Sometimes we all need a good hand hold. As we age, we are likely to need them more often if our balance isn’t as good as it once was.
There are a few things about grab bars that I believe are important; two are critical, one is aesthetic. These are location, stability and looks. All grab bars are useless and possibly dangerous unless they provide substantial support where it’s needed.
Location means they must be located where people need them to get in or out, up or down or just provide necessary stability in-place. Ask your contractor to provide backing to all areas where you might need extra support some day to make future installation of grab bars easier and less expensive. Obvious areas are next to the toilet, inside and outside any showers and down low in a bathtub to get out. It also a good idea to add addition backing support at the top and bottom of staircases, inside and outside entry exit doors. I’ve even seen bars installed near the bedside of the master bedroom.
Stability is all about having the support when you need it. The most dangerous supports are the ones that move or worse break free. They can be attached in a number of ways. Lag screws that go into solid wood are the best and simplest answer but it also means you’ll need to plan for the backing before your wall is completed. Take your best guess and then double the area you need to put in wood backing. Bars can also be anchored with expanding hollow wall anchors specifically made for securing grab bars. They are made by several different manufacturers. Bobrick WingIts are the most common but expect to pay from $50-$100 for a set of 2. A few pieces of scrap wood when the shower, bath or wall is opened up is far more cost effective.
Last and least critical are the aesthetics, but I think important in many ways. Over the last few years the manufacturers are agreeing with me. We have seen a new market emerge with regards to aesthetically pleasing fixtures with integrated or visually hidden bars or supports. Last year at the KBIS show there were three vendors all but dedicated to this niche market. I believe it is expanding because people want both funtionality and beauty. Just because we need an extra place to get a grip, doesn’t mean it needs to look like an old hospital.