Where to Use Grab Bars

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. June 16, 2016

Where to Use Grab Bars

The most important consideration in locating your grab bars is to ensure that they are positioned where they will be best at helping you move laterally and vertically as you perform your daily living activities. Your input into the location of grab bars and other fall prevention devices is very important. You should insist that you have a say in the location of your grab bars.

There are several ways to decide where to locate a grab bar but one of my favorites is to simulate your movements in your house as you perform your daily activities. Have someone with you as you enter your house, move room to room and around each room and perform you daily living activities (DLA).

Ask your helper to take notes and observe your movements and the degree of difficulty. Mark the positions where you would normally reach for something to grab onto. Mark where you want the ends of each grab bar with blue painters’ tape.

For example, with the assistance of your helper, practice getting into or out of the bathtub or shower. Observe where your hands would go for support as you enter the tub or shower and then where your hands would best support you as you stand to take a shower. (We’ll show you the ADA guidelines in another blog – but you should feel secure with the placement of the grab bar)



The general rule of thumb is to mount horizontal grab bars so that their centerline is 34 inches to 36 inches above the floor

The bottom of vertical grab bars is also typically mounted at a height of 34 to 36 inches above the floor


If you are able to lower yourself into the tub, then decide what height to place a horizontal grab bar that would allow you to do so safely

Mark where you want your new grab bars on your walls with painters’ tape and on our printable Floor Plans and use our Order List to keep track of how many grab bars you will need, their size, style, grip, finish.

Grab bars help you support your body as you move laterally or vertically. So you want to use a grab bar or other fall prevention device such as:

  • Horizontal grab bars to help support vertical movements where you have the most difficulty getting up or down – sitting or rising (the bathtub, bed, toilet, small steps or thresholds) and to help facilitate lateral movement (along a wall such as down a hall)
  • Vertical grab bars help you balance while standing especially as you enter or exit the shower and at doors inside or outside the house


  • Inside Shower – grab bars should be located on all three walls in a roll-in shower and on two walls in a transfer shower (in front of and beside a seat)
  • Inside Bathtub -two grab bars on the side wall – a top bar to support a person while they are standing and a lower bar for assistance with sitting. Also, one grab bar at the wall with the faucet and one bar at the other end if a removable seat is used.
  • Adjacent to Shower or Tub (Stander and Wall GB)
  • Around Toilet – grab bars on the side and rear walls


  • Near Bed (Stander)
  • Dressing room

Other Rooms

  • Between doorway openings in a hallway
  • At entry or other areas with small sets of stairs
  • Next to doors
  • At the end of stairs outside of the stair handrail
  • Next to a favorite chair or couch (Stander)

Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.


Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.

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