ADA Bathroom Grab-Bar Requirements

Know What The ADA Code Is For Bathroom Grab Bars 

In an accessible bathroom, grab bars are critical, whether they are in a shower stall or around a toilet. Grab bar code requirements are included in the standard ANSII-ICC A117.1 of the International Code Council. A summary of these requirements is below: 

Toilets need to have horizontal bars behind and next to them, and a vertical bar in front. 

Both transfer showers (which are not large enough for a wheelchair) and roll-in showers (which are) are required to have horizontal bars on two walls at least. 

The showerhead wall must also have a vertical bar on a transfer-type shower.

A117 specifies the amount of distance that is required from each bar to the floor and wall. However, according to ADA code experts, many contractors get this wrong, which increases the chance that a bathroom will not pass inspection and expose the facility owner and contractor to liability. 

To avoid these types of problems, you need to pay close attention to the bar length and height and ensure there are no obstructions as well. Consider hiring a certified access specialist (CASp) who can review your property before any lawsuit arises. Call (714) 500-7585 for a free quote today


Be very careful when it comes to the height of your grab-bars

In showers and toilets, the top of a horizontal grab bar must be 33-36 inches off the floor. The bottom of a vertical bar in transfer showers must be 3-6 inches over the horizontal bar on the wall. 

Where the problem comes in is that installers frequently aim for one edge of this range, and wind up a bit too low or high. Even just a fraction of one inch may get you cited for noncompliance, depending on who the inspector is. So what is the solution? The architect should dimension these bars in the middle of the range on the plans. If a range is shown on the plans, the contractor should install it in the center.

Get the proper Grab Bar length 

Code specified for many years that the parallel bar’s leading-edge next to the toilet must have 54 inches at least from the rear wall, while the rear edge should have 12 inches away from the wall. Since a 42-inch bar is used by most contractors, getting one of those dimensions right made the other one right as well automatically. 

However, in 2009 ICC made a change to its rear-edge standard, going to a “maximum” distance instead of an absolute one. Due to the change, many installers are now placing closer to a rear wall. However, most installers still use 42-inch bars, so they end up short of the 54-inch requirement. Using a longer bar is a simple solution to this problem. 

A shower might need to have a shorter-length bar. That is due to the fact that the 2009 code requires that all accessible showers have shower seats and grab bars are prohibited to expend over shower seats. 

bathroom ada compliance requirements - grab bars

How to avoid obstructions 

Obstructions include items like paper dispensers and shelves. Frequently they are installed too close to a grab bar. Cod requires clearance at a minimum of 12 inches over the grab bar and 1 1/2 inches under them. If a bar is installed on a framed wall (instead of a stall partition), then recessed dispensers and shelves are recommended. 

Some problems may be traced back to the framing crew. Blocking needs to be installed in the wall to fasten the grab bars to. Installers often either put the blocking in the wrong place or don’t think about it until it is too late. For both toilet stalls and showers, there is an obvious fix: blocking should be confirmed by the contractor before the cement board or drywall is installed.

Need a CASp to inspect your bathroom today? Feel free to give us a call for a free quote (714) 500-7585 or visit us online

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