When retrofitting your home for aging in place, there are many additions that can make it more safe and comfortable. The bathroom is one place that feels especially perilous when balance becomes an issue. To prevent falls, the CDC recommends installing grab bars, also known as assist bars. Grab bars are universally beneficial, helping not only older adults but children as well.
Along with a shower chair, a nonslip bath mat, and a shower mat, a grab bar gives older adults the ability to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. Read on to learn more about how to choose the best shower grab bar for your home.
- BEST OVERALL: Vaunn Medical Adjustable Bathtub Safety Rail
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ZUEXT 2 Pack 12 Inch Shower Grab Bar
- BEST TEXTURED GRIP: Moen R8924P Home Care 24-Inch Bath Safety Grab Bar
- BEST PORTABLE: Drive Medical Adjustable Height Bathtub Grab Bar
- BEST EXTRA-LONG: Vive Metal Grab Bar – Balance Handrail Shower Assist
- BEST WITH SHELF: Moen LR2356DCH Home Care Grab Bar with Built-in Shelf
- BEST STEP STOOL: Duro-Med DMI Step Stool with Handle
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shower Grab Bar
Though you might assume that all grab bars work the same way, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Read on to learn about some of the most important qualities and features to consider when shopping for the best shower grab bar or assist bars for your bathroom.
Mounted vs. Freestanding
While wall-mounted grab bars are the most prevalent on the market, there are also freestanding models available.
- Wall-mounted grab bars are sturdy and designed to prevent falls. When properly installed, wall-mounted grab bars can withstand high weight capacities. Because they require drilling into wall studs, installation may be difficult.
- Bathtub-mounted bars function the same way as wall-mounted models but are installed in the tub rather than the shower.
- Step stool models are freestanding and are meant to be placed outside the tub. They combine a stepping stool with an assist bar to help those with limited mobility enter and exit the bathtub.
Material and Finish
Although shower grab bars are available in a variety of materials and finishes, most are made from stainless steel. Stainless steel is a popular choice among customers because it won’t rust or corrode over time when exposed to water. While the appearance of a grab bar may be a secondary concern, ensuring it complements or matches the other hardware in your bathroom helps it feel cohesive and stylish.
A textured surface will make your grab bar easier to hold on to, as its metallic surfaces can become slippery when wet.
The size of your bathtub or shower is the first thing to consider when shopping for an assist bar. The bar must, of course, fit within the space, but it should be long enough so that it’s easy to reach and grab. Assist bars designed to be used in the shower come in a variety of lengths, ranging from 9 inches to 30 inches or longer. Most products on the market, however, fall between 18 inches and 24 inches in length.
All shower grab bars have a specific weight capacity that should be clearly listed in the product description.
- Stud-mounted grab bars provide the most stability and security and have a weight capacity of 300 to 500 pounds.
- Suction grab bars may list weight capacities as high as 250 to 300 pounds but are generally designed to assist with stability rather than providing support in case of a fall.
- Freestanding grab bars have weight capacities of approximately 300 pounds.
There are several styles of shower grab bars that don’t require permanent installation, making them portable for travel.
- Suction grab bars are portable and easy to install. The suction cups simply need to be secured to a nonporous surface. They’re a great choice for renters who aren’t able to make permanent alterations to their homes. While suction grab bars aren’t quite as secure as stud-mounted bars, they’re still able to provide light support. They’re also easy to travel with. In fact, many have a telescoping feature, making them compact when not in use.
- Adjustable safety rails are designed to be used in combination shower tubs. They clamp to the side of the tub and have an adjustable height. They’re designed to be used for getting in and out of the tub.
When it comes to shower grab bars, installation tends to be a primary concern. While there are a number of freestanding models that require little in the way of installation, the safest kind of shower grab bars are wall-mounted. They must be installed securely because their purpose is to bear large amounts of weight. They can’t, for example, be mounted to drywall.
Drilling into a wall stud is necessary to ensure the maximum level of support. One alternative, if securing the bar to a wall stud isn’t possible, is to purchase specially designed anchors. These anchors are designed to secure items without drilling into a stud. Most shower grab bars, however, come packaged with the necessary mounting hardware.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about grab bars, it’s time to start shopping. These recommendations for the best shower grab bars consider the features above, including style, length, material, and weight capacity.
