Urgent help needed with grab bar placements

southernstitcherSeptember 24, 2013

Please help! Contractor needs to know today how I want the grab bars placed.
This will be for a tub/shower, and my husband didn't want long ones, so we bought two 9 inch curved bars at Home Depot last night. We don't want a nursing home look -- another reason for the smaller curved bars.
What is the best way to position these? Contractor said one to the back where you enter, and one to the side where you stand to shower. That sounds reasonable.
BUT, does the curve go up or down, and should I put them at an angle?
Should I return these and get straight ones? So confused. And, I guess with these we won't have anything to help lift oneself out of the tub. We were thinking only in terms of taking a shower. I guess we could add those later if needed.
Thanks so much!

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Hi SS,

I just went through this. DH just blocked for the two 24" grab bars that I decided to go with. Ours is just a shower, but at 60 x 34, about the same size as a tub/shower. I researched where to put them and found this research article from the Canadian gov't the most useful.

I then tried to research 'which' bar to go with, and chose this Moen 'designer bar'. Didn't want the curved end ones which to me scream nursing home look. Reviews mention the rubber back which is easy to grab even when wet, something I hadn't even thought of, as I've never used a grab bar, and am putting it in thinking of future needs.

I will be putting a teak shower seat in our shower, so I will be putting one bar at a 45 degree angle to help facilitate getting up and down from the seat, and to steady when standing and using seat to prop foot for shaving, etc. The other one will be placed vertically on end wall where we enter, just because that's where the research said it is most needed.


Here is a link that might be useful: grab bar placement article

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:53AM
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I've been told that HD grab bars will not last - better to get them from a plumbing fixture place (Signature Hardware?). Although you could use HD for now - just remember to replace them before they fail.

As far as placement - it relates to how tall you are, among other things. I keep meaning to stop at my PT clinic to finalize this issue for our home...

We don't want the nursing home look either, but remember that there are many finishes that look more normal. I think it's more the finish than the actual shape of the thing...I want something longer than 9 inches to give flexibility for hand placement...

Don't forget a grab rail for the "throne"...are you doing an ADA height toilet? I have serious knee problems, so I am looking forward to our tall potty!

Sorry I'm not able to be more helpful - the grab bar dilemma is one more thing on my list of things for our new house to be resolved in the next month or so.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Ask your husband to put solid blocking behind all the places you could potentially want grab bars. I did that on 2 sides of the shower from hip height to about 5ft. I can decide on grab bars later. I did put these

Here is a link that might be useful: Moen - TP holder grab bar

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 11:59AM
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We recently stayed in a hotel that had a grab bar similar to the one raehelen posted about. They had it installed vertically just outside the shower curtain (it was a hotel) at arm height. It was perfect, and led to my decision to get one!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:10PM
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They have installed the backer board, and the cultured marble is tomorrow. Contractor says they can put them in after the marble install, but I'm wondering if that will be into the studs, or just into the backing board. Since the marble isn't in yet, can we measure where the studs are now, and they can install into studs based on that?

The master hasn't been started, so no problem there, and I have time to get what I want.
Unfortunately, the bath that is being done tomorrow is the one that someday could be more easily remodeled for handicap issues down the road, so I want to do that one right.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Was the backer board screwed in? If so, could it be removed to add blocking? Sounds like a pain, but cheaper now, than having to remove cultured marble, etc. in future.

At the very least, yes mark, and take pictures of exactly where studs are. I wouldn't want grab bars secured only to the backer board. It will limit your grab bar placement to either only vertical , or long enough to hit two studs, and your bar would have to have screws 16" or however far apart your studs are. (Having said that, Moen does have a special secure mount system for installing grab bars/shelves, etc in areas where you don't have a stud, blocking). Just for me, I would feel better having it screwed into a solid wood blocking, but if it's too late to add that now, look at Moen's secure mount, and see if you feel comfortable with that.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:33PM
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Raehelen - where did you get your Moen's? It sounds good...

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 12:45PM
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Thanks for the info on the Moen Secure Mount. I think we will go with that, installing them after the CM goes in. I will take pictures and measure where the studs are tonight to determine the size to get, and then they can use all that info to try to hit the studs when installing. If not, they will have to use the secure mount install. Thanks so much! This helped a lot.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:15PM
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If he can't attach the bars directly to the wall studs or to solid blocking, the only other practical alternative is something like the Wing-It Anchors.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I ordered the Moen bars from a local plumbing supply (they are less expensive than anywhere else), the same place I got all my shower and towel bar fixtures from. But Home Depot, Amazon, Build.com, lots of places carry this one. You can read reviews of it on Amazon.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 7:29PM
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I had my carpenter put up blocking around the whole shower wall and around the toilet side and back at the height of center line at 36". The boards were 2x8s or so. These blocks are where ever I could conceivably put a bar. I may never install all of them but the blocking is there. I then took pictures to document the stuff behind the wall covering.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 8:11AM
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Putting in the blocking is a great way to plan for the future. The bars are a good idea at any age, but I understand not wanting to put all of them in till needed. One at the entry would probably suffice if you are not elderly or handicapped.
I was very impressed with that You Tube Video on the Secure Mount.

