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4 Most Commonly Googled Questions About Grab Bars

installing grab bars

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 the 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 personal preference, and often determined on 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 shower 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 prior to purchasing to ensure the diameter provides the most comfortable grip for you.

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 make sure the wall has enough support to hold the weight of the bar plus 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. Whatever is most comfortable to the user is the right place to install the grab bar.

For maximum safety in the bathroom, guidelines from 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 is 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!

originally published 12/2/2021
updated 5/31/2022

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