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Grab Bar Requirements: 2022 Installation Guidelines To Adhere To For Bathroom & Home Use

shower for disabled with seat and handle bars

Last Updated: September 26, 2021

If you’re planning to install a grab bar to accommodate your elderly loved ones, you need to consider many factors before doing so.

So...

You have to make sure that it will improve the safety of your home, instead of becoming a hindrance. Luckily, the guidelines of the 2010 Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Standards For Accessible Design can help us with elements such as the grab bar height, among many others.

What The 2010 ADA Standards For Accessible Design Is

The 2010 ADA Standards For Accessible Design encompasses the technical and scoping requirements of public establishments, such as state and local government, commercial, and other accommodation facilities.

Its purpose is to ensure that each part of the aforementioned establishments is designed to be universally accessible for all persons with disabilities, including stairs, elevators, grab bars, and more.

Where The Grab Bar Requirements Apply

disabled grab bar for shower

These ADA standards apply to wall-attached models such as straight, wave-style, flip-in-flip-out, and corner rails in public bathrooms.

This means that private bathrooms are excluded, such as the one in your house or office.

As a result, you may deviate from the grab bar requirements, although you may still use them as a reference then adjust the height according to your needs.

For example, you want a low bathroom grab bar height if the user is short, as this will benefit them more compared to a tall user.

ADA Grab Bar Requirements For Each Part Of The Bathroom

There are three common bathroom facilities in every home - the toilet, bathroom, and shower.

The ADA standards require horizontal grab bar positioning for every bathroom facility because it provides the most coverage and maneuverability.

However, since it’s your bathroom, you can be flexible with this if necessary by installing vertical or diagonal grab bars instead.

With that, here are the height standards for each bathroom facility: 

Toilet

Horizontal Positioning

Regarding this toilet grab bar placement, there should be a horizontal grab bar present at the rear wall and either one or both nearby sidewalls of the toilet.

Meanwhile, the toilet grab bar height should be 33-36 inches from the flooring to the gripping surface, for both the side and rear walls.

Other Options

If multiple people are sharing the grab bar, you can install it diagonally to accommodate users of all heights. However, you can only do this for permanent toilet seats.

On the other hand, if the toilet is positioned far away from any sidewalls, you can install a flip-in-flip-out grab bar on one or both sides of the toilet instead.

Bathtub

For this section, let’s assume that your bathtub is adjacent to three walls - the back wall, the control end wall (where the faucet and showerhead are), and the head end wall (where the tub seat is located).

Each wall has its ADA grab bar requirements, so you may choose the section that’s applicable for your bathroom set-up if you don’t have all the walls.

Back Wall

The back wall should have two horizontal grab bars on top of each other - the lower one is placed 8-10 inches high above the bathtub’s rim, while the higher is located 33-36 inches high above the flooring.

Control And Head End Wall

These two are under one category because they share the same grab bar requirements.

There must be one horizontal bar on each wall that must be installed right next to the front-end of the tub, with a height of 33-36 inches from the floor to the gripping surface.

However, if the head end wall has a permanent in-tub seat, don’t install a grab bar to avoid interfering with the seating area.

If the tub seat is removable, you can install a grab bar that’s half as long as the one in the control end wall.

Other Options

If you still have space, you can add a vertical grab bar at the entrance of the bathtub.

This provides better support for getting in and out of the tub, and you can be flexible with the height since it’s installed vertically. It’s also a great addition if the user is in a wheelchair.

Shower

shower with grab bar for accessibility

For the ADA shower requirements regarding grab bars, assume that the shower area has three walls, just like the bathtub section - the back wall, the control end wall, the head end wall, and a standard height and clearance.

Back And Control End Wall

Since shower areas are typically smaller than bathtubs, you can just add one horizontal grab bar each to the back and control end wall.

You can even install a corner grab bar instead, as this connects to the two walls.

Just like the others, the shower grab bar height from the floor to the gripping area must be 33-36in.

Other Options

If you have a large shower area, it’s also possible to add a horizontal grab bar to the head end wall.

However, there’s typically a shower seat at the head end wall to accommodate disabled users, so this can interfere with the seat instead.

In this case, avoid adding a grab bar whether you have a small or large shower area.

Just like in the bathtub section, you can also add a vertical grab bar at the entrance that makes getting in and out easier, especially if the user is in a wheelchair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where To Install Grab Bars?

Grab bars are often installed in the three main areas of the bathroom; the toilet, bathtub, and shower area. However, accidents don’t only happen in the bathroom. This is why they can also be installed in areas where they can assist in entry and exit.

Since there are different types of grab bars, their places of installation vary. Some grab bars are to be installed on the different sides of the wall, some of them are installed on the ceiling and floor.

Check these tips where to install the best grab bars for seniors:

What To Consider Before Placing Grab Bars?

We think that one of the most important considerations when installing grab bars is spacing. If you have all three bathroom facilities, then you need to install multiple bars to maximize maneuverability.

However, you also have to avoid going overboard - by this, we mean that every grab bar should not interfere with bathroom features such as tub and shower seats, floor space, and even other grab bars.

Otherwise, the grab bars will do more harm than good for the user.

Standard Requirements To Make Note Of?

According to the ADA, other things to take note of are:

  • The space between the wall and the gripping surface of the grab bar must be 1.5in. This is to provide enough holding space.
  • Each grab bar must have rounded edges and be free from any sharp and abrasive protrusions.
  • Grab bars should be steady and not rotate within their fittings.
  • The minimum weight capacity must be 250lbs. If you need a larger number, you can look for more heavy-duty models.

Closing Remarks

The 2010 ADA Standards For Accessible Design provides us useful guidelines in grab bar placement.

Once again, these ADA grab bar requirements are just suggestions if you’re installing the bars in your home - you can be flexible and not just limit yourself to horizontal positioning.

It’s best to use these standards as an estimate then adjust them when needed, especially since every person is built differently.

With that, we hope we helped you make your home a safer place for the elderly!

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