people with disabilities who are more prone to injury by scalding. While your water heater might be set at a higher temp, most thermostatic valves require use of a safety button to heat the shower water past 100 degrees. Pressure Balance valves also protect against scalding, but do not have the independent volume and temperature functionality that a thermostatic has.

5 – Open Concept Bathrooms & Wide Doorways

Not only are open concept interiors a popular trend at the moment, they are also an excellent detail to consider if you are designing an accessible bathroom. If you, someone you love, or a future resident of your home uses a wheelchair, having ample space to maneuver will be important. The size of your doorway, also matters when you are designing an accessible bathroom. To accommodate a wheelchair, doorways need to be a minimum of 32″ wide.

VIM Products Inc Level Entry Shower System Gallery Curbless Universal Design, Photo Courtesy of Home Revision. www.vimproducts.com 919-277-0267
Photo Courtesy of Home Revision

6 – Accessibility Accessories

Grab bars are just the beginning when it comes to accessibility accessories. Shower seats are also helpful, particularly if they are able to fold up against a wall when not in use to increase showering space. But have you considered upgrades such as a toilet seat with a nightlight for easy navigation in the dark? What about tilting mirrors? How about a lazy susan in your bathroom cabinet? These are just a few examples of small upgrades that can make your bathroom more accessible.

VIM Products Inc Level Entry Shower System Gallery Curbless Universal Design, Photo Courtesy of SRE. www.vimproducts.com 919-277-0267
Photo Courtesy of SRE

7 – ADA or “Universal” Height Toilets

ADA approved or “universal” height toilets have a taller bowl and seat than standard toilets, making it easier to sit and stand back up again if you have trouble with mobility. While this is a must have for public bathrooms to accommodate users with limited mobility, many homeowners prefer the taller height as well. With many stylish designs from companies like Kohler & Toto, this is one accessibility accommodation that is easy to make and looks great!

8 – Single Hole Faucets

Single hole (or single handle) faucets can be helpful for people who have limited mobility or trouble with their grasp. These easy to operate faucets have one handle to control hot and cold, and can help prevent scalding. Single hole faucets are available a wide range of styles including those with their handle on the top or side of the faucet.

Photo by Splash Galleries, Faucet by Moen

9 – Lever Door Handles

And much like the single hole faucets mentioned above, Lever Door Handles are easier to operate for people who have difficulty with grasping a knob, and a lever can also be operated using a reach aid.  Pocket doors or barn doors are also a good style to consider as long as they are not too heavy or difficult to move or close behind the person.

Tell us about your Accessible Bathroom

Share in the comments which features you have included in your accessible bathroom. We would love to hear your thoughts and additional ideas! If you are still in the planning stages of your remodel, don’t forget to include the VIM Level Entry Shower System™.

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