Is it time to install toilet grab bars in your home? Safety bars are a mobility aid to help keep you safe and independent through all the years of your life. Proper grab bar installation is critical to provide peace of mind and make you feel safer and more comfortable getting around your own home. As you prepare to install your toilet grab bars, make sure you consider these important elements.
ADA Guidelines for Grab Bars
In order to be sure your toilet grab bars are installed properly, review the ADA guidelines. If you’re installing grab bars in a private home, you likely won’t need to comply with ADA standards. However, it’s worth considering the guidelines, since they were determined by experts for most common needs and use.
Spacing and Diameter
The ADA standards suggest;
- having 1 ½” of space between the wall and the grab bar to allow ample space for you to get a firm grip (609.3).
- Having 1 ¼” diameter bar allows for a comfortable grip. (609.2)
- Make sure there are no projecting objects within 12 inches above the grab bar. Why is this important? If someone loses their balance or slips, you want to make sure there is nothing in the way of quickly grabbing the bar.
Location and Placement
As per the ADA guidelines:
- grab bars should be provided on the side wall closest to the toilet (604.5). This will help someone with sitting or standing, or someone in transferring from a wheelchair onto the toilet seat.
- there should also be a grab bar placed on the wall behind the toilet. (604.5) Why is there a grab bar behind the toilet? This is helpful for caregivers helping someone to sit or stand.
- The ADA says that grab bars should be installed horizontally between 33 inches and 36 inches maximum above the finished floor to the top of the gripping surface (section 609.4). This is likely due to average height and common usage.
The ADA speaks to the construction and strength of grab bars for highest level of safety
- Grab bars cannot rotate within their fittings (609.6). A solid grab bar is much safer.
- When properly installed, grab bars will support 250 pounds of force. This is to support the added level of force of someone falling and grabbing the bar quickly.
- Grab bars need to be installed where there is reinforcement in the walls, whether it’s mounted on studs, or on reinforced walls.
In a private residence, you likely don’t need to follow ADA guidelines exactly when installing grab bars by the toilet. ADA guidelines give you a starting place and the minimum safety standards. However, your personal preferences will determine a great deal about what type of safety bar will work and where those grab bars should be placed. Here are a few things to consider in your decision:
Your Height and Physical needs
When you install grab bars in your bathroom, consider the height of anyone who will be using those bars. You want to be able to reach the grab bar comfortably from the toilet and use it to help raise or lower yourself into place. A bar placed at the wrong height might not provide support or prevent a fall.
You may also find it more helpful to have a bar on an angle, or a vertical bar, rather than horizontal. How a bar will likely be used will help you determine the best style and location. Consult an occupational therapist for advice on the most helpful style and position of grab bars for your needs.
Your Aesthetic Preferences
You may have carefully thought through the design of your bathroom, and the idea of altering it to add grab bars may leave you reluctant to even start the project. Fortunately, modern grab bars don’t have to be dull, functional items that detract from the overall beauty of your bathroom. There are many stylish and integrated safety bar options available:
Designer Curved Grab Bars offer a multi height bar with the lowest part closest to the seat to help support you while you stand. This bar has a toilet roll holder as well, so the whole bar has dual purpose and looks beautiful. Choose a finish that suits your décor.
Zig Zag Safety Bars, or multi-level rails provide sit-to-stand support with 2 level horizontal support and an angled section in the middle. These are also available with different finishes including satin or polished stainless, powder coated black, bronze or white.
Swing Up Grab Bars are ideal for toilets that don’t have a wall right beside them, or if you want to move the bar out of the way when not in use. You can install two of these folding bars, for support on both sides.
Grab bars are helpful throughout the whole bathroom. Read our short post here about how grab bars can be beneficial through the whole bathroom.
Installing grab bars and other assistive devices in your bathroom is a big step towards comfortable aging in place. If you would like help deciding on the best bathroom modifications for you, contact Accessibility Professionals today to learn more about all the options available to you.