Shower grab bars

House Repair Talk

Help Support House Repair Talk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

68bucks

Junior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2015
Messages
540
Reaction score
413
So I I need to add some grab bars for a shower stall for my dad. He has mobility problems a D getting g in the shower is tough for him. The problem is the shower is a one piece acrylic or fiberglass enclosure and there is nothing behind the walls, it's all hollow. I can flex the wall almost 3/4" with a push of a finger so I don't know how the heck I can anchor a bar securely. Anyone ever come across this problem before?
 
Several times.
Above the shower panel, or on the wall in the adjacent room, use a stud finder to locate the framing.

Mark it on the shower panel and layout the grab bar, to fit, drill a hole or holes for the grab bar, fill the area behind the anchor points with expanding hardening foam, and when the foam is set, mount the grab bar. Because there were bars on both sides I'd use a couple of pieces of scrap ply or OSB OR the like and a spreader stick of 2X to keep the expanding foam from pushing the walls.

You'll have at least 2 positive anchor points.
 
Do you have access to the other side of the wall from the shower unit? If you do, open the wall up and install backing. If it is against an exterior wall and you don't have access, I'd do the expanding foam as Snoonyb mentions.
 
Do you have access to the other side of the wall from the shower unit? If you do, open the wall up and install backing. If it is against an exterior wall and you don't have access, I'd do the expanding foam as Snoonyb mentions.
No actually there is a tub and surround with the same problem on the other side. I ran across these that look interesting. Ever see something like this?
Solid Mount Grab Bar
 
No actually there is a tub and surround with the same problem on the other side. I ran across these that look interesting. Ever see something like this?
Solid Mount Grab Bar

While this is a novel approach, my caution would be that given, age related instabilities, my own included, could pressure against the shower wall panel cause the caulk to separate, creating multiple, necessary, reapplications.

Too
eleviate that, I would inject some foam to further stabilize the area around the penetrations.
 
Last edited:
So I I need to add some grab bars for a shower stall for my dad. He has mobility problems a D getting g in the shower is tough for him. The problem is the shower is a one piece acrylic or fiberglass enclosure and there is nothing behind the walls, it's all hollow. I can flex the wall almost 3/4" with a push of a finger so I don't know how the heck I can anchor a bar securely. Anyone ever come across this problem before?
Some great advice here so far.



I am also in the getting older category and when we bought this house although it was in need of just about everything we did get lucky as the first floor bathroom was newly equipped with handicapped shower, sink and toilet. As we are not yet to the point of needing it all I took the side rails off the toilet that can easily be replaced if needed and the shower was a zero step unit with grab handles all around and a fold down seat dual shower heads etc. The tiny rubber bump we quickly found didn’t work all that great at keeping in water. I added a 6” piece of PVC lumber across the opening bolted in that compresses against the rubber seal. That can also easily be removed if the time ever comes where wheelchair access is needed.



Having gone thru this with my mother years ago keeping elders in their home and safe is an incremental process and each step you take now in a year or so might require the next step. It might be a smart move to just install a wide easy access handicapped shower now with the high and low shower heads and wands and sturdy fold up seat and strong built in grab handles. Maybe make a mod similar to what I did to take away that handicapped look for now. I even extended the sit down shower pipe up and over and put a rainfall head on it over the fold up seat location and removed the how hand wand setup. Easy also to put back if the need arises.



IMO all homes should have a bathroom setup like this and we found it as a nice positive when buying the place just as we found the entry ramp that doesn’t look like a cobbled together wheelchair ramp a plus. When friends come over old and young they comment on how great it is we have a bathroom that has this kind of access and doesn’t look like a hospital bathroom. I wish I would have built my mother such a bathroom
 
I use suction cup bars but wouldn't trust them for others. I check them before showering or just install them when showering. They are similar in principle to those that plate glass installers use.

1689956383861.png
 
Some great advice here so far.



I am also in the getting older category and when we bought this house although it was in need of just about everything we did get lucky as the first floor bathroom was newly equipped with handicapped shower, sink and toilet. As we are not yet to the point of needing it all I took the side rails off the toilet that can easily be replaced if needed and the shower was a zero step unit with grab handles all around and a fold down seat dual shower heads etc. The tiny rubber bump we quickly found didn’t work all that great at keeping in water. I added a 6” piece of PVC lumber across the opening bolted in that compresses against the rubber seal. That can also easily be removed if the time ever comes where wheelchair access is needed.



Having gone thru this with my mother years ago keeping elders in their home and safe is an incremental process and each step you take now in a year or so might require the next step. It might be a smart move to just install a wide easy access handicapped shower now with the high and low shower heads and wands and sturdy fold up seat and strong built in grab handles. Maybe make a mod similar to what I did to take away that handicapped look for now. I even extended the sit down shower pipe up and over and put a rainfall head on it over the fold up seat location and removed the how hand wand setup. Easy also to put back if the need arises.



