Applying Universal Design Principles

Applying Universal Design Principles to Bathroom Design

In the kitchen and bath industry, the term Universal Design is commonly mentioned, but what is Universal Design? How does it apply to bathroom design? And more specifically, how does it apply to linear drains in bathroom design. Curious? Read on…

According to the National Disability Authority, “Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.” The Principles of Universal Design were originally crafted in 1997 by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, led by Ron Mace. Their goal was to educate both design professionals and consumers on creating better usability of products, environments and communications. 

The Seven Principles are:

  1. Equitable Use
  2. Flexibility in Use
  3. Simple and Intuitive in use
  4. Perceptible Information
  5. Tolerance for Error
  6. Low Physical Effort
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

In bathroom design, principles 5 to 7 are particularly important. The goal is to create an easy-to-navigate and safe bathroom, particularly focusing on the bathing area. Typically, this means the barrier to the shower entry must be eliminated, therefore creating a no curb [or zero threshold] shower. The lack of barrier reduces the chance for slipping or tripping while providing the ability to maintain neutral body position for ease of entry. This is especially important with wheelchair and walker use.

Here’s where linear drains enter the picture. Linear drains offer higher drain rates and only require single pitch of the shower floor towards the linear drain. The single plane creates a safer, more stable bathing surface than a typical four-way pitch towards a round center drain. The higher drain rate means less standing water, which in turn, means reduced risk for slipping. With the barrier removed, the linear drain also helps keep all water in the bathing area and reduces overflow to the rest of the bathroom.

All LUXE Linear Drains are ADA Compliant, mindfully designed for use in all types of bathrooms. The durable stainless-steel gratings are strong enough for wheelchairs and walkers to safely, and easily, roll over. With drain rates of up to 9 gallons per minute (GPM), water is effectively and efficiently removed from the bathing area. Available in standard sizes 26”, 30”, 36”, 40”, 48” and 60” – providing plenty of options to accommodate all different types of universal design showers and bathrooms.

Often universal design bathrooms also lend themselves well to aging-in-place, an increasingly popular trend. With accessibility and safety at the forefront of the design process for universal design, many of the features desired for aging-in-place are already included. 

Photo Courtesy of JD Kitchen Bath & More

So there we have it! Linear drains are not just about aesthetics, they can aid in creating a safe and equitable use bathrooms that can be enjoyed now, and for years to come. For everyone – regardless of age, size, ability or disability. 

To read more on Universal Design, check out 10 Things to Know About UD