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Common ADA Restroom Design Mistakes Cheat Sheet by

Common ADA Restroom Design Mistakes
design     common     mistakes     ada     restroom


ADA has no variance for measur­ements that are even a half-inch off the requir­ement and no cure period to fix it after the fact, so if the original design or its execution are faulty, your client will pay the price in court if a guest with a disability discovers they can't use the space.

Access­ibility is especially tough to get right when it comes to restro­oms­—small spaces with big objectives to acheive.

1) Mirror height

“Almost always, the mirror will be more than 40 inches above the floor. You have to be a really tall person in a wheelchair to see yourself in a mirror if it’s more than 40 inches high,” explained Meihls. “Often it’s 10 to 18 inches too high, and it’s clear that they have not thought about a person in a wheelc­hair.”

2) Grab bars

All bars must also have at least an inch and a half of clear space in every direction and it’s common for a toilet paper dispenser to be installed too close.

3) Toilet stalls

Toilets must be located within 16-18 inches from the centerline of the wall. More or less than that makes maneuv­ering difficult. Toilet flush levers are also supposed to be installed on the open side of the stall so that the user doesn’t have to reach over the toilet, he added. However, if your toilet is violating this rule, you may be able to just replace the tank rather than the entire unit.

4) Sinks

The 1991 requir­ements allowed the sink to butt into the maneuv­ering space required for the toilet, but the 2010 update prohibits that, so older buildings often run into trouble. The toilet now has to be within a 60-inch clear space and the sink must be installed beyond that area.

Sinks are frequently too tall as well, especially base cabinet models.
Sinks are often installed higher than 34 inches.
Standard base cabinets are 36-inches high – you have to special order to get one that’s 34 inches high, so that’s a common problem.


5) Doors

Non-co­mpliant bathrooms will sometimes have the door installed improperly so that it swings into the bathroom instead of outward, this takes away the turning clearance, so a person in a wheelchair can’t shut the door.

Door closers often require more than 5 pounds of force to open, and the last thing you need if you’re in a hurry to get there is to be hindered by a door that’s too heavy to open.


Making assump­tions can also spell trouble for your client not just in restrooms, but in the rest of the building, too. In partic­ular, assuming that a person with a disability just won’t use a certain space is guaranteed to cause problems later

Design is about knocking down barriers and creating experi­ences. Keep your client happy and make sure every user can experience the space with a thoughtful design strategy that accounts for people with disabi­lities.

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