Best Bathroom Grab Bars

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
318 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best bathroom grab bars

Last Updated July 2019

Every year, more than 230,000 adults are injured in bathroom falls. Falls are a leading cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, among other impairments. Experts say the task of exiting the bathtub or shower poses one of the highest risks for falls. And it’s no wonder. Stepping over the tub wall is challenging for individuals with limited mobility, even when the floor is dry. Water and slippery soap make the task even more hazardous.

But there’s good news. Using grab bars can significantly decrease your risk of falls in the tub. A grab bar gives you a handhold and extra stability when climbing in and out of the tub, when moving within the tub, or when sitting on or rising from a shower chair.

Which kind of grab bar would help you and your loved ones the most? Keep reading to learn more, and when you’re done, check out our recommendations for the best grab bars on the market.

Stepping into the tub from a sideways position stresses your joints and muscles the least. Face the wall, place both hands on a vertical grab bar, and lift one leg at a time over the tub wall. If an angled grab bar is available, grab that bar before lifting the second leg.

Key considerations

Temporary or permanent

When shopping for grab bars, you need to decide whether you want your purchase to be temporary or permanent.

Temporary grab bars are usually made of plastic and attach to the wall using suction cups. On the positive side, you don’t need to make major changes to your bathroom to install them. They’re best for those with temporary restrictions or for times when a short-term visitor needs extra stability.

Plastic temporary grab bars give you more flexibility than permanent ones. You can stick them anywhere you have a smooth, non-porous surface like glass or tile. You don’t have to search for studs or drill holes into your wall in order to put them up. And you can reposition them easily if you find a location that works better.

Unfortunately, a temporary grab bar is not as strong as a permanent grab bar. They are meant to help individuals maintain their balance, not support full body weight. Some people need more than a mere stability aid. Those who suffer from an ongoing condition or who are overweight need a bar that mounts permanently to the wall. Now, a permanent bar still isn’t meant to support a person’s entire body weight, but it will be much stronger than a suction cup model.

Permanent grab bars must be attached to studs in the bathroom wall. Additional measures may be necessary when installing grab bars for users who are extremely overweight. Be sure to the check weight limit of a bathroom grab bar before purchasing it.

DID YOU KNOW?

At least one in four seniors over the age of 65 falls each year, according to the National Council for Aging Care.

Size and function

Different bar styles and lengths serve different purposes in the tub. Keep in mind that the following recommendations are general guidelines. A doctor or therapist who is familiar with a patient’s condition can offer more specific advice.

Shorter grab bars

The shortest grab bars on the market measure about 12 inches long. They should be installed vertically, about 33 to 36 inches off the floor, near a shower door or the edge of the tub for stability during entry and exit. These shorter bars are best for small bathrooms with limited space.

Grab bars measuring 16 to 18 inches serve the same purpose: assistance during tub entry and exit. They are preferable to 12 inch bars because they give more room to grab and offer better weight distribution.

Longer grab bars

Grab bars measuring around 24 inches are supposed to be installed at an angle. These bars help users lower into and rise up from a shower chair or the floor of the tub. When installed, they should slope up toward the shower head.

Grab bars that are 32 inches or longer should be installed horizontally. These can help the user rotate their body for cleaning, pull to a standing position, or move to the front or back of the tub.

Installation

If you choose a grab bar that mounts with suction cups, you could easily place your bar in a number of spots. Permanent grab bars, however, are a little more complicated.

Procedures for installing grab bars vary depending upon your model and your bathroom. Ideally, the bar should be screwed directly into the studs behind the wall. But studs aren’t always located (or accessible) where you need the grab bar.

In some cases, you can use specialized anchors to install a grab bar in tile or sheetrock. Mounting would not be as solid as with a wall stud, but it would still offer significant security. If you use anchors, remember that the grab bar’s real-world weight capacity is only as strong as the anchors. For example, a grab bar rated for 500 pounds will only hold 250 pounds if the wall anchors holding it only support 250 pounds. Never use plastic anchors, which are more prone to failure.

If you’re not sure whether you can install your grab bar safely, opt to pay for installation. You may be able to pay for the option upfront when you order, or you could call a handyman or contractor when the product arrives. You bought the bar to increase your stability, so don’t undermine that investment and your safety with questionable installation. 

FOR YOUR SAFETY

When you’re done installing a grab bar, be sure to test your work with a solid yank.

