How can we make our homes fall-proof and safe for everyone? Adults, children, and seniors are all prone to accidents even at home. Our home may be the safest place for us but think about this… The National Institute on Aging says:
There are 6 out of 10 older people who suffer from falls at home. Using the stairs or the bathroom is the most common cause of slips and falls. accidents. Moreover, about 3 million older people suffer from fall injuries each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Where should grab bars be placed in the bathtub?
Most people, young and old alike, suffer from falls or slips when getting in or out of the tub to take a bath. With that said, it’s essential to install grab bars in these tricky and slippery areas of our homes. So where should we place them? It’s standard practice according to ADA to fasten two to three grab bars installed in the shower. While at least three to four grab rails located in the sides and at the foot of the tub.
ADA Specific Standards for Bathtub Grab Bars
Most bathtubs in the market are already ADA-compliant and have built-in grab bars especially the high-end types. But, if your bathtub doesn’t have these fixed safety handrails then consider installing them. You should mount the grab bars near the rims on each side of the tub or near the foot of the tub where the controls are. You can refer to ADA for the standard for bathtub grab bars and installation requirements.
General Rule of Thumb
Keep in mind that bathroom and bathtub grab bars provide support and stability in very wet conditions. They help maintain your balance when entering or exiting a bathtub. Typically, a horizontal grab bar is installed, approximately 33-36 inches from the bottom of the tub. The safety grab bar helps a person raise himself from a seated position. Moreover, consider installing a vertical grab bar at the edge of the tub for users to hold onto as they conveniently get in or out of the tub
How to Install Bathtub Grab Bars
In general, grab bars differ with designs that fit specific locations. You can fix them either at the edge and sides of the tub or at the corner of the shower. Each grab bar is different in characteristic. So learn the installation guides before you drill a hole in your wall. For grab bar installation, you need to gather the following tools:
01 For grab bar installation, you need to gather the following tools:
– Pen or pencil marker
– Masking tape
– Electric drill
– Grab bar
– Drill bits for tile, one the size of the wall anchors and one smaller for pilot holes.
– Wood bit for pilot holes into wall studs
– Wall screws
– Heavy 2-1/2″ ( cm) wood screws
– Silicone shower caulk
02 Check the grab bar kit, if all parts are complete.
03 Determine the location where to mount the bar.
04 Mark the exact placement of the screws.
05 Make pre-drill pilot holes. Drill pilot holes using a smaller bit (half the size of the larger one) when the wall is tiled. Use bits that are for glass and tiles. When you use wall studs for mounting, you must drill through the tiles using a tile bit. Next, use a wood bit when drilling 1/8 inch holes into the stud.
06 Secure the Grab Bar. Seal the seams and the back of the flanges with silicone caulk. This is to prevent water from seeping through and give the bar extra strength.
07 Test the grab bar by pulling it (after the caulk dried thoroughly for 2 hours). Give it a solid tug to test the bar's strength. After 24 hours, the caulk should be dry by then, you can do a water test.
Are Suction Grab Bars Safe?
Grab bars in general come in different types of materials (stainless steel, brass and bronze steel, durable plastic). They also vary in length, size, shapes, colors, and finishes.
You might be wondering how safe are commercially-available suction grab bars? When to use these grab bars and are they the right choice? What surfaces can they stick to best? Can they last and support what range of weight? We know, these are some basic questions that also popped up in our minds. There’s a wide variety of suction grab bars in the market that you can choose from. So it’s important to make an informed decision by remembering these guidelines before buying them.
01 Suction Grab Bars Do Not Support a Person's Full-Body Weight
They are good balance-assist bars to hold onto when people are getting in and out of the shower. It’s designed for a quick and easy temporary solution. These are a great alternative when you can’t install the sturdier, stainless steel types of bar. Take note that you can’t use suction grab bars to pull someone up from a seated position. They may budge and pose hazard risks of falls and slips. So you might need to check on them periodically to ensure the seal is still secured. The suction grab bar has a color indicator that tells the strength, so you can remove and re-attach them. They are easier to install than those with wall studs.
02 Suction Grab Bars Work on Selected Surfaces
They stick best with a fairly-smooth, polished, and non-porous types of surfaces. Some examples are natural and engineered stones, glazed tiles, sealed stones or glass porcelain, and metal-laminate acrylic. Take note that suction grab bars won’t work with textured surfaces or with some deformations. They won’t attach to drywalls, fiberglass, unfinished tiles, unsealed or unpolished natural stone.
