ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
The name of this company is ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
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ADAIN Blog

by Richard Acree of ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC

Grab Bars Installed in Showers for Aging-in-Place Home Modifications

Aging-in-place installations cover many different elements in the home. This article is about grab bars installed in showers. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) can help with aging-in-place installations.

The name sometimes hits people the wrong way. Grab bars. Maybe a little too graphic? But their purpose is very important. A bar to grab on to when you are doing something critical in the home. Like using the toilet or taking a shower. And it is all about preventing a fall and subsequent injury. That’s very important!

Grab bars are really like hand rails on a step system. They are installed for a person to hold (grab) and to prevent falls. Nobody complains about hand rails. And the rules for installation of hand rails are very specific. So the rules, or guidelines, for installing grab bars should also be very specific.

Aging-in-place home modifications applies the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FHA Design Manual to residential homes. So this article will use the guidelines in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and the FHA Design Manual to discuss how to install grab bars. Building codes also apply to grab bar installations in showers.

The rules for grab bars in roll-in showers depend on whether or not there is also a bench seat installed in the shower. Where a seat is provided in standard roll-in type shower compartments, grab bars should be provided on the back wall and the side wall opposite the seat. Grab bars should not be provided above the seat. Grab bars should be installed 6 inches (150 mm) maximum from adjacent walls. See the diagram below for a representation of grab bars in a roll-in shower with a seat.

Typical Grab Bar Installation for Roll-in Shower with Seat

Typical Grab Bar Installation for Roll-in Shower with Seat

Where a seat is not provided in standard roll-in type shower compartments, grab bars should be provided on three walls. The diagram below is a representation of grab bars for a roll-in shower without a seat.

Grab Bars for a Roll-in Shower Without a Seat

Grab Bars for a Roll-in Shower Without a Seat

In alternate roll-in type shower compartments, grab bars should be provided on the back wall and the side wall farthest from the compartment entry. See the diagram below for a representation of grab bars for an alternate compartment.

Alternate Shower Grab Bar Locations

Alternate Shower Grab Bar Locations

Remember, any time grab bars are installed, reinforcement must be installed behind the shower to ensure a firm grab bar installation.

Other installation guidelines that apply to grab bars in showers are: Allowable stresses shall not be exceeded for materials used when a vertical or horizontal force of 250 pounds is applied at any point on the grab bar, fastener, mounting device, or supporting structure; grab bars shall not rotate within their fittings; grab bars and any wall or other surfaces adjacent to grab bars shall be free of sharp or abrasive elements and shall have rounded edges; horizontal grab bars should be mounted 33 - 36 inches above the floor of the shower; the space between the wall and the grab bar should be 1½ inches (38 mm); the space between the grab bar and projecting objects below and at the ends should be 1½ inches (38 mm) minimum; the space between the grab bar and projecting objects above should be 12 inches (305 mm) minimum (EXCEPTION: the space between the grab bars and shower controls, shower fittings, and other grab bars above should be permitted to be 1½ inches (38 mm) minimum); grab bars with circular cross sections should have an outside diameter of 1¼ inches (32 mm) minimum and 2 inches (51 mm) maximum; grab bars with non-circular cross sections should have a cross-section dimension of 2 inches (51 mm) maximum and a perimeter dimension of 4 inches (100 mm) minimum and 4.8 inches (120 mm) maximum. The diagram below is a representation of grab bar cross section requirements.

Grab Bar Cross Section Limits

Grab Bar Cross Section Limits

For more information about the residential accessibility aging-in-place services Richard provides please see Residential Accessibility.

Thank you.