Home Senior Safety Buying and Installing Shower Standing Handles

Buying and Installing Shower Standing Handles

by Derrick
shower standing handles in tub/shower

Shower standing handles can improve the safety of anyone who needs physical support to stand or move in a shower or tub. The added benefit of a handle for stability and to pull or push on to ambulate can result in lower odds of falling or slipping in a shower where the floor is wet and dangerous. These are useful aids for anyone with disabilities or older adults who are losing physical strength and balance.

As we grow older small chores that we used to carry out without a thought, start becoming a challenge. Some of these chores can become downright dangerous as we age. Taking a bath or shower is one such chore. According to a study carried out by the CDC, of the non-fatal bathroom injury cases documented in 2008, 81.1% were caused by falls in the bathroom with more injuries occurring in older adults.

37.3% of injuries occurred while bathing, showering, or getting out of the tub or shower. There are many steps you can take to prevent injuries and falls in the bathroom. Non-slip bath mats are a good start. Another very useful addition to your bathroom is to install grab rails or shower standing rails into your shower or bath to prevent slipping.

That’s what we’re covering in this article: how to select the right shower standing handle or grab bar and, with the help of YouTube, some video instruction on how to install them.

Choosing the Correct Shower Standing Handles

To be clear, a shower “standing” handle here is any type of handle that can be used to move from a seated to standing position. This could encompass handles of different sizes depending on the size of the shower and the abilities/limits of the end user.

Handles of this type are also known as grab bars. While they can be used to slide from one seated position to another, where they’re installed on the shower wall impacts how they’re best used, and we’ll be looking specifically at standing; i.e. moving from a seated position to a standing position versus moving from a seated position to a seated position (wheelchair to shower chair, for example).

For the latter, something like a shower transfer bench combined with lower-level grab bars will work best. Similar principles apply to standing handles as they do to grab bars, however. This post should be of benefit to both intended uses.

There are two main types of shower standing rails or grab bars: fixed and removable.  

Fixed rails are more secure and are thus safer. The disadvantage is that they take some effort to install and once they are in place it is a big job to move them to a different location if you have not put them in the perfect spot. You are also left with repairing the holes when they are removed.

Removable rails are not advisable if you going to need to support your full body weight as they rely on suction to grip they may not be secure and may not support your weight. Their advantage is that they are easily relocated if need be and can be used when traveling.

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Fixed Shower Standing Handlesstronger, safer, and support more weightrequires installation and repair work when uninstalled
Removable Shower Standing Handlesno install necessary and portablefar less safe and possibly dangerous to someone relying on them for full support

What Is the Best Size for a Shower Handle?

Shower handles or grab bars come in a range of sizes from 9 to 42 inches.

A grab bar that is installed on the shower wall to assist when getting into and out of the shower should be at least 24″ long.

A bar this this size can be placed at an angle, which is beneficial if people of different heights will be using it or if it will be used from both seated and standing positions.

A grab bar that is intended more as a balance aid can be shorter, but not less than 12″ long.

What is the Correct Height for a Shower Handle?

There is no standard height for grab bars and shower rails. But the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design recommends certain heights which are followed by institutions and commercial facilities.

For horizontal grab bars, the ADA Standards require a height between 33 and 36 inches from the finished floor of the bathroom, shower or bath.

Use this as a guide, but it is more important that it is a comfortable height for the person who is going to use it. A good exercise to carry out before installing a bar is to get the person who is going to use the bar to step in and out of the shower. S/he should imagine that s/he is tired or dizzy and try to see where s/he would naturally reach out to for support. This should give you a good idea of where to place the bar.

Should Grab Bars be Vertical or Horizontal?

According to the South Canterbury District Health Board, hand rails that will be used to aid security when stepping into and out of the shower should be vertical. The bottom of the grip should be at the height of your elbow when standing with your arms at your sides.

elder woman holding shower handrail
This bar could be used to help one get into standing position, but it is too low to use safely for support once standing.

Horizontal rails are more useful for assisting with balance when standing in the shower. Horizontal rails should be placed on the same side as the shower wall at belly button height. This rail can be used when standing in the shower as well as when stepping into the shower.

How Much Weight Will a Grab Bar Hold?

A grab bar should be able to hold 250 pounds of weight. Fixed grab bars that have been properly installed will do this. Removable grab bars are not guaranteed to hold this weight.

When choosing a grab bar it is best to choose one that is ADA compliant. The ADA requires grab bars to be able to support a weight of 500 pounds. You will need to assess if this is necessary according to the person who will be using it.

5 Permanent Shower Handles

Permanent shower handles are a much safer option than removable ones but they do take more effort to install.

