A commercial ADA-compliant single-user restroom, with grab bars, automatic soap and paper towel dispenser, and touchless faucet.
Trade Talk

Choose an ADA compliant toilet with these five easy tips

Accessible bathrooms in residential homes are becoming more popular every day. They’re easier to use and more comfortable for everyone, including seniors and people who live with them. Demonstrating that your business excels at these new construction or renovation projects can help you expand.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, lays out specifications for bringing a bathroom into compliance. Transforming a residential bathroom into an ADA accessible restroom requires a toilet with the right dimensions, installation and turning space.

Searching for commercial projects? Shop commercial toilets and urinals.

To help ensure that the bathrooms you build meet regulations, check out the difference between a standard and an ADA toilet and learn how to choose the right one for your project.

What makes an ADA toilet different?

A few factors make the difference between a standard toilet and one that complies with ADA regulations. An accessible toilet will be taller, but simply attaching a raised seat doesn’t meet standards by itself.

An ADA compliant toilet must meet requirements for height, toe clearance, flush handle location and flush control force. Here are a few quick tips to make sure you’re creating the bathroom your customers need.

Five tips to find an ADA compliant toilet

When choosing a toilet for a residential bathroom remodel or new construction project, consider toilet height, toe clearance, handle location and force, and type of flush control to find the right match for the job.

1. Read the manufacturer label

Taller commodes can make it easier for people to get out of a seated position. The proper height of ADA toilets is sometimes referred to as “comfort height,” “right height” or “chair height.” Traditional or “standard height” toilets are lower.

But labels alone don’t tell the whole story. Because contractors or homeowners often change out toilet seats, their height may not be included on labels. Many seats tack on at least 1" of total height, which could bring the water closet into compliance.

2. Double-check height from the base

Use a measuring tape to check the length from the base of the floor to the top of the seat. To meet ADA toilet height requirements after installation, the top of the bowl—including the seat—must be between 17"-19" from the floor.

Toilets labeled this way may not necessarily meet ADA requirements. Some may measure only to 16.5", which doesn’t fall into the range listed above.

3. Mind the gap under the bowl for toe clearance

ADA bathroom requirements specify a minimum 9" gap from the floor to another element, and this gap must extend a minimum 25" in depth. The ADA recommends toilets with undercut bowls because of this requirement. Undercut bowls feature a gap at the bottom all the way to the base of the toilet, increasing foot space and accessibility.

Pro tip: Concealing plumbing components with wall-mounted toilets is a simple way to help meet toe clearance requirements.

4. Gauge handle location and accessibility

Make sure there’s enough room to maneuver around the toilet in relation to walls and other barriers in the restroom. Users should have turning space of at least 60" diameter to meet ADA bathroom requirements.

They should also be able to easily reach the flush handle. The side against the wall is the closed side. An ADA compliant handle must be located on the open side, and the flush control can’t be higher than 44" from the mounting surface to be considered accessible.

5. Keep force in check for flush handle requirements

The ADA also specifies the force needed to operate flush controls. Users need to be able to activate the toilet handle without twisting or straining the wrist and with minimal force, less than 5 pounds.

Flush buttons sometimes need more than 5 pounds of force, but most that use a lever-activated flush valve can meet the ADA toilet flush handle requirements.

Pro tip: Automatic or sensor flush controls comply with ADA regulations. Explore more benefits of touchless plumbing fixtures.

Additional ADA bathroom requirements to consider

The five tips above will help you determine if a toilet is ADA compliant, but your customer may want to consider additional accommodations, such as grab bars or placement of toilet paper dispensers and soap dispensers. Here’s a bit more guidance on these.

Grab bar height requirements

Rear and side grab bars are required for bathrooms in commercial buildings and essential when private homeowners want to be compliant. Grab bars have a few exceptions attached to their usage. For example, they’re not required for residential buildings, but the walls must be strong enough to hold them.

The ADA requirement for grab bar height is 33"-36" to the top. The side grab bar must be at least 42" long, and the rear grab bar must be at least 36" long. For both, keep in mind needed clearance for flush handles. If the rear grab bar impedes flush control accessibility, it can be split or shifted.

Toilet paper dispenser height specifications

To make sure toilet paper is easy to reach, install the dispenser between 14"-19" above the floor, with the centerline between 7"-9" from the toilet. If grab bars are installed, provide clearance space below of 1.5". And while this isn’t typically a problem in residential bathrooms, make sure that dispensers allow toilet paper to flow unimpeded without controlling delivery.

Soap dispenser placement guidance

For handwashing areas, keep unobstructed clearance space top of mind. Soap dispensers, faucets and paper towels should be within unobstructed forward reach, placed no lower than 15" from the ground and no more than 48".

Learn more about accessible faucets.

Partner with Ferguson for ADA bathroom projects

Discuss your next project with Ferguson. Our knowledgeable associates can share their expertise about our vast inventory of products to help you find the parts you need to complete your bathroom and kitchen accessibility jobs smoothly and on schedule.

Get more tips for your industry with Ferguson Trade Talk.