by Ellen Blake
Here at 50PlusToday, we work diligently to provide information that’s important to our 50Plus age group and their families. One really good way to find out what people want to know about a specific topic is to search online for the most often googled questions. So, this morning when I sat down to create an article about grab bars, I decided to do a search. Here’s what people most want to know about installing grab bars:
What is the Best Size for a Shower Grab Bar?
According to ADA construction guidelines for accessible bathrooms, grab bars should measure between 1.25 and 1.5 inches in diameter. Smaller hands can grip bars more than 1.25 inches thick more easily. Larger hands do better with a thicker diameter.
As for the length, grab bars come in a wide variety of sizes between 9 – 36 inches. The most common sizes are 18 and 24 inches. Which length you choose is a personal preference, and is often determined by placement, whether you want to install it horizontally, vertically, or at an angle, and the amount of space available. Most support up to 300 pounds, but some can go up to 500 pounds. Make sure you check the weight limit before purchasing.
What Should I Look for in a Bathroom Grab Bar?
Here’s what we recommend you consider when purchasing a grab bar:
1. Choose a grab bar made of brass, stainless steel, or aluminum and have it mounted securely to the wall. The portable grab bars made of ABS plastic that you mount to the wall using suction rather than screws are meant only to support partial body weight.
2. Test grab bars in a store before purchasing to ensure the diameter provides the most comfortable grip.
3. As the lengths of grab bars vary, it is important to measure the wall where you plan to install the grab bar before buying.
4. Investigate the construction material of the wall where the grab bar will go (or hire a professional to check it out). You want to ensure the wall has enough support to hold the weight of the bar and your body weight. For this reason, it’s easiest to install a grab bar in a new build or during a renovation.
5. Make sure you check the weight-taking capacity of the grab bar before purchasing.
Where Should Grab Bars be Placed?
Wherever you think someone might need a little extra support. We recommend, if possible, that before installing grab bars you do a walk-through with the elderly person if possible. The standard height of grab bars is 33-36 inches, but it’s best to customize the placement specifically to meet the needs of the individual. You also want to try to determine in advance if the most comfortable placement is vertical, horizontal, or at an angle. The best place to install the grab bar is the most comfortable for the user.
For maximum safety in the bathroom, guidelines from SeniorSafetyAdvice.com say that you should have one or two grab bars by the toilet. Additionally, up to three grab bars in the shower and/or bathtub are ideal, plus anywhere else in the bathroom where you think someone might need help to balance or stand up.
Can You Paint Grab Bars?
Good question. The answer is probably yes since you can paint any bathroom fixture, but it’s likely more involved than you think. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to paint a faucet which might be helpful.
Have other questions you would like addressed? Please let us know in the comment section below!
Notes from the Publisher About Grab Bars
Why might some people not like grab bars? While grab bars are generally considered helpful for safety and accessibility, there could be a few reasons why some individuals might not like them:
Some people might find grab bars to be visually unappealing or disruptive to the overall design of a space. This can be particularly true if the grab bars don’t match the existing décor or if they’re associated with hospitals or medical facilities.
Stigma and Perception
There might be a stigma associated with grab bars, as they can sometimes be seen as symbols of disability or aging. This can lead to feelings of embarrassment or insecurity for some individuals.
Loss of Independence
Installing grab bars can imply a need for assistance, which might make some individuals feel like they’re losing their independence or privacy.
Reminders of Health Issues
Seeing grab bars in a living space can serve as a constant reminder of a person’s health challenges or limitations, which can be emotionally challenging for some individuals.
Improper installation of grab bars can lead to accidents or damage. Some individuals might be hesitant to have them installed due to concerns about drilling into walls or the potential for installation mistakes.
Resistance to Change
People are naturally creatures of habit and might resist changes to their living environment, even if those changes are intended to enhance safety and accessibility. Here are some alternatives that blend into the environment more easily:
Designer Grab Bars: Some companies offer bathroom grab bars that are designed to look like towel racks or other fixtures, helping them blend in more with the overall décor.
Floor-to-Ceiling Poles: These are vertical poles that can be tension-mounted between the floor and ceiling, providing stability without the need for wall-mounted grab bars.
Integrated Support Systems: In modern accessible design, support systems are being integrated into the architecture, like benches in showers that also serve as support surfaces.