A barrier free bathroom is essentially a bathroom that is built or remodeled without the typical barriers to accessibility that is common in a standard home bathroom. Those who are handicapped or contend with mobility or dexterity issues often need barrier free bathrooms in order to retain as much independence and dignity as possible while performing personal hygiene functions. This type of design makes a bathroom totally accessible to those in wheelchairs or who must use some type of mobility aid for walking.
There are several areas in a bathroom that the barrier free design significantly affects. Generally, the shower, bathtub area, toilet, sink or vanity area, flooring, doorways and safety features are elements that are affected by this particular design.
The shower is one of the most affected areas in the whole design, since making it accessible requires several different variations from a traditional shower area. Features such as the drain, type of shower head, faucet controls, entrance area, and seating, require careful thought when configuring a shower for the handicapped. For instance, providing a shower without an entrance curve and with a low threshold, is key in a barrier free bathroom. This makes it accessible for wheelchair use as well as easily usable by those who have less mobility.
Another interesting aspect of creating an open shower is to choose the correct drain feature that wll allow quick water run-off after shower use, which enhances safety and keeps water from flowing into other parts of the barrier free floor.
Many bathrooms that are barrier just simply do not have bathtubs, because of the obvious design that creates a blocked off space in the room. Bathtubs are harder in which to maneuver and can cause a variety of problems for many disabled people. Even those that are specially designed, such as walk in units, can be problematic. So, many barrier free designs do not include a bathtub.
Sinks and Vanities
In order to create a sink and vanity area without barriers, often wall-hung ADA fixtures are used to provide easier access. Cabinetry is built with recessive features to allow for wheelchair use.
Again, a wall-hung toilet is often placed in a barrier free space because of easier access. There are also ADA approved toilets that are perfect for this type of bathroom design. Other areas that are affected are the flooring and safety features. The correct type of flooring is generally smooth, water proof and nonslip.
For extra safety and support, railing is generally placed at strategic spots around the bathroom. A barrier free bathroom is becoming more and more popular among homeowners, as well as the bathroom of choice for those who need to remodel an existing room.