Moen 24″ Bathroom Handle

Sale
Moen 8724 Home 24-Inch Bathroom Grab Bar, Stainless
  • Coordinating Finish: Stainless finish coordinates with today's popular kitchen appliances and accessories
  • Supportive Design: Bathroom grab bar supports up to 500 pounds when installed in a stug or when using SecureMounts (not included)
  • Safe and Secure: SecureMount design for easy, secure installation (sold separately)

The Moen 24 Inch Bathroom Handle is stylish and high quality. It is made of stainless steel and thus should match the décor of most bathrooms. Concealed screws ensure a chic look. Installed correctly, it will hold a weight of up to 500 pounds. It is fitted with the SecureMount design but studs and SecureMounts are not included.


Amazon Basic 24″ Grab Bar

Amazon Basics GBAR-150-24 Grab Bar, 24-Inch, Stainless Steel
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Supports up to 500 Lbs.
  • Complies with ADA Standards

The Amazon Basic 24-Inch Grab Bar is good value for money. Its stainless steel finish ensures it will match most bathroom décors. It is ADA compliant and supports a weight of up to 500 pounds. It comes in both 1 ½ inch diameter and 1.25 inch diameter making it easy for smaller hands to grasp. It comes with an installation guide and mounting screws are included. This bar also comes in 18 inch length.


Moen’s Flip-Up Bathroom Grab Bar

Moen R8960FD 30-Inch Flip-Up Screw-In Bathroom Grab Bar with Textured Grip, Stainless
  • VERSATILE DESIGN: Polished Stainless finish is highly reflective for a mirror-like look that works with any decorating style
  • SUPPORTIVE DESIGN: Supports up to 300 lbs.
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Stainless steel construction for added durability

Moen’s Flip-Up Bathroom Grab Bar is ideal for a home where people of mixed ages are sharing a bathroom. The bar can easily be flipped away when not needed and is ready in a flash for anyone who does need it. It is ADA compliant and supports up to 300 pounds. It is 30 inches long and has a diameter of 1.25 inches.


Gotega Two Pack Shower Grab Bar

Sale
2 Pack Shower Grab Bar, Stainless Steel Bathroom Grab Bar, Shower Handle, Bath Handle, Grab Bars Senior for Bathroom (12 Inch)
  • 304 Stainless Steel Shower Handle- the material of the shower bar is 304 stainless steel, so there is no doubt about its firmness and safety. Shower handles can support up to 500lbs. 304 stainless steel handrail is durable and corrosion resistance. Please feel free to use our premium bathroom grab bars to make each bathroom safer for your family.
  • Multipurpose Sturdy Design - the shower handles can not only be used as bathtubs and showers to protect your safety, but also put your towels, clothes, etc. Grab bars for bathroom- grab bars can provide good support for families in bathtubs, showers, bathrooms and other indoor locations to minimize the risk of slipping and falling.
  • Easy to Install: each grab bars includes 6 stainless steel screws, 2.6 inch flanges, and a 3-hole flange design for stud installation. The shower rails has a total length of 12.79 inches and a diameter of 0.98 inches. Fixed installation in the required position, permanently ensure your safety and never came off.

The Gotega Two Pack Shower Grab Bar is ideal if you are setting a bathroom up for an elderly person and will be needing quite a few support handles. Both bars are 12 inches long and have a diameter of .98 inches. The stainless steel bars can hold a weight of up to 500 pounds. Flanges and screws are included to make installation easy and convenient.


AquaChase Safety Grab Bar

AquaChase 24 inch Bath Safety Grab Bar with Anti-Slip Grip, ADA Compliant 500lbs Support, Bathroom Mobility Aid, Stablilization Help for Seniors and Disabled, Rustproof Stainless Steel Brushed Nickel
  • 👍 500lbs Supoort - This bath safety grab bar is constructed of commercial grade SUS304 stainless steel. 1-1/2" clearance and 1-1/4" stainless steel tubing, it's ADA compliant.
  • 👍 Inviting Design - This decorative designer grab bar has the unique dissymmetrical looking which is unique, no hospital or nursing home feel.
  • 👍 Safe to Use - The 500Lbs loading capacity and ADA Compliance make it capable to be used by anyone. The anti-slip soft grip of this shower grab handle is made of odorless silastic, which increases traction significantly for wet hand grip, makes you much safer than other regular grab bars on the market. Professional instruction manual is included, and as well 6 stainless steel screws (2") for each bar to mount into studs.

The AquaChase Safety Grab Bar is one of the few bars with an anti-slip grip. The soft grip is made from odorless silastic which increases traction significantly, especially when wet. It comes in 12-, 16- and 24-inch lengths. It can support a weight of 500 pounds and is ADA compliant. It can be installed horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.


2 Removable Shower Handles

Removable shower handles are not as secure as permanent handles and require more maintenance and checking that they are still secure. On the other hand, they are installed in seconds and can be moved easily and quickly. Removable shower handles are ideal for traveling as they can be attached in seconds and removed when you leave. They are the perfect way to give you independence and secure your safety in any bathroom be it a hotel room or a guest room.

