What Doors Are Best For Wheelchair Access?

17 December, 2019

If you’re adapting a home for a relative who has a disability, you’ll want to ensure the doors are wheelchair friendly.

New build homes are being developed with accessibility in mind, but older properties are less inclusive. Accessible doors are ones which are easy for wheelchair users to navigate so they can pass freely through them.

One in five people in Australia have a disability, that’s around four million people, with 84% having a disability which limits their mobility. As our elderly population increases along with the number of people with disabilities, how’s best to open doors to wheelchair users?

Accommodating A Wheelchair

A standard wheelchair is 635mm wide, which means a doorway needs to be at least 900mm to have the clearance required for a wheelchair to fit through. An electric wheelchair may take up even more space.

Many doorknobs and handles are not accessible because of the way you need to hold and twist them, and they may well be out of reach for someone in a wheelchair. The strength required to push and pull a door can be difficult for a person with a weakened grip capacity.

People in a wheelchair want to be able to easily reach door controls or hardware, so they should be installed between 900mm and 1100mm above the floor.

Functionality Of Doors

Traditional hinged swing doors can be awkward for wheelchair users to navigate because of the way they open and close and the way a wheelchair must be manoeuvred.

For doors into small rooms such as a bathroom, the swing of the door would be better outwards rather than inwards to free up internal bathroom space as a wheelchair takes up more space. It’s easy to change the swing on the door, just reverse the hinges to the other side.

The width of a wheelchair means a double door which has an automated opening mechanism would be a good choice. A sensor system could be fitted to allow them to automatically open and close. Smart technology could allow you to open a door through an app on your mobile phone.

Sliding Doors

A sliding door with a flat or very low threshold, is probably the preferred choice for a wheelchair. A low threshold no higher than 20mm from the floor works best so the wheelchair can navigate smoothly across. A flat threshold reduces the risk of any trip hazards.

Unlike swing doors, sliding doors open wide, and encroach less into a room and can also have a push button operation or sensor to open them.

If you need further advice, come and talk to the team at Door Stop. Our doors are on display at two showrooms in Perth. We can help you find a door solution for your accessibility requirements and guide you through suitable options. All our doors come with a seven-year warranty for peace of mind, plus we offer interest free finance. For quality doors at affordable prices, give us a call today.

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