Grab bars, or safety bars, are no longer just for hospitals, senior citizens or disabled individuals. Strategically placed grab bar around tubs and toilets or other places in bathrooms provide an extra measure of safety for everyone. When properly placed in the bathtub area, the bars offer the support for everyone getting in and out of a bath.
Grab Bar Specifications
Buy stainless steel bars for corrosion resistance. Select grab bars with gripping surface diameters of 1 1/2 inches. For irregular-shaped bars, the gripping surfaces should have a comparable diameter. This diameter ensures the person can grasp bars securely. Purchase grabs bars that permit at least 1 1/2 inches of space between the bar and the wall after installation; this prevents a person's arm from sliding between the bar and wall causing injury. Do not buy bars that rotate.
These guidelines also meet the Americans with Disability Act requirements. Buy 18 to 24 inch long bars for vertical installation, 32 inch long horizontal bars and 24 inch long angle bars. Make sure all grab bars have a load capacity for 250 lbs.
Positioning Grab Bars in Tub Area
The proper location of grab bars depends on the circumstances. If you are installing them for a person with an injury or disability, consult with the physical or occupational therapist to determine the best position for mounting the grab bars. Generally, mount the vertical grab bar at the tub's edge with the bottom of the bar 32 to 38 inches from the floor. Install the angle grab bar (diagonally) on the wall behind the tub, about 6 to 10 inches above the tub's surface. Place the bar 18 inches above the tub to accommodate an individual who uses a bath chair. Mount the horizontal grab bar 36 to 38 inches from the bottom of the tub.
Toilet Grab Bars
According to ANSI guidelines, to install a grab bar on a side wall near the toilet requires a minimum measurement of 18 inches from the toilet's center line to the wall. The preferred length for the grab bar on a side wall is 42 inches, but a minimum 24 inch bar will suffice. Mount a 24 to 36-inch bar on the wall behind the toilet. Make the distance from the floor to the bar's center line 33 to 36 inches. Make sure the grab bars have a minimum measurement of 12 inches off adjacent walls.
Anchor the bar to the studs when possible to ensure the strongest possible installation. Sometimes, the installer will have to reinforce walls with 2-by-4 inch wood blocking, especially behind toilets. During new construction, open walls make this task easy. For walls already in place, try working from the other side, especially if it is in a closet. This limits the amount of repair work in the bathroom. When applicable, drill through tile or stone with a 1/4-inch masonry bit. Use a 5/32-inch wood bit to make the pilot holes in the studs for the wood screws. Make sure the screws penetrate the studs 1 to 2 inches. Insert a plastic anchor when securing the grab bar to ceramic tile.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
Correct Positions to Mount Grab Bars in a Shower
Senior citizens are at high risk for serious injuries related to bathroom falls. One-third of older adults experience a fall each year,...