REINFORCED WALLS FOR GRAB BARS
The Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines (theGuidelines) do not require that grab bars beinstalled in bathrooms. However, the Guidelines dorequire that bathroom walls be sufficiently strongto allow for later installation of grab bars forresident use. This requirement applies to allbathrooms, and also to powder rooms when thepowder room is the only toilet facility on the entry level of a multistory dwelling unit in an elevatorbuilding (see page 4.9). Reinforcing methods arediscussed later in this chapter.Grab bars are critical for many people withmobility impairments to be able to safely transferon and off the toilet. Safety for everyone is greatly increased by the addition of grab bars at bathtubsand showers. The Guidelines do not prescribe thetype or size of grab bars, nor the structural strengththey must exhibit. The Guidelines state only thatthe necessary reinforcement must be placed “topermit the later installation of appropriate grabbars.” HUD encourages builders to look at the1986 ANSI A117.1 Standard, or an equivalent orstricter standard, or their state or local buildingcode in planning for or selecting appropriategrab bars.It is recommended that building ownersand managers permanently mount directions forinstallation of grab bars in every dwelling unit where applicable. The type of construction shouldbe described, where reinforcing is located, andsuggestions made for the most effective method forinstalling grab bars. These notices could be laminated to the inside of a linen closet door or to theinside of a utility or water heater/furnace door.
The Guidelines specify that reinforcing at least 6inches wide by 24 inches long, capable of supporting grab bars, be provided behind and besidetoilets. These minimal areas to be reinforced areadapted from the 1986 ANSI A117.1 Standard.However, the reinforcing should be both longerand wider so sufficient solid material is available tomount grab bars of differing lengths, mountingconfigurations, and designs. In fact, the Guidelinesencourage longer reinforcing, as shown in theGuidelines Figure 3, “Water Closets in AdaptableBathrooms,” where the preferred length of 42inches for side wall reinforcing is given.Grab bars, to be within the ranges presented in most accessibility standards, are mountedso their centerline is 33 inches to 36 inches abovethe floor. If the bottom of the reinforced area is at32 inches, and a resident chooses to mount a bar at33 inches, the mounting plates will extend below the reinforced area by 1/2 inch or more. To avoid a weak and unsafe connection, it is critical thatreinforcing be enlarged.
32" max.38" min.
each side andmended tomount 24" longadditional 2" min.bottom recomstandard grab barminimumreinforced area
even larger reinforcing preferred for greater ease wheninstalling grab bars
Minimum Reinforcing Behind ToiletsLocated Beside a Wall