According to the South Canterbury District Health Board, no-drill or suction bars are not particularly safe. The safety of suction rails is dependent on four factors:

  • the type of wall surface being attached to
  • the wetness/dryness of the wall 
  • regular safety checks to ensure suction
  • the amount of weight applied to the rail

If all these factors are not ideal the rail will not be safe.

Two Piece 12″ Grab Bar

2PCS,12 inch Grab Bars for Bathroom, Bathroom Shower Handle,with Strong Hold Suction Cup Grip Grab in Bathroom Bath Handle Grab Bars for Bathroom Safety Grab Bar,Shower Handles for Elderly
  • 【IMPORTANT NOTE】: This suction cup device must be applied on non-porous, texture-free, flat and smooth surfaces, such as glass, DRY tile, fiber glass.
  • 【Tool-Free & Easy Installation】:The 12" suction grab bars safety is easy to install in 5 second ,Please Clean and dry both surfaces of suction cups and wall, hold the shower handle and press suction cups firmly into place, then push them to the wall as near as possible, then lock down both levers completely to secure.
  • 【Caution】: Shower grab bar must be reattached before each use, and cannot hold full body weight. Do NOT apply over a grout line. Tiles should be 4”x4” or larger.

The Two Piece 12 Inch Grab Bar Is ideal if you are setting up a bathroom for an elderly person and you need to install a few handles. The suction grip only works on a smooth, non-porous surface such as glass, dry tiles or fiber glass and must not be placed over a grout line. The bar should be put in place before each use as the suction will lose its strength over time. It cannot support full body weight and is merely an aid.


Heinsy Suction Portable Bathroom Bar

Sale
HEINSY Suction Grab Bar, Portable Shower Suction Handle Bar Suction Grip Bar Bathtub Handle with Strong Hold Suction Cup Fitting and Rapid Release for Bathroom(17inch, Max Capacity :253lb)
  • ☑PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU BUY ▶1)Bathroom Tiles should be larger than 5x5 inch.2) CANNOT be applied over grout lines or textured surfaces.3) Must be applied to smooth, flat, non-porous surfaces. 4) Recommend reapplying the grab bar once a week.
  • STURDY SECURE ▶ Suction cups is made of PA66 Nylon material,corrosion resistance, high temperature resistance , Provides additional stability for up to 253 lbs, has a strong hold and give the support in the shower to prevent falls for elderly, disabled or injured.
  • NO TOOL INSTALL ▶ Position suction cup grab bar on bathtub or shower wall, flip latches up. Apply pressure to HANDLE, press each latch down to lock suction grips in place. Ability to easily relocate.

The Heinsy Suction Portable Bathroom Bar comes in 17 inch and 18.5 inch lengths. Tiles thus need to be larger than 5×5 inches for the bar to fit securely as it cannot be mounted over a grout line. It can support a weight of 253 pounds when suction is at its optimum. It is recommended that you reapply the bar every week to ensure suction is working fully. Simply flip the latches down to engage suction and flip them up to release.


How to Install Shower Standing Handles

Installation of these bars and handles is only required for permanent handles. Suction-type handles are self-explanatory. You simply create a seal with the suction cup, make sure it’s secure, and you are ready to use it.

Fixed handles and bars require tools and at least some level of carpentry skills. Tools involved depend on the situation, but could involve:

  • power drill
  • level
  • stud finder
  • possibly a tile cutting device

This is in addition to the screws and mounting brackets that come with the handle itself.

Hiring Help

If you are not very good with your hands or don’t have the correct tools, it would be a good idea to get a handyman or builder in to install the handles for you.

In some areas there are churches and other groups that volunteer to do such jobs for the elderly. For a time, before the program’s money ran out, the Area Agency on Aging where I worked employed a handyman to go out into the community to help low-income elders with minor home improvement/repair projects. You could see if your area’s Area Agency on Aging has such a service or if they know of someone that can help.

Do It Yourself

Most weight limit specifications are worked out with bars being installed in a stud or when using SecureMounts. Rails that have not been installed correctly will not hold the weight advertised.

So, it is important that you follow the installation instructions very carefully if you are installing the rail yourself. Most rails come with all the installation accessories such as screws and flanges, but it is advisable to read the fine print as some do not.

Generally, to install shower standing handles you need to:

  1. locate studs in the wall
  2. marking on the wall where to drill
  3. pre-drill holes into the stud where the handle will be mounted
  4. attach a SecureMount (or similar mount)
  5. secure the handle as directed

This process can be seen in this video:

If you use silicone caulk, or other bonding/sealing substance, you should wait at least 12 hours before showering to allow the caulk to dry completely.

Can You Attach Shower Handles to Tiled Walls?

Shower handles can be attached to tiled walls, but for maximum support the bar should be attached to the studs inside the wall. You just need the correct drill bit to get through the tiles without cracking them in the process.

Suction or temporary shower handles attach very well to tiles. They will only suction efficiently to surfaces that are smooth and non-porous making most tiles ideal. They should not be attached over a grout line so, depending on the size of the handle, tiles will need to be larger than either 4×4 inches or 5×5 inches.

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