Custom Shower For Wheelchair User

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by autoflyby, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. autoflyby

    autoflyby New Member

    Mar 16, 2009
    Custom Shower For Wheelchair User,

    I'M building a custom Shower for a wheelchair user. The user transfers from the wheelchair to a custom made bench seat. It is in the center of a 48" x 60" shower stall area.

    As it is now the mixer control is behind the users head. He uses the hand held hose to bath with and he would like the option to have a dual shower head at the same height as able body people with separate shut-off valves. So he can use one or both shower heads as well as the hand held unit.

    So the plan is to move the new mixer control to the opposite side of the shower and to have an outlet much lower for the hand held hose to connect to. Right now the hand held hose drops down from the shower head location.

    The bottom of the shower is about 6-8" lower than the finish bathroom floor level. They made a temp 2x4" floor frame that simply lays down on the bottom of the shower with a 1/2" Star Board sheet to use as a finish floor. A great design that is easy for people to clean, remove the top and frame for cleaning.

    So the new shower will have a new flashing pan for the base/bottom and durock for the sidewalls. There is the green drywall with 4" ceramic tiles there now. Should I solder-up a copper pan for the base? I was thinking about making a 2x4" floor joist frame to build-up the floor level with the bathroom finish floor level. The bathroom floor is 18x18 granite. the inside shower floor must be flush/even with the finish floor because two legs of the shower chair are in the shower area and the other two are on the finish floor area. The chair must be level. I'M going to make a key way drain on the outside area of the shower floor. the sub floor of the home is slab. If I made the 2x4 floor frame I could put the copper pan on the top of it and still have 3" of space to fill with mud. the drain will be centered.

    I'M going to install a beam at the top of the 8 foot shower, so a lift can be installed when the gent gets older. I'M looking into using Aluminum "I" Beams instead of wood. This way a trolley roller can be used to lift him from the wheelchair to the shower chair/bench in the future. The Aluminum work will be grounded to the copper plumbing using Bi-metal Connectors, to switch from the Aluminum to copper ground cables. Lightning protection equipment hardware is UL Approved and will work great for this type work.

    I will also install some extra "Cats" in the walls 2x12" blocks in-between the studs for the hand rails to have something to screw in for strength. And also a grab pipe above his head to help him lift and adjust his position. Installing the extra 2x12" blocks in the walls will allow many options for future security hardware.

    the walls will be covered in granite tiles.

    I'M trying to explain the entire scope of the job to get more ideas from the experts here. I need to find a good quality shut-off valve to turn off the two overhead shower heads. So I need a system that will operate the hand held unit and the two optional overhead shower heads that could be used for able body people, or the gent in the chair. I could use the one mixer with 3 pipes coming from it, and the 2 overhead head units with a valve on each.

    This is a big read for my first thread.

    thanks to all for a cool looking forum.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Three suggestions: one, forget greenboard (use the durrock or see suggestion later); forget a copper pan; forget building up the floor with wood.

    Check out for showers and tiling help. They have a bunch of people that have built barrier free showers and you'll have a bunch of tiling pros to help out.

    The waterproof pan MUST be sloped to the drain...while possible with copper, it is very difficult and there are other materials better suited. You don't really want any wood in the shower,either. Copper pans seem to be an east coast (northeast) thing, and are rarely built to code (which requires the waterproofing to be sloped - most copper pans are installed flat on the floor, not what you want at all).

    Seriously consider using Kerdi from to waterproof the shower. This would allow you to do the walls in regular drywall (eaiser, cheaper, faster), since the membrane creates an absolute waterproof layer, no moisture can get to it. This also means that the shower dries out much faster since you don't have stuff behind that can absorb some. To help, the entire floor outside of the shower could be waterproofed with Ditra from the same people. Normally, a handicapped access shower has a slight hump outside that directs any water into the shower, but can still be rolled over easily.

    To allow multiple shower heads, you could either use multiple valves, or a multi-port divertor to switch between them. Get the right valve, and you can have any combination of heads activated. I'd also consider a thermostatically controlled valve, since you could set the temp once, and then just have to deal with the volume/divert issues, and, the temp would be stable winter to summer as the incoing cold water temperature varied (often quite a bit).
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