Toilet Grab Bars

A toilet or bathroom can be the smallest room in the house, but they pose more danger leading to slips, falls, tripping, and even death. Wet floors and low or poor lighting are some of the major culprits of bathroom accidents. Let’s face it, our balance isn’t as good as before when we were young. Other risk factors include reduced sure-footedness as we age. Moreover, medications and other health conditions make you feel dizzy or light-headed as you try to get up too quickly. All these may result in accidents or injuries as you sit down or get off the toilet.

Why are Bathrooms Dangerous?

Every year there are 235,000 adults, 15 years and older, who sustained bathroom injuries and were treated in the ER. More than 30% of the injuries happen while taking a bath or shower and a little over 14% happen when using the toilet.

As we age, our bones become weaker, our vision becomes blurry and our foot becomes unsteady. Thus injuries increase as we age according to research. Getting in and out of the bathtub or shower are common causes of accidents for adults age 15 and up. While seniors age over 85 has suffered more than half of their injuries in the toilet. These studies are enough reasons why safety devices such as grab bars and non-slip mats exist. They make aging in place easier and prevent accidents that may lead to life-threatening situations and even death.

Why is there a Grab Bar Behind the Toilet?

Bathroom accidents not only include slipping in the bathtub or showers. Using the toilet like standing up from it or sitting down is the third cause of injuries in the bathroom. Surprisingly, entering or exiting the tub or shower followed at fourth.

You see, there’s a tremendous need to use and install grab bars in these dangerous spots. They provide stability and support to users to reduce accidents. When installing grab bars, keep in mind that it must follow standards and be ADA-compliant. A professional plumber or handyman is highly recommended for grab bars installation as our safety is our top priority.

Toilet Safety and Grab Bars

A toilet grab bar in the back wall helps people with disabilities to transfer to and from the toilet seat and their wheelchair. It assists users when sitting down or when rising from a seated position. Basically, it helps those who have balance problems while seated or while transferring from seats.

In cases where the flush button is on top of the toilet tank, a user must lean over to hit the button. That’s when a horizontal grab bar behind the toilet helps the users to grip it to lean over. It also aids caregivers in helping someone to sit or stand. They also provide extra stability and support when linked to another safety grab bar by the side wall.

What to Consider When Installing Grab Bars
Behind the Toilet

Safety rails are indispensable aids for accessible bathrooms to help people when moving around the toilet. Consider these guidelines for starters:

01        The space behind the toilet must be free from all kinds of clutter like shelves and toilet
paper. Users must be able to insert their hands to grab the back wall bar that's free from
any obstruction.

02        The grab bar's dimensions must be ADA-compliant.

03        Do not use a vertical grab bar for the back wall. It's recommended to use a horizontal grab bar.

04        Wall-mounted safety bars with screws should be installed securely in place. It must hold
up to 250 lbs full-body weight of users. Suction cup grab bars aren't designed for this
so they're a big NO.

What is the Standard Height for a Grab Bar
by the Toilet?

ADA has set at least 2 horizontal safety bars attached one at the back wall and the other at the side wall. It’s best to install a 36-inch long horizontal grab bar behind the toilet. It must have a standard height of 33 to 36 inches above the finish floor. Take note that objects above the grab bar must be at least 12 inches above the top of the bar. While objects below and at the edge of bars must be 1-1/2 inches away. The grab bar located at the side wall must be horizontal in position and must at least be 42 inches long. The standard height is 33 to 36 inches from the floor finish. Install the side grab bar 12 inches at most from the back wall where it extends at least 54 inches from it.

What are the ADA requirements for Grab Bars?

Contractors, plumbers, and professional handymen must adhere to standards for ADA compliance. A piece of advice for installers- attach the bathroom grab bars in the middle of the ranges of height. It’s a common mistake to aim for one edge of the range thus they end up either a bit high or low. As a result of this error, an inspector might get them cited for non-compliance even for a fraction of an inch. So be aware of standard dimensions like height, length, and sizes of bathroom grab bars. ADA standards are for strict compliance to observe the greatest safety and prevent any accidents. 

