Kathy Gurski Design LLC – Articles

Grab Bars & Showerseats for added Safety and Support

Posted in Kathy Gurski Design LLC by kathygurski on January 20, 2010

When planning or making changes to your bathroom, you surely want to use slip resistant materials and finishes, but it is also wise to use a safety assist grab bar in this soapy watery environment of a shower or bathtub.

It is often thought to wait until… some magical time or like there is some stigma to a safety assist bar, but your autos build in all sorts of handles, seats and supports and it is considered sporty, classic or chic, yet in the bathroom, where you can be more vulnerable in many ways, there often is hesitation. I usually suggest to my clients to put them in now to assist, so that you don’t really need to have them.  There are many times it can be slippery with water and soap not always rinsed away. People get dizzy, break a leg or feel weak one day or another. Little ones are also using a space which can help you to help them.

I like to use at least one assist grab bar, properly installed, at the entry. If the top of the vertical bar is installed at 48” above the floor, the same as an average light switch, it can assist entry, exit and use within for a range of users. For more assistance, a horizontal grab bar can take you into a space, over to the shower, to offer support when set at 33″–36” H with a 24”–36”–42” L bar depending on size of area and coverage goal. Many enjoy a bath, but find difficulty getting out, the same 24”–36” L bar at 33”, may suit bathing or showering. If it is still difficult to pull up, a 12” – 18” vertical bar with bottom at 30” may assist pull up to the horizontal level, support giving a different angle of assist.

At the toilet area, a side horizontal grab bar set at 33”–36” H, 42”L set to 54” out from back wall can offer a range of assistance, while an 18” vertical grabber with bottom set at 39”–41”H, 48” from back wall offers a different type of pull-up. For support assistance at the back of the toilet, a 24” bar centered on the toilet or 36” W bar with additional bar length to the transfer side (away from side wall) will assist.

PLEASE – NOTE FOR YOUR SAFETY – NEVER USE GRAB BARS AS TOWEL BARS OR DRAPE TOWELS ON SHOWER SEATS, WHICH CAN COVER THE GRIP AS WAS INTENDED!

A shower seat can be a luxury or a required assistance needed installed at a height of 17”–19”. If not a built-in seat, there are hinged fold-up seats, or as an alternative for some – even a removable seat which hangs on a properly installed grab bar; there is also a hinged wall bathtub seat. With seats you’ll want grab bar support at the side and across to facilitate accesses for those that need it with clearance to fold the seat up.

As with any selected additions, such as grab bars or shower seats, you need to evaluate the space and personal requirements for proper choices, as well as have them properly installed by a qualified installer. Your support system is only as secure as the installation. Walls require proper 4″ blocking with recommended solid treated hardwood to allow full anchoring. Bits of plywood may hold screws, but are not recommended for the full strength that you want to be there to support when needed – use proper blocking to give the full anchoring.

-When properly blocked, the grab bars offered in SELECT PRODUCTS can support 330 lbs. which exceeds the 250 lb. minimum. Remember, these are assist safety grab bars and shower seats to be used as intended and for weight load limits.

-You can make your choices from what I have offered. I represent Euro design for the American market, which offers visually clean soft to use lines, colors to accent or blend, easy clean finish that is warm to the touch and grip that is easy to use. These are all important features when making selections that can assist your safety and support.

-Planning for special needs takes in many considerations and should be done with the individual’s needs in mind for their space; public areas require their own planning. It is best to consult a design professional.  Be sure to check your local codes.

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