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Designing for the Disabled and Elderly with Stainless Steel

Whether mobility is limited due to disability or aging, it is natural to want to remain independent and mobile. As a society that means making transit and public facilities easily accessible.  Residences often need modification for independent living, and both physical therapy and care facilities need to be designed with safety in mind.  Products made from stainless steel can be aesthetically pleasing while meeting functional strength, hygienic, and durability requirements.

The ISSF brochure, “Stainless Steel - Benefits for Elderly People”, provides an overview of the many applications where stainless steel is beneficial.

Donload the brochure (ISSF)

Bathroom Design
Safety adjustments often need to be made in bathrooms so that disabled and elderly people can live independently without risk of a fall. Please see the IMOA web page on bathroom design for more information.

Photo credits Signature Hardware (L) and DE-LUNE®

Interior and Exterior Lifts
Stainless steel is commonly used for interior and exterior lifts because of its strength, corrosion resistance, cleanability, impact resistance and aesthetic appeal. The images below show two types of entrance lifts. Stainless steel is the ideal choice in environments where exposure to salt or pollution needs to be considered.

Ramps, Walkways and Safety Railings
Railings should provide a good grip, and consistent structural support, even in corrosive environments. Tubular railings made from embossed stainless steel are particularly helpful in public transit and for safety grips.

Wear, corrosion and slip resistant flooring options include stainless steel tread, corrugated, perforated and etched plate, and gratings. The wear and corrosion resistance of stainless steel provides long term slip resistance for ramps, stair treads, and flooring.

Therapy Pools & Spa Tubs

IMOA’s website provides design resources for standard pool, therapeutic pool and spa tub design.  In “saltwater” pools, where salts (calcium or magnesium chloride, sea salt, treated salt water, etc.) are added to elevate the chloride level above 500 ppm, standard (i.e. Types 316/316L) stainless steel will corrode.  Pool liners, ladders, water handling systems, and other parts that will be immersed in the water therefore have to be made of a more corrosion resistant stainless steel for this combination of elevated temperature, chlorination (or bromine) and salt.

Other common metals like aluminum will corrode even more rapidly when immersed in this type of water. Higher-alloyed stainless steels, designed for exposure to seawater, can be considered for these components but the best alloy choice depends on the specific conditions.  The lift above, for example, is not continuously immersed in the pool water.

The most cost effective saltwater pool design is usually stainless steel reinforced concrete with an appropriate plastic liner, since liner leakage can lead to carbon steel reinforcement corrosion and concrete spalling.

Textured Finishes for Slip Resistance

The finish section of IMOA’s website provides guidance on a wide range of stainless steel surface finishes. The brochures that highlight textured surfaces for better grip and slip resistance are covered in these brochures:

Unless otherwise indicated, the images are from the ISSF brochure.