IMO all homes should have a bathroom setup like this and we found it as a nice positive when buying the place just as we found the entry ramp that doesn’t look like a cobbled together wheelchair ramp a plus. When friends come over old and young they comment on how great it is we have a bathroom that has this kind of access and doesn’t look like a hospital bathroom. I wish I would have built my mother such a bathroom
I'm curious about how the zero step shower was done. We have had addition plans for quite a while and just haven't decided to start construction. It includes a master bed and bath on the 1st floor. We want to build it to be accessible and one question I've had is are there any special considerations to have a zero step shower? I have the same questions about a zero step entry door.
 
I'm curious about how the zero step shower was done. We have had addition plans for quite a while and just haven't decided to start construction. It includes a master bed and bath on the 1st floor. We want to build it to be accessible and one question I've had is are there any special considerations to have a zero step shower? I have the same questions about a zero step entry door.
If the room is what they call a wet room where the floor outside the shower is waterproof say tile and with its own drain they work great. The one we have is not that. It came with a rubber piece shaped like a “D tipped on its dide” that when you step on it or roll a wheelchair over it flattens out. It sticks up maybe 1” at most and your curtain has to hang to drip inside it. when you have a shower wand the curtain will get blasted sometimes and your floor gets wet. It requires being really careful to work ok. I just made two angle clips from .25” thick aluminum stock and used them to hold a curb made from 1x6 PVC lumber and put it together with stainless hardware. Now the inside curtain hangs down a couple inches from the shower floor and the outer curtain looks good and hides the whole shower. We don’t have issues stepping over it and when we do it could be removed. Most people in wheelchairs don’t take their chair into the shower so what they could do is roll the chair along side the fold down seat and do a transfer into the shower even with the curb I made still in place. If the person is still walking but with a walker a flat chair could be placed next to the seat and they would slide over.



Really when a person needs full use of grab handles maybe they should be thinking about sitting down when showering. They are nice to steady yourself I use the one in ours when I’m showering and put my foot up on the fold down seat to scrub my leg, or sometimes I sit down and use it when standing back up.



One of the problems I have with our full perimeter handrail is it also works to hold all her bottled stuff like a big shelf. I mounted two of the shower caddies up higher and they took most of the bottles.



The toilet we have is the taller height with the elongated bowl and with handicap you want it away from the side wall a greater distance. I love that as one thing I hate is a close fitting toilet stall. The sink is a wall hanger that has knee room under it. When I redid it I ran all the pipes tight together with the plan of building a cover for them to give it the look of a pedestal sink. Still on my plans but never got around to it.



I made the two floors flush and there is just a thin metal strip under the door.



For me the trick was to get as much handicap features as I could but keep it looking as normal at the same time.
 
I like the look of a teak bathtub seat and it would work for my fiberglass tub/shower enclosure. I won't pay $219 for it though. I am on the lookout for a suitable wood. There is an interesting store in Asheville, NC called Scroungers Paradise that has exotic woods sometimes at decent prices. I have never been there to browse. I find free standing bathtub seats to have an institutional look and if not carefully placed a bit wobbly due to tub curvature. I would prolly use silicone anti skid pads to avoid scratches.

1689961945284.png
 
Last edited:
I'm curious about how the zero step shower was done. We have had addition plans for quite a while and just haven't decided to start construction. It includes a master bed and bath on the 1st floor. We want to build it to be accessible and one question I've had is are there any special considerations to have a zero step shower? I have the same questions about a zero step entry door.

The couple that I've done, for paraplegics, one on a slab and another over wood framing were accomplished by amending the floor level, glass enclosures, corian walls and specifically directional shower heads.
 
Yes, I have come across this problem. You have a bit of an air gap between the acrylic wall and the finished wall, assuming it's finished of course. There is a product designed just for the situation. I've used it and it works well. Here's a link to it on Amazon... https://a.co/d/00hqEs6
 
Some great advice here so far.



I am also in the getting older category and when we bought this house although it was in need of just about everything we did get lucky as the first floor bathroom was newly equipped with handicapped shower, sink and toilet. As we are not yet to the point of needing it all I took the side rails off the toilet that can easily be replaced if needed and the shower was a zero step unit with grab handles all around and a fold down seat dual shower heads etc. The tiny rubber bump we quickly found didn’t work all that great at keeping in water. I added a 6” piece of PVC lumber across the opening bolted in that compresses against the rubber seal. That can also easily be removed if the time ever comes where wheelchair access is needed.



Having gone thru this with my mother years ago keeping elders in their home and safe is an incremental process and each step you take now in a year or so might require the next step. It might be a smart move to just install a wide easy access handicapped shower now with the high and low shower heads and wands and sturdy fold up seat and strong built in grab handles. Maybe make a mod similar to what I did to take away that handicapped look for now. I even extended the sit down shower pipe up and over and put a rainfall head on it over the fold up seat location and removed the how hand wand setup. Easy also to put back if the need arises.



