Grab Bar Selection Guide
Determining the right grab bar for you usually includes several factors. First, decide where it will be installed plus general orientation, sizing, aesthetic, and any features needed. Common places to install a grab bar are usually near the shower or by the toilet, but the best way to figure out where a grab bar would help the most is to pay attention to where you find yourself looking for support.
Orientation and Length
Most grab bars can be installed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. There are advantages and disadvantages to each installation.
For example, vertical installations are easy to grip and are helpful for stabilizing your balance in specific situations, such as while getting into and out of the shower. However, support is limited to a specific place along the wall.
Horizontal grab bars cover a wider area along the wall to offer more support over a greater area, but can cause more strain on your wrists which could be difficult for those with joint issues.
Installing a grab bar diagonally offers support at different heights without focusing on a specific area and provides a more natural angle to grip. It is a great option for areas where you need extra assistance standing up, such as from the toilet or a shower chair.
When installing grab bars, they should be mounted into wall studs for optimal support and security. When selecting a grab bar, consider where the bar will be installed and the orientation to align the length with the studs.
Diameter and Grip Surface
Grab bars are usually available in two common diameters – 1 ¼ inch and 1 ½ inch.
If you have joint issues or smaller hands, a grab bar with a smaller diameter may be easier to grip. Otherwise, 1 ½ inch is standard and most often encountered in public settings where you may find grab bars.
If you have difficulty gripping objects, try installing the grab bar diagonally with a safety grip.
Covered Screw vs. Exposed Screw
Choosing between a covered or flanged grab bar and an exposed screw grab bar is an aesthetic choice. If you like to see the screw heads, choose an exposed screw item. If you prefer to hide the installation screws, purchase an item that has a cover flange. Once the grab bar is installed the flange snuggly fits over the mounting area to conceal the screw heads. Both styles are ADA compliant when installed correctly.
Safety Grip vs. Non-Safety Grip
Safety grip is a peened finish on stainless steel grab bars that makes them easier to hold on to. This finish can be especially helpful if the grab bar is going to be installed in an area that may be wet or if the user's hands may be wet, like a shower. Grab bars without safety grip are simply smooth stainless steel. Both styles are ADA compliant when installed correctly.
If you have limited wall space, consider a 2-in-1 grab bar style. If you don’t have a lot of space around the toilet but need extra support, a grab bar that doubles as a toilet paper roll holder is a great solution. Similarly, if you find yourself reaching for a towel holder for support, consider installing a 2-in-1 towel rack. Whereas a regular towel rack will rip out of the wall and result in a hard fall, a 2-in-1 grab bar combines peace of mind from a grab bar and functionality with a place to hang towels.
While there are many factors to consider when choosing a grab bar, they are crucial to improve your home's safety and prevent injury. With so many options available, it is easy to find a grab bar that suits your needs and style.