How to Install Bathtub Handrails


Handrails can make life a lot easier for elderly or disabled people when they're getting in and out of the bathtub. The most important thing is to make sure the handrails are solidly attached to the wall above the tub. In many cases, it will be difficult to find studs, so it's a good idea to use screw anchors. These are small, elongated plastic or metal pieces that sit inside a hole drilled in a wall and give the screw something to grip.

Things You'll Need

  • Handrail
  • Pencil
  • Power drill
  • 3/8-inch drill bit for whatever kind of material is above the tub. (If it's ceramic, you'll need a ceramic bit. Otherwise, a wood bit will probably work.)
  • Plastic or metal screw anchors designed to fit into 3/8-inch holes
  • Screws that come with the handrails
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Hold the handrail on the wall above the tub where you need it to go. Make sure it's low enough for a person sitting in the tub to grasp it, but high enough to provide stability for a person standing in the tub. With your pencil, mark inside the screw holes of the handrail, onto the wall. If the wall is ceramic tile, make sure the screw holes fall on solid ceramic and not on the grout lines.

  • Remove the handrail. With your drill and appropriate bit, drill holes at each of the marks you've made. If the wall is ceramic tile, use a 3/8-inch ceramic bit. Otherwise, use a 3/8-inch wood bit.

  • Using the hammer, tap the anchors into the holes. The flat end of each anchor, with the screw hole in the center, should be flush with the wall.

  • Hold the handrails against the walls and thread the screws through the screw holes in the handrails, into the holes in the anchors. With your screwdriver, tighten the screws until you can't easily turn them anymore.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the wall material is particularly thin and you're worried that even a standard anchor won't provide enough stability, you can use "butterfly'' anchors. These are spring-loaded anchors that can be pushed through the hole in the wall and then spread out and grip the inner wall once they're inside.
  • Wear eye protection when using your power drill.

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