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Grab bars: Safety needn't be costly

20110112water+closetEvery bathtub and shower should have a grab bar. That's not rocket science. It's not turning one's home into a hospital. It just makes sense: Because people of every age and ability can slip on a wet surface, having a bar or handle to grab can make the difference between toweling off after a pleasant shower and figuring out how go without a shower until the cast comes off a broken wrist.

tub with handles Grab bars can be as simple as a handhold in a bathtub, as shown at right, which allows a bather to lower herself into the tub and lift herself out without slipping, or as all-encompassing as the custom wrap-around wooden bar in the wheelchair-accessible water closet at top.

shower hardware And they needn't be expensive. The matte-finish stainless steel bars in the shower at right start about $11 for a 9-inch bar and run up to $32 for a 42-inch bar at home improvement centers such as Home Depot and OSH.


Ideally, the shower walls will have been reinforced with 3/4-inch plywood (or with 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 blocking between studs) before its finished surface is installed, but grab bars can be installed after the fact so long as they are attached properly to the studs.

invisiatowel Designer grab bars now come in all styles, colors and sizes from day-glo acrylic that will perk up a contemporary bath to antique bronze finishes that add dignity, as well as safety, to a baronial bath.

Who would know that the towel bar from Invisia, above, or the corner showeshelf are actually grab bars? There's nothing "institutional" about them.


The shower and tub aren't the only places where grab bars are essential. Many people need a hand up to get onto and off of the toilet safely.

That's where toilet paper  holders that double as grab bars, such as that from Invisia, above right, and from Home Care by Moen, at right, come in.



Getting a grip on bathroom safety can mean keeping our bones intact -- and being able to live in our homes as we age and our physical abilities change.  

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