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How Wide Do Doorways Need To Be For A Standard Wheelchair To Fit Through ?

The width of a standard doorway in a building that you visit every week is one of the measurements that hardly comes up during a discussion about wheelchairs and doorways. To meet the standard requirement, doorways must have a width of about 32 inches from one end of the door to the other. Those who are wheelchair bound have to reflect on this at least once or twice each day, because these people are actually the ones who need to have a reasonable amount of space for their wheelchairs to fit through various doorways. It is for this particular reason that this article was written, to make aware the fact that each building that is frequently visited by wheelchair users should have the accurate doorway width on every door in those buildings.

However, in order to accurately resize a door to a wheelchair accessible  measurement, you will have to relocate many different things. This would also include changing the positions of light switches next to every door, wall wiring will have to be relocated, and all electric sockets will also have to be relocated if need be. The right size of a doorway to allow wheelchair users to pass freely is 32 inches wide. Most times, doorways measure just about 23 to 27 inches which isn’t enough for a wheelchair to fit through. When there’s a narrow or sharp turn you have to make to go through a doorway, there need to be enough space as this will enable a wheelchair user to easily make it out of the sharp or narrow room or hallway.

Tight spaces and slim corridors are a harsh reality for those who are wheelchair bound, but you do not have to lose hope. With the right wheelchair in your possession, you can easily and quickly zip down tiny hallways and even maneuver around other tight corners. But what are the right wheelchairs for the job? And what special characteristics would they have to make things a lot easier? Well, let’s find out. 

What Is The Width Of A Regular Wheelchair?

An average wheelchair measures exactly 32 inches wide, while others measures from 21 – 30 inches wide. Nevertheless, sometimes only the seat cushion may measure about 30 inches, which implies that the whole wheelchair will definitely be more than 32 inches. As a matter of fact, it is very common for a wheelchair to be 10 inches larger than the cushion measurement. And of course, power and electric chairs are usually beefier than the manual chairs, with some ranging up to 40 – 42 inches wide, depending on how heavy the wheelchair user is. 

Nevertheless, while electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters might have wider physical dimensions, the manual chairs also need arm room on both sides in order for the user to comfortably and effectively maneuver himself and pass through tight corners, which should also be taken into good consideration.  

Do Wheelchairs Fit Through Standard Doorways?

These days, the width of a standard doorway is about 32 inches with most doorways ranging from 36 inches. Nevertheless, a reasonable amount of doorways fall on the low side, ranging from 23 to 28 inches, while others can even be smaller. Older buildings often have smaller doors and can pose as a huge challenge to those who are wheelchair bound.

Can A Wheelchair Go Through A Thirty Inches Door?

Most doorways are made in standard sizes, with some big enough to allow a wheelchair to pass through even without having to remodel. Common door widths in residential buildings range from 30 – 32-inches, although you can find a 36-inch front entry door in old or even few modern houses. With a door completely opened, most doorways give a clear opening of up to 2-inches narrower than the original size of that door. Nevertheless, most wheelchairs will perfectly fit through a 30 inches wide door. But, considering the difference in the size of chairs and the user’s abilities, it is only the individual that controls a wheelchair that can determine just how wide a doorway opening needs to be.

If you discover that a doorway is too narrow, don’t rush into a “chainsaw” conclusion. Consider these two smart, inexpensive options. The first option to consider is to add offset hinges to help the door swing clear off the doorway. This will add an additional inch to the opening and allow a wheelchair user fit through. Secondly, consider removing an interior door and all its doorstop strips to have an additional inch.

How Wide Should A Standard Doorway Really Need To Be For A Wheelchair?

If you put both the answers to the previously asked questions, then the challenge we face should be able to reveal itself. The size of an average adult’s wheelchair and the size of an average doorway are just too almost the same for comfort.

According to most mobility experts and researchers, the lowest acceptable distance from one end of a doorway to the other end of its frame is about 32 inches, which coincidentally is the required doorway width. Nevertheless, how this measurement is made matters a lot as the door frame consumes a large amount of space as well. Therefore, when measuring, first consider the door frames. This implies that even if the width of the door frame is 32 inches, the width (actual width) a chair can pass through won’t be up to 32 inches, and this will make it hard for a wheelchair user to travel through such places.  

Bare in mind that this information is particularly directed to an average wheelchair size. Narrow wheelchair dimensions on the other hand, will produce much better outcomes, and in case you own a narrow wheelchair, you will have no problem at all with getting through small doorways. Wheelchairs such as these are common in those parts of the world with ancient architecture, such as Europe. A narrow wheelchair with extra features can even help you go through those tiny, 20-inch doors.

Best Wheelchair Features To Look For

You will probably want to go for smaller, indoor wheelchairs, considering the fact that dimensions matter a lot when you have plenty of constricting spaces and doorways. In fact, it has been discovered that most of the features you will need to maneuver narrow spaces are also beneficial when it comes to storing the chair. The lighter, smaller and more navigable it is, the easier it will be to store.

Lightweight And Removable

Particularly, a narrow lightweight wheelchair or a narrow chair with removable arms is recommendable, considering the fact that these two features would provide you with even more flexibility when moving from one place to another. A narrow wheelchair might be the best idea, since these models are naturally smaller and also able to go through smaller spaces. Having a wheelchair that comes with removable armrests will help as well. Since these removable armrests can be removed at any given time, this can help a wheelchair user squeeze through those tiny spaces and even go through doorways. Some chairs also come with leg rests or swing-away armrests, which play the same role in space saving.  

Cushion Size

Also, the cushion size is among the most important things to consider when choosing a chair to buy. It can’t be stressed enough that with the cushion, the size will not be the same as the original width of the wheelchair. If you are looking to easily fit through a standard doorway of 32-inches, then the cushion size should not be more than 23 inches. As a matter of, if you really want to slip through those narrow 28 inches doorways, then you should go for wheelchairs with cushion sizes of 16 or 18 inches. Most times, the chair itself ends up being just 8 inches wider than the cushion. Nevertheless, some wheelchairs have little differences between the cushion size and general width of the chair, so it is very important to get both measurements even before making a purchase.


Most people have thought about what a perfect world would look like for those on wheelchairs, and it undoubtedly includes a lot of open, large, flat spaces. Unfortunately, in reality, it is very common for wheelchair users to encounter tight turns, claustrophobic and narrow hallways. The struggle that comes with going through these tiny spaces has left most people to wonder if things will get any better for wheelchair users. To help those who are wheelchair bound, all doorways should be made in the right measurement, such that is wide enough to accommodate all types of wheelchairs. Let’s not allow tight doorways to deprive those on wheelchair from their privileges. Also, feel free to get your hands on new models of wheelchairs as most of them are more sophisticated than other older models of wheelchairs. There are many new models and designs of both wheelchairs and transport chairs that help with doorways, hallways, tight corners and all other sought of barriers. 

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