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Archive for June, 2014

How Do You... Install Grab Bars?

We get requests from elderly people constantly for grab bars in bathrooms. These can be a challenge because of the strength problem with drywall. Here are some of my experience and thoughts. Please note: this is a fairly complex project and should only be undertaken if you have advanced skills. If you have attempted something like this before and had success, would you let us know what you have learned and share your experiences by leaving a comment below?

When we need to center a bar, for instance directly across from a toilet, reachable from the seat, studs are often not cooperative. There are several choices:

  • Install a decorative board long enough to still look centered but span studs, and attach the grab bar to the board. This could be as simple as a white-wood (Aspen or whatever) 1x6 with square edges & paint, or as nice as oak with routed edges and a stain/polyurethane finish.
  • Get a long grab bar that hits studs and provides a place to grab across from the toilet but not centered. This is a looks and cost question as the longer the bar, the more it costs.
  • Use a hollow wall anchor, toggle, WingIts® (expensive) or toggle straps with screws to attach the mounting plates. Straps can be found cheap, and some have a pull rating of 80#’s each screw, which gives a pull of 320# is you get 4 screws in.

Tile shower stalls are another question. There are a lot of ways to drill tile but the gentlest I’ve found is the diamond grit hole saws. When I started the hole saw:

  1. I held the drill at about 45 degrees, cradled the drill in my left hand close but not touching the wall, ¼” away from the center of the ½” proposed hole mark, spun it up and very softly touched the wall, until it began to bite in,
  2. Then continuing to cut, slowly straightened it up until perpendicular to the wall and over the mark.

We find the studs in the wall above the tile with a stud finder when possible. Otherwise we are going blind and operating from the ½” hole after drilling.

Do you have a trick for fiberglass showers where all you have the shell, air, then drywall, and more air? What do you tighten down on between the fiberglass and the wallboard?

Categories: Accessibility, Tool Tips Tags: