Illustrated Rules of Good Bathroom Design

Guideline 4: Clear Floor Space


Recommendation: Plan a clear floor space of at least 30” from the front edge of all fixtures (i.e., lavatory, toilet, bidet, tub and shower) to any opposite bath fixture, wall or obstacle.


Building Code Requirement:

  • A minimum space of at least 21″ must be planned in front of lavatory, toilet, bidet and tub. (IRC R 307.1)
  • A minimum space of at least 24″ must be planned in front of a shower entry. (IRC P 2705.1.5)


  1. Where possible use the recommended 30” minimum clear space when remodeling a bathroom. For many people, especially those with limited movement, the 24” or 21” code minimum is too small.
  2. When remodeling bathrooms just 5′ wide, which is most baths built from 1945 through 965, the smaller 24” and 21” clear space minimum standard may be unavoidable.
  3. One way to increase clear space in a bathroom remodel is to reduce the space occupied by fixtures by reducing the size of the fixture. For example, the standard 21” vanity depth can be reduced to as little as 15” with proper planning.
  4. It is often possible to create more clear space when remodeling a small bathroom by reversing the swing of the bathroom door so it swings out, not in. See Guideline 3.
  5. The clear floor space around a pedestal or clawfoot bathtub should follow the general rule for bathtubs with the following addition: the clear space between any edge of the tub and any adjacent wall or rixture should be a minimum of 4″ to allow for cleaning behnd the tub — 6″ is better. The entry side of the tub should have a minumum of 21″ of clear floor space, 30″ is better.
  6. For techniques useful in remodeling a bathroom to create more clear space, see “Getting More Bathroom Space”.