Ruth Ann, who lives in Lincoln, MA, wrote to me about grab bars.
Here’s what she had to say:
“We are installing safety bars in our tiled bath, tile over rock lath plaster (1927). The installer plans to use wall anchors, not toggles or into studs. He insists this will hold,, been doing it for years. Is it really OK? I did try your search engine but got no results.”
I responded immediately to Ruth Ann because this is a major safety hazard.
Although she stated that she’s got plaster and lath in her home, I don’t feel for a moment that’s what’s in the tub and shower area. Years ago the ceramic tile was set on top of solid cement mortar that was put over wire lath. It’s incredibly durable and strong. It’s also very heavy.
There’s NO WAY I’d ever rely on simple friction anchors that just contact the sides of the drilled hole for grab bars. These anchors are not a bad choice for an up/down force on a wall, but for PULL OUT force, no way Jose′.
The best option, if one can make it work, is to install the grab bars into the wall studs.
The second-best option is to install the grab bars into solid-wood blocking that may have been installed in anticipation of installing grab bars.
The last option is some sort of magic, strong toggle bolt that expands once it passes through the back of the drilled hole.
I like the Moen SecureMount anchor system. CLICK HERE to see all of the different styles and finishes.
Watch this video to see how beefy the giant toggle-type anchor is.