Handicap Grab Bar Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations require that all public restrooms, and private bathrooms specifically designed for use by the disabled, meet defined fixture and equipment criteria.

Toilet Stall Requirements

The primary mandated piece of equipment is the handicap grab bar, used for stability and assistance in movement for the user. The number of grab bars, their location and relationship to each other are defined specifically for toilet stalls, shower enclosures and bathtubs.

The ADA requirements specify that a toilet stall must have a rear wall grab bar that is a minimum of 36 inches long and extends from the centerline of the toilet at least 1 inch on one side and a minimum of 24 inches on the opposite side. For the wall to the right or left side, a grab bar that is a minimum of 42 inches long must be located no more than 12 inches from the rear wall and extend a minimum of 54 inches horizontally. In all cases, the grab bar height can be no lower than 33 inches nor higher than 36 inches from the floor surface.

Shower Stall Requirements

For standard roll-in type shower compartments, where a seat is not provided, grab bars must be provided on three walls, installed at a maximum of 6 inches from the adjacent wall. In standard roll-in showers that have a seat, grab bars must be provided on the rear wall and the side wall opposite the seat, installed at a maximum of 6 inches from the adjacent walls. In transfer shower stalls without wheelchair access, grab bars must be provided across the shower control wall and across the back wall to a minimum of 18 inches from the adjacent control wall. In either case, where a transfer seat is available, grab bars cannot be installed above the seat. The grab bar height cannot be installed lower than 33 inches nor higher than 36 inches from the shower floor surface.

Requirements for a Bathtub With a Permanent Seat

For a bathtub installation that include a permanent seat, two grab bars must be mounted on the rear wall, one located no higher than 36 inches about the floor surface adjacent to the bathtub and the second positioned a minimum of 8 inches and maximum of 10 inches above the rim of the bathtub. Both of the rear wall grab bars also must be installed no more than 12 inches from the end wall with the faucet and controls. In addition, a 24-inch grab bar must be installed on the control end wall, with the outside end flush with the edge of the bathtub.

Requirements for a Bathtub Without a Permanent Seat

The same rear wall double grab bar configuration applies as in bathtubs with permanent seats. Both of the rear wall grab bars must be at least 24 inches long and installed no more than 24 inches from the head end wall and a maximum of 12 inches from the control end wall.

The same 24-inch grab bar requirement applies to the control end wall, with the addition of a minimum 12-inch grab bar installed on the head end wall at the front edge of the bathtub.

About the Author

Paul Massey has been writing since 2009, drawing on a 35-year career in the construction industry. His experience includes 15 years as a general building contractor specializing in architectural design, custom homes, commercial development and historic renovations.