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Accessible Bathrooms - Part 9

Bathtubs:

There is a wide selection of bathtubs, in style, size, color, materials and features available in the market today. From the basic porcelain glazed cast iron bathtub to bathtubs made of composite materials that have water and/or air jets to massage tired muscles. Soaker tubs are generally larger than the basic bathtub allowing the occupant to be fully immersed in the water.

Keys to the successful design and construction of an accessible bathroom:

Many bathtubs now come with grab bars molded into them.

For safety sake the bathtub chosen should have a non-slip, flat bottom. If grab bars are not part of the bathtub they should be installed on the wall.

The bathtub can present accessibility problems even for those without any disabilities. Falling while getting in or out of a bathtub is one of the most common accidents in homes. Both vertical and horizontal grab bars should be installed, as shown in Figure 33.

safety equipped bathtub
Figure 33 - Safety equipped bathtub

The intent of the grab bars in the bathtub space is to aid in getting in and out of the tub. For that reason, a grab bar should be installed horizontally at a height of 7 to 11 inches above the bathtub rim, running the full length of the tub.

A second horizontal grab bar should be installed the width of the tub where the water control valves are located.

A third vertical grab bar positioned at the entry point of the bathtub allows the individual to grab something while stepping over the side of the bathtub.

If grab bars are pre-installed in the bathtub you have chosen, ensure that they are capable of taking the pull weight of an adult.

If you are providing for accessibility to the bathtub for an individual that cannot easily step over the sidewall of the bathtub, there are numerous styles of bathtub lifts that can be placed in most bathtubs, as shown in Figure 34.

fold down shower seat
Figure 34 - Bathtub lift
folding bath seat
Figure 35 - Folding bath seat

Having a portable or Folding bath seat available, as shown in Figure 35, for placement in the bathtub, should also be considered.

Walk-in bathtubs

Walk-in bathtubs, as shown in Figure 36, are a relatively new product. They provide easy access to the bathtub by providing a watertight, lever handled, door on one of the sides.

walk-in bathtub
Figure 36 - Walk-in bathtub

These walk-in bathtubs can be purchased as basic bathtubs or can be equipped with all of the extra features such as water jets. All models have integral seating. In fact these walk-in bathtubs are being installed in high-end homes, as shown in Figures 37,38 and 39, they are no longer considered only a fixture for the elderly or disabled.

walk-in bathtub
Figure 37 - Walk-in bathtub
walk-in bathtub with water jets
Figure 38 - Walk-in bathtub with water jets
walk-in bathtub
Figure 39 - Walk-in bathtub

Walk-in bathtubs are however, the perfect answer for individuals with mobility problems who are still capable of bathing on their own.

It is still important to consider the installation of grab bars in appropriate positions to aid the individual in standing and gaining access to the walk-in bathtub, if they do have any balance problems.