Bathroom Grab Bars

Make your bathroom safer with grab bars

Nowadays, safety features play a large part in design plans when owners are considering additions to their homes. Whether or not there are elderly or handicapped residents, many people equip home bathrooms with safety rails for support and balance. If you want to prevent unnecessary slips and falls, adapting your bathroom for maximum safety can be a worthwhile and affordable investment.

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Types of Bathroom Grab Bars

Bathroom grab bars designed for commercial use include both ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)–approved handicap bathroom aids and products meant for general use. The primary concern for handicap aids is functionality, while other designs also focus on aesthetics that complement the bathroom decor.

Grab bars for the bathroom are typically made of strong, durable metals, such as stainless steel, chrome, iron, nickel or even brass. In addition to the natural metal tones, grab bars are also available in classic black, and some are even appearing in brighter colors like blue and red.

Bathroom grab bars can be installed wherever you need them, including in showers and bathtubs, on walls and near toilets. The configuration you choose should reflect the specific needs of the household, with the right height and location for its intended users. Shower and bath tub grab bars can be a single rail (horizontal or vertical), various L-shapes or a more detailed structure framing one end of the tub to allow complete bath and shower assistance. While single-rail vertical shower grab bars are sometimes set up for general use, horizontal bars should be present for disabled or elderly residents, as they are considered more effective in providing support during a fall.

Configurations for toilet grab bars are usually a simple side rail or a supporting frame resembling armrests. Other beneficial designs for bathroom aids include swing bars, which are attached to the wall at one end and provide mobile support. For portability, there are also models with high-capacity suction cups. However, you should never substitute towel bars or other weak structures for handicap bathroom aids.

Installing Bathroom Aids

Installing grabs bars in the bathroom can be a stress-free DIY task. Of course, the first step is to purchase a product, making sure that it can support at least 250 pounds. While the least expensive grab bars are under $30 and luxury grab bars are as much as $400, most high-quality, durable units are within the $50 to $200 range.

To mount bathroom grab bars to wood-framed walls, you must locate the framework studs, manually or using a stud sensor, and drill ⅛-inch holes for two of the screws. A third screw can be secured separately using a plastic anchor. If reaching the studs is difficult, you may need to open the wall and simulate a framework with wood blocking. Where there are no studs, special bolts and mounts may be required.

If you're planning to set up grab bars on your own, look online for step-by-step instructions and ADA tips on suitable height and spacing for placement. When you're finished, test the strength of the bar before others use it so you can be sure that your loved ones will have the support they need.