Grab Bars

Posted on - Friday, October 24th, 2014

One of the first things that come to mind when designing for accessibility are grab bars. But even though most of us know how to design with them, there are a few subtle things that are missed often. This newsletter will explain some of the rules that people may not be aware of pertaining to grab bars.

Toilet Grab Bars

The rear wall grab bar should always be 36″ min. (unless there is an exception per section 604) and it should be located so that the first 12″ min is centered with the toilet.


Does that mean that a continuous grab bar cannot be used anymore since the first 12″ must be centered with the toilet?


Yes you can!  The provision at 604.5 states that the grab bar must be 12 inches “minimum” from the center line of the toilet, so it is allowed to be more than 12″ and can be placed as close to the wall as possible.  Increasing the 12″ dimension would require using a grab bar longer than 36″ inches as the 24″ inches on the other side of the toilet is also a minimum.

Shower Grab Bars

Accessible showers require grab bars at all walls unless the shower has a seat.  There is one confusing item in the roll in shower that I noticed  while I was doing inspections that was being missed.  That requirement is that grab bars should be located 6″ maximum from the side walls.


This is not typically an issue except when the roll in shower is larger than 5′-0″.  If the shower is 5′-0″ and you take away 12″ on the back wall (6″ on each side), the grab bar should be no smaller than 48″. But if the shower is larger than 5′-0″, the back wall grab bar will have to be longer accordingly.


This shower was larger than 5′-0″ but the grab bar was more than 6″ away from the side walls


Objects above and below grab bars

Objects like toilet paper dispensers and shelves are allowed to located above or below the grab bars.  But these objects must be mounted in order that they will not prevent someone from being able to use the grab bar.  If there is an object mounted above the grab bar, it should be mounted 12″ above the top of the grab bar.  And if there is an object located below the grab bar, it must be mounted 1 1/2″ below  the bottom of the grab bar in order for a person to put their hand all the way around the bar.




The tank of this toilet is less than 1 1/2″ away from the bottom of the grab bar. 


The shelf above the grab bar is less than 12″ away from the top of the grab bar. 


This toilet paper dispenser is too close to the grab bar and it does not allow a person to utilize it properly.

Upcoming CEU opportunities

Note: We will be closed on October 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th

November 6- TSA Convention in Houston Texas! Early Bird Three Hr Seminar: Applying TAS in Existing and Renovated Buildings” 

November 13- Half Moon Class 10:45 a.m.

November 13- CSI Dallas Meeting 7-8 p.m.

We are celebrating our 10th year of service to the building industry as a Registered Accessibility Specialist!  Mention this newsletter and receive 10% off your next review or inspection.

If you want to learn more about these standards, be sure to check out my books:

“The ADA Companion Guide”

“Applying the ADA” published by Wiley. 

They are available for sale now. (also available as an e-book)

If you have any questions about these or any other topics, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Marcela Abadi Rhoads, RAS #240
Abadi Accessibility
214. 403.8714

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