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Question DetailsAsked on 2/17/2016

Does anyone have any experience with installing grab bars in an acrylic shower enclosure?

My elderly dad needs to have grab bars installed in his walk-in shower. The space between the drywall and the edge of the acrylic shell of the shower enclosure is about 3/8 - 1/2". To secure these bars, this space needs to be filled before attaching through the drywall to a stud to avoid damage to the enclosure and providing the proper stability. Any one have any ideas?


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Here are a couple of previous similar questions addressing that which might help -

You say the space between the drywall and the "edge" of the acrylic shell in 3/8-1/2" - I presume you mean there is a 1/2" range gap between the shell and the backer board or drywall, so snugging down on a bolt could deform and might crack the shell ? If that is what you mean, they make special brass and stainless standoff sleeves for that which can be cut to length if needed - some snap to length. The better ones have a sealing collar at the shell with a rubber coating on the standoff - so that is installed through the shell and tight to the stud (through the drywall too because it can crush under load), then the mounting screws/lag bolts pass through the hollow standoff into the stud for the restraint as usual. Sometimes (depending on how waterproof the grab bar mounting base is) they just use chromed or brass sleeves as standoffs, like first link below. Wingits is one manufacturer and most bathroom fixture manufacturers sell adapter kits too - they (a set of 2 or 4 typically - a grab bar can take up to 6 standoffs depending on size - one standoff per mounting bolt or screw) are sometimes called Shower Stall Grab Bar Install Kits. Here are links to a few sources and articles on using them FYI - which method and is used depends on the mounting base for the grab bar.

With up to 1/2" gap you might not be too concerned, but technically if using a standoff the mounting bolts should be replaced with new stainless ones that are longer than the originals by the amount of the standoff, so you are not reducing the gripping length of the screw in the studs.

Another method I have seen used is headless stainless lag bolts (have lag bolt thread to screw into the wood, machine thread on the other end) put into the stud the right depth, then a double nut run down on the machine thread to just below the liner, then a compression rubber sleeve jammed through the hole int he acrylic liner down to the nuts to act as a seal for the hole, put on mounting plate it there is one, install stainless mounting nuts with locktite so they cannot work loose, put bar on mounting plate. If bolts go right through the bar (integral base) then of course the nuts would have to be decorative chromed or stainless such to match and probably cap nuts. Doing this isolates the mounting load from the liner, and also (because of the double nuts behind the liner) with the rubber sleeve provides some resistance to the liner moving away from the bar if it is pushed on, which could open up the bolt holes to water infiltration. Of course, this is a LOT easier to handle in new construction - you just put wood blocking (preferably treated) behind the grab bar location - or use the bolts with nuts and fender washers behind the liner to support it so it can't be pushed in.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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