avoiding floods with handicapped shower

beckyinrichmondJune 10, 2009

I posted in April about a bathroom renovation I'm planning for a disabled relative. I have a contractor ready to start next week. He ordered a barrier free shower and sent me the specs on Monday. In teeny tiny print is this: "Exterior floor drain is recommended." I called the manufacturer (Florestone) and asked about this. The rep said that if you leave the water running, it will overflow. It's meant for the water to be run only intermittenly. Well, I don't think my cousin will keep turning the water on and off; he's going to let it run. There isn't going to be an exterior floor drain. I had decided on vinyl and you can't do an floor drain in the middle of vinyl. My cousin uses a walker and can step over a small threshold to get into a shower. I'd feel a lot better if I know the water is staying inside the shower and not getting all over the bathroom room, making it slippery and possibly flooding the house. So I want a shower with a threshold. But I also want one with grab bars and a folding seat and the sliding bar and hand-held spray and anti-scald valve. But it seems those things come only on the barrier free models. What can I do? I've read about semi-permanent thresholds that apparently can be added over the small rubber lip to make a threshold about 2.5 inches high. Looks like they're attached with silicone. Do they hold up? Do they work? Or should I look for a normal shower enclosure and plan to add grab bars and a seat? Is there any problem with adding grab bars to a new fiberglass or acrylic shower? You need backing for the grab bars. How should that be added?

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I am sure Bill or Mongo will weigh in here with ideas. However, on reading your post I get the idea that you are talking about, for want of a better description, a "Pre-fab" barrier free shower . It may be more expensive, but I think you can accomplish what you want by doing it piece by piece.

My MIL was in assisted living, with what one would call almost a barrier free shower. The shower pan had a slightly raised lip, no exterior drain, long shower curtain, and it didnÂt have to have the water run intermittently. Grab bars installed in the walls. One vertically as one entered the shower and one horizontally on the long wall. No scald valves and the other things can easily be done.

Are you replacing the bathtub with a shower? I have MS. We replaced our bathtub with a shower. The configuration of the bath/toilet area is such that it could never be wheelchair accessible. As I can still get over a regular threshold, we opted for a tiled shower, not barrier free-( When I canÂt get around without a wheelchair, then IÂm ready for assisted living anyway.) As we were confined to the original "tub space", long and narrow, we did without a built- in seat. There are several attractive teak seats, not institutional looking. Also a movable seat really does have its advantages.

We wanted the bathroom to appeal to a non- handicapped person as well as be usable by me.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:14PM
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The shower is going into what is now the hall and there will be new doors cut into the adjoining bedrooms (which will open into the bedrooms). Everything is being gutted, there will be new plumbing and drainage lines too. That's a good idea about movable seats. We could just set a bathing stool in the shower.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 8:54PM
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You didn't mention what model you chose, but I do have a vague familiarity with those units from questions a friend asked me a few years ago.

The ones I looked at back then only had a 1/2" vertical lip at the threshold. Code requires a 2" vertical between the top of the curb and the top of the drain.

So yes, with one of those units you'd either need to make the entire bathroom a wet room, or install an auxiliary curb or sorts.

If you brought the spec sheet for that shower in to your building department they might guide you. But your builder should be up on this as well.

There are roll (or walk) over compressible curbs, but those need to be properly detailed. One could be possibly be added and properly sealed to the threshold of the Florestone unit. That's a detail I'd run by my local building department for approval.

As to making a traditional shower ADA compliant. Sure it's done all the time. And as mentioned, grab bars and benches (check out a site grabbarspecialists.com I think) can be added to any shower. With this being a gut remodel blocking can be added with ease.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 12:23PM
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Thanks. I'm including the link to the model the contractor ordered (and has now canceled). I've decided to use a regular shower with a regular threshold. The contractor says he can add backing to the shower so we can add grab bars. A local plumbing supplier says that water will stay inside the Florestone shower, but when the manufacturer rep says it will overflow if water is run continuously, I'm going to believe the manufacturer. The last thing we need is wet floor all over the bathroom.

Here is a link that might be useful: Florestone model

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 6:41PM
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The manufacturer's flooding comments are interesting given that it'd take a slow drain for a shower to overflow with today's low-flow showerheads.

The unit has a 1/2" lip. When was the last time you were standing in a shower that had over a half-inch of water on the floor?

Oh well.

Grab bars locations? Click around on this site for accessible shower guidelines.

If you know where you want grab bars, add blocking. If you;re not sure, skin the entire wall with 3/4" CDX plywood.

If you go with a skin of plywood let your plumber know so the added wall thickness can be considered when the shower is plumbed.

I've also used an extended "bump" in the floor to act as a curb. A gradual upwards slope starting about 12-18" away from where a traditional shower curb would be that reaches 2" above drain height at the door, then once inside the shower, a traditional slope going down towards the drain.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 11:10PM
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In your condition i think walk in showers are best as i recently got installed from Universal Design Specialists for my uncle. They also use walker to walk and i am satisfied with this walk in shower installation as my uncle is happy and can bath now by themselves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Handicapped Shower

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 4:45AM
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