7 Grab Bar Installation Tips

Grab Bars are one of the most popular safety items for the bathroom. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations while adding form and function to one of the most popular rooms in the home. Here are 7 Grab Bar Installation Tips that we’ve discovered over the years.

There are two main areas of the bathroom where grab bars are necessary: the toilet area and the shower/bath area.

1. Whenever possible, position a grab bar within reach of the strongest side of the body. If the grab bar user has limited mobility in the left arm, a grab bar within reach of the right arm is preferred.

Grab Bar Installation

2. The grab bar installation height is important. The user should be comfortable with the position of the grab bar next to the toilet and in the shower. In the first photo, the toilet uses a Toilevator raised toilet base that adds 3.5 inches to the height of the toilet. If the grab bar is installed before raising the toilet, the grab bar height won’t be appropriate. Raise the toilet first and THEN install the grab bars.

The same is true for the grab bars in the shower. The second photo shows a shower bench that will be used for sitting in the shower. If at all possible, place the shower bench in the shower first and THEN position the grab bars to the best height for standing up and sitting down on the bench. This applies to any shower seats.

3. If the wall is too far away from the toilet, consider using Fold Down Grab Bars that attach to the wall behind the toilet. These come in various lengths and fold up and out of the way when not needed, such as performing wheelchair transfers. They fold down and into place when needed.

7 Grab Bar Installation Tips

4. Vertical Grab Bars provide support directly outside the shower. In the second photo the threshold has a collapsible shower water dam to keep water in the shower. A wheelchair user rolling over this could use the vertical grab bar to pull into the shower and over the shower dam. It also gives walking users something to hold onto while getting in and out of the shower. Wet surfaces are slippery so the safe transition from dry to wet floors is important.

5. Almost all grab bars meet ADA grab Bar specifications, meaning they are already the correct diameter and provide the proper distance from the wall when installed. But it’s important to ensure the wall they are attached to is strong enough to hold the user. The grab bar is strong enough but the installation of it into the wall might not be. Often, the wall needs to be reinforced before installation. Don’t just attach a grab bar and expect it to hold. Rely on experienced installers to do the job right.

6. Mixing horizontal, diagonal, and vertical grab bars provides the best safety measure and the most surface area for grabbing onto something sturdy.

7. A Portable Grab Bar, like a travel or suction cup grab bar, is a great way to test out the best position for your requirements. They attach temporarily with a suction cup and can be used to try out different heights and positions. This can save the time and expense of reinstalling grab bars that were positioned incorrectly.

Grab bars can be a great safety feature for the bathroom but a little pre-planning before the grab bar installation will ensure that they work as well as they should.

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