Specifying Toilets the Proper Way

Besides selecting the fixture itself, there are other considerations for bathroom planning that involve the toilet area. Some people read while sitting on the toilet, and having proper lighting and some reading materials stored in the area is helpful.

Cleaning the toilet and surrounding areas should be done regularly to cut down on bacteria and odors, and having toilet brushes stored there will help make this easier. Ventilation should be planned in a toileting area to reduce odors.

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The type and size of the toilet may affect the ability to meet some clearance recommendations, especially in small bathrooms. The two-piece toilet has a separate tank and bowl, while the one-piece toilet combines these and typically has a lower profile. The typical seat height of the toilet is between 14 inches and 17 inches, although 17 inch to 19 inch high toilets are growing in popularity. For a person who transfers onto the toilet from a wheelchair, the best height for the toilet is to match the wheelchair height, with the average being 18 inches plus or minus a few.

The toilet width ranges from 17 to 23 inches. A toilet with a standard bowl is about 25 inches deep, while one with an elongated bowl is about 30 inches. A wall-hung toilet with an in-wall tank will be about 22 inches deep. While not common, corner toilets are available for special applications. The fixture typically extends 33 inches from the corner and is about 15 inches wide.

Floor Clearance

People using the toilet will need to stand, turn, sit, remove and replace parts of their clothing, and use nearby supplies like toilet paper. At least 30 inches of clear space is recommended in front of the toilet to allow for these activities, and perhaps more will be needed for larger people or persons needing assistance. Building codes allow this space to be reduced to 21 inches. This may allow leg room to sit on the toilet, but managing clothes may require moving to an area of the bathroom with more floor space.

For a person approaching the toilet with a mobility aid, or transferring from a wheelchair, 30 inches in front of the toilet is a minimum clear space, but more is better. For a person approaching and transferring from the side, plan a minimum 30 inches of clear floor space to the side of the toilet. Wall-hung toilets improve the clear floor space, making it easier to transfer onto the toilet and to maintain the floor around it.

Some users may need grab bars, so plan reinforcement around the toilet area so that they can be installed. Grab bars should be placed according to the user’s requirements, including their method of transfer. Access standards suggest that the grab bars be placed behind the toilet and on the wall beside it.

Toilet Placement

The toilet can be in several places within the bathroom and may be within its own separate area or compartment if space allows. There should be clearances on both sides of the toilet to allow the user to sit comfortably and move the upper part of the body without bumping into a wall or counter.

Placing the toilet at least 18 inches on center from the nearest wall or obstacle is recommended. Building codes will typically allow the toilet to be placed 15 inches on center. Remember that this should be a clear space. Placing another obstacle in the space, such as a grab bar, towel bar or toilet paper holder, will interfere with the clearance.

The Compartment

Placing a toilet in a separate compartment can be accommodated by following the previously recommended clearances. A 36 inch x 66 inch space measured from the inside wall will accommodate the recommended clearances. A 30 inch x 60 inch space will comply with building codes.

In both applications, the door to the compartment should open out toward the adjacent room; otherwise the door swing will interfere with the front clearance. A compartment is not recommended for people using mobility aids, since it limits options in transferring to a toilet. However, if one is used, it should be at least 60 inches x 59 inches. An exception to this is the toilet area planned for a client with limited balance or stamina, as this client could benefit from a space with support within reach on both walls of the approach to the toilet.

Toilet Paper

It is important that the toilet paper dispenser be convenient to the user. The best location is on a wall or partition to the side, and slightly to the front of the toilet. This allows the user to reach the paper while seated. Locations behind or across from the toilet will be difficult to reach without bending or stretching. The recommended location for toilet paper is 8 to 12 inches in front of the toilet, centered 26 inches off the floor.

It is also convenient to locate storage close to, and accessible from, the toilet.

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