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Retrofitting Your Bathroom To Be More Accessible, One Step At A Time

You may have a number of reasons for wanting to retrofit your bathroom to be more accessible. You may have a child with a handicap or an elderly parent who lives with you, and you want to make things easier on them. Even if you don't, you may be about to enter your golden years yourself and simply want to be prepared for the possibility of needing easier access to your bathroom's fixtures. Whatever your reasons, you probably already know that it likely won't be simple or cheap to make the necessary changes to your bathroom. However, don't dwell on the huge remodel you may have before you. Examine your needs and resources and come up with a plan before you start tearing any walls down. By focusing first on only the essential accessories and fixtures you need for accessibility, you can make the entire process go more smoothly.

How Much Accessibility Do You Need?

Deciding just how accessible you need your bathroom to be is a good first step. If anyone in your home relies on a wheelchair, you may think that the whole room will need to be gutted, but there are other options available these days. You can create what's known as a "wet room" by tiling the bathroom and adding a drain for the entire room in the middle of the floor. Spaces like these are gaining in popularity as a way to make bathrooms more accessible for everyone. Creating a wet room may not be much less expensive than remodeling the entire room, but it is typically a faster and less invasive process.

On the other hand, if nobody in your home is handicapped and you simply want to prepare for the future, all you may really need are a few well-placed grab bars. As long as you factor in things like lifestyle and genetics, it should be fairly easy for you to gauge how accessible you'll need your bathroom to be.

What Fixtures and Accessories Should You Replace?

Next you'll need to consider each component of your bathroom and decide whether it's going to stay or go. For example, you may wish to take out the tub entirely to create space for a larger shower, or you may want to take out your toilet and replace it with a wall-hung version. One great way to find what you need is to search specifically for ADA-compliant products. Consider some of the following changes and upgrades:

  • Adjustable transfer bench. While a simple shower seat is usually enough to get the job done, transfer benches are especially sturdy and roomy, making shower time much more comfortable. They are designed to be easy to adjust, and often have hand rests to make them easier to get into and out of.
  • Handheld shower head with pause control. Handheld shower heads are nothing new, but newer designs often come with built-in pause control, making it simple to alter or shut off the flow of water in case of an accident.
  • Faucets with better control options. Bathroom faucets that can be controlled with levers or by simply pushing a button are much easier for handicapped individuals to use. Some advanced faucets can even be controlled electronically (similar to the faucets used in many public restrooms). If safety is your top priority, faucets (and even shower heads) can have hot limit safety stops installed on them that prevent users from accidentally turning the water on too hot.

If your budget is prohibitive but you have people in your home for whom easier access is a priority, you can try applying for government grants to get your bathroom retrofitted. At any rate, updating your bathroom with the help of sites like to be safer and more accessible is a wise choice, whether you need it now or in the future.