Toilet grab bars should be installed at the right height and in the most accessible and convenient location for the primary user. There are several factors to consider when deciding on the right placement for grab bars around the toilet.
First, the size of the room and how far away the walls are from the toilet. Secondly, who needs the grab bars, and what are their limitations. You also need to consider their height and weight. Thirdly, you should consider ADA recommendations for toilet grab bars installation.
Let’s look at the best placements for grab bars around toilets for aging in place.
ADA Requirements for Installing Grab Bars in a Toilet
The ADA recommends installing toilet grab bars on the rear or side wall or both.
Side Wall Installation
Sidewall grab bar installation is ideal if the sidewall is close to the toilet. They come in handy to help with sitting on and standing from the toilet or transferring from the toilet to the wheelchair.
In terms of placement, the bar should be located a maximum of 12 inches from the rear wall and extend up to 54 inches. The bar should be at least 42 inches long (the furthest end should be 54 inches away from the rear wall).
Rear Wall Installation
Rear wall grab bars for toilets are ideal for helping a senior sit on or stand by the toilet. Caregivers can also use it to support themselves as they help the older adult stand or sit on the toilet. The rear safety bar should be at least 36 inches long.
A rear wall grab bar should be installed in relation to the centerline of the toilet. Ideally, they should extend from the centerline of the water closet by a minimum of 12 inches on one side and 24 inches on the other side.
However, if there is no adequate wall space or there is a recessed fixture next to the water tank, a 24-inch bar is permitted. Also, if the installation of the bar conflicts with the placement of flush controls, the bar can be split in half so it can fit.
Additional ADA Recommendation for Installing Toilet Grab Bars
The ADA provides further guidelines for installing toilet grab bars for aging in place as follows:
● Both side and rear grab bars should be installed 33-36 inches above the finished floor. The distance is measured from the top of the bar and not the centerline.
● The grab bars should be installed with a 1.5-inch allowance between the bar and the wall to allow ample space for the user’s hands to wrap around it.
● The grab bars should be installed at least one and a half inches away from any protrusions or objects.
● The bar should be 1-1/4” to 1-1/2” wide. The smaller diameter is most suitable for people with smaller hands.
● If the grab bar has a circular cross-section, it should have 1.25-2 inches outside diameter.
● If the grab bar has a non-circular cross-section, e.g., oval or rectangle, the cross-section should not have a perimeter of more than two inches across and four inches around.
● Toilet grab bars for aging in place should not have any sharp or abrasive parts.
● The bar should not rotate- it should stay firmly in place even when pressure is exerted.
● An ADA compliant bar should have a weight capacity of at least 250 pounds.
● Go for a grab bar that is indicated as ADA compliant.
● The bar should be sturdy and durable – 18-gauge heavy-duty stainless steel is preferable.
When installing toilet grab bars in your home, you do not have to comply with all the ADA guidelines. However, you must understand them and incorporate some or all of the recommendations, where applicable. ADA compliance enhances the safety of grab bars and handrails for seniors and persons with disability.
Considerations When Installing Toilet Grab Bars for Aging in Place
Below are some factors to consider when installing a toilet grab bar for aging in place.
Design of the Wall
It is best to install your side and rear toilet grab bars on drywall that is either reinforced or has mounted studs.
If you are constructing or remodeling the house, configure the toilet grab bar placement before closing the walls. You can have solid wood boards placed between the studs where the bars would be mounted. It is a great option whether you install the bars at the time or later.
If you have a drywall with mounts, the toilet grab bars are easy to install, and you can do it yourself, especially if it comes with the necessary mounting accessories. Ensure that both ends of the grab bars are installed on the studs for optimal stability and safety. Use a stud finder to identify and mark where the studs are located for accurate placement of the grab bar.
If there are no studs on the wall, use a hollow wall mounting device. Ensure that the mounting device is compatible with your toilet grab bar.
If your wall is tiled, you may need a professional to install the grab bars. If the wall does not have mounts, you may need to drill, which can cause cracks on the tiles. You may also need specialized anchors to ensure sturdy safety grab bars, or else the bar can disjoint, causing the user to fall.
Height of the Primary User of the Bar
The primary user should be able to reach the bar easily. Otherwise, if the bar is placed too high or too low for their height, it will not be effective at preventing them from falling. Therefore, while there are specific ADA recommendations for the right placement height of the bar, assess whether the height will be suitable for the user. If not, adjust accordingly.
If the walls are too far from the toilet seat or there are obstructions on the side and rear walls that may make it difficult to install the grab bars, opt for stand-alone toilet rails or those that can be mounted on the toilet directly.
There are various well-built, stable, and sturdy toilet grab rails that are ADA compliant on the market to choose from. Check online customer reviews for the specific ones you consider to ensure they are reliable.
Installing grab bars for the toilet is an important step toward ensuring the safety of seniors at home. However, there are several factors to consider when deciding on the right placement, including ADA recommendations, the design of your bathroom, height, weight and limitations of the user, and their preference.
If you are unsure which placement is most ideal, consult with an occupational therapist. For guidance on choosing the best toilet grab bar for aging in place, read this article.