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Excellent article. I am currently redoing the main bathroom upstairs in my 1930 house, and then will put an entirely new bathroom downstairs to replace the closet-sized half-bath. The upstairs one isn't handicap-friendly but the one on the main floor will be.

One thing they'll both have is some sort of bidet seat/control panel. Those make sense for everyone, not just the elderly and handicapped. Also, note lotusteich's (from Germany) photo showing the fold-up extension for a built-in grab bar/paper holder when there is no adjacent wall. My contractor told me about those and I will have one installed upstairs.

I think part of the reluctance to making houses easy-access is that it often necessitates destroying historic features; old houses just weren't accommodating. I'm glad I will be able to have the main floor bathroom easily accessible and keep the original features intact upstairs (folks who can negotiate the stairway will have no problem with the rest.)

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paulo_verde (San Antonio)

—Kathy Dunn, thanks for your comments. While it's a good idea to insulate sink drains, I'd like to point out that anyone burning themselves on an exposed drain pipe has their water heater temperature set too high. The recommended water heater temperature setting is 120-degrees to prevent scalding and reduce energy costs.

For anyone with children or other family members especially susceptible to scalding themselves, it's imperative to either lower the water heater temperature or install temperature regulating devices at the tap. At a bare minimum, the water temperature ought to be regulated at the shower tap (and of course, it certainly doesn't hurt to insulate sink drains).

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The floor in our new low threshold shower is part of the Onyx Collection, as are the walls, sink and counter. Basically very low maintenance and not slippery. Solid surface. Hope this helps.
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