Bathroom Safety Handle Installation Kits
Grab Bar Selection
- Several different styles and types of grab bars are available. Typically made of plastic or stainless steel, the bars are available in a variety of colors and lengths and are between 1 and 1.5 inches in diameter. Choose a bar with a diameter that you can comfortably wrap your fingers around. Look for grab bars that also have a textured surface to improve grip and prevent your hands from slipping when the bar is wet.
Horizontal and Vertical Bars
- Determine how many grab bars you need. If you have difficulty stepping into and out of the tub, consider placing a vertical or horizontal grab bar at one end of the tub. According to the Weill Medical College at Cornell University, a horizontal grab bar should be between 24 and 36 inches long. Measure the length of one of the walls at either end of the tub and purchase the longest grab bar that will fit within that space. If you prefer a vertical grab bar, choose one that is between 18 and 36 inches long and mount it inside the tub enclosure, no more than 9 inches from the edge of the outside wall. A second horizontal or vertical bar can be mounted on the long wall of the tub as well, but should be at least 42 inches long. If wall space is present next to the toilet, install a horizontal bar approximately 36 inches from the ground to assist with transfers.
Angled Grab Bar
- A grab bar is sometimes installed at an angle along the long wall of a tub. Approximately 24 inches long, the bar is installed at a 45-degree angle, sloping upward toward the faucet and/or showerhead. The height of the bar at the lowest end should be 9 inches above the edge of the tub. According to the Stanford University's Weill Medical College, some health-care professionals consider the safety of angled grab bars questionable. Proponents say they make moving from sitting to standing easier; opponents point out that wet hands slide on them and that they are difficult to quickly and securely grip during falls and other urgent situations.
Tub-Mounted Grab Bar
- A grab bar that mounts on the tub edge can also be purchased. This bar is convenient for travel and easily attaches to different-sized tubs with screws or clamps. However, this type of grab bar can also be dangerous. If it is not securely attached, it can move when weight is applied to it, and the user can fall. Check the bar and make sure it is snugly attached before you attempt to step into the tub. If possible, use a wall-mounted bar instead.
- Examine the plumbing layout and wall integrity before you install a grab bar. Install it directly into studs in the bathroom wall, to allow it to sustain a minimum of 250 pounds of dead load force -- a common local and federal building code requirement. If the bar cannot be mounted to studs, mount it into plywood installed behind the tub wall and use fasteners that meet local codes as well.