Home Improvements

Kitchen Cabinets & ADA Compliant Kitchens

Passed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark piece of legislation designed to protect people with disabilities (PWDs) from discrimination. This comprehensive law also covers how the kitchen — the very heart of a home — should have barrier-free layouts among other accommodations so that even PWDs can freely and safely access and use it. Homeowners and kitchen designers that want to have an ADA kitchen design, you must pay special attention to cabinets, thresholds, counter heights, roll under appliances and the like which are essential to making any kitchen space functional. 

This article discusses the cabinets that make it easier for a PWD — especially for someone in a wheelchair — to utilize a kitchen. 

Kitchen cabinet dimension. When designing and constructing kitchen cabinets that are ADA-compliant, dimensions are critical. The overall cabinet height should be 32.5 inches. On the other hand, at minimum, the toe kick (or the space beneath the bottom cabinet where the cabinet hangs over) should be 9 inches. If the area where the cabinet is installed also has a sink, make sure that the sink should be installed 28 inches to 34 inches from the floor. 

Placement above the flooring. The kitchen flooring starts from the edge of the toe kick in a regular kitchen. But if you want your kitchen to be wheelchair user-friendly, the cabinets should be placed above the flooring itself. If you resort to a more conventional way, a minimum 9-inch height is required beneath the toe kick will be reduced. Your contractor should install the flooring first before the cabinets. 

Shelf space and organization. An ADA kitchen design requires 50% of a cabinet’s shelving space to be accessible. To maximize the interior space of a cabinet, experts recommend having pull-out drawers that PWDs can easily access. There are also slide-out cabinet organizers that make it easier for PWDs to access kitchen supplies and cookware — they don’t have to reach into the back part of the cabinet because this type of organizer will move toward the PWD themselves. In other ADA-compliant kitchens, cabinets come with a solid draw covering that can double as a cutting board for a person using a wheelchair. We installed a copper farmhouse sink once that included cutting boards are part of the unit.

Hardware. It’s not only the height and shelving that matter when fitting your kitchen with PWD-friendly cabinets. You also have to focus on the cabinet hardware. Make sure that you only attach handles and knobs that a person with a disability can quickly grab. You can also incorporate a railing in your cabinets to facilitate better mobility. Apart from the cabinets themselves, you also have to make doors, drawers, pantries, and even storage bins easy to open. 

Overall kitchen space. Kitchen cabinet makers in Princeton NJ are at the core of a functional and ergonomic kitchen in New Jersey, especially for PWDs — including those who use wheelchairs. However, it’s important to know that, first and foremost, your kitchen mobility lanes should be at least 40 inches wide before it can be considered ADA-compliant. You also have to maximize your overall kitchen space by creating specified functional zones. This means that you have to zone your kitchen per activity (e.g., storage zone, washing up zone, food preparation zone, meal consumption zone) to make it easier for PWDs to navigate the kitchen.

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