Illustrated Rules of Good Bathroom Design

Guideline 3: Ceiling Height

Recommendation: Same as Building Code Requirement.
Building Code Requirement: Bathrooms shall have a minimum floor to ceiling height of 80″ over the fixture and at the front clearance area for fixtures. A shower or tub equipped with a shower head shall have a minimum floor to ceiling height of 80″ above a minimum area 30″ X 30″ at the shower head. (IRC R305.1.4)


  1.  The general code requirement is that ceilings be at least 90″ (7′-6″) high, but an exception is made for bathrooms which are required to be only 80″ (6′-8″) high. In any place where a person cannot walk, the ceiling may slope or be dropped down to as low as 60″ (5′-0″), and most code officials will allow and even lower drop, especially in bathroom remodels, if it is safe and reasonable under the circumstances.
  2.  The requirement that a shower be at least 30″ x 30″ x 80″ at the shower head is merely practical. Much smaller and the average person would not fit. It is difficult to find a pre-made shower cabinet this small. The usual minimum size is 32″ x 32″.
  3.  The minimum height of 80″ (6′-8″) “over the fixture” includes the required minimum clear floor space in front of the fixture, which must also have a minimum height of 80″ (6′-8″). See Guideline 4.
  4.  This Guideline must be coordinated with Guideline 9.
  5.  In remodeling bathrooms, this Guideline will have the most impact on bathroom remodels in basements, attics or garrets were ducting or the slope of the roof may reduce the ceiling height over some part of the remodeled bath.