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How to Remodel Your Home for Wheelchair Accessibility

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

After obtaining a mobility solution, mobility users may find it challenging to maneuver in and out of certain areas of their home. Given that the average home builder is not well-versed in accessibility requirements, the likelihood of owning a pre-built wheelchair-accessible home could be slim. However, that’s not to say your home can’t be remodeled for your accessibility needs. Rehab Medical’s mobility experts have put together this brief list of remodeling tips to help you find quick, easy, and cost-effective solutions to make your home wheelchair friendly.

1. Install handrails

For those who struggle with balance or temporary weakness, installing handrails is a great option to reduce the risks of falling. Whichever areas you frequent the most in your home, such as the kitchen, bathroom, hallways, and bedroom, is where you want to install handrails. It’s recommended that you consult a professional for installation and not try to install one on your own. An improperly installed handrail can lead to hazardous conditions. Handrails are also great for outside of your home. If you have a deck, ledge, or patio with a minimum of two steps, it’s recommended to add a handrail for stability.

2. Install a ramp

Does your residence have multiple floors? If so, this could be potentially dangerous to mobility users as they navigate multiple floors. An easy solution to help with this is adding a wheelchair-accessible ramp to your stairs. Ramps provide easy floor-to-floor access and create a more stable environment for mobility users. Just remember, when installing ramps in your home, make sure to follow the ADA safety guidelines for wheelchair ramps. For every inch of stair height, there must be one foot of ramp installed. If installing a ramp is not an option, you can look into stairlifts as the next best aid.

3. Install a stairlift

Stairlifts provide a quick and easy solution when going up and down stairs. There are also portable stairlift options for those needing multiple stairs. If you go with the portable option, we recommend the portable stair climber, which moves you up and down stairs without transferring from your wheelchair. How do you determine which stairlift is right for you? First, consider your mobility needs, what you need the stairlift to do, and how it will help you get around. Then consider how your stairs are made. Will it support a stairlift? Do you have a winding staircase? How many steps do you need to accommodate? Another thing to consider is the size and weight of your wheelchair. Make sure it fits the stairlift you are interested in and is customizable to suit you should you upgrade or downgrade your wheelchair in the future. Stairlifts should also be wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair and an additional person should you have a caregiver. Nonetheless, stairlifts are very versatile and can become a permanent solution compared to the difficulties of working with stairs.

4. Customizing your kitchen

Making a kitchen wheelchair accessible can be considered a large project. You have to consider what you need to access in your kitchen regularly. Counters, cabinets, sinks, doorknobs, and floors are the main areas to focus on when considering remodeling.

A few simple and easy things you can do is lower your cabinets by 30 inches but make sure you still have counter space and raise your dishwasher about six to eight inches to reduce unnecessary and strenuous movements. Doorknobs can easily be lowered or replaced with push/pull bars, press lever handles, or automatic doors. For sinks and floor renovations, we recommend contacting a professional for the best tips and tricks.

5. Customizing your bathroom

The average everyday person spends more than half their life span in the bathroom, so this area must be the most wheelchair accessible.

Tubs and showers can be difficult to get in and out of, especially if you don’t have handrails or grab bars to assist. We recommend going with a roll-in shower or step-in tub if you can. A roll-in shower removes barriers and allows full access to maneuver in and out of the tub.

To enter and exit your bathroom safely, the ADA recommends 60 or more inches from wall to wall so your wheelchair can safely move in and out.

Lastly, we recommend lowering your sinks and toilets for easy access. The ideal toilet seat height should be level with your wheelchair for easy transferring. If you struggle with getting up and down from the toilet, installing a safety frame around your toilet can make it easier. Conclusion Whether you’re remodeling your existing home or looking to buy a new home that’s wheelchair accessible, always consult an ADA expert before making any significant changes. There are proper ways to make your home wheelchair accessible, and it’s important to follow these rules and regulations for a safe, comfortable, and accessible home for now and years to come.


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