Grab bars can significantly enhance bathroom safety and accessibility, especially if you have mobility issues, are a senior, or have a disability. This grab bar guide will help you design a bathroom that supports your independence AND is aesthetically pleasing.
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The Safety Benefits of Bathroom Grab Bars
Bathroom grab bars help you maintain balance and prevent slips and falls. These sturdy bars, typically made of metal, are installed on walls near toilets, bathtubs, and showers to provide you with support and stability.
The bathroom can be a hazardous environment with its wet and slippery surfaces. By offering a firm handhold, safety bars enable you to steady yourself while entering or exiting the bathtub or shower, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. If you’re recovering from surgeries or injuries, grab bars offer a secure grip during the rehabilitation process, enabling you to regain your strength and mobility safely.
Grab Bar Locations and Placements
If you are installing grab bars in your own home, you can place them anywhere you want. If you are building or remodeling a hotel bathroom or other bathing space that is open to the public in the United States, you must follow the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. In a roll-in shower, bars should be mounted 33″ to 36″ from the floor, with shower controls and the handheld sprayer located at least 1 1/2″ above the bars but not higher than 48″ from the floor.
How to Install Grab Bars in Your Bathroom
Installing grab bars in your bathroom is a relatively straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.
1. Determine the best location for each grab bar.
Assess where you need the grab bars in your shower. Generally, it’s recommended to have at least one horizontal bar grab for stability and one vertical grab bar for support. Consider your needs and where you would benefit from having something to lean on or grip.
2. Locate wall studs for grab bar stability, OR use a secure mount anchor if a stud is not available.
Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs in the area where you plan to install the grab bars. Studs provide support for the bars and ensure they are securely attached to the wall. However, if you can’t find or align your bar with a stud on one or both sides, Moen Secure Mount anchors provide just as much stability if not more, and allow you to place the railing exactly where you want it.
3. Mark the mounting points.
Once you’ve identified the studs, mark the mounting points on the wall. Use a leveler to make sure the marks are correctly aligned. Hold the grab bar in front of the marks to double-check that it is at the desired height for comfortable use.
4. Drill pilot holes.
Using a drill and an appropriate drill bit, drill pilot holes at the marked mounting points. The size of the pilot holes should match the size of the screws or mounting hardware provided with the grab bar.
5. Attach the mounting hardware.
Depending on the grab bars you have, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to attach the mounting hardware to the wall. This usually involves aligning the mounting brackets with the pilot holes and securing them in place using screws.
6. Install the grab bar.
Slide the grab bar onto the mounting brackets and ensure it is securely attached. Double-check that the bars are level and properly aligned.
7. Test the stability of the installed grab bar.
Give the grab bar a firm tug to ensure it is securely installed. It should not move or wobble. If it is not stable, check the mounting hardware and make any necessary adjustments.
8. Repeat the process if you are installing multiple grab bars.
If you are installing multiple grab bars, follow the same steps for each bar, ensuring proper spacing and alignment.
Remember, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with the installation process, it’s always best to seek assistance from a professional handyman or carpenter to ensure the grab bars are installed safely and securely.
The Best Grab Bar Brands
The best grab bars on the market today are made by two companies: Moen and Invisia. Let’s look at what makes their products superior to the rest.
I still remember the ads Moen ran when they first launched their line of grab bars. Don’t laugh, but they brought tears to my eyes. At last, a company was showing that bathroom safety is for everyone, not just seniors and people with disabilities. Finally, a grab bar manufacturer cared about aesthetics and believed that accessibility should enhance the appearance of your home, not detract from it. Our homes should not have to look like hospitals to be safe and welcoming to all.
Moen grab bars come in a wide variety of finishes to coordinate with your other fixtures, uplifting your bathroom’s design while keeping you safe. Their bars use unique secure mounting hardware that allows them to be placed anywhere on your wall, whether in a stud or just drywall. The back side of their bars
Invisia specializes in making grab bars that can serve more than one useful purpose. Many bathroom injuries occur when someone tries to lean on a bathroom fixture that is not strong enough to support them, such as a towel rod, and it gives way. Invisia offers shelves, soap dishes, and towel bars with integrated grab bars so you can hold onto anything within reach and be safe. They have a sleek, modern style that blends well into contemporary home decor.
Shower Grab Bars
Whether you have a standalone shower or a shower/bathtub combination, horizontal and vertical wall grab bars are essential to prevent slips and falls. Some people also prefer to install a diagonal grab bar to assist with standing from a tub or shower chair.
Bathtub Safety Bars
In addition to wall-attached rails, grab bars and steps can be attached to the bathtub itself to provide more safety and security when getting in and out.
Towel Rack and Grab Bar Combo
Many people are injured in bathrooms when trying to use fixtures for balance that are not designed to support their weight. You can prevent this in your home or hotel room by installing a combination grab bar/towel bar. They look great and add functionality to your bathroom.
Toilet Grab Bars
Grab bars provide support when using the toilet, promoting your independence and minimizing the chance of falls. They can assist you in lowering and rising from a seated position, ensuring stability and preventing strain on your muscles and joints.
Pivoting and Flip-Up Grab Bars
If you need support and security but also room to transfer, a grab bar that pivots or flips up out of the way can provide balance when you need it and clear space when you don’t.
No Drill Grab Bars
I highly recommend installing grab rails into your wall with anchors — and you have the right to do so in your home, even if you rent, under the Fair Housing Act. However, if you absolutely can’t for some reason, these no-drill bars can be attached to a smooth, non-porous surface such as a tile or granite wall.
Bathroom grab bars provide undeniable safety benefits to you. By offering stability, support, and assistance, they help prevent accidents and promote independent living.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Ability Toolbox. I received my BA in English from Stanford University and MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, and have worked in entertainment and health media for over 20 years. I also blog about traveling with a disability. As a wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, I am deeply committed to amplifying the voices of the disability community through writing and advocacy.