Bathroom grab bar features


Texturing

Whether you choose a temporary or permanent grab bar, texturing can make it easier to grasp the bar without slipping. Plastic bars may have grippy pads where the fingers naturally meet, or they may have texturing across the entire bar. Metal bars may have texturing called peening (or possibly knurling) down the length of the bar. Smooth bars may have a more sophisticated look, but they may not perform as well as textured bars. 

Diameter

Grab bars should measure between 1.25 and 1.5 inches in diameter. Bars measuring 1.25 inches will be easier for people with small hands to grip. Bars that are 1.5 inches thick are better for people with larger hands.

Weight limit

As mentioned, you must know your grab bar’s weight limit — and the weight of the user — before making a purchase. Weight limits range from 250 pounds to 500 pounds. If the user is close to the limit, choose the next tier up for safety. Remember that a grab bar with a 500-pound weight capacity may not hold that much if affixed to tile with anchors that can only support 250 pounds.

You should also keep these factors in mind.

  • Whether temporary or permanent, any grab bar you install should have a wall clearance of at least 1.5 inches to enable a good grip.
  • All bathroom grab bars should be made with materials that resist corrosion.
  • Suction cup grab bars should include safety latches that tell you when you’ve achieved a secure, airtight seal.
  • End covers can help hide screw holes and give metal grab bars a more polished look.

Bathroom grab bar prices

You can expect to pay between $10 and $15 for a temporary bathroom grab bar that attaches with suction cups. Grab bars in this price range are made of plastic, measure between 12 and 15 inches long, and cannot be permanently attached to a wall. Weight limit varies by manufacturer.

Smaller metal grab bars cost $15 to $25. At this price, bars will be constructed from metal and mount to a wall. They will measure 12 to 18 inches and may or may not include texturing for a better grip. Weight limit varies by size and brand.

The most expensive bathroom grab bars on the market are also the longest. You can expect to pay $30 to $40 for metal grab bars ranging from 30 to 48 inches long. Grab bars this size should be made from metal and attach to a wall. They should have options for smooth or textured finishes. Again, weight limits vary according to the manufacturer.

EXPERT TIP

If you use anchors to help mount a grab bar, make sure there’s enough open space behind the wall for the anchors to function.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Vertical grab bars are easier and less painful for users with arthritis to grip.
  • Avoid grout lines when attaching suction cups. The grout disrupts the seal.
  • Grab bar color should contrast with the wall color so the bar is easier to see. This is especially important for users with poor vision or dementia.
  • Some users get confused and mistakenly grab towel bars for support. Consider replacing towel bars with grab bars that can support the user’s weight if this is likely in your home.

Other products we considered

This knurled chrome grab bar from AquaSense gets high marks for its heavy texturing. Knurling makes it easier for wet, soapy fingers to keep hold of the bar without slipping. It can be installed into the wall studs vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The chrome finish makes it slightly less resistant to rust than stainless steel.

For a slightly different look, consider the angled stainless steel grab bar from Moen. Its 16-inch length gives a wider base of support than smaller bars, and its angled design is ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing. It boasts a 500-pound weight limit.

Around 80% of falls in the bathroom are caused by slips and falls sustained while entering or exiting the bathtub.

FAQ

Q. Can a grab bar help me stay balanced during my shower?
A.
Grab bars are primarily used for safety when entering and exiting the tub. You could try to grab the bar if you start to slip, but these bars are really designed for maintaining, not regaining, balance. If standing long enough for a full shower is a challenge, consider purchasing a shower chair that lets you wash while seated. If you buy a shower chair, consider installing an angled grab bar for use with it.

Q. Which kind of grab bar should I install first?
A.
In many cases, it’s best to start with a vertical bar that measures 16 to 18 inches near the tub entrance. Stepping over the tub wall is the riskiest part of the process, so addressing that hazard first is a good idea. Once the first bar is installed, you can determine whether more intervention is needed. 

Q. I just had major surgery, and I don’t expect to have mobility problems forever. Should I get a permanent or temporary grab bar?
A.
If you’re recovering from major injury and have the means, a permanent grab bar is probably best. The point of the bar is to protect you from injury due to slips and falls. If your recent surgery leaves you off balance, you’re at an even higher risk for falls. A temporary grab bar has its purposes, but a permanent bar may be worth the investment.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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