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Shower Grab Bar Placement Guide (Residential)

Which shower grab bars do I need and where should I place them? (Quantity, Shape, Length, Wall Location, and Placement Height). Residential Guide.


Residential shower grab bar placement varies significantly from the predetermined locations outlined in the universal standards set for public housing and public facilities. If you are installing in a residential location, continue reading. If you are installing shower grab bars in a public facility, please read our ADA Compliant Shower Grab Bar Placement Guide.


For basic slip prevention in a shower, at a minimum, we recommend two (2) shower grab bars in the following shower wall locations:

  1. Entry Grab Bar
  2. Side Wall Grab Bar

For advanced slip prevention in a shower, we recommend four (4) shower grab bars in the following shower wall locations:

  1. Entry Grab Bar
  2. Side Wall Grab Bar
  3. Front Wall Grab Bar
  4. Back Wall Grab Bar

To learn more about each type of shower grab bar placement, continue reading below:


#1 Entry Grab Bar:

Why is it important?

  • An entry grab bar is the most important shower grab bar because most falls occur at the point when the person is making the transfer from two different heights, usually while wet.
  • This grab bar is critical to steady the transition between the bathroom floor and the shower floor, where there is usually a small lip or ledge to step over.
  • An entry grab bar will help overcome the fear one has when putting their entire body weight on one leg while stepping onto a new surface that may be wet or slippery.
  • The entry grab bar can also be used for pulling oneself safely out of a sitting position while in the shower (such as when sitting in a shower chair or on a shower bench).
  • An entry grab bar will be much sturdier than dangerously hanging onto bathroom fixtures, glass doors, or towel bars, which have limited weight capacities and virtually no grip.

Which bar shape, length, and quantity do I need?

  • We recommend one (1) straight grab bar.
  • The most common length would be 18″ or 24″. We do not recommend going below 18″ as it would limit vertical coverage.
  • We recommend a standard smooth grab bar surface. If you desire additional grip, you can choose a peened safety grip, which may prevent vertical hand slippage.
  • You may consider an even longer length up to 48″ if the client is in a shower chair and requires more assistance at the lower position to help pull oneself up to a standing or seated position (the longer length enables the grab bar to go lower to the shower floor when installed).

Where should I place and install the entry grab bar?

  • Place the grab bar vertically about 4-6″ inward from the entrance or shower door jamb. This could be on either end of the wall depending on how the door is hung. The shower entrance is commonly on the same side as the shower handles / spout. If this is a tub shower combination, we recommend placing this on the wall nearest the tub entry point.
  • We do not recommend placing the grab bar too far from the showers outer edge – try to keep it as close to the shower entrance as possible.
  • If there is a shower door, be sure to place the grab bar inward enough (away from the entrance) so that the hand does not repeatedly bump the shower door or exterior frame and cause bruising.
  • Vertical height placement of the entry grab bar is up to the discretion of the user, and often comes down to height of the user and where the hand reaches comfortably when entering or exiting the shower. If there is a shower seat or chair, keep this in consideration as the hand should be in reach of the bottom of the vertical grab bar.

Any other recommendations?

  • If the shower has entry on both sides of the entrance, such as a sliding glass door shower, a shower with no doors, or a shower with a shower curtain, we would then recommend installing an entry grab bar on both sides of the shower entrance in case entrance habits change.
  • If a shower has a built in side or back wall mounted shower seat, we would also recommend installing an entry grab bar on both sides of the shower entrance.

 

#2 Side Wall Grab Bar (Side Opposite of Entrance):

Why is it important?

  • A side wall grab bar is important for maintaining balance when standing in and moving around the shower, especially with eyes closed.
  • Useful in shower environment where the individual is likely to face both forward and backwards and move within the lateral plane of the shower.

Which bar shape, length, and quantity do I need?

  • We recommend one (1) straight grab bar.
  • The most common length would be 24″ or 36″ (This measurement depends on the length of the shower).

Where should I place and install the side wall grab bar?

  • Place the grab bar horizontally about 33″ to 36″ from the floor to the top of the grab bar.
  • If you are installing a grab bar that is less than 32″, shift the grab bar from the center of the side wall towards the plumbing wall (with handles/spout) to give more usable bar to the user when standing under the water of the shower head.
  • This grab bar should be easily reached while holding on to the entry bar with the other hand.

Any other recommendations?

  • You may consider an even longer length straight grab bar up to 48″, placed diagonally at 45 degrees angled toward the faucet wall if the client is in a shower chair and requires more assistance at the lower position to help pull oneself up to a standing or seated position.

For basic slip prevention in a shower, you can stop reading. If you would like to achieve advanced slip protection in a shower, continue reading for the next two grab bar shower wall locations.


 

#3 Front Wall Grab Bar (Side with Handles/Spout):

Why is it important?

  • A front wall grab bar is important for maintaining balance when standing in and moving around the shower, especially with eyes closed.
  • It helps to steady the user as they adjust the water flow and shower head.
  • This grab bar has the same utility value as the Side Wall Grab Bar in section #2 above.

Which bar shape, length, and quantity do I need?

  • We recommend one (1) straight grab bar.
  • The most common length would be 24″ or 36″ (This measurement depends on the width of the shower).
  • View our “other recommendations” section below for an additional grab bar shape that is commonly substituted.

Where should I place and install it?

  • Place the grab bar horizontally (east to west) about 33″ to 36″ from the floor to the top of the grab bar.
  • If you are installing a grab bar that is less than 32″, shift the grab bar to the center of the wall (underneath the shower handles) to give more usable grab bar to the user when standing under the water of the shower head.

Any other recommendations?

  • If you are installing both a #2 Side Wall Grab Bar and a #3 Front Wall Grab Bar, you may instead consider the installation of a two wall horizontal grab bar. This grab bar combines both straight wall grab bars into one bar that is intended for a corner installation.
  • If you are installing both a #1 Entry Grab Bar and a #3 Front Wall Grab Bar, you may instead consider the installation of a 90 degree angle grab bar. This L-shape configuration combines both the vertical and horizontal straight grab bars into a combined grab bar for multi directional pulling.

#4 Back Wall Grab Bar (Side Opposite of Handles/Spout):

Why is it important?

  • A back wall grab bar is important for maintaining balance when standing in and moving around the shower, especially with eyes closed.
  • This grab bar has similar grip utility as compared to the Side Wall Grab Bar in section #2 above.

Which bar shape, length, and quantity do I need?

  • We recommend one (1) straight grab bar for this application.
  • The most common length would be 24″ or 36″ (This measurement depends on the width of the shower).
  • View our “other recommendations” section below for an additional grab bar shape that is commonly substituted and to learn more about the set ups that may not require this grab bar installation.

Where should I place and install it?

  • Place the grab bar horizontally (east to west) about 33″ to 36″ from the floor to the top of the grab bar.
  • If you are installing a grab bar that is less than 32″, shift the grab bar to the center of the wall to give more usable grab bar to the user when standing.

Any other recommendations?

  • If you are installing both a #2 Side Wall Grab Bar and a #4 Back Wall Grab Bar, you may instead consider the installation of a two wall horizontal grab bar. This would combine both straight wall grab bars into one bar that is intended for a corner installation.
  • If the shower set up is extra long and the user does not stand, enter, or exit near the back wall, then you may skip this grab bar placement entirely.

Shower grab bar placement ultimately comes down to the user’s preference for hand grip location, the size of the shower, shower type (walk-in vs. tub combination), and the number of shower walls.

For additional grab bar shapes, we recommend exploring our complete line of shower grab bars.

If you have a shower & bathtub combination setup, we recommend you also explore our bathtub grab bars.


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