Those of us who have a family member with certain disabilities and have installed dedicated items such as a toilet for handicapped person around the house know how useful some good grab bars can be. These are essentially safety rails you can attach to the walls or to the floor in order to make the bathroom safer and easier to use.
One of the main benefits they bring is the fact that the risks of falling or slipping are significantly minimized, which in the case of handicapped persons is crucial. As you can very well imagine, they don’t always have the ability to react as they should in the case of household accidents, and the repercussion can be quite serious.
This applies particularly in the case of those who are also seniors. In their case, any such accident can bring a lot of additional problems, which means you must do everything you can to prevent such situations from happening. Furthermore, elderly family members many times fail to maintain their balance or are dealing with fatigue after a short while.
There are several types of grab bars that you can choose from, and we’ll take a closer look at what some of the main ones are before going into details on how to install such a handy item in the bathroom.
Types of grab bars
The first type of bar you can consider is an angled one. This model is an effective supporting device, and since it’s bent at an angle, you can easily install it in a wide range of areas, no matter if we’re talking about some that are prone to some humidity as well. Moreover, given its design, it’s more versatile and fits a wider range of spaces.
Wall-to-floor grab bars are another alternative you can go for. Such an item is fixed to both the floor and the wall, which means that it offers a great deal of stability. You can definitely choose this design if you need to install it next to the toilet and the available space is rather narrow. Plus, some models include a secondary and smaller support leg that ensures additional support.
In case the landlord is not that happy with having holes drilled around the house and bathroom, then you can go for a suction cup grab bar. However, the effectiveness of such an item depends on a wide range on factors such as the stature of the person who is going to benefit from it, as well as on the level of humidity within the bathroom.
Furthermore, you also need to install suction cup grab bars onto very smooth surfaces, and if this is not something that you have available already, things might get rather complicated. Throughout time, the suction cups might lose adherence, which means that this is a good alternative only if nothing else is suitable.
Another interesting design is offered by flip-up grab bars. What makes them a great choice is the fact that the user can move them out of the way. This way, they provide the benefits, without becoming an element that can hinder movements around the bathroom. Such bars can be installed next to the toilet, but they work for the shower as well.
Getting ready to install the grab bars
Once you’ve decided on the type of grab bars that you are going to use, you will need to get the job of actually installing them done. The following steps don’t apply for the suction cup alternative, but the chances of choosing that one seem to be rather small anyway.
Of course, you can also go for the easy way out and call a handyman for this, but if that’s not the case, here’s what you will need to do. The first step is to get the necessary tools, and you’ll most probably need to use a level, a drill, a hammer, and some drill bits. After you have these, take a moment to determine where exactly you are going to place the grab bar.
Locate the studs that you are going to use and then mark the exact location of where the screws should go. If you want to prevent the drill bit from damaging or scratching the tile, use masking tape to mark the right position and then proceed to the next step. Make sure, beforehand, that all the measurements are correct for the grab bar to be in the right position.
Once everything is set, you should drill the holes, making sure that the drilling machine is perpendicularly placed above the hole, so that the screws can then be placed within the hole in a vertical position. This way, the grab bar will be firmly attached and secure.
How to properly place the grab bars
Then you should use wall anchors and place them within the holes, as they provide much better traction, ensuring that the end result won’t budge. As a rule of thumb, the screws should go into the studs for a minimum length of 1 inch.
Given that the grab bars are being installed in an area prone to humidity, you can also add some silicone around the seam. This way, extra security is ensured and water drops that might leak around are prevented from entering into holes, as this might damage their resistance in time.
If the grab bars you choose need to be attached directly to the toilet, then you will need to remove the seat assembly as the first step, and then proceed to level the holes and the brackets on the toilet. Once this is done, you will need to add the rails into the brackets and lock them in place. You might need to change the seat altogether, as well.
Other aspects to keep in mind
Of course, depending on the grab bar model you choose, it might come with some particularities in terms of installation. It’s always a good idea to read all the information provided by the manufacturer, especially if you are rather new installing things around the house.
You might want to think about the size of the bar and the materials used to make it since these are definitely aspects that can influence the final choice. Grab bars usually come in various lengths, and an average one is of about 12 inches.
Moreover, if the person who is going to use it suffers from arthritis or weaker arms then a grab bar that is sturdy but of a smaller diameter might work better. In terms of materials, these items are usually made of stainless steel, plastic, nylon, or other similar materials.
Stainless steel tends to be one of the most durable and safe alternatives, but you should also keep in mind that a brushed or textured area is recommended in order to provide a better grip.
Last but not least, you might also want to think about the color of the grab bar since it should go well with the rest of the bathroom. People who use such items probably don’t want them to stand out too much, in case the house is shared with other family members. Also, the color is also a matter of personal preferences, so it’s really up to you.