The idea behind universal bathroom design is to create a room that’s accessible to people of all ages, sizes, and levels of capability. A bathroom that embraces universal design principles is future-proof. It will serve the user’s needs right now, and remain fully functional at every stage of the user’s life and for every future tenant.
Here are a few universal design bathroom trends that make them comfortable and easy to access for everyone:
1. More Floor Space
Bathrooms can often be the smallest room in a home or residential unit. If you have the flexibility to expand it beyond a conventional compact design, you’ll make it easier for persons in wheelchairs to move around inside the room. A wheelchair needs at least five feet of open floor space to comfortably turn 180 degrees. It will also provide more space for those who use the assistance of a helper to access the facilities, which is common for in-home senior care and within senior living facilities.
2. Curbless Roll-In Shower Stall
A fully open “Roman” shower has no wall or rim to step over, which makes it easy to walk (or roll) into and out of the shower. This design can make for wet floors, however. Consider creating your universal bathroom design as a “wet space” with floor drains and non-slip flooring or, alternatively, using an ADA roll-in shower with a very low, rounded threshold (often under an inch) that will help it retain water while still allowing wheelchairs to roll in easily.
3. Hand-Held Showerhead
A showerhead that can be taken off of the wall and moved around is much easier for persons who have trouble twisting and turning their bodies. Place the fixture low enough that it can reach the user’s feet in a seated position (perhaps on a shower bench!). This feature also enables a helper to assist in bathing the user more comfortably.
4. In-Shower Seat or Bench
This is a fantastic addition that’s great for a lot more than sitting to relax in the warm water. A seat or bench can be used to prop up a leg for washing and shaving, holding shower products, or resting if the user is feeling dizzy. Use an ADA certified folding seat for maximum accessibility and flexibility. Also consider finding a seat or bench that has been strength tested for compliance and durability.
5. Grab Bars
Stable ADA compliant grab bars improve a universal design bathroom’s safety for aging users, but also double as efficient towel holders to keep towels within easy reach. In addition, users that slip will have something to reach for to right themselves that’s safer and more secure than a soap dish or protruding shelf.
6. Taller Toilets
A standard toilet seat is typically positioned 14 or 15 inches off of the ground. When you increase the height to 16 or 18 inches, the toilet will reach a level that’s similar to a chair and easier for most people to use. The added inches also make it easier to transfer from a wheelchair or walker onto the toilet without much strain or effort.
7. Knee Space Beneath the Sink
A wall-mounted sink unit with no cabinet, pedestal, or drawers underneath is perfect for a universal bathroom design. Users can easily slide wheelchairs or walkers beneath the sink for comfortable access, and the added floorspace makes the whole room more maneuverable.
8. A Transitionless Entryway
If it’s possible to use the same or similar flooring both inside and outside of the bathroom, this makes access seamless and trip-free on late-night bathroom trips. Even if the area outside is carpeted and the bathroom is not, consider ensuring that they meet in a level fashion and forgoing a protruding metal threshold.
Building an Accessible Bathroom? We’ve Got You Covered.
EverFab specializes in all sorts of accessible bathroom design features, starting with our sleek and durable ADA-compliant shower stalls. All EverFab units are full-back reinforced so that all accessories will have strength and stability wherever you want them located. You’ll have the freedom to order showers with grab bars, seats, and other accessories pre-installed, or install them at any point in the future while remaining fully code compliant with ADA strength standards.
Contact us or call today at 503-303-3300 to talk about your next universal design bathroom project and how EverFab can help.