How to Build a Handicap Bathroom

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  • 80 hours
  • Advanced
  • 5,000
What You'll Need
36-inch door
Sketch pad
Handicap thin shower tray
Backer membrane
1x1-inch tile
4x4-inch tile
Shower curtain and rod or top mount shower door
shower head
Grab bars
Lever handles
Pedestal sink or cabinet

A handicap bathroom is required in most public places and is becoming a desired feature in many homes. Handicap bathrooms are designed for wheelchair-bound individuals and individuals that have problems with 1 or more forms of mobility. Handicap bathrooms may be designed in several different ways. The best way to design a handicap bathroom is as follows.

Step 1 - The Doorway Opening

The doorway to a handicap bathroom must be at least 36-inches wide, from 1 interior edge of the door frame to the other edge. Plan the doorway so that it has easy access from either an adjoining room or hallway. A wheelchair usually pivots or turns from the exterior of the wheelbase. The doorway should have a straight entrance from a room or a hallway. Do not construct the door at any angle that will require a wheelchair to sharply turn left or right into the doorway. They will not be able to pivot sufficiently and therefore will not be able to access the interior parts of the bathroom.

Step 2 - The Roll-In Shower

Use 1x1-inch tile for the floor. The small floor tile will prevent the wheelchair from damaging the floor. Any larger size tile could promote cracking and chipping of your tile floor. Use green backer board in the bathroom shower stall area. Tile the shower walls using 4x4-inch tile. Install a drain pan at the base of the floor and pitch the floor towards the drain. The bottom of the floor where the shower floor meets the rest of the bathroom floor should be flush. Use either a shower curtain and rod assembly for privacy or invest in a sliding glass door with a top-mount track and a bottom (floor) suction. The glass doors can be purchased frosted or clear from high-end shower manufacturers.

Step 3 - The Showerhead

Install a hand-held shower and rain-flow showerhead dual mount system. Make sure your shower head system has a temperature control feature. Some individuals have a hard time sensing hot and cold and this feature helps protect the person from scalding water when taking a shower. Install easy-to-reach soap dispensers.

Step 4 - Install Grab Bars

Grab bars make it easy to get in and out of the shower. Install them on at least 2 walls of the interior shower.

Step 5 - Install a Roll-In Cabinet or Pedestal Sink

Install a pedestal sink or a roll-in cabinet. Roll-in cabinets do not have a bottom cabinet base. The drawers and bottom portion of the cabinet are removed to give ample room for a wheelchair to slide under the countertop and move close enough to the sink.

Step 6 - Install Lever Handles

Install lever handles on the bathroom door, cabinets, and linen closet. Avoid knob handles altogether. Lever handles are easier for those confined to a wheelchair and for those that suffer from arthritis.