When upgrading a bathroom, many homeowners will make changes for aging in place. Universal design is an interior design practice that keeps older people with those with disabilities in mind. While you may not need these features in your bathroom now, they can make life easier as you age. Furthermore, universal design upgrades can often add to the resale value of your home. Whether you are planning for the future or looking to sell, upgrading your bathroom using universal design principles is often a good idea. Below, we will discuss some of these upgrades, and how they can make your bathroom safer and more accessible.

Grab Bars Near the Shower and Toilet

Stabilizing grab bars make it easier and safer to use the shower or toilet, at any age. Grab bars can come in a variety of styles, finishes, and designs, offering much more customization than the simple stainless steel poles most people think of. Grab bars for assistance on and off the toilet are less common in homes than shower bars. But both can be important for older or disabled residents or guests. Grab bars should be installed properly to be able to withstand 250-300 lbs of load.

Universal Design and Shower Upgrades

Showers can be slippery for people of any age. Shower benches allow you to wash your lower body with ease. They also make showers easier for individuals with mobility limitations. Handheld showerheads allow you to wash hard-to-reach places more easily. Curbless shower doors reduce the risk of tripping hazards when entering or exiting. Lastly, look for showerheads that offer anti-scald valves. Anti-scald valves mix a small amount of cold water with the incoming hot water. This helps minimize the risk of burns.

Universal Design for Bathtubs

If you want a bathtub in your bathroom, several options are in line with universal design principles. Walk-in bathtubs take up less floor space while offering a more safe bathing experience, and have built-in seating. These models are especially effective for older individuals and those with disabilities. If a walk-in tub is not for you, consider adding a transfer bench. A Transfer bench helps an individual slide over the tub and ease themselves into the water. Look for models that are ADA-compliant.

Anti-Slip Tiles

Tiles are a good choice for bathroom flooring because of how they hold up to moisture. But it is important to look for less slippery tiles. Tiles with a better coefficient of friction will be less slippery. Some tiles, such as quarry or terracotta tiles are naturally less slippery. Other tiles may be treated to be more slip-resistant. Smaller tiling can also reduce the chance of slipping, as there is more grout per square foot.

Universal Design for Sinks

While most bathroom vanities are around the right height for wheelchair accessibility, they often lack clearance below the counter. Floating or table-style counters allow for a wheelchair to be pulled closer to the vanity for easier access.

Choosing Cabinetry for Universal Design Principles

Universal design options for cabinets and drawers look towards ease of access and accessibility. The height of drawers and cabinets, as well as the types of handles used on them, will focus on ease of access. The right combination of hinges, handles, and positioning can allow for easier access to storage regardless of hand dexterity, strength, or reach.

Effective Lighting in the Bathroom

Proper lighting is important to a safe and accessible bathroom space. A well-lit bathroom is easier and safer to navigate. Rocker-style switches for light fixtures are also more accessible. When planning out lighting, consider how the fixtures will illuminate the interiors of cabinets and drawers.

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