More than 10 million people in the UK are registered as disabled. Bathrooms in commercial buildings need to accommodate them, says Cory Powell.
03 February 2020 | Cory Powell
Despite being among the smallest rooms in your building, bathrooms can present significant challenges for independence and mobility. Accessible bathrooms change this. Fortunately, renovations can be painless, resulting in modern, attractive and future-proof bathrooms.
- Circulation space: It should measure 1.5 metres x 1.5m or more to allow full wheelchair manoeuvrability. If the door opens inwards into this space, increase the area by the door's width - 80 centimetres for a door with an 80cm width.
- Lighting: Use a switch-operable closed diffuser light, located 900-1,000 millimetres high outside the room's entrance. If the switch must be placed inside the room, install a pull cord.
- Grab rails: Fit grab rails where someone with impaired mobility is most likely to use them. Most public accessible bathrooms put rails around the toilet, however, we also recommend fitting one in the shower and one at hip height near the bathtub.
Fit plastic rails rather than metal rails as the latter usually comes with a chrome finish, making them slippery, especially when wet.
Grab rail installation and measurements
Fit an L-shaped rail 200mm inward from the wall closest to the toilet, around 700mm above ground level.
Next, fit a drop-down rail to the back wall on the opposite side, about 320mm from the centre line of the toilet and 700mm above the floor.
The drop-down feature comes in handy when someone needs to move to the toilet from their wheelchair.
Make sure there's a minimum of 640mm between the inside edges of the two rails, with the toilet pan sitting centrally between these. For high-level cisterns, fix an additional horizontal rail to the back wall to make sure the toilet lid stays upright and creates a supportive backrest.
Toilets installation and measurements
Allow a minimum gap of 500mm between the wall and centre of the toilet so a rail can be fitted to the wall. To facilitate comfortable wheelchair transfers, allow for a space of a metre from the centre of the pan on the toilet's open side, and a minimum of 1.2m from the front of the pan to the nearest object or obstruction. From the front of the toilet pan to the rear wall, allow for a minimum of 800mm.
The total toilet pan height (including the seat) should be approximately 480mm from the floor.
Basins installation and measurements
A raised wall-mounted sink will allow for a stool to be placed underneath, meaning less bending for anyone who finds it difficult.
There should be at least 1.2m of space in front of the sink for wheelchairs to approach and to allow for ample knee space underneath. The sink should have a shallow bowl and be fixed at 770-800mm above ground level.
Shower installation and measurements
It's a growing trend to have a shower room in commercial buildings as worker wellbeing becomes more of a priority.
A walk-in shower means you'll be able to add an accessible seat too. Walk-in showers that don't have shower trays work well as part of wet-room designs, with waterproof bathroom panels used to prevent water damage and build-up of mould.
- Enclosures and curtains: Hip-height shower screens contain splashes and make it easier to assist the user while showering.
If opting for curtains, fit a curtain rail around the shower area before affixing heavy-duty curtains of 1.8m in length.
- Seat: It should be at least 450mm wide by 450mm deep, with a minimum space of 500mm between the wall and the centre of the seat.
- Controls and shower head: Place the controls 750mm-1000mm from the floor and 500mm inwards from the corner of the wall next to the seat. Next, fit the shower head on a 1m sliding bar for use when sitting or standing.
Cory Powell is co-director at DBS Bathrooms