When you or a member of your household faces mobility challenges, you may have to change the arrangement or even construction of your home to accommodate his or her needs. In a previous blog, “Creating a Wheelchair-Friendly Home,” we covered the basics of making a home more accessible.
In this blog, we discuss one of the most common accessibility measures: doorway widening.
Who Needs Wider Doorways?
While some homeowners widen their doorways to install decorative doors, the primary reason to widen a doorway is access.
Wider doorways may be necessary in any household that includes someone who uses an automatic wheelchair, manual wheelchair, walker, or crutches to get around. Wider doorways can also make your home more accessible for people who use canes to walk.
How Wide Is Wide Enough?
Many standard doorways are too narrow for someone using a walker or wheelchair to pass through. The width needed in your home may depend on why you’re widening the door and on the architecture of the building.
If you are widening the door to accommodate a family member who uses a walker, crutches, or a cane, the opening should be at minimum 32 inches wide.
This measurement may also be adequate to accommodate a person in a narrow manual
wheelchair, if the hallway on either side of the door is straight. If a person in a wheelchair must turn to enter or exit the room due to an angled hallway, narrow room, or close corner, the doorway must measure at least 36 inches wide.
If your loved one uses an automatic wheelchair that’s wider than the average manual wheelchair, he or she may need doors measuring up to 40 inches wide.
Are All Doorways the Same?
When you plan to widen your doorways, you must consider each doorway individually. The cost and difficulty of widening each doorway depends on several factors, including:
- Is it an interior or exterior door? Interior doorways tend to be simpler and more affordable to widen. Exterior doors themselves cost more than interior doors. Additionally, when widening an exterior doorway, you may have to remove and replace brickwork, siding, or other difficult materials.
- Is the wall load bearing? Generally, widening a door simply requires expanding the existing frame. However, if the wall is load bearing, meaning that the wall holds the weight of your home, the process becomes more difficult. You may not be able to move certain wall studs or may need a specialized contractor to handle the process to avoid structural integrity problems.
Always consult with a reputable contractor before beginning this renovation, even if you plan to handle most of the project yourself.
Which Doors Are the Highest Priority?
When deciding which doors to widen, think about the ones that your loved one uses the most often. In many homes, the main entrance and main bathroom doorways are the first priority. You may also need to widen the kitchen entrance or a bedroom doorway to accommodate your loved one.
How Long Does the Widening Process Take?
Once you decide to widen a doorway, schedule an appointment with your contractor. The actual widening generally takes between one and three hours. During this time, you’ll want to stay in another part of the house to ensure the construction team can easily access both sides of the doorway.
Use this information to decide whether or not you need wider doorways.
If wider doors would make you or a loved one’s life easier, consult with the experts at Twin City Stair Lifts. We provide a variety of services and products, including doorway widening, intended to make homes safer and more accessible for every member of the family.