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How To Buy A Grab Rail

Posted by Mike Phipps on December 10, 2018

A shower with grab rails and other mobility aids that helping in a bathroom

A grab rail may be necessary around the home or outdoors if yourself or a family member need a little extra support when moving around. They can provide stability and safety when getting in the shower, going up and down steps or using the loo.

What types of grab rails are there?

There are hundreds of different types and styles of grab rail all suited to different needs, they vary from the material such as metal, plastic, wood and brass and can come in straight, angled, adjustable and suction cup!

How do I measure and fit a grab rail correctly?

If you need to measure for a grab rail, you need to take into account the following aspects:

  • your own requirements
  • the support you require
  • your height and weight
  • the amount of mobility and strength you have in your hands, arms and shoulders.

Taking all this into account you can then decide if a steel or wall to floor bar is required for a lot of support, or just a little assistance is required from a plastic or suction cup grab bar. For measuring you need to decide where you want to position the grab rail, how it will be used and if it is reachable from the point of action i.e. when sitting on the toilet or in the bath, can you easily grab the bar without overreaching?

Points to consider -

  • If the grab bar is going to be in a wet area like the shower, you need something with a slip-resistant, knurled, ribbed or fluted finish.
  • A polished or chrome finish is attractive and hard wearing but can be quite slippery to hold, especially when hands are wet, so these are not suitable to use in wet areas like the shower unless they have a textured grip surface on top.
  • If a grab bar is ‘epoxy coated’ is made from plastic, these tend to have a warmer feel to those made from steel. These also tend to come in different colours which can be suitable for users with low vision or dementia.

Most grab rails aren’t supplied with screws as it depends on the type of wall they need to be fixed too. Most of them use simple screws that you can find in any hardware store or may even have lying around the house. Make sure that the grab rail is fitted correctly and securely following the instructions. If the grab rail features suction cups, these need to be placed on completely clean and dry tiles with the cup centre of the tiles and not overlapping any grouting as this can cause the cups to unstick and become unsafe. If you aren’t confident about fixing a grab rail, ask family, friends or even better a professional to do it for you so you know that it will be secure.

What type of grab rail do I need to buy?

How To Buy Grab rails for the bathroom

If you have decided you need a bathroom grab rail to help you get in and out of the bath or shower, there are many different types that can offer support. A bathtub grab bar can be fixed securely to the side of the bath to offer assistance getting in and out. Most are adjustable to suit different depths and can be tightened and loosened where necessary, making it is easy to uninstall if needs be.

If a lot of support is needed in the bath, a bath tap rail fixes securely over most sets of taps to offer grip and an aid to pull yourself up or forward. Suction grab rails are a perfect addition to any shower, wet room or bath area as they are designed to aid user stability (however they do not support full body weight). The pressure switches on the grab rail create a strong vacuum on the suction pads when fitted correctly to tiles.

If something more specialist is needed, the Mobeli range of rails are designed to be adjustable to suit the users need, these also use strong suction cups. There are many stylish and modern designs available in grab rails to coincide with most bathroom decor, you can choose from chrome, white, white & mint, stainless steel, grey and more.

Various grab rails on a white background

If assistance is needed around the toilet, and a frame is a little too bulky, there are options that you may find more suitable. A drop down rail provides support when approaching or leaving the toilet, and folds away neatly when not in use. These often have styles with support legs for extra strength. 

Various grab rails on a white background

How To Buy Grab Rails for around the home

If it’s grab rails for around the home you’re needing, there are many different options including contemporary styles, it all depends on what will be best suitable for you. If a curved rail is needed for the bannister at the end of the stairs, the Newel Post Grab Rail is a perfect choice. Fitted on both corners, it curves around the bannister to help the user navigate different heights while holding on for support. Other angular rails include the D-shape rail which provides double support close to steps or next to the toilet. A ringwood wall to floor rail is made with a larger diameter, made from tough steel tubing making an ideal aid for seating and standing. A smaller, plastic angled option could be the Ashby grab bar as it offers extra grip for those who struggle to take full strain through the hands.

Various grab rails on a white background


If a more simple option is needed, stainless steel rail with concealed fixings is a great options for the kitchen or hallways.  A bright coloured grab rail is also a great option for anyone with low vision or dementia. The president grab bar comes in blue or red and can offer contrast between wall and bar more than standard rails. 

Various grab rails on a white background

How To Buy Grab Rails for Outdoors

Installing a grab rail outdoors is necessary for support, especially during winter months when pavements and steps are more likely to be slippy from rain or ice. Having grab rails installed either side of the door provide assistance while stepping out allowing you to place sturdy footing with support from your arms and reducing the risk of falls outside. Simple steel outdoor grab rails that are designed for the outdoors tend to be weather resistant and durable, however, these can become slippery when wet. If going outdoors in the rain is needed, something with extra grip features like the popular prima outdoor rail, can blend into outdoor decor well and provide assistance when needed. 

Various grab rails on a white background


Kate Makin, OT

Kate Makin, Ability Superstore's Occupational Therapist

Kate Makin qualified as an occupational therapist (OT) in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).

As a registered occupational therapist (OT), Kate is a science degree-based, health and social care professional, taking a “whole person” approach to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. This enables individuals, of all ages, to achieve their full potential and lead as independent life as possible.

Click here for Kate’s registration with the Health and Care Professions Council.

Throughout her career, Kate has worked in many different clinical settings, in both the public and private sector. Kate has been running her own independent occupational therapist business since 2009. She is passionate about disability aids and adaptations, with a specialist interest in postural management and seating.

As Ability Superstore’s resident OT, Kate is on hand to offer professional advice and answer any queries.