Of course, permanently installing a grab bar directly into your wall studs is the best option. This method works great unless you don’t have the correct layout of studs.
While this isn’t ideal, the good news is there are four great options for installing grab bars without studs.
Four Potential Options For Installing Grab Bars Without Studs
Even the best grab bars for seniors won’t be safe unless they are installed properly. Here are some ways to install them if attaching them to studs isn’t an option.
1. Moen Stud-Free Mounting System
The Moen Stud-Free Mounting System is an excellent option specifically designed for circumstances where you can’t use the studs.
The hardware is robust and comes with everything you need for a secure install. You will need access to the wall’s backside to install it, but once it’s in place, it’s a very secure option.
This video of renowned handyman Ron Hazelton shows how it works and why it works, and he demonstrates it by hanging multiple weights off of the bar to confirm the product’s viability.
This method is a slightly more advanced version of the concept behind toggle bolts or independent anchors that are sometimes available in hardware stores.
2. Toggle Bolts
One option is to use toggle bolts. Toggle bolts are specialized screws with a portion that acts like a handle. You insert this handle through the hole in the wall.
Once it has passed through the wall, it will expand, which creates leverage once the bolt is tightened. By spreading out how much of the area needs to support weight, it doesn’t need to be quite as firm or solid to function, thus bypassing the need for a stud.
The downside to this method is that you will have exposed hardware outside the shower, and depending on how often the grab bars are used, they may eventually work themselves loose over time.
It’s not as secure as using the studs, but it is a potential option for installing grab bars in many of their common locations.
3. Independent Anchors
Another option is to use independent anchors. You can mount these specialized hardware pieces on the inside of the shower, often with only a small amount of exposed hardware on the outside.
This method has been one of the most common and effective methods for mounting grab bars, brackets, or other items when studs were not readily available.
Independent anchors can be effective in all but the most challenging of situations. But once again, this won’t be quite as good as being able to secure a grab bar into the studs themselves.
The upside to this is that it’s a very secure method, but the downside is that you often need access to the backside of the shower wall to install them, which may not always be possible depending on the room or the design of the house.
4. Use Suction Cup Grab Bars
The final potential solution is to use suction cup grab bars. These are specialized grab bars with strong suction cups on the back that adhere the grab bar directly to the wall.
The suction cups can be incredibly strong, but the main downside to this method is that they can eventually lose their grip and fall off the wall. They also are not designed to support the total weight of an individual.
Plus, they can’t support sudden heavy bursts of weight. It’s not ideal, but it can be temporary support to help balance more than save you from a fall.
Installing grab bars without studs can be done, but it’s essential to understand that it won’t be entirely as secure as mounting them into the studs. The best option for you will vary depending on the specific circumstances.
Still, some of the best fasteners for installing grab bars include using the Moen Stud-Free Mounting System, toggle bolts, independent anchors, or suction cup grab bars.
With any of these methods, it’s vital to ensure that the grab bars are tested before relying on them for support, as they may not be able to hold the same weight as if they were mounted into studs.