How Wide to Make Doorways for Wheelchair Access
By: Danny Lipford
When designing or remodeling a home for wheelchair access, be sure to make doorways 36” wide. While a 32” wide opening is the minimum for wheelchair access, as homebuilder Phil Garner discovered after he was disabled, wider openings provide much easier access.
Watch this video to find out more.
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- Home Without Limits: Accessible House Design (article)
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- Innovative Home Solutions for Aging in Place (video)
Danny Lipford: I’m sure you never realized the things like the doorways. I noticed the doorway behind you there. That’s a pretty narrow doorway for anybody.
Phil Garner: It is, and I can demonstrate. One of the things is I thought a doorway that’s 32 inches wide should accommodate anyone, right? As you can see, it’s almost wide enough.
Danny Lipford: Oh, man.
Phil Garner: You know, my chair, it kind of nicks it. It’s little tight near my elbow.
Danny Lipford: Yeah.
Phil Garner: I’m a wide guy, I realize, but one of the things is a three-foot wide or 36-inch opening really is necessary.
Danny Lipford: Yeah.
Phil Garner: And I’d always thought about that in my head; but now as I’m in this condition, I really do realize it.
Danny Lipford: Phil has removed this door from its hinges to allow access. But a helpful solution for this situation might be the swing-away hinge, which allows the door to move out of the opening as it’s opened.
Fortunately you had an open floor plan. I know that’s a real important part of it. Big openings here, you’ve got like a five-foot case opening there, going into the kitchen and everything.
Phil Garner: We knew, for resale purposes that we wanted to have the most marketability. And we knew that we needed to have an open floor plan.
Danny Lipford: Boy, this is very important. It’d be rough if this was all carpet.
Phil Garner: The hard surfaces really do make a difference, Danny. I know if I did not have the tile and the hardwood, it would be impossible to navigate.