Guide to Selecting Grab Bars for Showers and Bathrooms

The bathroom is one of the essential rooms that every home should have. Bathrooms usually have tiles on their floors that are made from porcelain, ceramic, or marble. While these materials are effective in making the bathroom floor easier to clean, they can also be very slippery when they are wet.

Because of how slippery the floor is in the bathroom most of the time, it is considered one of the most dangerous places in a home, especially for seniors that have a difficult time controlling their balance and where they are setting their feet.

According to the statistics published by the National Institute on Aging or NIA, one out of four Americans that are over the age of 65 suffers from slipping or falling every year. In addition, there are more than 1.6 million senior Americans every year that are sent to the emergency room due to suffering from slip-related or fall-related injuries, and 80 percent of those seniors have gotten those injuries while in the bathroom. [1]

Due to how dangerous the bathroom is for many seniors or people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and special needs, the caregivers or the patient’s loved ones should do their best to make the bathroom as safe as possible. One of the best things that should be in the bathroom for seniors and people with special needs is the grab bar. What is a grab bar? What are its different types? And how do you select which one is the best for your patient’s bathroom? We will find out the answers to these questions as we take a look at the guide to selecting grab bars for showers and bathrooms.

What is a Grab Bar?

grab bars in a bathroom

A grab bar is an accessory that is installed on the wall of a bathroom so that a senior or patient will have something to hold on to while they are taking a bath or while standing up after using a toilet. So, the grab bar, as its name already suggests, is used for people to grab onto something to avoid slipping or falling on the floor.

Grab bars are usually installed in strategic locations, like right next to the toilet, on the side of the bathtub, or inside the shower area. Almost all grab bars are made of metal for durability, but you may also find grab bars that are made of plastic. 

While plastic grab bars are not as durable as metal, they don’t absorb too much temperature compared to metal grab bars, which can feel cold most of the time and can be uncomfortable for seniors or patients to touch. For metal grab bars, the material used for them is usually stainless steel, which is rustproof.

What are the Different Types of Grab Bars?

Besides the different materials used for grab bars, there are also different types of grab bars on how they are installed. Read below for the detail on the different types of grab bars so that you will know which one is the most suitable for your patient.

Wall-Mounted Grab Bar

wall-mounted grab bar

The most common type of grab bar is the wall-mounted grab bar, which is installed on any wall in the bathroom. This type of grab bar is installed on the wall using a few anchors and mounting screws. [2] In order to create a hole in the bathroom wall, you will need a hand drill, although the drill bit you need to install on the drill should have the same diameter as the anchor or mounting screw that comes with the grab bar. You have the option to install the grab bar in a slanted position or horizontally.

Here are two wall-mounted grab bars that have good reviews online:

  • Moen R8918P Home Care 18-Inch Grab Bar – this grab bar features concealed screws so that it won’t cause harm to the patient that will hold onto it. The grab bar can support up to 500 lbs of weight when installed using anchors and mounting screws.
  • Amazon Basics Bathroom Handicap Safety Grab Bar – an affordable option that is 36 inches in length and 1.25 inches in diameter. It is made from stainless steel to prevent the bar from corroding.

Suction Grab Bar

suction grab bar

The suction grab bar is a type of bar that is installed on the wall of a bathroom using strong suction cups. To install this type of grab bar, you just need to push the suction cups on a particular area of the wall until they get a secure grip on the wall’s surface. 

The advantage of the suction grab bar is that you can easily change the position or the location of the grab bar since it isn’t actually mounted on a wall using anchors and screws. So, if there is a specific area of the bathroom that the senior or patient with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or special needs wants to stand on, you can get the suction grab bar from its original location and transfer it to the area where the patient is standing.

This suction grab bar is also suitable to bring along during trips, and it can be used as a regular grab bar in public or private bathrooms that don’t really have grab bars for seniors or people with special needs. However, the downside to the suction grab bar is that it is not as secure as the wall-mounted grab bar, so there may be a chance that the suction cups of the bar will lose their grip on the wall’s surface. In order to prevent accidents, you need to make sure that the suction grab bar has a firm grip on the wall.

Check out these two great suction grab bars that you can buy for the safety of seniors and patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or special needs:

  • Budding Joy Shower Handle Grab Bar – this two-pack grab bar has strong suction cups that can stay in place no matter the temperature inside the bathroom. The handle or grip of this bar is also comfortable and sturdy to hold.
  • HEINSY Suction Grab Bar – this suction grab bar features suction cups that are made of PA66 nylon, which is rigid and durable. Moreover, it also has a rapid-release feature on the suction cups that allows you to remove the grab bar easily on the wall or on the shower door.

