Bathroom & Bathtub Safety for the Elderly – Why Is It Important To Choose The Correct Grab Bars? While some handrails and grab bars are designed for simple all-purpose home use, the fact of the matter is that sometimes stronger, more reliable grab bars become a necessity for accessibility in showers, tubs, and many other relevant applications. In fact, the ADA has issued a list of certain specifications for grab bars that are intended to ensure they will meet or exceed the needs of those that require them.
What Are The ADA Standards For Grab Bars?
- An ADA compliant grab bar must provide a 1.25 to 1.5 inch graspable surface.
- Grab bars should maintain a 1.5 inch gap between the wall surface and the grab bar surface.
- Compliant grab bars will be able to sustain 250 pounds of stress before bending or breaking.
- The fasteners used to secure an ADA compliant grab bar to the surface should also be able to maintain total stability at 250 pounds.
- Grab bars must be fixed – meaning they cannot rotate in any way.
- Any edges on a compliant grab bar fixture cannot be sharp; thus, the minimum radius of an edge or corner should be at least 1/8 of an inch or more.
These standards are intended to be a guideline for safe and proper installation of grab bars. They also provide a basis for many building codes.
The Most Common Types Of Grab Bars
Straight/Fixed Grab Bars – Chances are good that when you think of the typical type of grab bar, you’re probably thinking of a straight or fixed grab bar. This is the type of grab bar with a rounded tube handle of varying length that gently curves at both ends to meet the surface it will be mounted to. Straight, fixed-type grab bars have several benefits:
- They’re readily available to order online and at most home improvement stores.
- Straight-type grab bars are very easy to install.
- Most straight grab bars on the market will be certified to meet or exceed ADA standards.
- There are a variety of nice-looking colors and finishes to choose from with this type of grab bar – from stainless steel, to brass, to chrome, and beyond, there’s literally something to match the fixtures of just about every bathroom.
- Because straight-style grab bars are standardized and mass produced, they’re not usually very expensive.
Really, the only downfall to a ready-to-install, off the shelf straight grab bar is that it might not be exactly the right size or shape desired.
Custom Grab Bars
Because every need is a little bit different from one application to the next, sometimes custom sized and designed grab bars will be the best option. Granted, because they need to be expertly measured and crafted, this variety will be more expensive and take more time to install than the more readily available straight bars. But the list of reasons that make customized grab bars desirable is also noteworthy:
- They can be created precisely to fit any angles or contours of the room they’ll be installed in.
- Custom grab bars can be designed to outperform standard premade bars when it comes to strength capacities and size features.
- Different grip textures are often available when choosing a custom made solution.
- Color and finish plating choices are practically unlimited to the imagination.
Although they do take more time and effort to create and install, custom grab bars are ideal for a long-term solution. Do remember that it is important to ensure that even the customized solutions meet the minimum ADA guidelines. By keeping these grab bar basics in mind, you’ll be able to create a safe and attractive accessible environment.