Those who aren’t able to make permanent alterations to their bathroom would be well served by this adjustable safety rail from Vaunn. It’s designed to support individuals up to 300 pounds getting in and out of the tub. The installation process is simple and doesn’t require any tools. The device clamps to the side of any bathtub with a wall of 3 inches to 7 inches thick. Because the clamp is adjustable, it’s compatible with a wide variety of different tubs, though it isn’t designed to be used on fiberglass surfaces. It doesn’t leave any marks on the surface of the tub, meaning it’s great for renters or those who need in-shower support while traveling.
It’s made of powder-coated stainless steel with a white finish and is lightweight at just 6 pounds.
While many opt to purchase one long grab bar, installing two short ones is another option that provides added versatility. This two-pack comes with a pair of 12-inch bars, each of which is constructed to withstand 500 pounds of pull force. They’re made from chrome-finished stainless steel and are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. While they’re safe enough to be used in the shower, they can also be installed anywhere in the home.
The set comes packaged with the screws and anchors needed for secure installation. The end covers conceal the mounting hardware, resulting in a sleek and modern look.
A textured grip is key when ensuring a shower grab bar is as safe as possible. Because the surface of the bar can easily become slippery when it gets wet, a slip-resistant finish ensures an easy grip. This model by Moen is 24 inches long, though it also comes in a variety of longer and shorter lengths.
While the grab bar measures 24 inches in length, the total length when including flanges is 27.25 inches. When installed into studs, it can support 500 pounds of weight, though Moen also provides SecureMount anchors which are sold separately and allow users to install the bar into a wall without studs.
Despite its compact and lightweight design, this adjustable grab bar can support a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. It’s made from stainless steel with a white powder coating. Because it only weighs 4 pounds, it’s easy to throw into a bag or suitcase for travel. The clamp’s locking mechanism is covered with rubber pads to avoid scratching the surface of the tub. The height of the handle can be adjusted between 14 and 17 inches.
It fits most tubs and can be installed without any tools, but it isn’t compatible with fiberglass.
This 24-inch handrail is long enough to fit perfectly in most standard bathtubs. It’s made from sturdy stainless steel and comes packaged with the necessary mounting materials. It comes with three different finishes—black satin, brushed nickel, and white—providing an option to match a variety of hardware styles. It supports up to 440 pounds.
The total length with flanges is 27 inches, though shorter versions in the same style are also available. It’s designed to be installed on drywall, plaster, acrylic, or fiberglass surfaces, though additional mounting materials are necessary for installation on tile.
Bending over to grab a bar of soap from the corner of the tub can be tough for those with limited mobility. Those looking for a safety bar that doubles as a shelf should consider this option from Moen. It’s 16 inches long, and the white insert shelf provides plenty of room for soap, body wash, and shampoo. It’s made from stainless steel with a chrome finish and supports 250 pounds of weight. If it’s installed into studs or using the brand’s SecureMount system, it has a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds.
For those without a walk-in shower, getting in and out of the tub can become difficult due to reduced mobility. The Duro-Med Step Stool with Handle solves that problem. It’s a versatile product because while it’s handy for use in the bathroom, it can also be used in the kitchen or any other part of the home. It weighs 8.5 pounds, making it lightweight enough to move around the house.
The step platform is textured to prevent slipping, and the stool has rubber feet that won’t slide around while you’re using it. The handle is made from chrome-finished stainless steel and has a foam grip that’s easy to hold on to. The height of the platform is 9 inches, and the handle is 34 inches tall. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds.
FAQs About Shower Grab Bars
If you still have questions about how to choose the best shower grab bar, the answers to these following frequently asked questions may help.
Q. Are suction shower grab bars safe?
If they are installed securely, they are able to provide added stabilization while entering or exiting the shower. They aren’t, however, designed to support one’s full weight.
Q. How high should a grab bar be in a shower?
A grab bar should be installed between 33 and 36 inches from the floor.
Q. How much weight can a grab bar hold?
Every grab bar has a different weight capacity that should be clearly listed in the product’s description. Typically, weight capacities range between 250 and 500 pounds.
Q. Will one grab bar be enough for my bathroom?
While grab bars are useful in the shower, they can also be installed beside the toilet and in the bathtub for additional support.