IMO all homes should have a bathroom setup like this and we found it as a nice positive when buying the place just as we found the entry ramp that doesn’t look like a cobbled together wheelchair ramp a plus. When friends come over old and young they comment on how great it is we have a bathroom that has this kind of access and doesn’t look like a hospital bathroom. I wish I would have built my mother such a bathroom safety
I'd like to install a safety/grab bar in my shower and one in the kids tub. Both present problems.

In the shower, the wall is tiled all the way to the ceiling, and my stud finder can't detect the studs thru the tile. Any secret to making sure I hit a stud when I go to drill a hole??

Now the kids tub is different, it has one of these fiberglass surrounds. Although the surround doesn't go all the way to the ceiling, so I can find the stud, the surround does NOT fit flush to the wall. It is contoured/shaped in such a way that where the grab bar would go is actually about 3/4 inch away from the drywall behind it. Is there any way to get a solid connection to a stud here with this gap between the back of the surround and the wall?
 
I'd like to install a safety/grab bar in my shower and one in the kids tub. Both present problems.

In the shower, the wall is tiled all the way to the ceiling, and my stud finder can't detect the studs thru the tile. Any secret to making sure I hit a stud when I go to drill a hole??

Now the kids tub is different, it has one of these fiberglass surrounds. Although the surround doesn't go all the way to the ceiling, so I can find the stud, the surround does NOT fit flush to the wall. It is contoured/shaped in such a way that where the grab bar would go is actually about 3/4 inch away from the drywall behind it. Is there any way to get a solid connection to a stud here with this gap between the back of the surround and the wall?
Hi I'm the OP on this tread. Look back at the link on my post #4. I haven't tried them but I like the idea for the surround issue. As for the tile shower my mother lives in an apartment and needed a grab bar in a tile shower. The owner insisted on doing the work. I bought the bar and they used an epoxy to adhere it to the wall. I don't know what they used but it seems pretty solid. I'm still a little leary. Can you find the stud on the opposite side of the wall? I'm guessing no or you would have thought if that.
 
I'd like to install a safety/grab bar in my shower and one in the kids tub. Both present problems.

In the shower, the wall is tiled all the way to the ceiling, and my stud finder can't detect the studs thru the tile. Any secret to making sure I hit a stud when I go to drill a hole??

Now the kids tub is different, it has one of these fiberglass surrounds. Although the surround doesn't go all the way to the ceiling, so I can find the stud, the surround does NOT fit flush to the wall. It is contoured/shaped in such a way that where the grab bar would go is actually about 3/4 inch away from the drywall behind it. Is there any way to get a solid connection to a stud here with this gap between the back of the surround and the wall?
Finding framing behind a finished wall is always a problem. It would be nice if when building walls where they know they are to be covered people would do it with .5 plywood or at least add blocking where they would likely think it needed. I have seen a 100 TP dispensers tore from the wall over the years because people are going to use them as grab handles.



If you have access to the back side of the wall in another room you might figure it out.



My stud finder I just bought (a Amazon cheapo) has several settings and I have found the drywall setting wont work on some of my old plaster and wood lath walls but one of the other settings will.



As to the voids behind the shower surround. If you find a stud location you could drill a small hole for the mounting screw and then spray thru that hole something to fill the void. Not sure if spray foam or some denser version is out there. That might back it up well enough.



Its like building a ship in a bottle.
 
A rare earth magnet may also help with finding a stud. Ive also seen people drill into the grout joint with a 1/8th concrete drill bit, punch a hole into the wall pocket, then insert a bent coat hanger and rotate until you feel the adjoining studs, for proper installation of the grab bars.
Once you determine where the studs are located, fill the hole with a bit of color matched grout.
 
When hanging grab bars in a tile shower, the go-to method is to use Wing-Its. They are essentially heavy duty anchors designed specifically for grab bars. You shouldn't need to find the studs.
 
The problem with those expanding "wing its" is the exposed bolt head alwsys looks cheesy to me.
 
This won't be beautiful, but will provide a strong installation:

Cut a section of the fiberglass out.
Look for the nearest studs.
Cut to reach the studs.
Measure the depth from front of fiberglass to the stud (You mentioned a gap.)
Buy or cut two-by lumber to put on the faces of the studs, but short enough to leave 1/2" gap to the user side of the stud.

Glue & screw the two-by to the stud. Use PVA glue, such as Titebond.
Glue & screw 1/2" plywood to the new two-by cleats that you installed.

Cut a panel out of FRP to cover the hole. Put trim around it. (They make J-Trim for FRP.)
Install the FRP with construction adhesive & caulk around the trim.

I'm not a good drawer, but attached is a quick sketch to try to explain what I wrote above.
Left is the edge view of the stud
Right is the side view

Now you will install the grab bar with screws into the plywood.


Paul
 

Attachments

  • Cleat.pdf
    24 KB · Views: 0
Back
Top