Consumer Guide - Grab Bars
3 Essentials for Bathing or Showering

Grab bars offer essential support while getting in and out of the bathtub or shower, reducing the risk of a fall. Grab bars can be installed in various locations, depending on the bathroom space and the person's needs. And they're available in a variety of sizes and finishes so you have more choice than ever before. Below are general recommendations and tips that we hope you'll find helpful, but be sure to check with a health care provider if the person you care for has special needs.

1. Location and Size

A vertical bar at tub/shower entrance

For person's who can do a standing transfer, we generally recommend a grab bar at the tub or shower entrance so the person has a safe support to hold onto when climbing over the tub wall or shower curb. A vertical bar (18" - 36"), is frequently preferred over a horizontal bar because it is easier for arthritic hands to grip. Specialists recommend installing the bar
  • no more than 9" from the edge of the outside tub wall
  • with the bottom of the grab bar approximately 32" to 36" above the floor
An angled bar on a long tub or shower wall, is generally recommended. An angled bar (24"- 36"), installed at a 45 degree angle, approximately 9 inches above the tub rim offers a handhold when the person is
  • Getting into the tub using a chair or bench
  • Moving from a seated position in a bath or shower chair to a semi-standing position to wash private areas
  • Getting up from the bathtub floor
Horizontal bars on the long wall, 24" - 36" wide, may also be used (but are recommended less frequently by physical therapists):

The lower grab bar is installed 9" - 11" above the tub rim as a hand support for
  • Pulling up from the bathtub floor
  • Transferring from or into a wheelchair
  • Getting up from a seated to a standing position when using a bath chair
The higher grab bar is installed 33" - 36" above the floor. This location offers a handgrip to support balance while
  • Standing in the bathtub or shower
  • Getting up and down when using a bath chair.

A floor to ceiling mounted pole may be helpful in some situations.



2. Color & Finish


Grab bars are available in a variety of bright colors or metal finishes, including stainless steel and antique bronze.

Choose grab bars with a matte, slip-resistant finish since wet hands can slip on polished finishes.

Some grab bars even have padded grips on the underside to keep hands from slipping.




TIP As many care receivers have problems with depth perception, make sure the color of the grab bars stands out against the wall.



3. Installation

Grab bars can be installed by
  • Screwing them directly into the wall studs. But, more often then not, the studs are not located where you want to place a grab bar.

  • Using a special anchor that that meets the minimum building code standard of 250 lbs and allows the bar to be installed directly into sheet rock or tile. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for specific installation instructions.
Some grab bars have mounting plates that allow more screws or anchors to be used for a potentially safer installation.

SAFETY WISE! Grab bars installed with only plastic anchors and screws directly into tile and wall board will not hold up during a fall.

TIP Replace towel bars with grab bars

Many individuals mistake towel bars for grab bars and hold onto them for support. Towel bars are not manufactured or installed to support a personís weight and can easily pull out of the wall. Consider replacing the towel bars with grab bars just in case the person grabs onto them for support.



Resources

Specialty Fastening Systems

Snap Toggle Toggler Bolts
by Toggler Anchor Systems
View Video

Wingits LLC

Secure Mount Fastening System
by Moen, Inc.
View Video

Specialty Grab Bar Manufacturers and Suppliers

Barrier Free Architecturals, Inc.

Grab Bar Specialists.com

HealthCraft Products (Floor to Ceiling Poles)

Moen Secure Mount
by Creative Specialties Int. (Division of Moen)

Mr. Grab Bar

WingIts.com



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