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   Articles | How-Tos | Ask the Expert   

There are many aspects to designing (or redesigning) a bathroom. The NKBA's Bathroom Planning Guidelines set the standard for the industry and will be helpful in your designing process.

NKBA Bathroom Planning Guidelines.

Section I: Clear Floor Spaces and Door Openings

Guideline 1

a. The clear space at doorways should be at least 32" (81cm) wide and not more than 24" (61cm) deep in the direction of travel.

Guideline 1a. - Clarification: While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. Be aware that a lesser clearance may not allow for full use by all people.

b. The clear space at a doorway must be measured at the narrowest point.

c. Walkways (passages between vertical objects greater than 24" (61cm) deep in the direction of travel), should be a minimum of 36" (91cm) wide.

Guideline 2

A clear floor space at least the width of the door on the push side and a larger clear floor space on the pull side should be planned at doors for maneuvering to open, close, and pass through the doorway. The exact amount needed will depend on the type of door and the approach.

Guideline 3

A minimum clear floor space of 30" x 48" (76cm x 122cm) either parallel or perpendicular should be provided at the lavatory.

Guideline 3 - Clarification: Up to 19" (48cm) of the 48" (122cm) clear floor space dimension can extend under the lavatory when a knee space is provided.

Guideline 4

a. A minimum clear floor space of 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) should be provided in front of the toilet. A minimum of 16" (41cm) of that clear floor space must extend to each side of the centerline of the fixture.

Guideline 4a - Clarification: While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. If a 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) clear floor space is unavailable, this space may be reduced to 30" x 48" (76cm x 122cm). This compromise may not allow for full use by all people. b. Up to 12" (30cm) of the 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) clear floor space can extend under the lavatory when total access to a knee space is provided.

Guideline 5

A minimum clear floor space of 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) from the front of the bidet should be provided.

Guideline 5 - Clarifications:
1.
While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. If a 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) clear floor space is not available, this space may be reduced to 30" x 48" (76cm x 122cm). This compromise may not allow for full use by all people.

2. Up to 12" (30cm) of the 48" x 48" (122cm x 122cm) of the clear floor space can extend under the lavatory when total access to a knee space is provided.


Guideline 6

a. The minimum clear floor space at a bathtub is 60" (152cm) wide by 30" (76cm) deep for a parallel approach, even with the length of the tub.

b. The minimum clear floor space at a bath tub is 60" (152cm) wide x 48" (122cm) deep for a perpendicular approach.

Guideline 6 - Clarifications:
1.
Up to 12" (30cm) of the 60" (152cm) clear floor space required for parallel or perpendicular approach can extend under the lavatory when total access to a kneespace is provided.

2. If a built-in seat is planned, increase the width of the clear floor space by the depth of the seat, a minimum 15" (38cm).

3. An additional 12"-18" (30cm-46cm) of clear floor space beyond the control wall is desirable to ease access to controls. The same 12"-18" (30cm-46cm) of clear floor space is desirable beyond the head of the tub for maneuvering mobility aids for transfer.


Guideline 7

The minimum clear floor space at showers less than 60" (152cm) wide should be 36" (91cm) deep by the width of the shower plus 12" (30cm). The 12" (30cm) should extend beyond the seat wall. At a shower that is 60" (152cm) wide or greater, clear floor space should be 36" (91cm) deep by the width of the shower.

Guideline 7 - Clarification: An additional 12"-18" (30cm-46cm) of clear floor space beyond the control wall is desirable to ease access to controls. The same 12"-18" (30cm-46cm) of clear floor space is desirable beyond the side wall opposite the control wall for maneuvering aids for transfer.


Guideline 8

Clear floor spaces required at each fixture may overlap.

Guideline 9

Space for turning (mobility aids) 180-degrees should be planned in the bathroom. A minimum diameter of 60" (152cm) for 360-degrees turns and/or a minimum T-turn space of 36" (91cm) x 36" (91cm) x 60" (152cm).

Guideline 9 - Clarification: While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. When space for a 360 diameter or T-turn is unavailable, a 30" x 60" (76cm x 152cm) clear floor space can be substituted but this compromise will not allow full access by all users.

Guideline 10

A minimum clear floor space of 30" x 48" (76cm-122cm) is required beyond the door swing in a bathroom.

Section II: Lavatories

Guideline 11

When more than one vanity is included, one may be 30"-34" (76cm-86cm) high and another at 34"-42" (86cm-107cm) high. Vanity height should fit the user(s).

Guideline 12

Kneespace (which may be open or adaptable) should be provided at a lavatory. The kneespace should be a minimum of 27" (69cm) above the floor at the front edge, decreasing progressively as the depth increases, and the recommended width is a minimum of 30" (76cm) wide.

Guideline 13

The bottom edge of the mirror over the lavatory should be a maximum of 40" (102cm) above the floor or a maximum of 48" (122cm) above the floor if it is tilted.

Guideline 14

The minimum clearance from the centerline of the lavatory to any side wall is 15" (38cm).

Guideline 15

The minimum clearance between two bowls in the lavatory center is 30" (76cm), centerline to centerline.

Guideline 15 - Clarification: When using lavatories that are 30" (76cm) wide or greater, the minimum distance of 30" (76cm) between centerlines of the two bowls must be increased to allow proper installation of each lavatory.

Section III: Showers and Bathtubs

Guideline 16

In an enclosed shower, the minimum usable interior dimensions are 34" (86cm) x 34" (86cm). These dimensions are measured from wall to wall. Grab bars, controls, movable and folding seats do not diminish the measurement.

Guideline 16 - Clarification: While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. If a 34" x 34" (86cm x 86cm) interior dimension is unavailable, these dimensions may be reduced to 32" x 32"(81cm x 81cm). Be aware that this compromise may not allow for full use by all people.


Guideline 17

Showers should include a bench or seat that is 17"-19" (43cm-48cm) above the floor and a minimum of 15" (38cm) deep.

Guideline 17 - Clarification:
1. Built-in permanent seats should not encroach upon the minimum 34" x 34" (86cm x 86cm) interior clear floor space of the shower.

2. Reinforced wall supports for future placement of hanging and folding seat hardware should be planned at the time of shower installation.


Guideline 18

The width of the door opening must take into consideration the interior space in the shower for entry and maneuvering. When the shower is 60" (152cm) deep, a person can enter straight into the shower and turn after entry, therefore 32" (81cm) is adequate. If the shower is 42" (107cm) deep, the entry must be increased to 36" (91cm) in order to allow for turning space.

Guideline 19

Shower doors must open into the bathroom.

Guideline 20

Steps should not be planned at the tub or shower area. Safety rails should be installed to facilitate transfer to and from the fixture.

Guideline 21

All showerheads should be equipped with pressure balance/temperature regulator or temperature limiting device.

Guideline 22

a. Shower controls should be accessible from inside and outside the fixture. Shower controls should be located between 38" - 48" (96cm - 122cm) above the floor (placed above the grab bar) and offset toward the room.

Guideline 22a - Clarification:
A handheld showerhead may be used in place of or in addition to a fixed showerhead. When mounted, a handheld showerhead should be no higher than 48" (122cm) in its lowest position.

b. Tub controls should be accessible from inside and outside the fixture. Controls should be located between the rim of the tub and 33" (84cm) above the floor, placed below the grab bar and offset toward the room.

Guideline 22b - Clarification:
If separate hot and cold controls are used in a bathtub (not permissible in a shower), for safe use the hot control is always on the left as viewed from inside the fixture.

Section IV: Toilets and Bidets

Guideline 23

a. A minimum 16" (41cm) clearance should be allowed from the centerline of the toilet or bidet to any obstruction, fixture or equipment (except grab bars) on either side.

Guideline 23a - Clarification:
While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. If a 32" (81cm) clearance is unavailable, this space may be reduced to 30" (76cm). Be aware that this compromise may not allow for full use by all people.

b. When the toilet and bidet are planned adjacent to one another, the 16" minimum (41cm) centerline clearance to all obstructions should be maintained.

Guideline 23b - Clarification:
While a designer should always try to meet this goal, physical constraints of a job site may require deviation from the guideline. If a 16" (41cm) centerline clearance to an obstruction is unavailable, this centerline clearance may be reduced to 15" (38cm). Be aware that this compromise may not allow for full use by all people.


Guideline 24

The toilet paper holder should be installed within reach of a person seated on the toilet. Ideal location is slightly in front of the edge of the toilet bowl, centered at 26" (66cm) above the floor.

Guideline 25

Compartmental toilet areas should be a minimum 36" (91cm) x 66" (168cm) with a swing-out door or a pocket door.

Guideline 25 - Clarification: The amount of space needed for a private toilet area will be affected by the mobility of the person using it.

Section V: Grab Bars, Storage and Flooring

Guideline 26

Walls should be prepared (reinforced) to receive grab bars at the time of construction. Grab bars should also be installed in the bath tub, shower and toilet areas at the time of construction.

