It’s all about providing more space & the right measurements so that people with physical disabilities find it easily accessible.
Physically challenged people can’t cope up with the universal bathroom designs for your home, bar, or restaurant. With the introduction of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, you need to follow some regulations to make life easier for them.
So, you need to make some little adjustments to those settings irrespective of whether it is your home or commercial space to meet the ADA bathroom requirements.
It can get a little bit confusing for some. To clear some confusion, I have written this in-depth review including what to do about the ADA commercial bathroom requirements.
ADA Requirements For Bathrooms
It’s all about various clearances of the floor, toilet, sink, mirror, grab bars and other parts of the restroom. It will make sense once you completely read this article.
I will breakdown each of such clearances for your better understanding. If you are somehow related to any public accommodation or run a commercial facility, you should pay special attention here. Stay with me!
- Floor Clearance Requirement
You have two options available to you when determining the turn-around radius guideline. It can be either circle or a T-shaped clear space. Let’s see the comprehensive explanation.
There should be a 5-feet clear space within the restroom stall so that the wheelchair can turn around without obstacle. The clear floor space can be in circle form or T-shaped form.
You already can guess what a 5-feet circle of clear space should like. But if go for the T-shaped free-shape, the dimension should be 60-by-60-inch square.
If you have an oddly shaped or small restroom in your establishment, you should go for the T-shaped option. This way, the wheelchair will have some allowance on both sides of it. Here is a diagram for you:
- ADA Bathroom Grab Bars Requirements
When you run a commercial space, your bathroom needs 3 different grab bars for the physically disabled. Among the 3, there should be 2 horizontal bars of 36 inches & 42 inches and 1 vertical bar of 18 inches.
The installment of these 3 grab bars can be done according to the ADA law requirements as well.
Behind the toilet, the 36 inches long horizontal grab bar should be installed on the wall. The other 42 inches long horizontal grab bar should be installed on the wall adjacent to the toilet.
The 18 inches long vertical grab bar should be installed directly above the 42 inches’ horizontal bar.
Apart from the right placement and size of the bars, you need to make sure such grab bars are fully anchored and have smooth surfaces. Also, they should have round edges and there should not be any exposed ends.
Now, exactly how it should be done to maintain the proper distances and heights is explained in the diagram given below.
- ADA Toilet Requirements (Toilet Seat Height & Distance)
You must buy ADA compliant toilets for your commercial establishment. They differ in terms of height from their standard toilet counterparts.
Whereas the depth of a wall-hung toilet should be 56 inches, the depth of a floor-mount toilet should be 59 inches. As for the seat, all the ADA compliant toilets should have a seat height of 17 to 19 inches.
Of course, there are many other ADA requirements when it comes to toilet installation.
But the most obvious ones are the requirements of the center position of a toilet which should be with the range of 16 to 18 inches from the adjacent wall of the bathroom and the 36-inch grab bar should be installed accordingly.
Also, the flush controls of the toilet can be either manual or automatic. But the manual flush lever should be placed on the open or accessible side of the toilet and it should not require more than 5 lbs. of force to make a flush.
- Accessible Doors
Physically challenged people should have plenty of space to move around when it comes to accessible doors.
But you go to a bar or restaurant and you see there is not much space to move easily even for the fit people.
This can’t be the case if you want to meet the ADA bathroom requirements for commercial buildings.
You must ensure easy access for the wheelchair through the door including the direction of the door swing, handle type, and many other types.
For a swing door, it must swing out and make 36 inches wide entry to accommodate the wheelchair. The door should not require more than 5 lbs. of force to push or pull too. And it should be self-closing as well.
Also, make sure the door handle can be handled with one hand only without grasping it tightly. The handle should be mounted between 34 to 48 inches above the floor surface as well.
For your better understanding, look at the following diagram to meet your necessary clearances.
- ADA Sink Requirements
The ideal ADA sink height is 34 inches. It should not be more than that. Let’s say you have the under-mounted sinks built on the countertop, the surface of the countertop has to be 34 inches high as well.
But what should you do if you are using a vessel sink?
For your vessel sink sitting above the surface, you need to reduce the height of the countertop or the cabinetry to account for the sink height itself. So, the entire height of your bathroom won’t exceed the 34 inches requirement.
Apart from the ADA sink height issue, you need to think about the clearance below the sink as well for the wheelchair. For the knees of the person, you should have 8 inches of clear space from the front of the sink.
More so, the depth from the front side of the sink to the P-trap base should be at least 11 inches and you should consider this measurement when you conceal the P-trap with any protective panel.
