Handicap Sink and Vanity: Selection and Installation Tips
A handicap sink and vanity are accessible bathroom fixtures that must be chosen and installed correctly in order to provide safety, easy access and useful control for any disabled user.
to professional guidelines to ensure proper use.
Any easy way to choose the correct handicap
sink for your needs, is to chose one of the
many ADA compliant sinks on the market.
These are produced in compliance with Federal standards for public use. Even though you may be retrofitting your old bathroom into a disabled bathroom, you can benefit from using fixtures
that are built especially for disability use.
There are many things to consider when
choosing and installing a handicap bathroom
sink and vanity. Issues such as the height of the sink, the tilt of the mirror, the faucet style, and safety features such as scald guards and grab bars are all very important.
Of course, the first place to start when determining what type of handicap sink and vanity you want to install, is to consider the needs of the disabled person for whom you are designing the bathroom. If he or she is in a wheelchair, then you will need to make even more modifications. If the person is mildly disabled, then it may not be necessary to make such extensive changes or add more features.
In a universal design bathroom, however, many of these design recommendations are already built into the original plans so that you won't have to do very much to achieve an accessible bathroom. So, if you're in the process of building a new home or adding a bathroom for the disabled onto your existing home, you may want to simply go by universal design principles, which can be advantageous to everyone in the home. At any rate, here are some of the important things to remember when either retrofitting or building accessible bathrooms for residential use:
Sinks and Vanities
How to Choose a Handicap Sink
Choose the sink according to the disability needs. You may or may not need to meet ADA sink requirements, depending on the disability. You should also be careful about the surrounding cabinets, drawers and vanity area, if there is a wheelchair or walker involved in the use of the area.
As safe way to go is to choose an ADA sink that is easy to maneuver under and around. These are also more shallow in the front and deeper in the back for easier access.
Keep in mind that universally designed bathrooms are built with these issues in mind and make it easy to construct a bath area that is accessible.
Requirements for Vanities and Countertops
Countertops or vanity area should be no higher than 30-32" on the top side, and should be no
higher than 29" from the underside for wheelchair users. The opening under the sink area to allow for the proper approach space should be no less than 32" wide for wheelchair use. Standing users will only require a height of no more than 34-36" for ease of use.
The depth of a countertop should be no more
than 21" deep for easy reach from the front.
Some drop in sinks are fine with this
configuration as long as the drain pipe doesn't
obstruct approach and use. Make sure
that any drain pipes are covered
with heat guard insulation to
protect against burns in
case of accidentally bumping
On the edges of countertops,
as well as on towel racks and
contrasting colors that can help
mark boundaries for those with
Also, use C-shaped pull handles or use magnetic touch latches that are easy to open. Those with limited mobility or hand strength can more easily access the drawers with these types of latches, rather than conventional knobs.
Additional things to remember for wheelchair or seated
use is to install doors that fold and remove any face
framing on base cabinets or use roll out cabinets to allow
for open space. Also, a wall-mounted sink that is
attached 30-32" from the floor provides ideal access.
A sink's drain control can be problematic for some people,
so be sure to make sure it is easy to use. Often, a
simple, rubber plug is the best solution.
- Single lever style faucets - It's a good idea to replace double-handle faucets with single lever style faucets that can be operated with less effort.
- Motion sensor faucets - Even better, is to install a motion sensor faucet for handicapped users who may have limited hand or arm strength.
- Pull-out sprayer - Another useful option is to install a faucet that includes a pull-out sprayer that can be used to wash hair without having to get in a shower or tub.
If you have trouble installing a handicap faucet to the back of a vanity or countertop that is 21" deep, you can always install it to the side instead. This provides much better access.
When you install a mirror over the vanity or sink area, be sure to set the bottom of the mirror no higher than 40" from the floor. A tilted mirror is usually best for those in wheelchairs or for those who are short. It can then be adjusted to the proper height for each user.
If you are installing a mirror wall cabinet instead, be sure to lower the cabinet in order to minimize reaching. You can move cabinets within easy reach by also installing pull-down hardware to wall
mounted mirrored cabinets or medicine cabinets.
For disabled users who have dull nerve sensation or slow reflexes, it is very important to design the right handicap sink and vanity space in your home bathroom not only for accessibility, but for safety as well. This type of bathroom can be quite stylish and usable for every member of the family, if you adhere to good design principles that address everyone in the home.
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