Required Bathtub Clearances

Question: What is the clear floor space required in front of a bathtub?

This is one of these subtle changes we see in moving from the old to the new guidelines.

The ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities written by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) and published July 26, 1991, Section 4.20.2 states:

4.20 Bathtubs.

4.20.2 Floor Space.

“Clear floor space in front of bathtubs shall be as shown in Figure 33.”

Figure 33 shows a 60 inch minimum dimension.  This dimension is the same dimension as found in Figure 33 of ANSI A117.1-1986.  The ANSI A117.1-1986 was written before 1985, some 25 years ago.

The ADA & ABA Accessibility Guidelines; Final Rule, written by the Access Board and published July 23, 2004, with an effective date of September 21, 2004; in Section 607.2 Clearance states

607 Bathtubs.

607.2 Clearance.

“Clearance in front of bathtubs shall extend the length of the bathtub and shall be 30 inches wide minimum.”  Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.

ICC/ANSI A117.1-2003 Section 607.2 Clearance states:

607 Bathtubs.

607.2 Clearance.

“A clearance in front of bathtubs extending the length of the bathtub and 30 inches minimum in depth shall be provided.”  Figure 607.2 illustrates that clearance for bathtubs.


The challenge today is that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is required to litigate compliance to PL101-336, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), from its standard.  The DOJ is in the process of making the July 23, 2004 document its standard, but until that happens, the DOJ is using the July 26, 1991 document, which was made the DOJ standard on July 1, 1994.

The people at ACCESS have specialized in accessibility compliance for the last 16 years and are of the opinion that the ADA is a reasonable act.  The Act is ruled upon by federal judges.

With that understanding by ACCESS, the 60 inch minimum dimension of 25 years ago is not applicable today, in the opinion of ACCESS.

The above are opinions of Hank Falstad, AIA, Managing Senior Associate of Access Technologies Services, Inc. (ACCESS).  See our web site for additional information:  www.accessts.net.

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