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How Wide Should a Doorway Be to Accommodate a Wheelchair User?

Whether you are a wheelchair user yourself, or someone trying to make your business or home more accessible, knowing how wide a doorway needs to be is crucial.

The width of doorways in a home usually measure around 23 to 27 inches. This range, however, isn’t wide enough for individuals on a wheelchair. Doorways, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility standard, should have a clear width of 32 inches from the door’s face to the opposite stop.

Depending on size and type, a wheelchair's width could range from 21” (for narrow transport chairs) to 40” wide (for heavy duty wheelchairs).

Our best selling lightweight wheelchair is Feather Chair 13.5 lbs., for a heavy-duty wheelchair, we recommend Heavy-Duty XL Feather Chair - 19 lbs.

If you are purchasing a wheelchair, be sure to measure all the doorways, interior and exterior, and any tight corners before making your purchase. This may narrow down what type of wheelchair you can use indoors, especially in smaller or older homes. The size of every wheelchair should be included with the manufacturer's specifications.

Helpful Hints:
  • Consider the approach to the door: is there room to maneuver to head straight through?
  • Once you pass through the door, do you need to turn or maneuver immediately? How narrow is the turn?

  • Once you pass through the door, do you need to turn or maneuver immediately? How narrow is the turn?

  • Is there a threshold or lip, or any other sort of separation or break in the flooring? If so, consider a small ramp to ease your wheelchair over the barrier.

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sets forth the following recommendations:

  • A door requires a minimum of 32” with a maximum of 48” which would accommodate most wheelchairs. (Hallways require 36”). 

  • The height of a door should be 80”.

  • Hardware, such as handles and locks should not be higher than 48” from the floor.
  • Thresholds higher than ½ inch require a ramp.

Additional helpful wheelchair measurements:

  • The overall width of a (large rear wheel) Manual Wheelchair is 9” wider than the seat. For example, an 18” wide seat would be a 27” wheelchair.

  • To know the overall measurement of a transport wheelchair, add 5” to the seat width. For example, an 18” wide seat would be a 23” wheelchair.
  • Most standard Power Wheelchairs are 25” wide.
  • Heavy Duty Power Wheelchairs can be as wide as 32”.

Making Doorways More Wheelchair Accessible

Living at home with a wheelchair (or taking care of individuals on wheelchairs) can be challenging. For instance, if you acquired an existing home that did not have a wheelchair rider, the doorways may not be wide enough to accommodate the dimensions of a wheelchair. With some adjustments, however, you can make life around the house more manageable for these users.

Here are a few suggestions that will provide users with better doorway access:

  • Install Offset or “Z” Hinges – These components enable doors to swing clear of the doorway. They can add around an inch of clearance. The great thing about offset hinges is that they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. In addition, they create ample space that is wide enough for the width of an ordinary wheelchair.
  • Remove Doors or Trim – You can take out the entire door if you or the person using the wheelchair need more clearance. Once the door has been removed, you can replace it with curtains or other options that offer privacy. You may also remove the door trim to increase passageway clearance.
  • Widen the Door Frames – If the first two options presented did not provide ample space, your next option would be to widen the doorway. If there are sharp turns before or after a doorway, a 32-inch door may not be sufficient. You may need to extend your door frames to 36 inches (or 42 inches, if your home allows for it).

What to Consider When Resizing a Doorway for Wheelchair Users

You need to relocate a number of different things if you want to resize a doorway correctly. This includes moving the following:

  • Electric sockets (if they’re in the way)
  • Wiring situated inside the wall
  • Light switches next to doors

1800wheelchair.com supplies a range of wheelchairs in different sizes. Learn more about our quality products by exploring our extensive online selection.

Seated figure in wheelchair with door frame.

 

How Wide Does a Doorway Need to be for a Wheelchair?