Did you know that the right doors and windows can help to prevent in-home accidents, improve living conditions, and provide safety? Leveraging the power of universal design for your doors and windows makes sense in a world where life consistently throws unexpected curveballs. From that skiing trip that resulted in a six-month stint on crutches, to helping your elderly parents and loved ones maintain their independence as they age, the right doors and windows can deliver a number of benefits.
No-Step Entryways, Wide Doorways & Drop-Down Thresholds
Universal design features state that every home should have at least one no-step entryway. A zero-step entryway ensures that people with mobility challenges and certain disabilities (such as being in a wheelchair) can more easily and safely enter and exit the home. In addition to the no-step entryway, the exterior doors should be at least 32 inches wide. Interior doors should be at least 30 inches wide. These measurements allow ease of access for individuals with crutches, canes, walkers or wheelchairs. It will be easier for medical equipment and furniture, such as hospital beds, to pass through the wider threshold.
Another universal design component that can be implemented is a drop-down threshold. The drop-down threshold creates an air-seal without compromising the no-step feature. It is a seamless entry and exit. A drop-down threshold is a great option for hinged doors; however, an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sliding door provides the flexibility needed for large openings. An ADA sliding door is a great universal design feature that can be incorporated into both the interior and exterior of the home.
Smart Home Features
Universal design ideas are about creating a more comfortable and safe living experience for everyone. Some features focus on convenience. For example, remote control window shades or automated curtains are two great features that can be easily controlled by your smartphone. Smart window shades or curtains can help to reduce optical strain, deliver additional levels of privacy, and improve the quality of life for individuals of all ages, sizes, and physical or mental ability.
Another smart home feature that can be applied to your exterior doors are keyless locks. Keyless locks remove the fumbling and dexterity issues that are often associated with traditional keys. The keyless lock option can involve a digital code or be synced to a smartphone. It can also be easily synced to an alarm system, so that you can receive alerts when your family members exit or enter the home.
Handle Designs That Maximize Efficiencies and Comfort
Universal design can easily be seen in windows and door handles. Instead of using a crank or knob, a handle with a lever option improves the functionality of the window or door. Stainless steel or powder-coated handles add a touch of style and beauty without sacrificing function. The handle placement can also be customized to best accommodate the unique needs of your family and guests.
Easy to Open Windows and Doors
One of the final universal design components that should be implemented into your home’s windows and doors has to do with ease of use. In layman’s terms, windows and doors should be easy to open by any member of your family. From lever-style door handles that are easy to operate by anyone with dexterity issues to lightweight materials, to automated features, your home’s windows and doors should keep you safe, look stylish, and above all be easy to operate.
About the Author
By Dan Bawden of Legal Eagle Contractors, Co., Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)
This article was provided by a member of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness of the remodeling profession through education, certification and service to the Houston community. For more information on this article, please contact Lorraine Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org. To join the council or to find a professional remodeler in your area, please visit www.ghba.org.