I went home yesterday to find they had already sprayed the bathroom walls. I'm not sure if the contractor's stud finder will be able to locate through the marble. If not, we'll just go with the Secure Mount.

I returned the 9 inch curved bars, and am ordering the 24 and 18 inch bars after I see the marble install tonight. I wanted 36 inches for the long wall, but DH wants them shorter.

My contractor said the marble has two corner shelves and one recessed soap/shampoo holder. I imagine that is rather long, so I'm hoping they didn't place that where it will interfere with the longer bar placed at an angle.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 9:20AM
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Thanks, raehelen...how long have you had your grab bars? I've heard that the ones from HD aren't durable enough to last more than a few years - is that true? I've got serious knee issues, and I use grab bars in public bathrooms all the time. Since I'm only 50 now, the bars need to last a while...:-P

On a side note: I consider grab bars, etc. to be potentially valuable at any age. Maybe I'm just a clutz, but I've had some unexpected sessions with crutches (broken leg,etc). Getting on and off the "throne" while strung out on pain meds has made me very aware of the usefulness of a *few* grab bars in the bathroom...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 4:13PM
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I actually don't have the grab bars yet ! Am still waiting for my order to arrive. I have serious knee issues too (am awaiting surgery), haven't had to use the grab bars yet, but forsee that I probably will. Even just for preventing falls, accidental slips, etc.

I think that if you bought the Moen designer bar that I have ordered, it would be the same everywhere. You could always check model #'s. I have a Pegasus faucet (made in Italy, and basically HD's house brand) in my guest bath...been there 5 years, and it still looks brand new. I don't think that everything from HD is necessarily lesser quality. I also have a Blanco Rados kitchen faucet that I bought from HD, I assume it is exactly the same as any of the same model bought from somewhere else. Blanco gives it their lifetime warranty.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Yeah. Knee replacements on the way - after we get our new house finished and moved into - might be easier if I'd pop into HD and order them. Perhaps a nice titanium model in light blue? (Sorry. I have a strange sense of humor!)

I don't know. Your moens look nice, but our tile company told me that HD bars won't last. All I'll need after replacement #2 (in a few years) is to have the bar collapse when I'm using it...I keep meaning to stop at my PT clinic for advice about this...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Grab bars, I have Kohler polished stainless. They are nice. I like them and will probably use them again in my current remodel project. They have several models. I will be looking for the modern type this time. In my first remodel I used a grab bar for my towel bar too. It is a little more time consuming to get the towel over the bar as it is closer to the wall than a towel bar. But I know that if I slip in the tub, I will grab anything to stop a fall so I wanted securely attached, reachable safety.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 8:39PM
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So, I figured as much. Here is a photo showing how they placed the soap, shampoo holder. This totally eliminates the possiblity of a long bar in that area!
So, now I guess we are stuck with at most a 16" bar to the right of the soap holder, and one vertically at the back.
I guess I should have told him about the bars ahead of time.
I much preferred the "white on white" that the other marble company had, but the contractor wouldn't use them. It still looks pretty - but that is NOT white on white. This is beige.

So what do ya'll think? One vertical on the left for enter/exit, and one at an angle to the right of the soap dish? There is a toilet right alongside the tub on the side where the tub fixtures are, so I'm sure people will enter and exit from the rear.

This post was edited by southernstitcher on Wed, Sep 25, 13 at 22:13

    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Our bathroom designer had blocking installed for a long bar. We put in a 12" designer one that looks like a towel bar. If we need a longer bar in the future, we can do that too. Regarding placement, you need to stand in the place and close your eyes as if under the shower water, then put your hand on the wall where you would want to grab. We split the difference between us because we are different heights. Same deal with getting in and out.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2013 at 10:38PM
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Your installation looks nice. Sorry you didn't get your white on white though.

Here is where I put my bar. It is 18" long and about 24 or 26" above the floor. I don't have a shower in this tub so it works out because it is a good height to grab while sitting. I am posting to show the placement. I thought it might give perspective to your tub. BTW, the bar at the end of the tub is the grab bar I installed for as a towel bar and I use it to steady myself, I've noticed, from time to time.

Good tip from Babka to use your imagination to find best placement for vertical entry bar. I think placing it at the back should work fine.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 6:57AM
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We put our grabs bars as pictured based on feedback from my MIL's PT.

Actually, the PT suggested angling the long bar for tub use, but as we never use this for a bath we opted for straight. The one at the front is for stepping in and out of the tub.

Ours are also Moen polished stainless grab bars. We were warned that inexpensive grab bars rust and will stain the tile and grout. Be sure to use stainless screws and ensure the screws are countersunk and a dollop of silicone caulk goes over the screws before the decorative plate is installed.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 9:51AM
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