Clamp Grab Bar

The clamp grab bar is primarily used for bathtubs, as the clamps at each end of the grab bar mount the bar on the rim or sides of the bathtub. This clamp grab bar is specifically useful for seniors or patients that have a difficult time standing up and leaving the bathtub. In addition, the surface of the bathtub can be very slippery, so the clamp grab bar is helpful in preventing people from slipping on the bathtub.

These are two of the best clamp grab bars that you can check out:

  • Drive Medical 12036 Handicap Grab Bar – a grab bar that is designed to fit any type or style of bathtub. The handle portion of this grab bar can be adjusted from three inches to seven inches in width.
  • Carex White Bathtub Rail – this grab bar is easy to mount on bathtubs that have flat top walls that are 2.5 inches to 5 inches in width. Then, the grab bar can extend for up to 14 inches above the bathtub’s wall. 

Free-Standing Grab Bar

free-standing grab bar

The free-standing grab bar is mounted on the floor and the wall to provide more grabbing or holding areas for the senior or patient. Free-standing grab bars are usually installed on the side of a toilet, and with the way it is installed on the floor, it will allow the patient to have better balance while trying to stand up after using the toilet. 

To install the free-standing grab bar, it is usually mounted the same way as a wall-mounted grab bar, which is through anchors and screws. The drawback to installing a free-standing grab bar is that it consumes more space in the bathroom compared to other types of grab bars.

Take a look at these two free-standing grab bars that you can buy online:

  • Zelen Handicap Grab Bar – this is a t-shaped free-standing grab bar that supports up to 440 lbs of weight. The grab bar is also easy to install using mounting screws and anchors to keep the screws in place.
  • FlySkip Toilet Grab Bar – this free-standing grab bar is similar to the Zelen bar since it is also t-shaped and has an easy installation process. However, this grab bar can only support up to 330 lbs of weight.

Folding Grab Bar

sturdy grab bar

The folding grab bar has one or more metal bars that can be folded so that it can be stored properly without consuming too much space in the bathroom. So, if you think the free-standing grab bar is too big and space-consuming, you can just get the folding grab bar, which works the same as the free-standing bar but can be folded or retracted to the side or upwards. 

The folding grab bar may not have a section or part that is installed on the floor like the free-standing bar, but it does have a secure connection on the wall thanks to its base that is mounted using screws. The downside to the folding grab bar is that it is not as durable as the free-standing bar or the wall-mounted bar, as the folding mechanism can become faulty with age.

Here are two products that you can check out to learn more about this particular type of grab bar:

  • Moen R8960FD Flip-Up Screw-In Grab Bar – a grab bar that can be flipped up in order to not get in the way of the patient or senior that has already stood up from the toilet. This grab bar can support up to 300 lbs of weight and is made of stainless steel for durability.
  • MEETWARM Foldable Toilet Grab Bar – what’s great about this particular folding grab bar is that it has a stand that reaches the floor, which means that it has better stability compared to other grab bars that are not free-standing. Once you have folded or flipped the grab bar upwards, you can bring the bar down again and move it to the left or right so that it can also be used as a grab bar in other areas of the bathroom.

Picking the Best Grab Bar

toilet grab bar

Now that you know all about the different types of grab bars available, it is time to decide which specific type and model of grab bars you should buy for your patient or loved one to use. Here are two tips for picking the best grab bar.

Know the Material, Length, and Weight of the Grab Bar

Besides choosing one from the different types of grab bars, you should also consider the material of the bar, as well as its length and weight. These factors are important for you to know about the durability of the grab bar and its suitability in the senior or patient’s bathroom. For the material, you should choose the material that will be the most comfortable to hold for the patient while still being strong and durable enough to withstand months and even years of use.

For the length, you should find a grab bar that is long enough for the patient to have plenty of areas to hold onto, but it should be at an appropriate length, or else it won’t fit on the bathroom wall. For the weight, it wouldn’t matter how heavy or light the grab bar is as long as its base and the bathroom wall can support the bar’s weight.

Read or Watch Reviews Online

reading reviews

One of the best ways for you to find strong, durable, and reliable grab bars is to read or watch reviews online. Reviews would be able to give you everything you need to know about popular and new grab bars on the market, including their features, as well as their pros and cons. So, instead of spending too much time checking grab bars one by one, you should just read or watch reviews to find the best grab bars faster.

We hope that this simple guide has helped you in deciding if your patient’s bathroom needs a grab bar and what type of grab bar you would actually get for reliability and durability. Check reviews online and see which grab bars have pros that outweigh their cons. 


[1] Long Home Products Blog. 7 Bathroom Safety Tips for Seniors. Long Home Products. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 

[2] Hipp, D. (2022, June 23). How To Choose The Best Grab Bars For Your Home. Forbes Health. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from