Dockside Chat - Handrails in a fiberglass tub

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View Full Version : Handrails in a fiberglass tub


polarred21
04-01-2012, 07:06 AM
My 80 year old father in law is staying with us while he suffers through chemo treatrments. I have a one piece fiberglass tub with just a shower curtain and only the one small handrail down low for him to hold on to.

I want to add maybe 2 additional longer rails to assist him. I figure go to Lowe's and see what they have. It will have to be drilled and screwed to the fiberglass with no access to the back side and obvioulsy be a permanent fixture from now on.

Does anyone have any advice for this? Thanks


billinstuart
04-01-2012, 07:14 AM
Don't do it. The bars need to support 250#'s (?) or so, and simple screws in the THIN fiberglass probably are inadequate. Kinda like screwing handicap bars to sheetrock.

alternative solution? Can you access the back of the unit from the room behind it?

gort
04-01-2012, 07:34 AM
Don't do it. The bars need to support 250#'s (?) or so, and simple screws in the THIN fiberglass probably are inadequate. Kinda like screwing handicap bars to sheetrock.

alternative solution? Can you access the back of the unit from the room behind it?

x2.

You need to add blocking attached to the framing from the back side.


davedowneast
04-01-2012, 09:08 AM
Go to a medical supply store, they'll have what you need.

The Visiting Nurse Association may be able to provide temporary equipment and good info.

I don't know of a way to install a grab rail without finding a way to secure to something solid. Even if you know where the studs are, there's probably a space between the fiberglass and something solid. If there's something that's been developed for this application, the VNA or the med equipment store will know about it.

Whatever you do, don't install a rail into the fiberglass and give him a false sense of security. An improper grab rail is worse than no grab rail.

tango tomas
04-01-2012, 09:59 AM
I installed handles at my in-laws. Locate studs behind the fiberglass and install handles available from Lowe's or HD. They have stainless and white/cream. The ones I installed had long stainless screws and I used some silicone caulk to seal everything. Go to the bathtub and act like you were a senior looking for proper height/location for the handles. Or, get your father in law to show you where he needs the handles. Don't be afraid to install a couple. It's really important to help the seniors so they don't fall and break a hip or other bone.

obbayer
04-01-2012, 12:57 PM
I cut a hole in the sheetrock in the closet behind the fiberglass shower stall and cut me somewood blocks and glassed those (like a boat repair) to the back of the stall, then secured the handrail to those.

Repaired and repainted the closet.

billinstuart
04-01-2012, 03:14 PM
[QUOTE=
Whatever you do, don't install a rail into the fiberglass and give him a false sense of security. An improper grab rail is worse than no grab rail.[/QUOTE]

Dave for president.

That is EXACTLY what happens with poorly attached "safety" bars!

polarred21
04-01-2012, 03:26 PM
I appreciate all that good info guys. I really don't have access to back side of the tub without tearing up some walls. I hear what you're saying about not depending on the fiberglass. I will look a little deeper, and thanks for the suggestion about the medical supply store :thumbsup:

obbayer
04-01-2012, 04:02 PM
Just thought of something, is your fiberglass shower attached to the framing or is over sheet rock, if over the sheet rock you have some more support to grab onto.

If it is over sheet rock, they do make some specialty anchors for that. I used them in my 2nd bath, tile over sheet rock to secure the same kind of grab rails.

I did this about 6 years ago, and IIRC I ordered the anchors thru Ace Hardware, I believe they met ADA standards. Kind of the normal pop thru the hole deal but had a wider surface area, used what 3 for each end of the grab rails.

gort
04-01-2012, 04:09 PM
I appreciate all that good info guys. I really don't have access to back side of the tub without tearing up some walls. I hear what you're saying about not depending on the fiberglass. I will look a little deeper, and thanks for the suggestion about the medical supply store :thumbsup:

Sheetrock 9 bucks a sheet
Paint 30 bucks a gallon

Tear up those walls.

obbayer
04-01-2012, 04:12 PM
Just found these:

http://www.grabbars.com/cgi-bin/store/agora.cgi?product=Solid_Mount

This one does say OK for fiberglass
https://www.elderdepot.com/catalog/product_1593_WingIt_Fastening_System.html

rusbob
04-01-2012, 08:09 PM
Another alternative: tub transfer bench. Two legs of the bench on the inside of the tub, 2 legs on the outside. You sit down, swing your legs in the tub, then slide over. Much safer than stepping into the tub, even with grab bars. You can get one at CVS, Walgreens, or your local medical supply store. Should be less than $100.

JMT34
04-02-2012, 07:30 AM
You MIGHT get lucky. When I was building, I put blocking at all handicapped heights around toilets, baths, showers just in case. Even if it didn't call for it from the homeowner. Check on-line for proper heights and you could take a nail from the back to see if you have blocking in place. Definitely don't go direct to tub, if they're not already built in (obviously not) it's not made for it.

davedowneast
04-02-2012, 08:37 AM
Another alternative: tub transfer bench. Two legs of the bench on the inside of the tub, 2 legs on the outside. You sit down, swing your legs in the tub, then slide over. Much safer than stepping into the tub, even with grab bars. You can get one at CVS, Walgreens, or your local medical supply store. Should be less than $100.

It was something like this that I did for my mother (15+) years ago. I installed the grab rails and that wasn't enough. She had a heart problem and rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. There was no way she could step over the tub wall regardless of rails without help.

The last thing I wanted was to see my mother naked. I went to the medical supply store and they fixed me up. Also, insurance paid for it and it was portable. So in your case, he can take it home with him, or you can sell/donate it when you no longer need it. I donated a lot of stuff to the VNA when my mother passed. Not only did I help others, I got a tax write off.



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