Only that way, it can accommodate the knees, legs, and toes of the disabled person. Apart from that, make sure all the plumbing works are properly padded and insulated to avoid any injuries to the disabled person.
Alternatively, you can install a protective panel to block off such plumbing works but you need to provide adequate clearances for the legs and knees.
If you need to have the same sink and faucet measurement for your home, visit this home improvement site.
- Restroom Wall Fixtures
I am talking about various in-wall fixtures like the soap and paper towel dispensers, other sanitary dispensers, seat cover, etc. Of course, the required height of such various accessories varies.
For example, for any dispensaries, the distance between the floor and the dispensary itself should not be more than 48 inches. There is an ADA mirror height regulations too!
The maximum distance between the floor to the bottom of the mirror should be 40 inches. But if you decide to install it somewhere else in the restroom, the distance should be 35 inches from the floor to the bottom of the mirror.
And lastly, make sure the mirror has no exposed edges to avoid any injuries to the people.
ADA requirements are not all about the accessibilities for the wheelchair of the disabled person. But the truth is, the commercial building owners must think about the blind and other disabled persons as well.
For blind people, you need to consider the wall item projections (shelving, light fixtures, bathroom accessories, etc.) too. As per regulations, items on the wall can’t project into the travel path more than 4” in depth (between 27 to 80 inches from the wall).
Well, you just learned all the vital requirements. But your job does not end here. You need to make sure no trash or waste is blocking access to the sink or handrail.
So, the janitor should clean the ADA compliant bathroom on a daily basis to keep it clean for everyone.
Commonly Overlooked ADA Requirements For Bathrooms
The 7 requirements mentioned-above are not all the recommendations by the Americans With Disabilities Act. There are plenty more of them!
Despite huge encouragement from various stakeholders and several awareness programs, people tend to overlook them. Here is a list of such overlooked ADA requirements:
- ADA Shower Requirements
As per 2010 ADA Standards, you can have either transfer or roll-in shower. Whatever you have, there will be different requirements for the size allocation, grabs bars & controls location, floor space, shower seat, etc.
If you go for the transfer shower, make sure the compartment is 36 inches’ x 36 inches with a minimum entry point of 36 inches’ width.
But for a roll-in shower, the compartment dimension should be 30 inches wide x 60 inches deep and the minimum entry point should be 60 inches wide.
All the controls of the shower fittings like the shower spray and faucets should be located above the grab bar but should not be more than 48 inches above the shower floor.
If you have a disabled family member at your home, you should pay attention here. The width of the bathtub should not be more than 30 inches.
Apart from that, make sure the disabled person can sit down or stand up comfortably as well. For that, the top of the bathtub should have a removable rail and seat on the side of it.
The seat should meet the standard height requirement so that the person can sit down comfortably.
You can literally install any type of faucets in the restroom like lever-operated, push, touch, etc.
Like everything in the bathroom, it should be operable with one hand too. Make sure nobody has to twist their wrists or grasp it tightly to make it work. The disabled should be able to turn the lever without using much force (not more than 5 lbs.)
It should be open for the disabled all the time. From the top of the floor, the urinals should have a maximum height of 70 inches and 3.5 inches from the rim outer surface. Also, the width should be less than 30 inches.
- Hand Dryers
It’s not a must but typically ADA restrooms have motion-activated or touch-free hand dryers installed. But it should be activated with one hand and not more than 5 pounds of pressure should be required to activate it.
All the buttons and sensors should have a height of maximum of 48 inches from the surface of the bathroom floor.
- Soap Dispenser
You can install either the manual or the automatic soap dispenser for the restroom. And make sure anybody can use the faucet and the soap dispenser simultaneously without facing any difficulty.
Make sure it does not require much pressure to activate it and physically challenged people should be able to activate it with one hand only.
Meaning, the buttons, and pistons of the dispenser should be activated using only one hand.
More so, if the sink below is less than 20 inches deep, the distance of the hand dryer or the dispenser connected to the wall should not exceed 48 inches from the restroom floor surface.
But if the counter or the sink is already 20 to 25 inches deep, the distance should not exceed 44 inches from the floor.
There should be a sign that indicates the ADA compliance that is easily visible. In fact, if your existing restroom is not ADA compliant, there should be a sign indicating the location of the nearest ADA compliant restroom.
If you think the ADA bathroom requirements for commercial buildings are not part of the IBC (International Building Code), you are right.
But these are strict guidelines that every bar, restaurant, and other commercial establishments must take into account seriously.