Handrails for the shower
I am considering adding some stability to the shower. I am thinking of handrails. There are some that suction cup to the walls and there are permanent screwed in versions.
I am wondering if anyone has used the suction cup ones. I am 5'5" and 135lbs. Are they effective? Will they support me?
I am HOPING my Medicare will cover either way.
Personally, I lean towards the suction cup models as their location can be fine tuned to just the right height.
Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Hi @kaptainkat We went through this debate in our home a few years ago. Basically, it comes down to what you’re expecting the safety bars to do for you. If they’re intended to fully support your weight, should you slip or teeter, suction cup type bar manufacturers will not guarantee that they will support the weight of a person under those circumstances. They are meant to offer help with balance only and are considered temporary fixes.
Also, since they are held on with suction, they rely on the condition of the surface where they’ll adhere. Soap scum, rough surfaces, water seeping in over time can loosen the contact. We had similar happen with a super solid squeegee holder that was suction-cup based. It adhered really well with screw-down type suction. The shower wall was very smooth and wiped with alcohol. One night, that suction cup let loose about 2 am and got us out of bed thinking someone was in the house! 😅
Fully supportive handles are installed with screws into studs or with sturdy anchors.
Here are two articles which compare suction cup shower handles that you might find helpful in making your decison. The final consensus of opinion in our home was grab bars installed into studs…just in case. 😉
This was before I was eligible for Medicare so I can’t answer that part for you, but check with your insurance provider for possible coverage.
I hope this helps. Maybe other members will have some ideas for you. Let me know what you decide, ok?
@kaptainkat I tried the suction based shower rail, but they didn't hold. In the not-too-distant past, we had the tub pulled out of one bathroom, and replaced with a zero-clearance shower, to ease access in and out of the enclosure. Our contractor installed two rails, both of them outside of the enclosure, fixed into studs. They are at each end of the shower, and offer me the stability needed to safely enter or leave the shower. I have no feeling in my left lower leg/foot, and use a removable mat in the shower bottom to increase a non-slip feature.
I would be concerned with slipping and hitting my head on the handrails. How about using a shower stool/chair?
I have had the suction handrails. You don’t want them!!!
Go with the permanent handrails and make sure they are mounted into the studs. We took out our tub and put in a walk in shower which is GREAT. We put in three handrails in the shower, one by the wter handle that is vertical, one on the long side that is horizontal but at an angle so you can get help if you use a stool, and one in the back JIC.
Also put one vertical bar outside the shower for security when getting out.
Best thing we ever did.
Thanks to all for the comments. I believe when the time comes we will have permanent ones professionally installed.
If I were you I would not get the suction cup kind, but rather the kind that are screwed directly into the tile or whatever you have inside the shower. More stability and less likely to loosen over time. I have one inside the shower and one just outside the shower and they are very helpful. Just an idea.
@kaptainkat I forgot to mention that our house was built in 1955. The original bathroom has its cast iron tub and a beautiful tile surround. A previous owner installed a vertical handrail anchored into the studs just outside the bathtub, near the back of tub . There is no door, just a shower curtain. They also smartly installed another [horizontal] grab bar near the toilet, that doubles as a towel rack. I feel our house is pretty much set up now for aging-in-place.
Hi @kaptainkat, I'll join the chorus and suggest you have permanent grab bars installed into the proper supports. My husband broke his hip last year. While he was in rehab, I had the tub removed and replaced with a shower bed, and four grab bars installed in the shower, one long vertical and three shorter horizontal ones; also, one long grab bar to replace the towel rack closest to the shower. A shower seat hangs over one of the grab bars. It's a nice setup now, and secure. No worries about a grab bar coming loose!
If you are going to be using the grab bars long term, the ones that are screwed into the studs are better. The suctions ones work ok for short term use. My son in his 30s had ACL surgery on one knee and got the suction ones. They were okay for the few weeks he needed them.
I tried the suction cup type rails initially, but they didn't stay in place. Then we learned that there was a man who would drill the holes and install the bars wherever we wanted then for less than $100. We put a vertical bar at the step into the shower which I use everytime. It is very sturdy. We also put long horizonal bar at the back of the shower to grab incase I slip. Have you called medical supply store to see if they can recommend someone to install grab bars?