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The Importance of ADA Compliant Grab Bars

In areas where falls are common such as in bathrooms, around toilets, and in showers and tubs, installing ADA compliant grab bars is incredibly important to ensuring the safety of those using the facilities.

What are Grab Bars?

Grab bars are essentially short sections of handrails that provide added support in areas where it is most needed. They are used to help people guide themselves into and out of bathtubs and showers, use the toilet, and navigate through slippery areas.

ADA compliant grab bars can be installed vertically or horizontally depending on the needs of the application and the requirements in specific areas. Continuous grab bars provide the necessary support to prevent falls and help with stability issues not only in aging populations but also in areas where children and anyone with mobility issues may need added support.

ADA compliant grab bars are also essential to aid aging-in-place measures as people get older but can still live in their own home. They are also required in residential homes, such as nursing homes, that house an aging population and in public toilets and showers.

What is ADA Compliance?

ADA compliance simply means that buildings meet the standards set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes providing handrails and grab bars that increase the safety on stairs and ramps and in bathrooms.


Regardless of where they are placed, grab bars must:

  • Be 1 ½” away from the wall or support structure.
  • Be at least 1 ½” away from any objects or protrusions at the ends or bottom of the bar.
  • Be at least 12” below any objects or protrusions above the bar.
  • Be installed 33”-36” above the floor.


Lowering onto and getting up from a toilet can be complicated for those with mobility issues. The ADA addresses these issues by requiring grab bars in at least one stall in a bathroom where compliance is necessary-usually a public restroom in a commercial or residential building. Including ADA compliant toilet grab bars in private residences can also help with aging-in-place and provide added stability.

ADA compliant grab bars for a toilet must be positioned behind the toilet and on the wall adjacent to the toilet. Grab bars behind the toilet must be at least 36” long with 12” extending from one side of the centerline of the toilet and the remaining 24” extending to the other side of the centerline.

The grab bar on the wall adjacent to the toilet must be at least 42” long and begin within 12” of the rear wall. It must extend at least 54” from the rear wall.

Children’s Bathrooms

Children’s bathrooms in a school, day care, or other public facility designed to accommodate children are also required to have at least one stall that meets standards for accessibility set out by the ADA. 

As there is a wide range in the needs of children as they grow bigger and taller, there are varying requirements depending on the age of the primary users. The grab bars should meet the requirements for general toilets and ADA compliance with the exception of the height from the floor. The proper heights for ADA compliant grab bars are:

  • 3-4 year olds: 18”-20” from the floor
  • 5-8 year olds: 20”-25” from the floor
  • 9-12 year olds: 25”-27” from the floor


Requirements for bathtubs are dependent on whether or not the bathtub includes a permanent seat. 

For bathtubs with a permanent seat, two parallel grab bars are required along the back wall. The bottom grab bar is required to be 8”-10” from the bathtub rim and the top grab bar should be between 33”-36” above the floor. Both of these bars should be placed within 15” of the head end wall of the shower-the wall opposite the shower controls. They must also be 12” or less from the control wall. On the control wall of the bathtub, the grab bar must be at least 24” long and positioned at the front edge of the bathtub.

If the bathtub doesn’t have a permanent seat, the same grab bars are required as those with permanent seats with a few adjustments. The back wall bars need to be at least 24” long. These bars need to be within 24” of the head wall and within 12” of the control wall. Grab bars are required on both the head wall and control wall of the bathtub. The bar at the control wall is required to be at least 24”, and the bar at the head wall is required to be at least 12”. Both bars should be installed at the front edge of the bathtub.

Grab bars installed on the control wall of the bathtub should be a minimum of 1 ½” below the controls and 12” away from any other protruding object such as a soap dispenser.


ADA compliant grab bars for showers are needed in both transfer and roll-in showers. Transfer showers require grab bars installed 33”-36” above the floor and run along the control and back wall. 

Roll-in showers need grab bars on the back and side wall that is opposite the seat. Where no seat is present, grab bars should be installed on all three sides. Regardless of the type of shower, grab bars must be able to support at least 250 lbs of weight.

One exception to the general placement requirements is that shower controls can be as close as 1 ½” above the grab bar as opposed to the 12” of clearance required for any other object.

Grab Bar Installation

Because grab bars are typically needed in older homes, installation can prove tricky. Fall-prone areas can be located where installation is challenging and bathrooms can be small. Finding studs and customizing the length of grab bars, particularly those for toilets is necessary for creating a safe environment.

Choosing a modular grab bar allows you to create continuous grab bars that are practical and easy to install. Promenaid products use innovative Sprocketlock technology to create grab bars that can securely fit in spaces other grabs simply can’t. Since they are modular, they can be configured to any size to always attach to a stud or in any configuration for a continuous grab bar that conforms to the shape of your space. 

If you’re working to make a bathroom and bathing area or for that matter any place in your home safer, you want a grab bar that fits your needs and your decor. Promenaid is the grab bar redefined. Elegantly finished to integrate with any decor, designed to not look like a grab, so strong they exceed code requirements and a snap to install.

Contact us for more information on a simple and effective ADA compliant grab bar.

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