Grab bars are one of the simplest ways to make your bathroom safer.
And they’re not just for the elderly. I know a couple in their 60s who installed grab bars in each of their bathrooms when they renovated. They’ve got one by the toilet and another by the shower in their drying off area. Plus a couple inside the shower stall. It’s partly that they’re thinking ahead, but also they recognize that the ordinary aches and pains of being a human being over 40 can make a grab bar pretty handy.
Three kinds of grab bars
- Suction cup grab bars that don’t need any tools to install
- Standard metal bars that require mounting into wood or tile
- “Decorator” bars that sometimes don’t even really look like grab bars.
Suction cup bars
Suction cup grab bars are great as a first, easy step. If you’re like me, the thought of having to get out a drill and a stud finder to mount metal bars is a little overwhelming. It’s not that I can’t do it, but it’s harder to put in my schedule.
Suction cup grab bars can work well if you have a completely smooth surface for them to stick to. The one important thing to know, though, is that these WILL NOT hold your full body weight. They’re really meant as handles to help you keep your balance.
This bath grip attaches with two strong suction cups.
You can place it vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Available from Amazon prime. Also available in other lengths.
Metal grab bars
Metal grab bars are the workhorses of the grab bar world. Properly anchored into a structural part of the wall (not just the drywall like your towel bars are) these can hold your full body weight.
You can find these at your local hardware store, or for more selection you can check out the grab bars at Amazon.com, where they have a few thousand different ones for sale.
Examples of basic metal grab bars include: The Medline 12 inch bar in knurled chrome, Moen’s 32-inch bar in stainless, and the Safety First 16-inch concealed mounting bar in stainless. All of these are between $15 and $25 at Amazon.
Decorator grab bars
These stylish bars are designed to compliment your existing style. Standard bars are affordable but can have an industrial appearance because we’re used to seeing them in public places rather than our own homes.
It definitely costs more to use designer bars, but for some people this will be the difference between installing them or not bothering.
Here are some ideas and places to find great looking bars:
Kohler has a couple of lines of grab bars. The Purist line matches their existing line of faucets and accessories for a seamless look in your bathroom. Their Belay line is for complete remodels as you build the hand grips into the tile, but it’s a great way to “hide” the bars. Check it out at Amazon.
Moen’s Kingsley line is a full line of bathroom fixtures in a more old-fashioned look. They are also available in chrome. See it at Amazon.
This oval grab bar doesn’t even really look like a grab bar. And it’s pretty affordable. See it at Amazon.
Other brands to look at include Jaclo and GreatGrabz.
When you’re ready to install the bars, there’s a great how-to guide over at Family Handyman: http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Indoor-Projects/Bathrooms/DIY-Tips-For-Bathrooms/how-to-install-bathroom-grab-bars/Step-By-Step
Done here? Head back to the bath safety page.