Understand What Barrier-Free Actually Means
Construction specs differ based on the experience and understanding of the contractor. When you ask your bathroom renovation contractor for a “barrier-free” shower room, he/she may design and install an attractive, modern shower room without fulfilling that all important label.
Standard shower rooms include a tiled lip or ridge around the outer walls of the shower, often 4 to 5-inches in height off the ground. This may not seem like a big issue, but that slight lip can be very difficult to manage for those with mobility issues. And that’s where a “barrier-free” shower room comes into play.
This shower design often has glass or tiled walls, much like a standard shower room. It may or may not include a door–true walk-in shower rooms use a dry passage to avoid the need for a door, but this design requires more floor space and significantly greater materials. Your contractor will seal the bottom and side edges of the walls to minimize leakage, and should help you choose a shower style that suits your needs and limitations.
In order to contain water and create a safe bathing area, a barrier-free shower uses trench drains or strip drains around the outer edges of the shower. Some trench drains may have a slight ridge–much like an s-bend–to help deter water runoff. Others are merely a long, narrow drain cut into the floor and topped with a stainless steel or heavy duty plastic grate.
How Drainage Comes Into Play
Your accessible shower needs to be designed with purpose, in order to be fully functional and meet current safety standards. Drainage makes a difference.
Shower rooms have a tiled floor, and generally come with a tiled lip around the edges. Transform this standard shower room into an accessible shower by removing the lip from the entrance and installing a trench drain. But remember that the floor must slope to the drain.
Your contractor may include another drain along the rear wall of the shower, with the floor sloped that way. In that case, the entrance trench drain is merely a backup. Other designs allow the floor to slope toward the entrance trench drain. Circular drains in the middle of the shower room also work, although runoff can pose a safety issue.
Talk to your contractor about which style suits your Virginia bathroom remodeling project, taking into account the space and existing conditions.
Think about investing in an upgraded trench drain that includes LED lighting to indicate the presence of water. This helps to reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist, and also adds a bit of modern style to your new bathroom.
Be sure to add grab bars and accessible storage for toiletries. A detachable shower head makes the most sense, and easy access to towels is vital to creating a comfortable environment.
Installing an accessible shower in your bathroom makes sense, and adds to your property value. Be sure to handle this aspect of your Virginia bathroom remodeling project well, in order to achieve the functionality and appearance you need.