03 How to Install Suction Grab Bars
When installing this type of bar, check if the surface is dry, squeaky clean, or free from any dirt or soapy residues. Use a clean towel to wipe off any moisture or a blow dryer. Next, be sure to attach the suction cups securely in place. Then, check on the indicator if they are strong and safe enough for users. Don’t forget to test them out to ensure they’re locked and secured, and won’t budge. For a more step-by-step guide on how to install a suction cups grab bar in bathrooms, check out this video.
What is the Best Shower Grab Bar?
There are tons of shower or bathroom grab bars available in the market. When choosing ADA-compliant products to install, take these considerations, and weigh your options.
01 Bathroom or Shower Area and Size
The bathroom and shower area must have enough room to put the grab bars so users can easily reach them.
02 Weight Capacity
Grab bars installed with screws can support a full-body weight of 250 to 500 lbs. While suction grab bars made of plastics aren’t designed to support direct weight.
03 Type of Material for Design and Style
You can always choose the material whether plain stainless steel, brass, plastic, or chrome-plated. Grab bar sizes and length may vary from 12 -48 inches. They range from 1-1/4 inch diameter to 1-1/2 inch diameter. You can choose different shapes like straight, angled, L-shaped, among others. You can choose according to textures too. There are plain and satin-smooth or textured ones for more grip. It’s best to choose grab bars that will match the overall look or aesthetics of the bathroom.
04 Needs and Ability of Users
For this example, the elderly and persons with disabilities have more personalized needs for stable support… Even without other people’s assistance. So safety bars installed with screws or wall studs are suitable for them. Take note that people have different needs and preferences.
05 Permanent Solution or Temporary Fix
Some users don’t want to leave marks or cause any permanent damage to their homes. So they’re reluctant to drill holes in walls for grab bar installation. They can choose other mechanisms for support such as wall anchors, suction, or tension types.
Top Performing Shower or Bathroom Grab Bars
According to Aging in Place, these are the best grab bars for bathrooms, showers, and bathtubs. Read on to help you choose safety bars for your homes.
01 Most Basic - Straight, Stainless Steel Grab Bar with Anti-Slip Grip
This model is not only ideal for toilets, bathtubs, and bathrooms. It’s also best for the kitchen, stairways, and corridors. The non-slip knurled surface provides a better grip with soapy hands and for users who need to steady themselves. It comes with mounting screws for installation. This sleek and sturdy stainless steel bar blends seamlessly with any interior aesthetics. No need to worry about slipping or falling down. It helps the old, young, pregnant, and handicapped users to have a good balance effect.
02 High-Quality - Security Pole and Curve Grab Bar, Elderly Tension
Mounted Floor to Ceiling Transfer Pole
This vertical bar prevents falls or slips by providing stability when a user is standing and sitting. It helps when you step over the tub or shower ledges or getting out and into bed. It has an adjustable height from floor to ceiling with tension mounts. It’s durable and easy to assemble. It has rotating curve grab bars and locks at 45 degrees position and can support up to 300 lbs.
03 Best Suction- type Grab Bar - Grab Bar Suction Shower Handle
Again this is intended for added support in balance only and not for full-body weight. It’s cheaper and easy to install. It has indicators, green for secured and locked in place while red for unsafe. It has a textured surface to keep hands from slipping. This type sticks to non-porous and smooth surfaces only.
04 Best Heavy Duty - Bathroom Shower Bath Grab Bar
This wall-mounted, rust-resistant grab bar has a textured grip for a non-skid finish. It’s durable with a sophisticated look made from solid, antique-style bronze steel.
05 Best Chrome - Textured Steel Grab Bar for Bath and Shower
Its sturdy design offers the most safety with value for money. Inexpensive but does the job! It comes in a shiny, sleek, and chrome-plated finish with a textured middle surface for added grip. Perfect for slippery, wet hands. Comes with mounting screws for stability.
Here’s something to think about… there are 1 in 4 older people who suffer from fall injuries every year. These accidents happen mostly in bathrooms, showers, and in the toilet. In a nutshell, grab bars are now essential toilet and bathroom fixtures for our homes. They make life so much easier with aging in place. They help us safely navigate tricky spots at home with confidence , independence and security.
On another note, consider measuring the space where you’ll place the grab bars. They must be able to fit in, so carefully choose the length and sizes when buying. You can also choose the design and features that match your needs and house interiors.