Grab bars are considered the staple of the bathroom when providing for bathroom safety. It would typically be a good idea to have a horizontal grab bar in the bathtub or shower in a position suited for the user and a second grab bar vertically installed next to the bathtub or shower exit for gripping assistance while stepping over the bathtub wall. Grab bars can also be installed next to the toilet or anywhere a secure hand grip is needed.
Choosing the Best Grab Bar
The standard wall mounted grab bar will install permanently onto the wall surface. They are generally constructed of a stainless steel to help prevent rusting and include a non-slip gripping surface for the user. There are also composite plastic grab bars that will never rust. A newer item that was recently introduced in the last few years is the Suction Tub Grab Bar, which installs with suction cups and does not require any tools for permanent installation. These suction grab bars may be good for travel or someone who requires very mild balance assist. However, if more than a mild balance assist is needed, we recommend installing permanent grab bars for more reliable safety.
Grab bars are available in many different lengths, sizes, and colors. The standard grab bar lengths are 12", 16", 24" or 36". There are variations to this, but these are the most typical sizes found in the market. The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) does provide for federal guidelines for grab bars being installed in public areas or new property construction; however, if you own your home, you can purchase whichever grab bar fits your needs and decor the best.
Standard ADA approved wall-mounted grab bars will include a diameter of between 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" and will provide 1-1/2" of spacing from the wall. There are many other specialty grab bars that individuals find useful, but they may not adhere to these exact guidelines.
Over the years, many manufacturers have come out with new colors and designs to better match your bathroom decor. There are stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze, white, and many more. Some of the nicer models may even have special gripping surfaces to make using the bar safer and easier.
Installing a Grab Bar
Grab bars can be placed anywhere assistance is needed. There is no specific set guideline regarding the location of the bar. It is usually recommended that you have the person who will be using the grab bars enter and exit the tub and see where they grab onto the wall to assist themselves. This may be a good indication that a grab bar would be helpful in that area. The bars can be installed horizontally, vertically, or on an angle, depending on your needs. If you are worried about permanent installation, simply choose a nice design to match your bathroom decor and everyone can appreciate having a nice-looking bar to hold on to or to put your washcloth or towel.
Grab bars can be installed on almost any bathroom wall surface, provided there is a stud to secure the bar or a wall mounting anchor can sometimes be used. There are special made drills that will allow you to drill through the tile without cracking it to install the grab bars.
If you are unsure of how to install your newly acquired wall mounted grab bars, it may be best to contact your plumber or local handyman to provide the installation, as drilling and tools will be required. If you are handy around the house, there are several online articles and you tube videos that explain how to install the grab bars yourself. It is very important that the grab bars are installed securely to a wall stud or installed with a wall mount kit to prevent the grab bar from coming loose and causing a fall. Many grab bars have user weight capacity limits; however, no grab bar should be considered secure unless it is installed into a wall stud or used with a mounting kit.
Knurled 1" steel chrome-plated grab bar are easy to grip in wet bathing areas or by the commode and can be mounted horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Also use grab bars in the kitchen, along stairways, or in the laundry room for additional fall prevention.