Tips for a Functional Bathroom
The following NKBA guidelines offer ideas for keeping your bathroom as functional as possible. Most NKBA guidelines are suggestions; however, a few guidelines are also residential codes. The guidelines that are also code say “code” next to them. Visit the NKBA’s Web site for their entire list of kitchen and bath guidelines.
1. Door Entry: The clear opening of a doorway should be 32-inches wide.
2. Door Interference: No entry or fixture doors should interfere with one another and/or the safe use of fixtures or cabinets.
3. Ceiling Height: The height of a bathroom ceiling will be a minimum of 80 inches from the floor. Also, a shower or tub equipped with a showerhead should have minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 80 inches (above a minimum area 30-inches by 30-inches at the showerhead).
4. Clear Space (floor space): Plan a clear floor space at least 30 inches from the front edge of all fixtures (such as the lavatory, toilet, tub and shower) to any opposite bath fixture, wall or obstacle.
5. Single Lavatory Placement: The distance from the center of the lavatory (sink) to the sidewall or any other tall obstacle should be at least 20 inches.
6. Double Lavatory Placement: The distance between the centers of the two lavatories (sinks) should be at least 36 inches.
7. Lavatory/Vanity Height: The height for a lavatory varies between 32 and 43 inches in order to fit the user.
8. Counter: Use countertops with clipped or round corners rather than sharp-edged corners.
9. Shower Size: The interior shower size is at least 36-inches by 36-inches.
10. Tub and Shower Controls:
a. The shower controls should be accessible from both inside and outside the shower spray and be located between 38 to 48 inches above the floor.
b. The tub controls should be accessible from both inside and outside the tub and be located above the rim of the bathtub and 33 inches above the floor.
11. Shower/Tub Control Valves:
Shower and tub/shower control valves must be one of the following:
• Pressure balanced
• Thermostatic mixing
• Combination pressure balance/thermostatic mixing valve types
12. Shower/Tub Seat: Plan a seat within the shower that is 17 to 19 inches above the shower floor and 15 inches deep.
13. Tub/Shower Surround: The wall area above a tub or shower pan should be covered in a waterproof material extending at least 3 inches above the showerhead rough in.
14. Grab Bars: Grab bars should facilitate access to the tub and shower areas, and should aid in maneuvering in those areas.
Tub and shower walls should be prepared (reinforced) at time of construction to allow for installation of grab bars to support a static load of 250 pounds.
Grab bars should be placed at least 33 to 36 inches above the floor.
Grab bars must be 1¼ to 2 inches in diameter and extend 1½ inches from the wall.
15. Glazing (windows or doors): Glass used in tub or shower enclosures or partitions must be tempered (or an approved equal of tempered glass) and must be permanently marked as such. (code)
If the tub or shower surround has glass windows or walls, the glazing must be tempered glass or approved equal when the bottom edge of glazing is less than 60 inches above any standard or walking surface. (code)
Any glazing (i.e. windows or doors) whose bottom edge is less than 18 inches above the floor must be tempered glass or approved equal. (code)
16. Tub/Shower Door: Hinged shower doors shall open outward. (code)
17. Steps (outside a tub): Steps should not be placed outside a tub. If steps are used a grab bar/handrail is mandatory.
18. Flooring: Slip-resistant surfaces should be specified for the general bath flooring, shower floors and tub/shower bottoms.
19. Equipment Access: All equipment, including access panels, must be installed as per manufacturers’ specifications. (code)
All manufacturers’ instructions must be available for installers and inspectors and left for homeowners. (code)
20. Toilet and/or Bidet Placement: The distance from the center of the of the toilet and/or bidet to any bath fixture, wall or other obstacle should be at least 18 inches.
21. Toilet Compartment: The size for a separate toilet compartment should be at least 33-inches by 66-inches with a swing-out or pocket door.
22. Storage: Provide adequate, accessible storage for toiletries, bath linens, grooming and general bathroom supplies at point of use.
a. Place a mirror above or near the lavatory at a height that takes the user’s eye height into consideration.
b. The toilet paper holder should be located 8 to 12 inches in front of the edge of the toilet bowl, centered at 26 inches above the floor.
c. Additional accessories, such as towel holders, soap dishes, etc., should be conveniently located near all bath fixtures.
24. Electrical Receptacles: All GFCI receptacles should be located at electrical appliance points of use.
25. Lighting: In addition to general lighting, task lighting should be provided for each functional area in the bathroom (i.e. grooming, showering).
26. Ventilation: Plan a mechanical exhaust system, vented to the outside, for each enclosed area.
27. Heat: A supplemental heat source such as a heat lamp, toe kick heater or floor heat should be considered.