Accessible patio doors are important for people with temporary and permanent physical handicaps and good for homes in general. Wheelchair accessible doors make moving between spaces easier for people who use wheelchairs, crutches, or other mobility aids. If you’ve been interested in purchasing patio doors for your home but are hesitant because you are concerned with accessibility this article will provide you with some insight into what options are available.
What makes patio doors ADA-Compliant?
Patio doors that are built to suit the specifications of the Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities codes are considered ADA-compliant. Considerations for compliance include clearance, thresholds, door opening force, hardware, and maneuvering space.
According to Richard Rinka, technical manager of standards and industry affairs for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill., sliding glass doors need to have a width of 6’6” and height of 78” to meet the minimum requirements.
Considerations for door opening force, hardware, and maneuvering space address concerns of how much strength is needed to push or pull open a door, the ease of operability of hardware, and the space needed for a someone in a wheelchair to approach the door, reach the door hardware, get through the door, and close the door behind them.
Technology and innovation have made shopping around some of these considerations easier with add-ons and customizations. Some door manufacturers will make custom size doors and door panels and other companies make motorized add-ons for doors so no human force is needed for opening the door.
What are the best patio doors for wheelchair access?
Always check with an expert when making a purchase for your home or building that needs to meet ADA-compliance. While sliding patio doors and hinged patio doors can be made to compliance you’ll need an ADA expert installer to get the job done right.
Hinged doors are an excellent choice especially if you opt for double doors. The double doors make for wider passageways and easier access. Smooth transitions from space to space are possible with ADA compliant sills. The sills reduce tripping hazards and make maneuvering through a passageway in a wheelchair much more manageable than navigating through a standard doorway.
One drawback to the hinged doors is that they do require more space to maneuver because the door swings in and out.
Related article: Should I Get Inswing or Outswing Patio Doors for my Home?
Milgard Essence French Patio Doors. Photo courtesy of Milgard.
Sliding doors are a good choice because unlike hinged doors, they do not require any extra space for the door to open. ADA-compliant sliding doors are easier to open (depending on hardware) they don’t obstruct the doorway because they should slide completely out of the way.
Milgard Essence French Sliding Doors. Photo courtesy of Milgard.
Are there other low threshold patio door options?
While sliding and hinged dare popular patio door styles that can be made to ADA-compliance also consider other style patio doors, especially if you’re looking to transform your space to a trendier indoor-outdoor look. As I mentioned many manufacturers offer customization and there are other doors that can provide you with a low or flush threshold. Remember to check with an expert regarding ADA compliance.
Two fun styles that could work if the threshold was the primary concern are lift slide doors and pocket patio doors. While more expensive than standard sliding and hinged doors these types of doors command attention for their dramatic character. Both doors create a wide open space merging your indoor and outdoor spaces.
Open Weiland Liftslide Patio Door. Photo courtesy of Weiland.
Weiland LiftSlide Patio Door track. Photo courtesy of Weiland.
Milgard Folding Pocket Door. Photo by Brennan Enterprises.
Milgard Folding Pocket Door track. Photo by Brennan Enterprises.
Regardless of what your needs you are you can definitely find the right patio door for your home. If you’re looking for some inspiration check out our gallery page or visit our products page to see what kind of doors we have available.