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Grab Bars

The handicap grab bars available at the local big box store, Lowes, are oddly sized for retro fitting to existing construction. Instead of being in multiples of 16" for attachment to studs using the standard spacing, they are in odd sizes e.g. 42".

Similarly, when I look online for a grab bar "system" for the tub/shower the attachment points are not located to align with the studs. Email with mfgs says that they are for "new" construction, or for when I've ripped out the dry wall and added some blocking.

I can get by with "WingIts" behind the drywall but I'd much rather secure to the studs if I could.

Is there any grab bar mfg who caters to retro fitting bath areas without remodelling?

Re: Grab Bars

There may be such a mfg, but one of the issues is that most grab bars have bases that are wider than a stud, so you still end up having to use blocking or wingnuts. You might also want to check out http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/bathplumbing/article/0,26206,1192720,00.html

Re: Grab Bars

I've run into this several times myself. I solved it by installing the grab bars at an angle to align them with the studs. The bases are larger than the studs so you will still need to use a butterfly on one of the screws but the other two will go into the studs. Use huge long screws and they will hold very well. I've never had problems using this method with the strength of the bar.

Re: Grab Bars

If you are not able to apply blocking in the wall. Have you thought about buying grab bars that you could mount diagonally from stud to stud. At least that would give you 1 possibly 2 good attachments into a stud at each end of the bar. I have done this myself. People asked why I mounted that at an angle and I told them I did it to accomodate different height people. And they thought it was a GREAT ides!

Re: Grab Bars

Most people with accessibility issues actually prefer the grab bars to be on an angle, especially for a bath tub when pulling themselves out of a sitting position. This might be a possible solution.

Re: Grab Bars

The reason for the "odd sized" grab bars is that they meet the strict guidlines of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). If you are installing grab bars in a building which needs to be ADA compliant, then just locating whatever studs are convenient is not an option. Sizes, mounting locations, and mounting heights are all dictated by code. If you are installing grab bars in a non-required building, the ADA guidelines are still relevant, but you may adapt (relocate) as needed.

Often, backing can be installed by removing drywall patches in the adjoining room (such as a bedroom or closet) to avoid disrupting existing ceramic tile in a finished bathroom. Another option is to mount the grab bars to a piece of hardwood lumber (such as a 1 x 4) & then attach the 1 x 4 directly into the wall studs. The 1 x 4 can be stained or painted to match the decor of the room.

Please don't ever use toggle-bolts, mollies, or a similar hollow-wall fastener to attach grab bars to drywall. They will certainly fail when they are needed most, such as when your loved one slips & tries to prevent themself from falling. An improperly mounted grab bar is worse than having no grab bar at all. It gives a false sense of security.

Re: Grab Bars

The “Americans with Disabilities Act” is a program to identify, implement and enforce the needs of disabled Americans. It contains federal guidelines describing the manufacture and use of grab bars in both residential and commercial applications (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html). Many of the guidelines are left for interpitation by the governing state or local codes enforcement agency. When Dave357 says
“The reason for the "odd sized" grab bars is that they meet the strict guidelines of the ADA”. I believe he is suggesting odd sizes may be required in specific application, in a specific area of enforcement.

Although a lot of people do not like the look of a grab bar installed on an angle,
“Most people with accessibility issues actually prefer the grab bars to be on an angle” tobolicm is correct, the angle can be more comfortable to use and is an inexpensive alternative solution.

In addition to the what’s and where’s, “How” a grab bar is installed is also most important to safety compliance. Even if the grab bar meets or exceeds IBC, ANSI and ADA Standards (250lbs) strength, load, deflection tests, it will fail if the fasteners do not support the load. I cannot agree more with Dave357 “don't ever use toggle-bolts, mollies, or a similar hollow-wall fastener to attach grab bars to drywall”. This may be the biggest contributing factor to accidents in the home, which DO have grab bars installed. Another alternative if you are looking for ADA compliant grab bars in 16” increments (conventional framing), or even custom lengths, can be found here http://www.diadot.com/store

Re: Grab Bars

if you think in new construction you can install a grab bar at an angle where one is indicated by ada. would also be and indication you haven't dealt with ada. they don't play. they give exact height for grab bars how far out from corners they must begin and terminate, length, diameter.

but in this instance it sounds like it is a personal home, so ada guidelines should be seen as that guidelines not absolutes. I would have the people at lowes look in their books for exactally what you are looking for there are many different sizes available

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