Universal Design, Aging in Place and other buzz words are generating interest in remodeling and designing homes for all ages. Boosting these practical designs is an array of tile that can make a room not only appealing, but safe and practical.
Universal Design isn’t interchangeable with design for the elderly or disabled. As it says, it’s “universal,” meaning its elements can accommodate the needs of all users. If you’re adding a new bathroom, or remodeling an existing space in Madison, the UD concepts will make the new space safe, comfortable and usable for a long time.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association reports, in recent studies, the latest contemporary universal design features are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Fully accessible spaces needn’t look like institutions or hospitals they can be spa-like and luxurious.
Consider Size, Location and Tile
There are four major considerations to review prior to any bathroom remodeling or bathroom addition. They take into account the overall space required, the activities most often required in the space, the location in the home and the materials used.
- Build room to maneuver – Maximize the available floor space to accommodate a wheel chair or walker if needed. If not, you’ll appreciate the spacious floor space, wider doorways and easy access.
- Accommodate bathing changes – A traditional bathtub is often replaced or supplemented by a larger, readily accessed shower. Roll-in showers with seating built in plus grab bars are popular – and the latest in brass and stainless steel add to the overall appeal.
- Make the most of the ground floor – If your house has more than one floor, an accommodating bathroom on the first level makes sense. Family and friends don’t have to negotiate stairs with a comfortable facility on the first floor.
- Choose materials for looks and performance – Start with the floors. There are dozens of options to choose from and each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
- Size matters – 12-inch by 12-inch tiles, or larger, disperse the weight of a wheel chair better than smaller pieces, and smaller pieces can work loose with repeated twisting of a wheel chair or appliance. Smaller tile requires more grout and more maintenance but may provide better traction.
- More than good looks – Pieces with a matte finish are more slip-resistant so they can create better footing – larger sections hold more water. As a rule, the higher the gloss, the more chance of slipping.
- No slipping! – Tile comes with a slip-resistance rating. A product with a rating of A or B isn’t as slippery as one with a C rating. They also have a dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) that measures the likelihood of slipping. DCOF ranges from .01 to 1.0 and .60 or higher is considered safe for bathrooms. Levels above .60 meet or exceed all the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (AWA). Generally, good, slip-resident tile doesn’t cost any more than products with a lower DCOF.
- Low maintenance is good – There’s enough maintenance in a bathroom without adding a floor or walls that need special treatments. Among the tile options, porcelain tiles are an excellent choice because they are durable, easy to clean and don’t require sealing.
Specialty Tile Installations
When it comes to incorporating universal design concepts into a bathroom remodel, attention has to focus on the shower. The number one threat to everyone, not just the elderly, is a fall. And the shower is top of the list as a fall danger. Combine water with often uneven surfaces and the danger is real. Add a step in and out and the threat is magnified. Even a slight lip around the outside designed to hold in water can cause a fall.
Ideally, the new shower will be free from any obstacles that someone might trip on. Showers with no lip on the entryway floor make getting in and out via wheel chair, walker or other aids safer. In this design, floors slope toward the drain so some remodeling of the floor itself may be required. The door swings out, not in, allowing for smooth entry and exit. And it seals to block water’s escape. These new showers fit right into today’s contemporary spa-like bathroom designs and are truly universal in appeal.
Within the shower itself, smaller tile is preferred on the floor because of added traction and better drainage. But, designers suggest that when a wheel chair is in play you should use the largest size that’s practical to minimize the wear. For the walls, large tile make cleaning much easier. If you’re building in a bench, the size of the covering pieces should be taken into account, too. Rounded edges make sitting and getting up more comfortable and that requires special tile. For the seating area itself, larger segments are more comfortable to sit on that many small ones – although larger ones may, again, be slippery.
Look To an expert
Since 1950, Molony Tile has been the source for unique, durable and elegant tile and stone solutions in Madison WI and greater Dane county including Middleton, Waunakee, Verona, Fitchburg, McFarland, Stoughton, Cottage Grove and Sun Prairie. Call or email Molony Tile, 608-268-8453 for professional products, sound advice and a selection of elegant and versatile tile to enhance your universal design in Madison WI.