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Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

Posted by jacobse (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 5, 10 at 9:08

We're starting demo on our guest bathroom next week, and I have a couple questions about grab bars.

This bathroom has a 30"x60" tub in an alcove. The tub will occasionally be used for baths, and more often for showers. The tub we selected has a high side (20" tall), so we're thinking it would be a good idea to have a grab bar to make it easy and safe to get in or out. Since the walls will be open to the studs, we can also add a 2x4 wherever we might need it to provide a secure wood anchor.

So, how many grab bars, and where?

For bathing, I would think a grab bar along the long back wall would be best to help pull oneself up from the tub. For showering/getting in our out of the tub, I would think something along one of the short walls close the the tub deck would help to hold onto during entry/exit. But how many grab bars do we really need, and where should they be positioned? Thanks!

-- Eric

Follow-Up Postings:

Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

I have compiled a good list of local codes and information at the following link.

I would suggest using 2"x10" stock between studs instead of 2"x4"'s.

Consider the future use of a transition bench when planning your grab bar locations.

Extra grab bars can be installed outside the shower and used for towels for extra safety.

More than half of the seniors in care homes are there because of a fall. The bathroom should not be one of them. Look for tripping hazards in the rest of the house and fix all these at the same time.

The bathroom can be made safer in a number of ways - most of this information is online.

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Grab bars to code USA & Canada

RE: Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

John, thanks for those links -- some pretty dense technical reading in some of them!

I'd like to hear from people who have installed grab bars how many you installed and where. Is one vertical bar near the tub entry, and one diagonal bar along the long end to assist with getting up/down in the tub the norm? Any hints or lessons learned about height, length or other placement issues would be appreciated!

-- Eric

RE: Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

When I remodeled my bathroom I put one vertically for entry and exit. If I were doing it again, I would also put one as you described on the long wall. I've probably used the the entry and exit sometimes.

I'm young, but its nice to have. mine is also "decorative" so it doesn't look institutional.

Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

As far as grab bars go my gut take on all of them is this;

They look to industrial and remind me of public toilets - for the most part, cheap and hospital like. I sourced an excellent supplier here in Canada that can custom make them for me in any size. These custom grab bars are pricy but worth the money.

I also received a package from GreatGrabz showcasing their complete product line and this company has some tasteful good looking grab bars - Are all these ADA approved - I'm not sure. Can they stable you if you slip or loose your balance? I bet yes.

I install extra blocking for all my clients in the 50 - 70 year age range and we discuss this in concept stage. There is no need to install grab bars until you need them, but at the first sign of dizzy spells, new medication or an injury a grab bar can not only keep you in your home longer - it can save your life.

Order your grab bars so that they, your glass door handle and towel bars all look the same - this adds to the upscale look and a cheap grab bar doesn't cheapen the whole ensuite.

If your building a shower bench it's nice to pull up with a grab bar as you get older. I made the mistake of installing my last one on a 45 degree angle and this is not to code. I offered to change it (my cost) but my client loves it as is.

I can't get my 83 year old Nana to allow me to install more grab bars in her shower (I fixed a botched install a number of years back when she hired a Medical Supply Store to upgrade her Burnaby home.) - she wants them when she is old she says.... :)

If you can upload a picture of your bathroom layout it will be much easier to advise on best location. The ADA guidelines are very specific and have been time tested for sure. Extra grab bars or hand held location for getting in and out are key. If you have a shampoo niche a place to grab and hold on will reaching for shampoo is a good idea as well.

If you want the best - remove the curb, build a wet room with level access shower entry, add in grab bars and built it right the first time. If you build your next bathroom to last into your golden years you will be so happy you spent the extra $5,000 grand or so to make it perfect. I have replaced showers with 4" curbs that clients could not step over - think about that a 4" curb in your shower is to high to get in. To shower with this bad hip involves being driven to the local pool to shower in a public wet room.

Not me... I'm 41 and building my curbless shower as we speak. For younger and older couples alike who have the time and desire to shower together - Grab bars can only open up new options in bathing department - I'll leave this where it belongs - with your imagination!

Here is a link that might be useful: Great Grabz

RE: Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

>They look to industrial and remind me of public toilets - for the most part, cheap and hospital like.

There are a number of better looking ones available these days, from Moen and Kohler, amongst others.

RE: Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

Any age person can use a grab bar. My 10 year old slipped once and grabbed the tiled in soap dish and it ripped off the wall. The next week DH installed a sturdy grap bar. It does not look like a hospital.

RE: Shower/Tub Grab Bars: Where? How Many?

Here's a link to a fairly easy to understand set of grab bar guidelines.

If new construction and I know where the grab bars will be placed, I install 2-by blocking between the studs. If I don't know I'll sometimes skin the entire wall with 3/4" plywood.

If this is a retrofit add-on, then it's best to screw the grab bars into studs. Typical stud spacing is 16". For those that prefer grab bars on an angle, a 24" grab bar on a 45 degree angle will hit two studs 16" apart.

If you can't hit studs and you're forced into a hollow wall installation, then the best anchor to use is a Wing It. Wing It's run about $24 each, but they are well worth it.

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