Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

Men in a wheelchair get on a bus.

Modifying a home to accommodate a wheelchair can include both minor and major renovations. The cost and scope of the project will vary depending on the type of modifications necessary to convert the home. The following are some of the most common projects to make the home more wheelchair friendly.

Common Changes

The costs can be very wide-ranging and depend on the modifications necessary. The main points of wheelchair accessibility are:

Easy access to the home's entrance, which may include a ramp or chairlift.

Adequate clearance through the front door. The opening must be wide enough for a wheelchair to maneuver easily through the entrance.

Applicable flooring that allows the wheelchair to move easily throughout the home.

Kitchen modifications that provide easy access and use.

Washroom modifications that provide safety and accessibility.

Entrance Modifications

A woman goes up a wheelchair ramp.

The first order of business is to provide a safe and manageable path to the home's entrance. This may require installing a wheelchair ramp with safety rails that allow the user to easily reach the entrance. When space is limited or structural aspects of the property are not suited for a ramp, another option would be a chairlift. For additional security, lower the peephole to a height that would be comfortable for a wheelchair user.

Doorway Modifications

All doorways in the home must be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair easily. Since the width of a standard wheelchair is approximately 25 inches wide, all doorways should be modified to a width of at least 35 inches. This may require some extensive renovation. An economical solution is to remove the door, including the frame to achieve the necessary clearance.

Eliminate Doorsteps

Doorsteps and thresholds are not wheelchair friendly. Any doorsteps will need to be converted to a ramp. Rubber threshold cover "ramps" are available and provide an easy modification to allow for a wheelchair to cross thresholds and uneven flooring.

Flooring Modifications

A wheelchair on tile.

To allow easy navigation for the wheelchair user, flooring modifications may be necessary. Carpeting is not suitable flooring for a wheelchair. The heavy and thick pile of a carpet will require more physical effort to maneuver the wheelchair.
Two very good options for flooring are hardwood and ceramic tile. Both types of flooring provide an attractive, hard, and durable surface ideal for wheelchairs. You can also transition between the two materials easily without the necessity of a threshold, which would impede wheelchair movement.
Other, less expensive, flooring options suitable for wheelchair users are laminate and vinyl flooring. Both types of flooring provide a beautiful appearance and a solid surface for wheelchair use.

Kitchen and Bathroom Modifications

A wheelchair accessible bathroom.

Both kitchen and bathroom modifications are significant and can be costly. Both areas require room to maneuver and turn the wheelchair adequately. The most common upgrades include:

Lower work surfaces within easy reach.

Lower light switches and receptacles.

A roll in shower or one with an extremely low curb.

A seat in the shower or bathing area.

Grab bars or rails placed near the toilet and in the shower areas.

A washbasin places at an applicable height suitable for the wheelchair user.

Cabinet storage close to the floor for easy access.

These tips and modifications are just a few of the most common modifications to make a home wheelchair accessible. Visit the United States Access Board for ADA accessibility guidelines.