How Can You Make Doorways Wider For Wheelchairs?

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1, Special hinges called Z hinges or offset hinges can be installed so that the door will swing completely clear of its frame.

This simple, inexpensive modification can add an extra inch of clearance to the doorway.


2, Remove the door completely.

Simply taking out the door will naturally make it easier to go through and add an inch to the clearance, just as installing Z hinges.

This is a simple solution if privacy is not an issue. If it is an issue, a curtain can always be added.


3, Remove the trim from the framing.

Taking off trim all the way around can add another inch of clearance to the frame.


4, Change the swing of the door.

A door may be wide enough, but if it swings in the wrong direction may make it difficult for a person using a wheelchair to navigate it.


5, Replace the swinging door with a pocket or sliding door to provide a little more width.


6, Widen the frame.

If you cannot get enough clearance using the first six tips, you will need to widen the doorway.

Even if the actual doorway is wide enough for the wheelchair to pass through, you may need to widen it if there are sharp turns on either or both sides.

Widening the doorway will increase maneuverability.


7, Pay attention to details.

Remember that when you widen a doorway, you may also need to adjust components such as light switches and electrical sockets and wiring in the walls surrounding the door.

Make doorways easier to navigate by installing levered handles or an automatic opening device.


8, Plan for the future.

Even if you or a member of your household or employee at your business does not currently use a wheelchair, it is always a good idea to make your building and remodeling plans comply with the ADA guidelines.

Doing this is a wise way to make your home or building accommodating and accessible right from the start and save yourself costly modification expenses in the future.


9, Provide great accessibility.

Even though the ADA guidelines say that doors should be 32 inches wide and hallways should be 36 inches wide, it’s wise to go wider if you can.

You’ll never go wrong with a 36-inch wide doorway and a 48-inch wide hallway.


How Wide is a Wheelchair?

Wheelchair width is quite variable depending upon the type of wheelchair, the size of its occupant and whether it is a standard or customized chair.

There are many different types of wheelchairs.

Here is general information regarding width expectations for 13 of the most commonly encountered types.


Manual Wheelchair:

A manual wheelchair typically has an overall width that is 9 inches greater than the width of the seat.

This means that a manual wheelchair advertised as having a seat that is 18 inches wide would have an overall width of 27 inches.

Manual wheelchairs may be used by people who can maneuver them easily on their own or by those who need an assistant to help propel them.

They come in a wide variety of specifications depending upon the needs of the user.

People using manual wheelchairs vary just as much as the rest of the population’s incapability and needs in terms of accessibility.


Active Chairs:

Very active individuals often use lightweight and ultra-lightweight wheelchairs.

These chairs present a very slim profile and are made of very light materials such as titanium.

Typically this type of chair will weigh under 15 pounds.


Transport wheelchairs:

Transport chairs are the narrowest wheelchairs designed for adults. Some may be as slim as 20 inches overall.

However, a transport wheelchair typically has an overall width that is 5 inches greater than the width of the seat.

This means that a transport chair advertised as having a seat that is 18 inches wide would have an overall width of 23 inches.


Narrow Wheelchairs:

Specially designed narrow wheelchairs are made specifically for use in inaccessible environments where doorways are narrow and hallways are tight.

These manual wheelchairs are usually no wider than 22 inches.

These are not typically used full-time.

Instead, they are intended for short trips to doctors’ offices and the like.

They are lightweight and easy to fold up for transport but not especially comfortable for long-term use.


Power Wheelchairs:

Generally speaking, standard motorized wheelchairs measure about 25 inches in width.

Heavy-duty power wheelchairs typically measure between 32 inches and 40 inches in width.

Motorized wheelchairs are typically heavier than manual wheelchairs.

Their skill and maneuverability depend a great deal upon the abilities of the user.

Just as with manual wheelchairs, accessibility needs can vary greatly from user to user.


Kid-Friendly Wheelchairs:

Pediatric wheelchairs may be either manual or motorized. Because they are designed for children, there naturally quite small.

Pediatric transport chairs may be as narrow as 14 inches in overall width.

While accommodations may not be necessary for door width, accessibility accommodations such as door handle height and safe flooring must be considered and attended to.


Height Adjustable Wheelchairs:

Hemi height wheelchairs are height adjustable.

They are especially useful for people who are shorter than 5 feet.

A Hemi height wheelchair is often a good choice for a child or teenager.


Position Changing Wheelchairs:

Positioning wheelchairs are a type of power wheelchair that allows the user to shift positions throughout the day.

Choices in positioning may include reclining, raising and lowering the legs or feet, tilting and more.

Being able to reposition throughout the day helps prevent problems such as pressure sores and circulatory issues. Like other power wheelchairs, these can be quite wide and bulky.


Standing Mobility Devices:

Some positioning wheelchairs even enable the user to move from a sitting to a standing position.

These motorized wheelchairs enable users to perform standing tasks, reach high-placed items and interact with others eye-to-eye.

The ability to move from sitting to standing has many health and emotional well-being benefits.


Plus-Sized Wheelchairs:

Bariatric wheelchairs are sometimes also called heavy-duty wheelchairs.

These are super sturdy chairs that are designed to accommodate larger, heavier individuals.

The largest of them can safely carry weight as great as 700 pounds.

These chairs are naturally extra-large, so generous doorway modifications and plans are necessary to accommodate them.



Many non-ambulatory people use mobility scooters to get around.

These are very much like a three or four-wheeled motor scooter and may be quite large.

Accommodating these devices would require very generous doorway modifications or plans.


Specialty Wheelchairs:

Sports wheelchairs are available for every imaginable sport.

These chairs are typically not used when getting around in public, and in terms of accessibility, they may or may not require doorway modifications.

For example, a sports wheelchair designed for basketball would have a very wide wheelbase.

If it needed to be used indoors, a wider doorway would be necessary.


Outdoor Sport Wheelchairs:

All-terrain wheelchairs are also intended for sport and outdoor activities such as wheelchair hiking.

These are typically very heavy-duty, large chairs equipped with high traction tires and protection for the user.

They navigate the outdoors with great ease but should not be used indoors.

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Mr. Vincent

International Market Director of TOUSDA, Rehabilitation Therapy Products Experts, Son, Husband, and Father.
Passionate about providing high-quality rehabilitation therapy products, especially wheelchair, electric wheelchair, commode wheelchair, commode chair, mobility aids, walking aids, crutch, walking stick, etc., and share the latest news, tips, blogs, advice, knowledge about the medical industry field.
Excited about TOUSDA's mission to become the premier online medical technology platform that empowers caregivers by spotlighting innovative devices and products to achieve optimal patient response and recovery.


Notes: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.

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