I was recently asked to install a new safety grab bar in a shower for a good friend and the job went very smoothly once I determined how the walls behind the shower were built. This information is important since you need to know this before you can decide which type of fastener to use when mounting the grab bar hardware.
Most new grab bars come from the store in kit form which includes the bar and any installation hardware that may be required. These grab bars can be purchased on-line and may also be found at local home improvement centers. Stainless steel is the preferred material for its strength and durability.
First thing you need is to make the decision on exactly where you want to install a new grab bar in your shower. With that information you can measure the areas where it could be mounted and use that data to decide how big a grab bar you will need? Once you know these things it is time to go shopping. You can find great deals on the Internet if you do not mind paying for shipping and you are not in a hurry to finish the job. Lets say your mother in law is coming to stay and your wife is on your back to get the job done before she arrives, well in this case you want to hustle your butt down to the store now and get this job done because you really do not want the two of them grinding on you about this project the entire time mom is in town!
Also lets say that you procrastinate on this job and your mom in law slips and falls in your shower then what? She sues your home owners policy for thousands and then you have to try and drink away the image of your mom in law sprawled out in the buff in your shower. Or even worse she has to stay with you until she recuperates enough to go back to work driving someone else slowly insane. So you are back from the store now? You just hurried right out to the hardware store and got a new Grab Bar just now right? Okay now lets get that grab bar mounted so there will be peace and domestic harmony in your humble abode.
First you want to open the package and make sure that all the pieces are there. Next sit down and read the installation instructions and I am being serious here! These were written by someone so that you could save time and do the job right the first time. So once you know roughly what is expected you can determine which mounting method to use. If your shower walls are tile, then you will need to do a few things first. Get some idea where the wall studs are and then drill holes through the tile so that a set of screws can be put into the stud to hold the grab bar onto the wall.
There may be some special anchors in your kit which spread the force across a very large surface area and these can be used if the wall studs are not close enough to where you intend to mount the grab bar. A stud finder may not work well on a tile wall and you may have to use the 16″ on center rule starting from the corner working your way out to where you want the bar. If you are working on a fiberglass shower stall then it is much easier to find a stud to determine if they are close to where you want the bar.
Finding studs is the easiest way to install any grab bar since you do not have to be concerned with using special anchors. In the stud design you will mark the centerline of the stud and align the proper holes in the grab bar flange and mark with a pencil where you want to drill the pilot holes for your screws. Once you have these drilled you should hold the bar up to the holes to make sure they all line up. Now screw in all four or six mounting screws loosely at first then tighten each one a little bit more until they are all tight. I suggest you have a shop vacuum ready for clean up and wear a dust mask as the fine particles of fiberglass dust can be very annoying.
If you are using any kind of anchor make sure you have the correct drill for the material you are drilling through. A special bit will be required for the tile installations. Also make sure the toggles or anchors will not run into the wall studs. Now drill your access holes and then mount the screws into the grab bar and push the anchors into the holes. Tighten them each a little bit until the entire grab bar is tight and secure. Lastly snap over the beauty trim rings that came with the grab bar as this is the finishing touch that the women in your life will notice and comment on every time they use the shower. if you are drilling into fiberglass it helps to put a piece of masking tape over the area you intend to drill since this can help prevent the edges from chipping.
You can rest easy since your job is done here. Also make sure you wife and mom in law know that the job is done by showing them the nice job you did. This is also a good time to show everyone how to use the grab bar and explain that you put it in for their safety! You will score some brownie points if this is presented properly!
Now take some time off and relax you earned it.