While super helpful for seniors living with balance issues, suction cup grab bars – and they have been flying of the shelves- can cause tragic accidents if not installed the right way.
The good news is that mounting the bars in your shower or bathtub is not as tough as most of us fear and it’s a task any DIYer can hack – you actually don’t need any tools with some suction cup bars.
Curious? Here is how to install suction cup grab bars correctly for the extra security and convenience when entering or exiting the bathtub/shower …
How to install suction cup grab bars – step by step
The best thing about this style of shower bars is that unlike permanent grab bars, you don’t need to screw them into a wall so you won’t be drilling into stubborn walls.
In fact, in most cases, installing suction cup type bars is super-fast and straightforward.
Below is exactly how to install suction cup grab bars in minutes:
Before you start, check that the delivered grab bars kit is in perfect condition.
Just take everything out of the package and inspect.
You really don’t want to install a faulty product.
Step 1: Choose an ideal location
Choose the mounting location that the bars will be most practical to use from.
This depends on factors such as who will precisely be using them and the design of the guest stall shower, the master bath, or wherever else you’re installing it.
Other considerations matter too.
For example, the diameter of the cups can cause mounting problems if bigger than your tiles – they won’t fit across the tiles and you’ll want to check the measurements prior to mounting on tiles.
In general, the bars are to be mounted to smooth, flat, and non-porous surfaces for support and safety you can depend on 100%.
To be clear, stay away from tile grout lines and painted surfaces if you want it not to stick indefinitely.
Step 2: Prepare the surface
Once you have settled on where you desire to have them on the tub/shower wall, you need to do a job that is very vital: cleaning and drying the surface.
I know that some bars don’t require this in the installation instructions but for the most part, these safety accessories adhere best to clean and dry surfaces.
Depending on the wall or tile, you can use products such as rubbing alcohol (a solution of distilled water and isopropyl alcohol) to thoroughly clean the surface before proceeding.
Alcohol is a great solvent and it quickly dissolves dirt and other unseen debris.
In addition, it dries nearly instantly, which saves you invaluable time.
All you have to do is wet a cleaning aid like a piece of cloth with rubbing alcohol then move it across the spot you had identified, in a back/forth pattern to get good enough cleaning coverage.
Repeat until satisfied.
Don’t forget to let it dry before moving on.
Tip: It can also be a good idea to clean the suction cups as well. From our experience, the item attaches more strongly after cleaning the cups (allow them to dry too).
Step 3: Attach the bar
With the levers/latches up, position the bar on the just cleaned location on your tub/shower wall.
Now firmly press the suction cups against the surface.
Push on the handle hard – the aim is to have it grip and hold on to the wall tightly.
When you feel that it is gripping really well, flip the little suction cup levers/tabs down to secure the grab bar.
Tip: Be careful when it comes to attaching the accessory to the wall while mounting – applying excessive pressure on the handle may cause the cups to stretch, causing them to lose their grip within a few days.
And to remove the bars…
To make the bar release the wall (perhaps you want to move it to another location):
Step 1: Release the levers
Flip the levers/latches up.
Step 2: Release the suction
Slide a fingertip (under the rubber seal) at either end to free the suction.
If it doesn’t dislodge, slide anything flat (a credit card works well here) underneath the suction cups.
This should release the grip.
Step 3: Re-install (if necessary)
Prepare the surface as explained above then re-install following the previous steps.
How to install suction cup grab bars – Bonus tips
· Take advantage of handy features
Some brands of suction cup grab bars feature helpful installation features.
For example, some come with a color indicator (typically a green/red light) that gives you a timely visual cue that the bar is attached properly or has become loose.
If you’re lucky to have such a bar, only release the handle when the light indicates that it has grabbed the wall in the best way possible.
· Be careful about fiberglass
While most suction cup grab bars easily mounts on sealed fiberglass (clean and dry), reinforcing it first enhances the safety of the installation.
That is because the material is pretty thin and can be un-supportive of the resultant weight displacement when your mom/dad pulls on the bars.
Keep that in mind if you’re planning to install it in your molded fiberglass shower.
Likewise, additional reinforcing may be necessary if installing to acrylic walls that are not specifically labeled safe for grab bars.
· Test it always
The safety of your mom or dad when getting in/out of tub/shower is your number one priority.
For this reason, we recommend that you test if it is still firmly attached to the wall daily before use.
It’s the only way to be sure that he/she will not fall and get seriously injured considering that some bars lose suction because of being hit with water on a daily basis.
Wrapping it up
Well, that is how to install suction cup grab bars – it’s the best way to do it for maximum security and convenience.
All that said, it’s important to keep in mind that each brand of suction cup grab bars has a specific installation procedure printed on the owners’ manual.
As such, it’s wise to follow the listed instructions along with the steps we have explained above.
That way, you are sure of getting every step right.
One last thing: for more stability, consider adding a bath mat to the bathroom floor or using pool shoes.