How wide does a doorway need to be for a wheelchair?

There are many elements to consider when designing a space for wheelchair access, including halls and doorways that accommodate the width of a wheelchair. With variations in chair size and individual abilities, there is no “one size fits all” approach to determining how wide a doorway needs to be. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has established standards for accessible design that will meet the needs of most wheelchair users.

Door Width Specifications for Wheelchairs

Most standard interior doorways are about 28″ wide, while most manual wheelchairs are about 27″ wide. With only an inch to spare between the chair and the doorframe, this makes for an extremely tight fit ? one that many wheelchair users will have difficulty negotiating. To improve accessibility for standard wheelchairs, the ADA recommends doorways have a minimum width of 32″.

Other types of wheelchairs, such as heavy-duty power wheelchairs, may require a wider doorway to be accessible. The ADA states that a maximum door width of 48″ should be able to accommodate most wheelchairs.

Considerations for Doorway Wheelchair Access

When it comes to doorway wheelchair access, it’s important to consider not just the width, but also other factors, such as:

  • Thresholds
    If the threshold of the door has an elevated lip or a break in the flooring, then a small ramp may be required to ease mobility.
  • Maneuvering Clearance
    To properly approach and pass through a doorway in a wheelchair, there needs to be enough space on either side. Narrow turns can restrict access.
  • Doors
    The doors themselves must have hardware installed at the proper height, and the bottom 10″ of the door must have smooth surfaces to prevent snags.

How to Resize a Doorway to Accommodate a Wheelchair

If you find a doorway in your home is too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair, there are a few different ways to make it more accessible without demolishing the adjacent wall.

  • Change the hinges
    Offset hinges move the hinge pin further away from the doorjamb. Installing them can effectively widen a doorway up to two inches.
  • Install a pocket door
    Doors that don’t require hinges, such as sliding or pocket doors that roll away into the wall, can create more space in both the doorway and the hallways surrounding it.
  • Remove the door
    If a door isn’t completely necessary, consider removing it.
  • Strip the doorframe
    You can increase the width of the doorway by stripping away the surrounding trim and casings.


Alternative Wheelchair Options for Narrow Doorways

If resizing a doorway isn’t possible, or if you find yourself frequenting places whose doorways are not ADA-compliant, there are alternative wheelchair options to help you navigate narrow spaces. For example, transport wheelchairs are lightweight chairs that are narrow enough to fit through standard interior doorways, with some of them reaching widths as low as 20″. Many transport wheelchairs offer all the features of regular wheelchairs, with the added bonus of being portable and compact.

Get the right wheelchair at Avondale Home Medical Equipment

Whether you’re looking for a standard wheelchair or a transport wheelchair, you can find it at Avondale Home Medical Equipment. We offer a wide variety of affordable at-home assistive devices for rental or purchase, including wheelchairs, walkers, patient lifts, and more. With our commitment to customer care and personalized service, we can help you find the right wheelchair to suit your individual needs.
Call us at (623) 295-2724 to speak to one of our friendly at-home medical supply experts.