Answering the question: “Where should I place grab bars in my home?”

Where can I put grab bars in my home?

A question that we commonly receive from clients, family and friends, and often times even from healthcare professionals, is the question of “where can I put grab bars in my home?”

Do I need to set my grab bars to ADA height in my home?

Much of the confusion regarding required grab bar placement comes from the ADA terms and code requirements.  ADA (the American Disabilities Act) federal guidelines provide code standards and requirements that are held for public and commercial buildings to provide uniform access for individuals with disabilities throughout the community.  There is a difference as to what works best with ADA codes for the public settings, and for most individuals, versus what you and your family require in your home.  Your individual needs are unique to your strength, reach, grasp, height, coordination and balance.  So you don’t need to go by ADA standards within your home (you can call your local inspectors office to verify this if you’d like).  Contractors are more likely to be familiar with ADA guidelines and codes for grab bar placement, however customizing the placement to what meets your individual needs works much better.  Don’t use ADA heights in the home, unless that is what you have tried already and what has worked well for you.

The simple answer of where to place grab bars in the home

Quite simply, the best location to put grab bars in the home, is wherever they give you the best support that you need for your stability and balance.  The easiest way to identify proper grab bar locations is to simulate the transfers and transitions that you need to perform, whether its bathroom transfer and transitions, or in other areas of the home that grab bars may provide extra support.  We very often install grab bars at garage step entries, as well as critical transition points such as at the top of the stairs.  If you’re in doubt and would like help with identifying the proper placement locations for your grab bars, you can ask your occupational or physical therapist to assist you with identifying the best locations and placements for your grab bars.  This is particularly beneficial with home occupational and physical therapy to identify grab bar location and placement recommendations.  Milwaukee based BILD, has installers and accessibility consultants are trained to assist you in locating and choosing proper locations and placements for grab bars.

Clues that may help you identify good locations

A simple clue that may guide you to where grab bars and support may be needed, is to look for fingerprints or wear along the walls.  This will often tip off where you tend to reach for stability, and where a support may be beneficial to help protect you.  Also discussing where you have had falls in the bathroom, and where you tend to have more difficulty, or what transitions tend to be more challenging (such as getting up/down from the toilet, and stepping in/out of the tub or shower).

Making sure that grab bars are installed at the proper locations

Finally, it is important that the contractor follows through on installing the grab bars at the proper location in your bathroom.  The more simply you cue the contractor where to place your grab bars the better, as often times contractors will take their own liberties based on their opinions and experience.  To clearly mark the placement locations and sizes of the grab bars, you can place painter’s tape on the wall, cut to the size of the grab bar.  This will clearly mark the location at which you want the grab bar to be placed.  One word of caution however, leaving painter’s tape on painted walls or finished woodwork can remove the finish if left on for a long period of time.  If you have painted walls or woodwork, another method you can use is to draw the locations onto a picture of the wall/location where you want the grab bar to be placed.

One concern that some contractors may have, is stud locations for grab bar placements.  The reality is that often locating a stud (especially with tile walls) can be difficult and unreliable, and that often stud locations may be where we need them to be for proper grab bar placement.  Special grab bar toggles and fasteners allow us to securely anchor grab bars securely at any location, with peace of mind that grab bars are solidly anchored into place.  These toggle systems are standardized and have been tested and available for a long time, however it is good to have installation performed a quality contractor who can evaluate the integrity of the wall and mounting surface.

BILD is a Milwaukee, WI based contractor who provides grab bar sales and installations primarily throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.  We have many grab bars on display in our accessibility showroom at 9209 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226.  Call us today if you’d like grab bar installation in your home, or visit online to see grab bar options.  Visit our online Accessibility Store if you’d like to purchase grab bars at