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Last Updated on March 1, 2017

ada handrail specificationsIf you’re looking for ADA handrail specifications for wheelchair ramps, please see this post. The following article discusses ADA specifications for handrails used inside the home — specifically in the bathtub and near the toilet.

ADA handrail specifications are a set of guidelines established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which installers are encouraged to follow when adding handicap handrails inside a residential dwelling or commercial establishment.

In this post, we will clearly outline the specifications recommended by the ADA for installing handrails in and around the bathroom.

ADA Handrail Specifications: In and Around the Bathroom

Handrails Near the Toilet
When installing handicap handrails near the toilet, it is recommended to have one on the side wall as well as the rear wall. The handrail on the side wall should be a minimum length of 42 inches and placed 12 inches from the rear wall. The distance from the rear wall to the end of the side rail should be 54 inches minimum. The handrail on the rear wall behind the toilet should be a minimum of 36 inches long, with a minimum distance of 12 inches from the water closet.

Roll-in Type Shower Compartments
Roll-in shower compartments are specially modified showers where the individual can roll-in and comfortably transfer themselves to a seated position within the shower. These types of shower compartments should be a minimum 36 inches by 36 inches inside, with a 36-inch opening. Handrails are required on the back wall and the side wall opposite the seat. Handrails are not required to be installed above the seat. The space between the wall and the handrail should be 1.5 inches. The space between the handrail and projecting objects below and at the ends should also be a minimum of 1.5 inches. The space between the handrail and projecting objects above should be a minimum of 12 inches.

Bathtubs With Permanent Seats
Handrails are required on both the back wall and control end wall within a bathtub with permanent seats. Two handrails should be installed horizontally on the back wall. The first handrail should be 33 inches minimum and 36 inches maximum above the floor, while the other should be installed 8 inches minimum and 10 inches maximum above the rim of the bathtub. On the control end wall, the handrail should be a minimum 24 inches in length at the front end of the bathtub (the side with the faucets).

Bathtubs Without Permanent Seats
A bathtub without permanent seats requires handrails on the back wall, control end wall, and head end wall. The ADA handrail specifications for the back wall are identical to the back wall specifications for bathtubs with permanent seats. Specifications are also identical for the handrail installed on the control end wall. On the head end wall, the handrail should be a minimum 12 inches in length and installed at the front edge of the bathtub.  


Adhering to ADA handrail specifications is necessary to ensure the safety of individuals not only in the bathroom but anywhere handrails need to be installed. For more information about ADA specifications, you can see the organization’s official documentation here.

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