How to Make Restrooms ADA-compliant

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and it directs business owners to modify their establishments to accommodate individuals with disabilities.  These modifications include, but are not limited to; public restrooms, commercial businesses, businesses with 15 or more employed associates, all state as well as government agencies. The guidelines set forth are designed to protect individuals with physical limitations and to ensure that they are ample space in a public facility.

What is an ADA-compliant restroom?

Most, if not all, public and commercial restrooms must meet certain guidelines to be considered an ADA-compliant bathroom.  For instance, the stalls must be large enough to allow a wheelchair to turn 180 degrees.  Also, toilet seats need to be a certain height and safety bars need to be in reach.  Mirrors should be tilted, hand dryers should be no higher than 48 inches from the floor, and the soap dispenser should be mounted on the wall no more than 44 inches from the floor.

How many ADA restrooms are required?

To determine the answer to this question, you will first need to determine how many restrooms (in total) you will need for the space.  Basically, according to the occupancy code; 100 square feet of space is calculated for each person.  So, if the total space is 1,500 square feet, then the total occupancy is 15 people.  Therefore, for up to 25 people occupancy, there needs to be one male and one female bathroom; however, to be ADA compliant; in 1,500 square feet of space, there needs to be an ADA restroom for each gender.  Based on this information, both of the bathrooms, in this scenario, need to meet ADA regulations.

Does your building need ADA-compliant bathrooms?

All new construction and/or renovations need to fall in line with ADA compliance bathroom expectations.  This is true for public bathrooms, or for a business with just a few onsite workers and the bathroom are not for general use by the public.  In some rare cases, older buildings could be exempt from the current ADA compliances.  For the most part, following ADA guidelines is not an option or a suggestion – it is the law.  There could be a heavy fine if ADA guidelines are not adhered to.

What size is an ADA bathroom stall?

60” by 60” with a door size of 32 inches (minimum) or 36 inches (more common).

Why are ADA-compliant stalls at the end of the room?

Due to the fact that many public bathrooms are small in size, it would be impossible and dangerous to have the ADA compliant stalls near the door that is continuously opening and closing.  It is for this reason that these stalls are located at the back of the washroom and the door to the stall opens out into the washroom, not into the stall like the standard size stalls.

What Constitutes a Washroom to Be ADA Compliant?

Basically following all guidelines for sinks, toilets and the layout of all other bathroom enclosures set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  For instance, handrails will be required and certain guidelines in the size and placement of the rails need to be followed.  Something that also will need to be considered to make the washroom space ADA compliant is that the space also needs to be large enough to easily maneuver a wheelchair.

How to Make a Restroom Grab Bar ADA Compliant

Grab bars should never be confused with towel racks/bars.  For a grab bar to be ADA compliant, it must be fully secured and have a smooth surface that can be easily grabbed and held onto.  Installation of grab bars are required to be at least 33 inches and no more than 36 inches from the floor.  Additionally, the bar needs to be 1 ½ inches from the wall – this area is also known as the “gripping surface”.  Also, it is important to note, that ADA standard grab bars are made to withstand at least 250 pounds of pressure.

What is an ADA compliant Toilet?

The ADA compliant toilet should be 60 inches wide.  The seat should be situated between 17 & 19 inches from the floor/base of the unit.  Also, there should be about 17 inches of space between the side walls and the center of the toilet.

What is the height of an ADA compliant toilet?

The seat of an ADA compliant toilet should be between seventeen (17) to nineteen (19) inches from the base of the toilet unit.  

How to Make Urinals ADA Compliant

The location of the urinals, whether hung on a wall or within a stall, should be no more than 17 inches from the floor.  The urinal itself should be at least 13.5 inches long (measured from the back to the front edge).  The flush valve should be 48 inches from the floor or 44 inches if the urinal can create 20 inches of reach.  

How to Make Sinks ADA Compliant

Sinks need to be at least 34 inches from the floor.  The space below the sink (also known as “knee clearance”) should be 27 inches high; 11 to 25 inches deep and 30 inches wide.  Also, any exposed pipe under the sink needs to be insulated.

How to Make Faucets and Flush values ADA Compliant

Faucets need to be easily operated by one hand. Touch, push, or electronic controlled faucet levers are advised. To meet ADA regulations, faucet function should require less than 5 (five) pounds of force to turn on and off. Faucets and/or flush values should not require to be twisted, pinched, or tightly grasped to achieve the desired results.

Final Word

There are currently 20% of all United State adults who struggle with some form of physical disability.  This means that there are a significant amount of individuals who have a challenging time working devices that require their full range of motion.  For instance, for many people twisting a doorknob is no big deal, but for someone who has limited movement in their hands, this simple task could be a near impossibility.  This is one of the reasons that ADA-compliant restrooms are a necessity in public buildings.

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