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Nina Sable, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Commonwealth Real EstatePhone: (508) 733-8935
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How to Design a Beautiful Spacious Wheelchair Accessible Shower

by Nina Sable 01/24/2021

Photo by Marcus Aurelius via Pexels


Approximately 61 million adult Americans have some form of a disability, according to the CDC. That figure equals one out of every four of our community members. Add the fact that the U.S. Census indicates the country is headed for a “gray tsunami” with upwards of 73 million people entering retirement age. It stands to reason accessible living spaces will be in increased demand.

That’s why new construction home builders would be wise to consider modifying bathrooms to ensure accessibility for aging community members and those with disabilities. Whether prospective homeowners require these enhancements now or in the future, wheelchair accessible showers are also beautifully spacious. These are top things to consider when designing a wheelchair accessible shower.

Key Design Elements of an Accessible Shower

Spaciousness and room to move about freely are top considerations when creating a wheelchair-friendly bathroom. Blueprints for the new construction home may consider making this bathroom the square-footage equivalent of a bedroom or home office. This facet tends to make such a bathroom luxurious. Along with accessories such as seats and specialized gadgets, these are ways to improve shower accessibility.

  • Curbless Showers: Eliminating prefabricated shower installs or tile versions with lips is an essential safety element. They present an unnecessary challenge for people using wheelchairs. They are also a proven safety risk for people with walkers. Curbless showers simply employ waterproof flooring with a grade that directs the liquid to a drain. Not only are these among the best shower options, but they also make bathrooms appear even more spacious.
  • Non-Slip Surfaces: If you ever went to a public school that used walk-through showers after gym class, you probably remember someone slipping and falling on the tile floor. Although tile can be a reasonable flooring material in a wheelchair accessible shower, it must also possess non-slip qualities. Some routinely used floor materials to consider include non-slips such as rubber, marble mosaics, feathered concrete, and seamless vinyl, among others. A long as the sub-floor can hold up to any potential water penetrations, the design can succeed.
  • Interior Shower Space: In many wheelchair accessible layouts, the shower tends to be the centerpiece. That’s largely because people may need to bring their wheelchair or walker into the space. Designs should account for at least a 36-inch entry and enough square footage to turn around. Wheelchair turnaround requirements typically call for a minimum of 60 inches. However, more space is advisable.
  • Grab Bars: A minimum of two to three 1.25 to 1.5 inch-thick grab bars are generally required for a wheelchair- or walker-accessible shower. U-shaped grab bars on swivels may also be installed for enhanced stability.

Some fine details to consider in an accessible shower layout include installing an anti-scald mixing valve that keeps temperature spikes in check. Maximum temperatures for this style typically top-out at 120 degrees. The layout should also position appropriate space to house hair care and bathing products, as well as towels and washcloths. This type of shower differs from standard bathrooms that place things like towel hooks outside the space. These are typically placed away from the showerhead and floor space that drains water.  

Overhead lights and heat lamps on timers also add value and make showering more relaxing. It’s also essential to keep in mind that loose plastic shower curtains tend to create a trip and fall hazard. If your accessible shower requires a divider, plexiglass doors and panels offer a safe solution.

In terms of accessible showers in new construction, these spacious designs are not strictly for aging Americans and people with mobility limitations. Homes that include spacious and beautiful showers and bathrooms increase values and are highly sought after resale properties.

About the Author

Nina Sable

Nina Sable has been a Middlesex County resident for more than two decades, having made the towns like Marlborough home following her graduation from Boston University. After working a Non-Profit Senior Service job for years, she made the transition to real estate, recognizing it as an opportunity for her to build her own business. Using her skills and natural aptitude in sales, negotiation, communication, and digital marketing, she launched a second career in Middlesex and Worcester County residential real estate and now additionally in Cape Cod Real Estate; the proof of her success is in her numbers: since 2017, she has closed more than 80 transactions. 

Nina joined the Berkshire Hathaway Group in the fall of 2019 and is looking forward to being a top producer with this high-level team at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. 

Above all, Nina believes in the power of providing exceptional and exemplary customer service. Her client-centric approach and strong work ethic have rewarded her with glowing accolades. As evidenced by these statements from past customers: “Nina is responsive, expedient, and professional…she made our move a very positive experience.” And, “Nina is extremely personable, kind, and knowledgeable about each area of the city. She helped us find our place in one day, and the process was seamless…we will be recommending her to our closest friends.”

Nina is dedicated to building a strong base comprised of repeat clients and referrals. Understanding that buyers/sellers, renters, and investors can chose from a large number of highly qualified brokers in the Greater Boston area has propelled her to go above and behind with every client and on every deal. She is known for being a dependable, trusted advocate, with the business savvy and negotiating skills necessary to help her clients achieve their goals. 

Nina is a native of New York. But has lived in Massachusetts for more than 20 years. When she is not working, she is family oriented, travel savvy, biking or walking her two dogs Daisy and Scamp. She loves spending time with friends and family.