How Wide Do Doorways Need To Be For A Wheelchair?

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Before making your decision on which wheelchair you plan on purchasing, take into consideration to learn more about the daily routines, places that are visited the most (schools, movie theaters, work offices, etc.).

The good news is that public facilities must comply with the law.

According to the ADA- the Americans with Disabilities Act, a clear width of door opening must be a minimum of 32 inches and no more than 48 inches.

These measurements are taken based on the space between the face of the door and the stop of the door’s frame, with the door open at a 90-degree angle.

Doorways and hallways dimensions are not the only items enforced by the ADA law. We will be more specific to this subject here in this article.


Wheelchairs & Doors

Let’s take a more detailed look into the most common wheelchairs you see in the market and the dimensions enforced by the ADA requirements on door measurements.

I have researched the ADA Act about maneuvering clearances at doors.

There is a lot of information to learn from, and I can see how this can be overwhelming for many people to understand (plus all the technical ways to put the information out there in the form of law… you know what I mean).

The main point with the law is that ADA guidelines enforce minimum standards for doors and door hallways so that people with disabilities, wheelchair users or not, can approach doors and freely open and close them up.

Public facilities such as schools, theaters, museums, shopping malls, and others must follow the rules.

Clearance is very important.

The law details the minimum dimension of door maneuvering clearances considering the direction from which the wheelchair user approaches the door and the directions to which the doors swing.

Let’s better understand these clearance measurements in the next segment.


Maneuvering Clearance Dims

So, let me try to digest that information here the best way I can for easier reading.

As said, maneuvering clearance measurements are determined by the direction a wheelchair user came from in addition to the direction of the door’s swing.


In other words:

If the wheelchair user pulls the door to open it, they will need more clearance and more space to maneuver the wheelchair to get it out of the way.

If the wheelchair user pushes the door to open it, the clearance area can be a bit smaller.

Let’s see some numbers and illustrations for a better understanding:


Clearance required on the “Pull” side:

Door opening space (from the face of the door up to the top of the door frame)

Must be between 32 inches minimum to a 48 inches maximum


Interior doors: minimum of 18 inches between the latch side and any obstruction (a wall, columns, objects, etc.) for a forward approach to the door. This provides great positioning so that the wheelchair can move the door and the wheelchair simultaneously to perform.


Exterior doors: minimum of 24 inches between the latch side and any obstruction (a wall, columns, objects, etc.)


Distance from the door closed (approaching view): Minimum 60 inches deep for clearance is required. This is necessary so that the door has the proper space to swing to a complete opening, and the user can maneuver the wheelchair and back up a little to allow the door to swing open fully.


Important: these measurements are not limited to the floor level. This area must be free of obstacles from the floor level to the top of the door (i.e., no shelves, no furniture).


Clearance required on the “Push” side:

Interior doors: minimum of 12 inches between the latch side and any obstruction (a wall, columns, objects, etc.).


The wheelchair user will certainly have fewer difficulties moving the door and the wheelchair while pushing the door to open it.


Distance from the door closed (approaching view): Minimum of 48 inches. This area does not require as much space as you see in the area where you pull the door. So, as the door swings away from the wheelchair user to a complete opening, 48 inches of an open area does the trick with plenty of space.


Again, these measurements are not limited to the floor level.

This area must be free of obstacles from the floor level to the top of the door (i.e., no shelves, no furniture).


Note: if the door has no closer or a latch, then the 12 inches of extra space on the latch side is not required.

The wheelchair user should still be able to proceed with no problems.


These guidelines are created considering the many makes and models of wheelchairs (manual, electric, bigger sizes, etc.) so that the space to transit through doors is enough for the wheelchair user. And, being law, public facilities must follow.


How does the ADA Law Apply On Doors Not Flush to the Wall?

An Offset of up to 8 inches from the face of the door is allowed, but no more than that.


On deeply recessed doors, an area beyond the latch side of the door is required.

This area must be at least 8 inches wide for good maneuverability and door handle.


This has to be measured considering a front approach by the wheelchair user.


What is the proper height of an Accessible Door Threshold?

For wheelchair users, door thresholds can be a pain if they are not done under the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

The solution is not on eliminating door thresholds but determining the right way to install them with proper measurements and styles.


The measurements of an accessible door threshold:

Height: ½ inch

Edges must be beveled. Never on a straight 90° angle

If the height is ¼ inch maximum, then the threshold can have straight edges

If they are not aligned with the ADA Law and the door has closers, it is more challenging for wheelchair users. Or impossible for some.


Door thresholds are great to insulate houses and other facilities or help to keep water or other agents from getting inside….

But it has to be friendly. It has to be accessible in public spaces and homes.

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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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