Guideline 26 - Clarification:
1.
Reinforced areas must bear a static load of 300 lbs. (136kg). The use of cement board does not negate the need for blocking or plywood reinforcing.

2. Grab bars should be installed 33" - 36" (84cm - 91cm) above the floor, should be 1 1/4"-1 1/2" (3.2cm-3.8cm) diameter, extend 1 1/2 (3.8cm) from the wall, support a 300 lbs. (136 kg) load, and they should have a slip-resistant surface. When shapes other than round are used for grab bars, the width of the largest point should not exceed 2" (5.1cm). Towel bars must not be substituted as grab bars.

3. Grab bars in bathtub/shower areas should be at least 24" (61cm) wide on the control wall, at least 12" (30cm) wide on the head wall and at least 24" (61cm) wide on the back wall, beginning no more than 12" (30cm) from the control wall and no more than 15" (38cm) from the head wall. If a second grab bar is desired on the back wall, it should be located 9" (23cm) above the bathtub deck, the same width as the grab bar above it.

4. Grab bars in shower stalls should be included on each surrounding wall (optional on wall where bench is located) and should be no more than 9" (23cm) shorter than the width of the wall to which they are attached.

5. The first grab bar in the toilet area should be located on the side wall closest to the toilet, a maximum 12" (30cm) from the rear wall. It should be at least 42" (107cm) wide. An optional secondary grab bar in the toilet area may be located on the rear wall, a maximum 6" (15cm) from the side wall. It should be at least 24" (61cm) wide.

b. Alternatives for grab bars in the toilet area include, but are not limited to, side grab bars attached below the toilet seat, a rail system mounted to the back wall with perpendicular support arms at sides of the toilet seat, an electronic seat elevator or hand rails suspended from the ceiling.


Guideline 27

Storage for toiletries, linens, grooming and general bathroom supplies should be provided within 15" - 48" (38cm-122cm) above the floor.

Guideline 28

Storage for soap, towels and other personal hygiene items should be installed within reach of a person seated on the bidet or toilet and within 15" - 48" (38cm-122cm) above the floor. Storage areas should not interfere with the use of the fixture.

Guideline 29

In the tub/shower area, storage for soap and other personal hygiene items should be provided within the 15"- 48" (38cm-122cm) above the floor within the universal reach range.

Guideline 30

All flooring should be slip resistant.

Section VI: Controls and Mechanical Systems

Guideline 31

Exposed pipes and mechanicals should be covered by a protective panel or shroud. When using a console table, care must be given to keep plumbing attractive and out of contact with a seated user.

Guideline 32

Controls, dispensers, outlets and operating mechanisms should be 15" - 48" (38cm-122cm) above the floor and should be operable with a closed fist.

Guideline 33

All mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems should have access panels.

Guideline 34

Mechanical ventilation systems to the outside should be included in the plan to vent the entire room. The minimum size of the system can be calculated as follows:

Cubic Space (LxWxH) x 8 (changes of air per hour)

60 minutes

= minimum cubic feet per minute (CFM)

Guideline 35

Ground fault circuit interrupters must be specified on all receptacles, lights and switches in the bathroom. All light fixtures above the bathtub/shower units must be moisture-proof special-purpose fixtures.

Guideline 36

In addition to a primary heat source, auxiliary heating may be planned in the bathroom.

Guideline 37

Every functional area in the bathroom should be well illuminated by appropriate task lighting, night lights and/or general lighting. No lighting fixture, including hanging fixtures, should be within reach of a person seated or standing in the tub/shower area.

Guideline 37 - Clarification: The vanity area should include both overhead and side lighting locations. Side lighting may be planned at eye level which will be approximately 3" below a users overall height.


Guideline 38

When possible, bathroom lighting should include a window/skylight area equal to a minimum of 10 percent of the square footage of the bathroom.

Guideline 39

Controls, handles and door/drawer pulls should be operable with one hand, require only a minimal amount of strength for operation, and should not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist. (Includes handles knobs/pulls on entry and exit doors, cabinets, drawers and plumbing fixtures, as well as light and thermostat controls/switches, intercoms, and other room controls.)

Guideline 40

Use clipped or radius corners for open countertops; countertop edges should be eased to eliminate sharp edges.

Guideline 41

Any glass used as a tub/shower enclosure, partition, or other glass application within 18" (46cm) of the floor should be one of three kinds of safety glazing; laminated glass with a plastic interlayer, tempered glass or approved plastics such as those found in the model safety glazing code.

 


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