How to Position Grab Bars in Tubs

Grab bars provide safety for older people and others who may have difficulties lifting themselves out of the bathtub.

A properly placed angled grab bar helps prevent bathtub falls.A properly placed angled grab bar helps prevent bathtub falls.
When properly positioned, they also make it easier to enter the bathtub. Proper positioning is a matter of installing the bars at a height and location that is comfortable for the user. While positioning the bars so that they can be anchored to bathroom wall studs is ideal, you must take the comfort and convenience of the user into account. Nevertheless, for most users, a horizontal grab bar positioned at about 36 inches from the bottom of the tub is ideal.

Find the stud nearest the outside front edge of the tub by using a stud sensor. Measure 32 to 38 inches from the bottom of the tub and mark the spot with a carpenter's pencil or wax marker. The exact measurement depends on the height and preferences of the person who will use the grab bar.

Position the bottom bracket of the 18-inch-long grab bar at the chosen 32- to 38-inch mark and hold the grab bar in a straight, vertical position. Make sure the mounting holes are aligned with the stud. Mark the holes for both the bottom and top brackets of the bar with your marking instrument.

Find the two studs nearest the inside front end of the tub. They are usually about 16 inches apart.

Position the bottom bracket of the 24-inch-long grab bar about 6 to 10 inches from the top edge of the tub. Angle it so that it can be fastened to a stud at each end. Align the mounting holes with the studs and mark the holes.

Find two studs 32 inches from each other on the inside wall of the bathtub. One will probably be the second stud used for the angle grab bar. Measure 36 to 38 inches from the floor and mark the spot.

Position the 32-inch grab bar horizontally at the 36- to 38-inch mark. Align the mounting holes with the studs and mark the holes.

Drill all holes using a 1/8-inch drill bit. Anchors should be inserted wherever the stud is insufficiently deep to properly hold a screw. Install the grab bars in this position.

Things You Will Need

  • 18-inch-long grab bar
  • 24-inch-long grab bar
  • 32-inch-long grab bar
  • Measuring tape
  • Stud sensor
  • Carpenter's pencil or wax marker
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Level

About the Author

John DeMerceau is an American expatriate entrepreneur, marketing analyst and Web developer. He now lives and works in southeast Asia, where he creates websites and branding/marketing reports for international clients. DeMerceau graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in history.