ADA/Universal Design: Kitchen Farmhouse/Apron Sinks for Wheelchair Accessibility?

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

I love the idea of a farmhouse-style, aka apron-style sink, for a universal design, wheelchair-accessible kitchen.  The apron-style sinks are mounted on the front edge of the cabinetry which allows for easy accessibility and doesn't require a forward reach to access the sink.  Most standard mount kitchen sinks are mounted about 4" from the front edge.  The extra 4" make sink access much more difficult for someone in a wheelchair or with limited forward reach.  
Unfortunately Apron/Farmhouse-style sinks are not good as roll-under sinks.

Apron-style sinks are simply too deep (most are 10" deep) to allow for knee clearance under the sink.  Knee clearance required for the average wheelchair user is 27" from floor to sink. 
That said, if you are designing your kitchen based on elements of universal design and do not plan on removing the base cabinets to turn your sink into a roll under sink then farmhouse sinks aren't such a bad idea.  
They are mounted more forward in the counter top than any other sink available which does allow for better sideways access to the sink for someone in a wheelchair.  However, twisting the back to access the sink from a wheelchair is not ergonomically correct and will cause back pain.  So if you do choose to install a farmhouse sink, don't ask a wheelchair user to do the dishes.:-)
Facts about Apron front sinks:
  • Available in a variety of finishes including: porcelain, stone, and stainless steel. 
  • Available in a variety of styles from country to modern and everything in between.
  • Costs between $550.00-$1450.00, standard shallow basin sinks cost between $350-$1450.
  • Most have drains in the middle of the sink, some do have drains placed in the back of the sink.

Vigo Stainless Steel
Model VG15005 

Franke Apron Front Double Bowl Fireclay Sinks

Franke Double Bowl Apron Sinks are available in:
31 Inch and 35 Inch sizes


MHK720-31 (Base Cabinet Required: 33" ) - Starts at $931.00;
MHK720-35 (Base Cabinet Required: 36" ) - Starts at $1082.00;

Biscuit, Glossy Black and Matt Black finishes slightly more.


Modular Kitchen Cabinets said...

Always looking for these kinds of great content and information over the internet. Really very appreciating. Keep it up Thanks

Kitchen Designer said...

Hi guys, Thank you for this resource! I am designing a universal kitchen for one of my customers and trying to educate myself on what is needed and how to best layout for function as well as aesthetics. I have found another sink besides the Franke that gives the feel of an apron front sink and is considered ADA compliant. The sink is by Kohler and is a little shallower but looks a bit more accessible for wheelchair users and takes into consideration the height and wheelchair access underneath;


Karen Koch said...

Thank you Kitchen designer, wheelchair accessible sinks are difficult to find. I'm adding that one to my collection!!