To build or renovate a bathroom can easily turn out to be a very complicated undertaking. Beyond the choice of fixtures such as the vanity, toilet or shower, and the choice of colours and materials, it is important to be aware of basic size requirements and clearance guidelines in order to create a comfortable and functional bathroom. Also, the design must conform to the existing plumbing system.
To create your relaxing and personal space and still adhere to basic guidelines, please consult our guide.
Bathroom components, such as the toilet, bathtub and lavatory basin, are called sanitary fixtures. There is a large range of models to choose from, though certain guidelines cover size and location.
Toilet bowls are approximately 15"H. Sitting height varies slightly due to the choice of seat, and tanks are between 30" and 39"H. Standard tanks are approximately 21"W, but newer, more compact models currently available are only 15"W. Shorter models are around 26"D and longer models are 30"D.
You’ll need to allocate at least 30” for the width of the toilet, though 36” would be ideal, and you’ll need at least 30” clear floor space in front of the toilet. Note that it is difficult if not impossible to change the location of the toilet for bathroom renovations. The position and location of joists and drain are the main impediments. It would be best to maintain the original location in your new design.
Bathtub and Shower
There are many sizes of bathtub available today. The smallest of them measure 30" x 60" and the largest, 42" x 72". Allow at least 30" so that you can reach the faucets outside of the bathtub. The height of the bath surround should not exceed 22” for a recessed tub.
You can also trade the bathtub for a shower unit, or combine the two in a shower-tub combination. Your decor is no longer limited by the traditional shower curtain; a large variety of hinged glass panels and glass doors are now available.
Some of us are really lucky and have a bathroom big enough to contain both a bathtub and shower unit. To be truly worthwhile, 42" x 30" is probably the minimum for a shower unit you’ll enjoy. If space is at a premium, we recommend you opt for the bath/shower combination.
Lavatory Basin, Vanity and Bathroom Cabinets
Pedestal Lavatory Basin
The pedestal lavatory basin is the best choice for maximizing space in a small bathroom. It is very compact: seldom more than 24”W, standard 33”H, and generally 22"D.
Certain models come with a towel bar, which allows you to save even more space. It doesn’t provide much counter space, however, which is its main drawback.
The bathroom cabinet housing the lavatory basin is referred to as the “vanity.” Width may vary between 18" and 72", but industry guidelines recommend a depth of 21", deep enough to accommodate a standard lavatory basin. There is a wide range of prefabricated vanities to choose from, but you may also decide to build a vanity to suit your own space and family needs.
Remember: height should not exceed 34", counter included. For a vessel lavatory, a 30” or 31" vanity would be preferable.
Whatever you choose, leave 30” clear floor space in front of the vanity. Therefore, vanities 21" deep require a total of 51” – from the wall behind the vanity to an opposite wall or to the front of the toilet.
Cabinets and Linen Cabinets
The linen cabinet is used to store towels and other bathroom articles. It can be up to 21”D and varies between 18" and 36"W. It is generally high, and although some are ceiling height, most models available are 84”H.
Showerheads on height-adjustable shower bars can accommodate all members of the family; the shampoo and bottle holder as well as the soap dish can also be assembled onto the shower bar. The recommended height of standard/fixed showerheads is shown on the diagram.
We would advise placing the mirror 40" from the floor. Determine the height of the medicine cabinet mirror according to the height of the basin faucets.
It is important to install ground fault protected outlets (grounding outlet) in the bathroom. Remember also that light fixtures and switches should not be accessible from the bathtub or shower.
An outlet close to the lavatory basin is useful for plugging in an electric razor or hair dryer. It should be located 39" from the floor.
When you’re designing the bathroom layout, be sure to consolidate the plumbing. Thus, in a 96” x 72” bathroom, you’ll have the vanity, toilet and bathtub on one wall, and on the opposite wall, you’ll place the linen cabinet and towel rack.
Plan a clear floor space of 36" between all bathroom fixtures; if a family member is in a wheelchair, 60” is required for traffic around fixtures, and the clear opening of a doorway should be 36”.
You can save a lot of space by opting for a sliding door for the bathroom entrance; check first that your design will allow for it and that there are no pipes or drains in the wall where the door will slide.
The principal of accessibility for all has led us to reconsider certain standards. As a consequence, lower cabinets are preferred to upper cabinets for storage, and cabinet drawers are preferred to doors. A wider entrance and door to the bathroom also falls within the new standards. Grab bars in the bathtub can be vital for some people, and are increasingly being included in bathroom design.
With these guidelines for good bathroom design, you are fully equipped to create a successful and functional bathroom, accessible to everyone. Feel free to consult one of our RONA specialists to help you get started.