Should Shower Grab Bars Be Horizontal, Vertical, Or Angled (And Why)?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Shower grab bars can be installed all three ways: horizontal, vertical, and angled, depending on where they are located and their intended use. Here is how to know which way is appropriate for your installation.

Shower Grab Bars Be Horizontal, Vertical, Or Angled
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Installing shower grab bars is a great way to make a bathroom safer, but it’s also crucial to ensure the shower grab bars are correctly installed.

So, should shower grab bars be horizontal, vertical, or angled? There are general guidelines for the ideal setup, but there are times when each style will be the best because even the best grab bars for showers won’t work as well if they aren’t installed properly.

Let’s jump in!

General Grab Bar Installation Considerations

There are a few things to consider when deciding which orientation is best for your shower grab bars. One of the most important things to consider is the user’s height.

If someone is taller, they may need a grab bar that’s higher up. Someone who is shorter may need a grab bar lower to the ground to reach it.

Depending on how the shower walls are set up, this can change where the ideal places to put a grab bar are, especially if there are built-in “indentations” for things like soap or shampoo.

Obviously, you can’t install a grab bar through one of these, so better locations for your shower grab bars should be found.

Another consideration is the space you have. If you have a small bathroom, you might not have room for a horizontal grab bar. In that case, you would need to go with a vertical or angled option.

shower grab bars be horizontal, vertical, or angled vertical grab
A vertical grab bar is ideal for a small bathroom.

When Is A Vertical Grab Bar The Best Option?

There are a couple of scenarios where a vertical grab bar will be the best option. The first is when there’s not much room to work with. If you have a small bathroom, putting in a horizontal grab bar might not be possible.

Another time it’s good to go with a vertical grab bar is if the user is going to be shorter because a shorter person will have a more challenging time reaching a horizontal grab bar higher up.

A vertical grab bar can be placed lower to the ground, making it easier for someone of shorter stature to reach it.

Finally, a vertical grab bar is also a good option if there’s already a horizontal bar in place. Doubling up the grab bars can provide additional support and stability for the user.

RELATED: Can You Install Grab Bars in a Tile Bathroom Shower?

When Is An Angled Grab Bar The Best Option?

An angled grab bar will be a good option in several scenarios. The first is when you have a small bathroom and can’t fit a horizontal or vertical grab bar. You can place an angled grab bar in the corner of the shower, which takes up less space.

Another time when an angled grab bar is a good option is when the bar is longer than the spacing between studs. Often, individuals run into a situation where studs are 30 or 32 inches apart, but the grab bar is 36 inches.

In that situation, angling it across the sidewall can offer full support while ensuring each end is anchored in the studs.

shower grab bars be horizontal, vertical, or angled horizontal bar
A horizontal bar has plenty of room to work with.

When Is A Horizontal Bar The Best Option?

Horizontal bars will be the best option in a couple of different scenarios. The first is when there’s plenty of room to work with. If you have a large bathroom, you’ll likely be able to put in a horizontal grab bar without any issues.

Another time when a horizontal bar is the best option is when the user is taller. This is because a taller person is going to have a more challenging time reaching a vertical grab bar that’s higher up.

A horizontal grab bar can be placed lower to the ground, making it easier for someone of a taller stature to reach.

Many bathrooms have grab bars installed two or three ways or even all 3 in some cases. Look at your shower, your needs, and what works, and go from there to install your grab bars properly.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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