Best Solution to Suction Grab Bars in the Shower
The best solution for grab bars in the shower does not include the suction kind. Suction grab bars create as much danger in the shower as not having any at all. Retailers like Amazon and Aging In Place.org boast suction grab bars as a safe option for balance support in the bathroom. However, this is misleading and may cause harm to you.
Stability in the Bathroom
Grab bars offer extra stability and safety around the home. They are typically installed in the bathroom where support is often the most needed. As we’ve discussed before, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the home. Grab bars in the shower and around the toilet present hand holds – important for staying upright when the floor is wet or if you have limited mobility.
Towel Racks Do Not Double as Grab Bars
Grabbing a towel rack on the way down to the floor is very unsafe. It can rip off the wall under the slightest amount of weight, leaving you to bounce around the bathroom like a pinball. Basic grab bars withstand up to 300+ lbs. while bariatric grab bars sustain 1,000 lbs. Under weight, the grab bar holds steadfast to the wall. This gives you a safe place to hold in the bathroom if you feel you are about to fall.
Placement of Grab Bars in the Bathroom
It’s recommended to install a grab bar at the entrance of the shower or tub and one inside to hold on to while bathing. If you have a shower seat, it might be helpful to have one on the back wall at an angle to add extra support while lowering and moving to stand. Installing at least one beside the toilet at an angle is great for standing and sitting as well.
Mounting Your Grab Bar
Grab bars must be mounted to the wall at a stud. Studs are boards that make up the framing in your home and are what support the walls. Stud finders are exactly what they sound like. They’re a tool to help you find the studs in your wall. It’s extremely important to install the grab bar on a stud because this is what will keep the bar secure. Simply screwing it to the dry wall will cause more issues – It’s not secured so there is a good chance it will pull off the wall under weight and damage the drywall. If the ends of your grab bar do not land on a stud, you will want to opt for wall reinforcement or wall anchors. Anchors are placed in the hollow part of the wall and used to mount the grab bar versus a stud. However, Home For Life does not recommend using the anchor solution as we do not use this. It’s much safer to install on a stud or wall reinforcement.
Bring in the Reinforcements
If you’re in the process of building, it might be wise to plan for wall reinforcement in areas where grab bars would likely be placed. This refers to extra support within the walls where a stud does not naturally occur. Your contractor may use let-in blocking or wood blocking as ways to add reinforcement for future grab bar installation. Let-in blocking is a board running through the studs so there is continuous space on the wall for mounting. Wood blocking takes wood blocks and places them between the studs. They can also place ¾” plywood behind the drywall in crucial areas like around the toilet. Creating support areas between the studs allows for flexibility when mounting your grab bars. You’ll have wider options on length and placement of the bars.
Does size matter when picking out grab bars? The length of the bar is based on personal needs and how much space there is on the wall. However, it’s important to note that studs are typically spaced 16 to 24 inches apart. This means a lot if your grab bar sits just past the next stud. Both sides of the bar need to be mounted into a stud. If the bar is smaller or larger than where the studs sit, you will need additional reinforcement or an anchor to make up for the gap as explained above.
We understand that the suction grab bars present the ability to quickly install and uninstall. Yet, modern grab bars aren’t your grandmother’s grab bars. They come in a multitude of colors and styles to seamlessly blend in or obnoxiously stand out. Whichever you choose, you will always reap the benefit of having the extra stability needed in the home.
Bring it Around Town
Grab bars are important to have in the home, especially if someone has limited mobility. However, choosing one that mounts to the wall versus suction is even more important. Safety is crucial in the home and using a mounted grab bar that promotes this will keep you, family and friends from injuries related to the instability of suction grab bars.