ADA Requires New Standards For Countertops
On March 15, 2012, the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Design Standards for Accessible Design became fully effective and compliance is now required. To understand how this might impact your new construction or remodeling project, Chuck Sawyer provides an excellent overview in his article “Understanding ADA: An Overview of the Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it Pertains to Decorative Surfacing” in the most recent issue of Countertops & Architectural Surfaces (the official publication of the International Surface Fabricators Association).
Per the 2010 standards:
All new public facilities must be accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
All new public facilities that do not provide goods and services directly to the public are only subject to the ADA’s requirements for new construction and remodeling.
State and local laws and building codes applicable to accessibility must meet or exceed ADA requirements.
Sawyer writes that the surfacing industry will be most affected by new standards for showers, kitchens and vanities. A few highlights pertaining to laminate countertops and solid surfacing countertops include:
In residential homes required to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, at least one, 30-inch-wide minimum section of countertop needs to comply with section 804.3.
The kitchen work surface must be 34 inches maximum above the finish floor or ground (exception: a countertop that is adjustable to provide a kitchen work surface at variable heights, 29 inches minimum and 36 inches maximum, is permitted).
Likewise, lavatories or sinks must be installed with the front of the rim or counter surface (whichever is higher) 34 inches maximum above the finish floor or ground. For top-mount sinks, the countertop needs to be below 34 inches to compensate for the thickness of the bowl rim.
Check out Sawyer’s article for illustrations and resources. More information also can be found at www.ada.gov.