Grab bars were not always as trendy as they are today. Ten years ago, you could only find them in hospitals and nursing homes. They all looked alike. And, if truth be told, they were all pretty ugly.
Times have changed. Today, you'll find grab bars in fancy private homes and hotels. And you'll swear that no two look alike. Some are straight, while others are curvy. Some attach to the wall at both ends. You can move others out of the way when you're done with them. And grab bars now come in enough colors to satisfy every decorator.
Grab bars can help anyone stay safer in the bathroom. You don't have to be old. You don't have to have physical limitations. You might be a prize-winning athlete. Or a well-known ballerina. Grab bars don't care who you are. They will still help you climb into the tub or stand in the shower. They will steady you while you reach for the hand-held shower. They help you get on and off the toilet. They can even keep you from slipping on wet tile.
The Three Types of Grab Bars
- Wall-mounted grab bars are the most stable. They attach to the wall at both ends. You can position them any way you want. Some people like grab bars to be vertical - pointing up and down. Other people feel more secure when they grab a bar that is horizontal - stretching from side to side.
- Some grab bars attach to the wall at only one end. They connect to a hinge right at the wall. When you're not using these grab bars, they rest against the wall. When you need support, just pull them out to where you need them most.
- Sheltering arm grab bars provide the best support for getting up and sitting down on the toilet. These grab bars come around both sides of the toilet. They look a little like the armrests on a chair.
Will It Hold You?
A grab bar won't be much use if it doesn't hold you up when you need it most. Don't buy a bar unless it will hold up to 250 pounds. And be sure you install the bar correctly so it can do its job.
You must attach a grab bar to your wall studs or to blocking in your walls. If your walls don't have blocking, add it by nailing a piece of plywood into the studs. The plywood should be ¾ inches thick and 6 to 12 inches wide.
Don't screw a grab bar into sheet rock. It will pull away from the wall. If you are holding onto the grab bar when this happens, you could be seriously injured.
Can You Grab It Easily?
Your grab bar should have a diameter that is 1¼ inches to 1½ inches. Choose a bar that has a textured surface. This will make it easier to grip.
The amount of space you leave between the grab bar and the wall is also important. That space will be 1½ inches for most people. You should be able to fit your fist to fit between the grab bar and the wall. Don't make the space too large, though. You don't want your arm to become wedged between the wall and the bar.