Selecting Grab Bars for Bathroom Safety
Instructional video on selecting a grab bar for your bathroom safety. Grab bars are particularly important in preventing dangerous bathroom falls. For Seniors, 85% of falls in the home occur in the bathroom and may have been prevented if the proper support was available. Add grab bars to your shower and tub BEFORE you think you need them. Selecting Grab Bars for Bathroom Safety
Know Before You Shop for Grab Bars
- Tile might seem fragile, but it’ll seem like an impenetrable barrier to standard twist drill bits, which will crack your tile. Instead, use a 1/4-in glass / tile drill bit for mounting bars over studs or a 1/2-in glass/tile drill bit for installations using special wall anchors. (Odds are you’ll need both.)
- Avoid mounting grab bars on acrylic tub and shower surrounds that stand out from the drywall underneath. These walls bend and flex.
- If someone in the family lacks grip strength, choose smaller-diameter bars. Then decide whether the bar finish can be a glossy piece of bathroom bling or if it needs to be textured for better grip by wet hands.
- Some grab bars are specifically made to mount vertically, horizontally, or in either position. (There’s no “right” mounting, so choose what works for you.) Check the package to be sure the model you want works in the position you want.
Where to Install Grab Bars
Try climbing in and out of your tub or shower—minus the water—to get an idea where grab bars should be placed, and mount them where they work best for everyone using that bathroom. Always mount grab bars into a stud that sits behind the wall. Or, if the stud can’t be located, use an anchoring device. Be sure there is adequate room within the hollow area behind the wall so an anchoring device will work. Grab bars can be placed vertically, horizontally or diagonally depending on your needs.
At the entry to the shower or tub.
- To help facilitate entry and exit, install a grab bar vertically in front of the shower or tub. A smaller grab bar (12-in, 16-in, or 18-in) works well for this purpose, although longer ones can accommodate users of various heights. Having a grab bar here helps prevent the tendency to reach for towel bars, sliding glass doors or other unstable fixtures.
- Vertical grab bars are also good for both shorter and taller people to grip at a comfortable height.
In the shower or tub.
- Horizontal grab bars mounted inside the tub or shower provide added stability, whereas diagonal grab bars provide added stability when lowering to sit on a shower seat.
- Generally a 16-in grab bar or a grab bar that is a multiple of 16 (16-in, 32-in, or 48-in) works best. In most cases studs are located 16 inches apart on center. Always attach grab bars to studs or use secure mounting anchors the manufacturer recommends.
Near the toilet.
- Installing a grab bar near the toilet can provide great assistance in both sitting or standing. Used in conjunction with a chair height toilet or raised toilet seat and this can further improve comfort and ease of use.
- Generally, a grab bar is installed either horizontally or diagonally near the toilet.
- A diagonal grab bar is more in tune with the natural movement of the hand and wrist and puts less strain on the wrist. They also offer the ability to grip at varied heights, making them comfortable for both shorter and taller people.
- When installed diagonally, a grab bar may not reach between studs. If this is the case, it can be mounted with secure mounting anchors used at one or both ends of the grab bar.
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Selecting Grab Bars for Bathroom Safety
About the Author
As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles