How to Plan a Universal Bath Remodel
Universal bath design means making the bathroom more convenient and safer for everyone who uses it–no matter their ages, size or abilities. Whether you’ve got young kids, you’re taller or shorter than average, or there’s someone in your home with limited mobility, you’ll find universal bath design makes the bathroom work better.
Consider asking your Bath Tune-Up experts about universal bath design ideas if any of these apply to you:
You’ve got kids. Universal design benefits everyone. It isn’t solely about making your bathroom accessible for the elderly. Universal design makes bathrooms safer for kids and easier for kids to use on their own, too.
Someone in your household is taller, shorter, larger or smaller than average. Everyone deserves a bathroom that’s not only efficient but also pleasant to use. No one wants to have to stretch up or hunch over to get a good shower or use the sink.
You want to “age in place.” If you love your house and want to grow old there, think ahead to how you can stay put safely. Even if you remain in ideal health, you might appreciate not having to climb in and out of a tub as you get older, for instance. And if something happened to you, could you remain in your home as it’s currently designed?
You might eventually provide day-to-day care for a loved one–or a loved one might provide care for you. In the United States, nearly 40 million family members or friends provide unpaid care to adults 18 and older. That caregiving takes place mostly in homes–about half of all care recipients live in their own homes, and 35 percent live in their caregivers’ home, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Universal bath design makes giving or receiving care at home far more feasible and comfortable.
How to Create a Universal Bath
Talk to your Bath Tune-Up expert about these universal bath design ideas:
Doorways in most homes are 30 to 32 inches wide. For wheelchair access, and simply for easier access overall, remodel for doorways at least 36 inches wide. Doors should swing out rather than opening into the bathroom, so you gain floor space.
Install a lever door handle, not a round knob (which can be difficult to grip). Eliminate any raised threshold or sill between the hallway or bedroom floor and the bathroom floor. Level surfaces are safer surfaces.
Standard toilets are only 14 to 15 inches high, from the floor to the top of the seat. Install a higher toilet so taller people or anyone with mobility issues can move on and off the toilet more easily. Look for what’s called a “comfort height” toilet, which can range from 17 to 19 inches high.
Choose a sink faucet anyone can turn on and off without having to twist a knob or use two different handles for hot and cold water. Smooth, round faucet knobs are hard to grasp. A single-lever faucet works well because anyone can push it on or off with a palm or fist.
Consider a “floating vanity.” These vanities attach to the wall and don’t reach the floor, leaving space beneath them. The look is trendy and the extra room means a little more floor space. For a wheelchair user, choose a vanity or wall-mounted sink under which a wheelchair can fit.
Use drawer and cabinet handles that are easy to grip and pull. Avoid ball-shaped pulls and choose large, D-shaped handles with plenty of clearance between the handle and the drawer or cabinet door.
A roll-in or walk-in shower stall has no threshold. The shower floor is the same level as the bathroom floor, so you simply walk or roll straight into the shower. Wheelchair or walker users, anyone prone to slips, and kids who might stumble will all find a walk-in shower safer and easier to use.
Hand-held shower heads are ideal because they allow the bather to move the water around them–rather than the bather having to move around to get under the flow of water. Install more than one showerhead, at different heights, to make showering more comfortable for taller or shorter bathers and for anyone who needs to sit while showering.
Speaking of sitting: Incorporate a bench in the shower stall. Can’t fit a built-in bench into your plans? Buy a shower bench or use a sturdy, removable shower seat with a non-slip base.
Shower flooring is a potential slipping hazard. Look for textured flooring, or for a high-grip surface, choose small mosaic-style tiles of about two inches square. Smaller tiles with plenty of grout between them create a textured surface to keep wet feet from sliding.
If you’re keeping your existing tub, install a “deck” across the tub’s top, at the level of the tub’s rim, Consumer Reports advises. This lets a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues move from the chair onto the deck before lowering into the tub. Some bathers might use the deck as a seat for bathing if you also install a hand-held shower head low on the wall surrounding the tub.
A walk-in tub is a great option–the bather simply opens a door, steps in, sits on the seat molded into the tub, and waits for the tub to fill. These tubs often consume less space than a standard bathtub.
Some homeowners balk at installing grab bars. Those bars by the toilet and shower could make the bathroom look unsettlingly like a hospital bathroom.
Take a look at the bars available today and you’ll see they come in sizes, shapes and even decorator colors that avoid the institutional look. If your bathroom won’t need bars in the near future, you can still prepare for installing bars eventually: Your bathroom remodeler can place wooden braces behind the walls, ready to anchor bars when the time comes.
Bath Tune-Up is ready to show you how universal design can fit into your bath remodeling plans. Talk with your nearest Bath Tune-Up today to find out more.