Bathroom Grab Bars

Bathroom Grab Bar Applications


A well placed grab bar is an important safety device to install in any bathroom. Generally considered to be the most dangerous room in the home, a bathroom becomes wet and slippery when in use, typically has hard surfaces and sharp corners, and often has minimal floor space between fixtures and appliances. If you have ever fallen in a bathroom, you have first-hand knowledge of the potential for injury.

Many people view this simple device as a “handicap” accessory…not true. Grab bars provide a hand-hold when getting in or out of your shower or tub shower (the most dangerous action), support while maneuvering inside the shower, and most important, something solid to grab onto in case of a slip or loss of balance. Grab bars increase everyone’s safety, regardless of age or physical condition.

Proper Placement of Bathroom Grab Bars

Shower or tub shower

-At the entrance

Install a 12” to 18” vertical grab bar at the entrance by the water controls. This hand-hold provides stability while setting water temperature and flow, as well as when getting in and out. This is especially important in a tub shower where you are stepping over the tub wall.

-On surround walls

ADA Guidelines specify the height of horizontally placed grab bars be 33-36 inches from the center of the grab bar to the surface of the finished floor. We do not recommend placing the back wall grab bar at an angle, even if using a seat or bench. When your eyes have soap on them, you need to know exactly where the grab bar is, and not have it depend on where in the shower you are standing.

-Near the commode

ADA Guidelines specify grab bars behind and on one side of the commode to facilitate transfer from a walker or wheel chair. Additionally, if your commode faces a wall within reach by leaning forward, a grab bar on this wall will allow a person to pull themselves to standing.

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Other Bathroom Grab Bar Considerations

  • Avoid purchasing painted grab bars, unless the metal is stainless steel…they will begin to rust in time.
  • Check the rating for pull weight. ADA Guidelines call for a minimum of 250 lbs weight-pull, but most are rated for 500 lbs. or more. We recommend this rating (500 lbs.) as a minimum.
  • What about the “suction cup” grab bars? The manufacturers of these products cleverly call them names like “balance assist bars”, but some people see these as grab bar alternatives. THEY ARE NOT! The pull weight on this type of bar is completely dependent on the condition of the suction cup, wall strength, surface texture of the wall, and how it was installed. These are extremely dangerous to use as grab bars, and are neither intended nor designed for that purpose.

Very Important Bathroom Grab Bar Guidance

All grab bars must be anchored into wall studs or backing plates. There are products available meet the ADA Guideline of 250 lbs. pull weight when fastened to a wall between the studs. However, the time when you need the grab bar the most, is when you have slipped or lost your balance, and you reach out to avoid a fall. We just can’t believe that a wall anchor would always hold in this situation. Grab bars come in all lengths, so you can almost always anchor them in a stud. If you are having grab bars installed, insist upon and check that they are properly anchored.

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