Tub Grab Bar Placement and Location

Tub grab bars are essential to provide safety when getting in and out of a bathtub (or a shower, or sitting down on and getting up off a toilet as well). However, grab bars need to be strategically placed to maximize their usefulness. For example, and despite what their name might imply, tub grab bars are best located on a wall than on the tub itself. Wall-mounted bars vary in size, color and material, though the majority is manufactured with stainless steel, like the Chrome Knurled Grab Bars by Invacare Supply Group. Most elderly individuals favor small diameters and lengthy bars, because arthritic hands can get a better grip, and there is a longer surface to get a handle on from different positions.
The finish is also important, and not just for purely aesthetic reasons. Brighter colors on a light-colored backdrop are easier to spot, and the gripping surface needs to be rough enough that it prevents slipping, but not too rough that it will hurt fragile hands. Wall-mounted tub grab bar placement depends on factors such as tub location, wall structure, plumbing layout, height, strength, reach and other traits of the user, and bathing technique. The safest places and methods to install tub grab bars include directly into the wall studs, into plywood blocking behind the wall, and with a fastener.

Tub grab bars can be located either on the shorter side wall, or the longer wall. The shorter side wall allows for both horizontal (which provides balance support when entering the bathtub from a standing position) and vertical (recommended to have a textured finish to reduce the hand’s tendency to slip when wet) bars. The longer wall has space for a top bar, a lower bar, or even an angled bar. A top bar supports a person standing on the tub, or getting up and down if they are using a bath chair. A lower bar allows the user to pull up from the tub floor, transfer from or into a wheelchair, and transitioning from a seated to a standing position with a bath chair. Finally, an angled bar is usually placed at a 45 degree angle, slopping up the showerhead and with the lowest end about 9’’ above the tub’s rim. Before installing the tub grab bars, do a dry run and take note of the places where you accomplish a safe and comfortable reach as you get in and out of the tub.