Wheelchair Accessible Shower Options for the Elderly or Disabled

Wheelchair accessible shower with Swanstone Walls by Alone Eagle Remodeling

There may be some situations with handicap bathroom remodeling for elderly folks or individuals with disabilities where every day counts to complete a project and turn over a new shower.  Sometimes a few extra days just to tile and grout shower walls is not the answer but a combination of a tile installation and Swanstone solid surface walls for your shower can potentially get you back in your bathroom with a great look!  Applications like this require an experienced remodeler that can offer a legitimate menu of both tile work and the skills to install Swanstone products which are not a breeze by any stretch.

A Wheelchair Accessible Shower (or Roll in Shower) does require a large room for the proper turning radius of a wheelchair.  In many instances… (since bathrooms are generally “small”) the room must be framed in to  larger dimensions to do so.  Barrier Free Showers are most popular with a linear drain but when the footprint of the unit is larger a custom sized linear drain can drive the cost of the project up to uncomfortable levels in the budget.  Another option is to stick with a standard shower drain and proper sloping of the floor.

Preformed shower floor kit for tiling

Noble ProBase

Noble Company offers a preformed shower pan called ProBase that will allow the use of any standard clamp ring drain.  This will also take less time to install and cure over the use of shower floor mud.  If the area is larger than the preformed base, the edges to the shower walls can be filled with mud to extend and carry the slope of the flooring.

ProBase Drain InstallationProBase is a glorified version of the divot method drain installation so base of the clamp drain must be installed flush with the subfloor.  In this instance, the framing in the shower area was dropped to accommodate for the height of the shower pan with transition to the rest of the bathroom floor for a smooth roll in surface to enter.  To make the drain flange level, the plywood around the drain area can be shaved down with a router (approximately 3/16”) and set in the recessed area.  Noble Company also has a wide selection of shower drains that will work with this applications.  There are quite a few different finishes and grate styles to choose from.

Please Note:  If this part of the drain installation is not correct, water that travels under the tile will not fully drain to the weep holes and will accumulate under the tile area causing future issues.

Tile Floor over Noble ProBaseAfter the ProBase is installed the whole floor must be waterproofed and tied into the preformed shower pan.  We used NobleSeal TS for flashing and throughout the bathroom floor.  This includes flashing the waterproofing membrane up the walls whether they are tiled, capped with baseboard (glued on) etc…  Tiling the shower walls would obviously require the waterproofing membranes to continue up to 6’ high or more, however, if a product like Swanstone is used then the membranes can be flashed up a few inches because solid surface materials are waterproof.  The tile flooring must be grouted and mainly cured before solid surface installation begins.

After the floor is tiled and grouted, installation of solid surface materials can begin.  Swanstone does have different size shower kits and a larger room may require 2 kits and an additional trim kit.  If there are two panels to fit together the seam should be completely sealed behind the batton trim strip.  Other options if you do not want any batton strips would be to have a countertop fabricator attempt field seams to make the two sheets invisible…  (seaming two sheets together in a shop may leave you with too large of a panel to fit through your home) but any of the options will work and definitely last.  These choices will all depend on what your overall budget will allow.

Swanstone also has a wide selection of shelving accessories to integrate in the unit.  The recessed shelf is large and can fit between stud bays to meet a reachable location when you’re in a shower chair or wheelchair.  All of these factors play a major role in the comfort of the room and if you require assistance during your shower.  Grab bars and additional accessories can easily be mounted and secured for this application.

Barrier Free shower for a wheelchair

All Photos submitted by Alone Eagle Remodeling, LLC


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