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UNIVERSAL SHOWER DESIGN
Universal Design has become a popular trend in our industry. In public spaces or hospitality, Universal Design is hand in glove with ADA accessibility design and can be necessary to meet building codes. It can affect plumbing design in a number of ways, including toilet tank lever accessibility, faucet handle resistance, grab bar clearance, and dozens of other considerations. Universal Design can also be important in the home to ensure the comfort of all people living there, including for children, the elderly, those with limited mobility, and those who intend to age-in-place.
For shower design, there are a number of aspects to keep in mind in order to make the space as universally accessible as possible. The following is a general, but not complete, list of considerations for accessibility:
- Hand showers: Hand showers are a great feature for Universal Shower Design. A hand shower allows for more flexibility for each user, accommodating different heights and physical capabilities. Paired with a shower bar, the hand shower can still be used as a fixed shower head, if the user desires. When possible, designing a shower space with both fixed and hand showers provides the most flexibility.
- Valve trim handle: Not all valve trims are ADA compliant. Those that are not tend to be less universally accessible (by definition). The ADA compliance of a trim is largely determined by the amount of strength required to operate it (5 ft-lbs of pressure) as well as the required range of motion from the user. Check the spec sheet of a shower trim to find the ADA code approvals.
- Diverter tub spouts: Because of the required grasping motion to actuate, lift-type diverter tub spouts are not ADA compliant, and therefore tend not to be a part of Universal Design.
- Shower over tub: Sometimes a tub will not be the most universally accessible choice. Depending on the preference of the user, a low threshold shower pan or tiled floor is a more accessible option than the traditional tub/shower design.
- Seating & grab bars: Providing a built-in or fold-down seat inside the shower can increase the safety or functionality of the shower space. Similarly, for either a tub/shower or shower stall design, grab bars can improve safety and accessibility.
Apply what you learned: Your favorite designer customer Nancy says that she is designing a shower with Grohe products for a client who wants his home to be accessible as he gets older. Here is her current design. How can she make the shower design more universal? Provide as much detail as possible, including Grohe model numbers, when applicable.