A properly installed grab bar in any bath or shower area can add safety and value to your home.
Step 1: Begin by locating the wooden studs in the bathroom wall. Electronic stud-finding devices can make this job a lot easier. Typically, studs are placed 16 inches apart within a wall, but some homes have studs as far apart as 24 inches. Finding an open wall in the basement or attic is an easy way to determine the distance between studs in any given home.
Step 2: Once the studs have been found, run a piece of 1-inch masking tape down the wall to mark the stud locations in the tub or shower area.
Step 3: Determine the best location for a grab bar by mimicking the process of entering and exiting the tub area. Generally, grab bars should be placed 34 to 38 inches above ground level or 6-10 inches above the bathtub edge. Twenty-four-inch grab bars fit nicely between two 16-inch studs at a 45-degree angle. Properly placed longer bars help with getting in and out of the tub as well as getting up and down within the tub.
Step 4: Grab bars come in a variety of diameters, finishes and lengths. Choose a diameter that is comfortable to hold onto and a finish that best matches the bathroom décor.
Step 5: Hold the grab bar in place and mark the screw hole spots on the bathroom wall.
Step 6: Use an appropriate-size drill bit to drill pilot holes for the mounting screws. If the bathtub wall is tiled, use a carbide tip tile bit, which is 3/32” larger than the screw diameter to drill holes through the tile — but not into the wooden studs. The larger hole through the tile will reduce stress on the tile.
Step 7: Once the pilot holes have been drilled into the studs, screw the grab bar into place. When mounting a grab bar onto a fiberglass tub surround, be careful not to make the tub walls buckle by tightening the screws too tight. If some of the screws do not seat into the wall studs, use Toggler-brand Snaptoggle anchors to secure those screws. Snaptoggles are one of the few products on the market that provide a strong enough grip for grab bar installation. Do not use regular molly bolts or plastic wall anchors to secure a grab bar.