Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) says that millions of people over the age of 65 years fall each year, causing sometimes serious jury to themselves. That equates to more than one out of four older people.
Many of those falls happen in bathrooms. And many of those falls could have been prevented if grab bars had been fitted in the bathroom.
Bathroom grab bars do, however, have to be fitted correctly, as specified by building regulations and other requirements, most notably those of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
Proper bathroom grab bar placement is mainly for safety reasons. Following the ADA guidelines also means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The measurements have been scientifically worked out to accommodate the physical size of many many people as possible.
Straight grab bars are simple in design but are an effective way to enhance safety in the bathroom, particularly in the shower and near the toilet. Plain, straight bars can be installed on the wall either vertically, horizontal and diagonal.
Vertical grab bars help if you have limited balance and are easier to grip. Because they are vertical, they provide less wall covering when a person is walking than diagonal or horizontal grab bars.
Diagonal bars are most often used near the toilet and other places where getting from a sitting to a standing position is required. They are fixed to the wall diagonally to accommodate people of as many different heights as possible. A textured grab bar is recommended if it is likely to get wet, as this will improve grip and prevent the person’s hand from slipping.
Like the other two, horizontal grab bars allow you to pull yourself up into a standing position, and give more length along a wall if you require support to walk a couple of steps. If the are installed in a private bathroom, it is important to ensure that they are at the correct height for the person who will be using them.
Straight grab bars normally measure 24 inches in length and the standard clearance between the wall and the rail is 1.5 inches. The bar itself, normally made of stainless steel tubing, has a one-inch to one-and-a-half-inch outside diameter as standard. This diameter makes it sturdy and is a size most people can grip with relative ease.
Different Type of Bathroom Grab Bars
There are various designs available at Accurate Door & Hardware. With their stainless steel satin finish, these accessories blend in well with most other bathroom fittings.
One popular choice for fitment on the wall to the one side of a toilet is the L-shaped grab bar, which features a horizontal and vertical element. It is most often installed in restrooms in commercial complexes. L-shaped grab bars with a shorter horizontal arm, if preferred, are also available.
Care should be taken when designing the restroom as a whole to ensure that there is sufficient space for a person to sit comfortably on the toilet without interference from the grab bar. By the same token, the grab bar should not be too far away that the person who needs to use it cannot reach it. It has to be remembered that the whole idea of grab bars is to provide support and accessibility.
Some bathroom grab bars are also designed especially to fit in a corner, while others are for use on either one or both sides of the toilet. While grab bars used around a toilet are primarily intended for people with disabilities, it is wise for anyone who has difficulty sitting down or standing up unaided to use them.
Some wall-mounted grab bars combine a verticle and 120-degree element in a single bar. These are suitable for use near a toilet or in a shower stall with a seat. While this particular model is not ADA-compliant, it does add an element of decorative design to a functional piece.
Multiple Grab Bars
It makes sense to install more than one grab bar in a shower stall if there is space. A short one (as short as 9 inches) at the entrance and a longer one on the back wall of the stall is the usual configuration.
Most guidelines recommend that the bottom of longer grab bars is fitted 36 inches from the floor. Remember, that if you fall in the shower, you might need to use the grab bar to get up again, if you’re not injured.
More than one grab bar is a good idea around baths too. For example, aside from one on the side wall running the length of the bath, another bar behind the faucet is useful as a balance aid or for support when standing up.
Practical Design Considerations
Installed grab bars should not interfere with any other bathroom fitting or accessory. That might seem like common sense, but we have seen enough grab bars that make full use of faucets impossible, for example.
Another common mistake is grab bars that end up being used at towel rails or have vanity cabinets installed to close to them, thus preventing proper use of the grab bar itself.
When faced with such a wide range of bathroom accessories, it is best to seek the advice of your suppliers who can help you plan your bathroom space to the best advantage. They can help you choose grab bar equipment that looks good too!
Most products that we stock meet or exceed the standard requirements of ANSI A117.1, ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG). This is assuming that they are properly mounted. It is worth checking these details for each product that you purchase, for some are fine for private use, but do not meet the standards required in public buildings.
The wall and/or floor where you mount grab bars also has to be standards-compliant. This is an important consideration when installing grab bars in private homes.
More to Life Than Grab Bars
Bathroom grab bars are a great aid to balance and support, and not only for older people. Younger people can and do use them too. They are an inexpensive way to make it easier to bath or shower and prevent you from falling.
But there is more to life than grab bars. Take a look around our website at other building and interior fittings that we stock—or drop us a line if you have any questions.