01       ADA Standards for Diameter Size, Length, and Clearance Space
  • Grab bars have a diameter range of 1-1/4 inch to 1-1/2 inch. You can opt for the 1-1/4 inch diameter safety rails for a more secure grip. It’s optional to get a grab bar with a textured surface for added grip. Be sure to secure them in place so that they will not rotate when mounted.
  • The safety bar’s minimum length for the side wall must be 42 inches long. While the grab bar located in the rear wall must be 36 inches long.
  • Grab bars must have a clearance space of 1-1/2 inch from the wall. Make sure the space between the grab bar and wall is free from any obstructions. Also, no projecting objects within 12 inches above the grab bar. This is to ensure that nothing blocks the way when quickly gripping the bar. Accidents may happen in the blink of an eye. So it’s critical that when someone loses their balance they can easily hold onto the safety rail fast. You don’t want to make someone or yourself grab onto the toilet paper, plant pot, or perfume bottle by mistake instead of the safety bar.
02       ADA Guidelines for Specific Location
  • Install a grab on one side of the wall closest to the toilet. It must be in a horizontal direction at 12 inches, max from the rear wall. It should also extend a minimum of 54 inches from the back wall. ADA recommends this to help someone when sitting or standing up. Great help for transferring from a wheelchair onto the toilet seat, or vice versa, too.
  • A grab bar should be located at the back of the wall or behind the water closet. As per ADA, mount a horizontal grab bar between 33 inches and 36 inches, max from the edge of the floor to the top of the bar. Again, keep in mind that objects above the handrails must be at least 12 inches above the top of the bar. While objects below and at the edge of bars must be 1.5 inches away. The grab bar must be at least 42 inches long.
  • Optional: Add a vertical grab bar above the horizontal safety bar located on the side wall. This serves as added support when getting around or moving in and out of the toilet. This serves as extra support for balance when maneuvering against the walls.
03       ADA Standards for Structural Strength
  • Solid, made of robust stainless steel grab bars are best or ideal to use to avoid corrosion from water. Keep in mind that suction cup type is not allowed as they cannot bear direct weight. Examples of sturdy bars are stainless steel, brass or bronze, or chrome-plated with screws for wall mounting. Secure the grab bars in place so they won’t rotate within their fittings. This ensures toilet safety and prevents slips and falls.
  • Grab bars should have a weight-bearing capacity of 250 lbs. They should be properly installed to support the full-body weight when a person falls down and grab the bar. Many grab bars in the market surpass ADA standards. They provide support for up to 500 lbs of weight capacity.
  • Install the grab bars on reinforced walls using screws or studs or mounting anchors. Don’t screw them on sheetrock, it will only pull away and may cause serious injuries.
What are the Best Grab Bars?

When looking for grab bars, use this guide to help you choose what’s best for your needs and preference. There are many safety handrail products on the market that combine design and functionality. You can choose according to your style so they can blend seamlessly in your interiors. We have featured the best ADA compliant grab bars for bathrooms in one of our blogs.

Safety grab rails are not only used in hospitals, public toilets, and nursing homes. They’ve become an indispensable part of our homes for aging parents, handicapped, children, and pregnant women. So think about these major factors before deciding what products to buy:

01       Can the Grab Bar Hold You?

This is pretty simple. Can it hold you or any other family member who’s bigger than you without budging? It wouldn’t be much use then if it won’t bear a direct weight. There’s no sense in buying it, don’t commit this mistake that may cost you your life or someone else’s. For instance, grab bars with suction cups are cheaper alternatives, but they won’t be strong enough to hold you. So the rule of thumb is: Don’t buy a grab bar unless it can hold up to 250 lbs or more. The higher the weight-bearing capacity, the better. Opt for solid, stainless steel types of grab bars with wall studs or screws to secure them in the wall. Remember that bathroom safety is a must-have. Choose grab bars that are sturdy and stable for support. Be warned though, don’t ever try to install a grab bar into sheetrock. This has a great tendency to pull away from the wall and may result in serious injuries. Solid, concrete walls are best partnered with solid grab bars mounted on them.

02       Can You Grab It Easily Without Slipping Your Hands?

It’s more advisable to choose the grab bar with a 1-¼ inch diameter for an easier grip. This is because you can fully clasp your hands compared to bigger diameters. For a stronger and stable grip, choose grab bars with textured or knurled surfaces for anti-slip features. They’re designed for wet or soapy hands to ensure the highest level of bathroom safety. Important reminder: Have a clearance space of 1-½ inches for grab bars at the back wall. This is to make sure that users will be able to fit their fists to fit between the grab bar and the wall. Don’t alter the ADA standard space by making it too wide to hold toiletries or shelves. Too wide can cause hands to slip and arms to get wedged between the wall and the bar. Too close to the wall makes it too cramped for a whole fist to fit in.

03       Can functionality Meet Aesthetics?

Some people are reluctant to make home improvements as changes can make permanent property damage. It may also mean altering the overall aesthetics of the bathroom interiors. Good thing, you can opt for modern and stylish designs that meet functionality. Most of them blend seamlessly with the aesthetics of the bathroom.

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