01/01/2010

The ADA-Compliant Restroom

Make sure you’re up to date on code requirements so you don’t face liability issues later

 
  • To assess the restrooms in your building, grab a tape measure and make sure the measurements match what’s required from the ADAAG and ICC/ANSI A117.1.

    To assess the restrooms in your building, grab a tape measure and make sure the measurements match what’s required from the ADAAG and ICC/ANSI A117.1.

    /Portals/1/images/Magazines/0110/B_0110_SB_MEP1.jpg

    To assess the restrooms in your building, grab a tape measure and make sure the measurements match what’s required from the ADAAG and ICC/ANSI A117.1. IMAGES COURTESY OF BRADLEY CORP.

    To assess the restrooms in your building, grab a tape measure and make sure the measurements match what’s required from the ADAAG and ICC/ANSI A117.1.
  • This single-user restroom has been designed according to the ADAAG.

    This single-user restroom has been designed according to the ADAAG.

    /Portals/1/images/Magazines/0110/B_0110_SB_MEP2.jpg

    This single-user restroom has been designed according to the ADAAG.

    This single-user restroom has been designed according to the ADAAG.

Restrooms can lead to serious confusion when it comes to accessibility and universal design. “The most basic and least expensive way to determine if a restroom is accessible is to review the American with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) and the American National Standards Institute’s standard (ICC/ANSI A117.1),” says Jon Villwock, lavatory systems and washfountains product manager at Bradley Corp.

To assess your building’s restrooms, “Grab a tape measure and conduct a walkthrough to evaluate any changes that might need to be made,” says Villwock.

The figure above shows a single-user restroom that’s been designed according to the ADAAG. The basic guidelines for a single-user restroom, according to Villwock, are:

  • 30-inch by 48-inch access to the sink (the door can’t swing into this rectangle). The measurement starts from the point where a person has 9-inch vertical clearance for their feet and 27-inch vertical clearance for their knees.
  • The center line of the toilet must be between 16 and 18 inches from the wall.
  • A clear circle of at least 60 inches to allow a wheelchair to turn (the door can swing into this circle).

What Makes a Good ADA-Compliant Product?

The key is choosing well-made, durable products that are easy to use and require minimal physical effort. Jon Villwock, Bradley Corp.’s product manager for lavatory systems and washfountains, recommends some features to look for when choosing ADA-compliant restroom products:

 

Sinks Areas

Consider solid-surface lavatory systems with fully integrated sinks at various heights. Only one bowl in a multi-bowl sink needs to offer minimum knee and toe clearances, so these multi-height lavatory systems combine an ADA-compliant sink with higher sinks. An added benefit of these fixtures is that the solid-surface finish is durable and can be repaired. The continuous bowl is also easier to clean than a row of individual sinks and eliminates crevices for microbes to hide.  

 

Lever, paddle, and infrared faucet controls make turning the water on and off easy. Lever-handle faucets are useful when only one hand can be used. Infrared-controlled and capacitive-sensor controlled faucets are the most universal, offering touch-free, easy activation. Durability is key, as is ease of cleaning.

 

Faucets, Dispensers, Grab Bars, and Mirrors

Faucets and soap dispensers must meet ADA reach range and mounting-height requirements. A 48-inch-high limitation is required for all accessories (except those mounted over obstructions), including lavatory fixtures, which are more than 20 inches deep. At 20 to 25 inches deep, a reach range of 44 inches applies. At more than 25 inches deep, accessories must be relocated.

 

The ADAAG states that mirrors need to be mounted with the bottom edge of the reflecting surface no higher than 40 inches above the floor, with the top edge at a minimum of 74 inches from the floor. A full-length mirror in the restroom fulfills the ADA requirement for mirrors if it’s not possible to mount the mirror at 40 inches above the floor.

 

Keep in mind that a trash can on the floor, for example, is a barrier when it comes to someone in a wheelchair reaching for a dispenser mounted above it. A better solution is a recessed trash receptacle or combination paper towel dispenser/trash receptacle. A wall-mounted hand dryer is a good choice because it eliminates waste. Look for a dryer that meets the ADA protrusion requirement (it can protrude no more than 4 inches from the wall).

 

The ADA emphasizes grab bars to maintain balance and prevent falls. Look for sturdy, easy-to-grip models. Also, toilet tissue dispensers can’t control delivery or limit paper flow. Look for dispensers that hold enough toilet tissue and deliver it in an easy-to-grab fashion.

For multi-user restrooms, the guidelines follow the same principles, but include additional elements. George Spear, product manager at Moen, offers this information about sinks, stalls, and doors:

Sinks & Faucets
Sinks shouldn’t be mounted higher than 34 inches from the floor, and they should have a knee clearance of 27 inches high, 30 inches wide, and 19 inches deep. You also need a clear floor space and insulated pipes under the sink.

Faucets should be lever-operated, push, touch, or electronically controlled. They should be usable with one hand without the need to tightly grasp, pinch, or twist the wrist. Users shouldn’t have to exert more than 5 pounds of force to use the faucet.

A good resource on ADA-compliant restrooms is a series of webinars that will focus on restroom accessibility., offered by the Access Board. The sessions are scheduled for early 2010.

Stalls
Urinals should be stall-type or wall-hung at a maximum of 17 inches from the floor.

Water closets must be 17 to 19 inches from the floor (measured from the floor to the top of the toilet seat). Like faucets, flush valves shouldn’t require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist.

Grab bars should be at least 36 inches long and have a gripping surface of at least 1.25 inches, mounted at least 1.5 inches from the wall. They should be able to withstand at least 250 pounds of pressure.

Doors
Doors should open with minimal force and have handles that are easy to grab with one hand. Doorways should be at least 32 inches wide with the door open at 90 degrees.

Many other opportunities exist for making your restrooms, and the areas around them, more accessible, Spear points out. “Hallways and walkways should provide at least 80 inches of clear head room.” He also points out that drinking fountains and water coolers should provide a spout height of no more than 36 inches, with a spout at the front of the unit and a parallel water flow.

Additional considerations include increasing lighting; incorporating objects that are wider, longer, and flatter to grasp with a smooth range of motion; and providing adequate support systems and barriers.

“Making these improvements will require a significant amount of planning and preparation, but the reward of having a space that’s compliant and can be enjoyed by all is worth the effort,” Spear says.

Leah B. Garris (leah.garris@buildings.com) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.

 


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Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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