New Exterior Door Solution Needed for ADA Compliance

Answered by Brett ~ November 16, 2010 ~ Comments

We have a 6' exterior door opening roughed out from the bedroom to a rear porch. We were going to put in a patio door. Now that my mother has had a stroke and my father, at 83 yrs old, is pushing her around in a wheelchair, we realize that the patio door, when opened and allowing for door hardware and knuckles, will be a tight fit and he'll have to push over the tracks. No good. French doors take up too much room opening in and the maneuvering around the bed and open door with the wheelchair is too hard. also, no good. Money being tight, an outward swinging door(s), pocket door or bi-fold doors would be ideal. I can easily and inexpensively get an inward swinging door or french doors at a big box store or salvage yard but would need to reverse them to swing outward. I could do the pocket door if I could find the heavy duty hardware for the hangers, but I'd have the pre-cut holes for the door hardware to contend with. Slabs would be custom ordered and expensive. I could frame and just install a storm door but it's not the best insulator. I'm open to ideas. Thanks for the help.

Sharon ~ Houston, Texas

Brett Kulina

Sharon, when choosing a new door for your bedroom, keep in mind that an exterior door is going to be more weather-tight and provide better insulation than an interior door. The problem is that most exterior doors come with a raised threshold, which keeps rain water at bay, but may pose an accessibility issue for your mother's wheelchair. If the new door is going to be protected by a covered porch, then you may be able to use a set of outward-swinging, interior french doors that have no threshold, but the best option would be to purchase an exterior, outward-swinging door, which is ADA compliant. Several companies make ADA compliant exterior doors that are wide enough for a wheelchair and have low-profile thresholds that won't get in the way. Although these doors may cost a little more money than regular ones, they do provide the best access for chair bound people.

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