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Bathroom ergonomics

Bathroom ergonomics

All bathrooms should have space to manoeuvre easily, whether you are climbing out of the tub or washing or shaving at the basin. To help you assess the space needed, take into account the following guidelines to discover how convenient your chosen layout is.


When drawing your proposed layout, start off with one or two alternative plans to help you decide how to achieve the best positioning of fixtures. Draw a pencil line on each plan to trace your movements from one area to another on a typical visit to the bathroom. Potential difficulties should be quick to spot, such as towels being too far from the tub or space around the toilet too cramped for comfortable use.

Door openings

Always draw on the plan the area required for the door to open, as this space must not be obstructed by fixtures. However, it is accepted that less frequently used doors, such as on a shower enclosure or cabinet, may open into other activity areas. Alternatively, pivot, concertina and sliding doors are available for shower enclosures and cabinets to help you maximise the usable space.


A fresh, airy bathrooms and dry towels are a good indication that the bathroom has adequate ventilation. Include in your plans an extractor close to the tub and shower. lf the extractor cannot be placed directly on an outside wall, or stale air ducted vertically through the ceiling, ducting across the room may be required, which could affect the positioning of wall-mounted fittings.


Activity areas should be well lit for safety, but a carefully chosen lighting scheme can be successfully used to highlight special features or to create a soft, relaxing atmosphere for a long soak in the tub. Ceiling lights should be sealed within a glass or plastic steam proof diffuser. Tough and functional looking waterproof outdoor lights are well suited to contemporary shower rooms.


When planning the bathrooms basin area, make sure that it is positioned where you can move your elbows freely to wash easily and lean over to brush your teeth. For comfortable use, allow approximately 1m (41in) between the wall against which your basin is positioned and the wall opposite. If you are taller or shorter than average, a wall hung basin may be preferable to a pedestal model as it can be fixed at a height to suit you.

Toilets Plan to allow a 60cm (24in) area in front of the toilet to be able to sit or stand comfortably. To prevent the space being cramped and difficult to turn in, leave a gap of at least 20cm (6in) on either side so that it is possible to reach the toilet roll or cleanser. The bowl should be at a height that allows you to rest your feet flat on the floor when sitting, with sufficient headroom for a man to stand slightly stooped in front of it.


In larger bathrooms or one that has a dual-purpose, it can be fun to define separate activity areas by using a different flooring in each, Computer- aided design enables vinyl floorings to be cut so that colourful motifs and integral designs and borders can be designed to fit specific areas. For example, a coloured rectangle and border in front of the basin or tub in bathrooms will create an alternative "bath mat."


Most of the activity area of a bathtub is confined within the space the tub occupies, but allow an additional 70cm (27in) alongside to give you room to step in and out, and to dry yourself, If the tub doubles as a shower, the shower end will need sufficient headroom to allow you to stand upright, Take into account that the bottom of the tub will be above floor level, thus reducing available headroom If this is a problem, instead of selecting an overhead shower arm, opt instead for a wall - mounted spray attachment on a slide bar that allows the headset to be moved up and down and removed from its support to wash hair or rinse off. Some designers think it is ill advised to position the tub by a window but, if the view is good and you are not overlooked, it can make a great focal point. Even if there are passers-by, a good window blind will obscure any bathroom activity.