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installing grab bars in a tiled shower

BonnieBb's picture

My client has asked me to install two grab bars in a bath I just finished remodeling!  The bathtub walls have all new ceramic tiles in an elaborate pattern.  I do not know how to install grab bars and neither does my tile man because grab bars are so uncommon here.  Thanks.   

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


The easiest way (post #191466, reply #1 of 24)

is probably Moen Securemount hardware and their matching bars. You need to be able to drill a 1-1/4" hole thru tile.

If you know where the studs are, and can get a bar that fits, that's also easy.

grab bars - continued (post #191466, reply #4 of 24)

I did purchase Moen grab bars. The only directions are in find and install in wood studs, which is a bit problematical in my situation, since the bath is all tiled.

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


Bonnie (post #191466, reply #2 of 24)

The Moen set up is good. 

 Mounting to blocking is the best and easiest-if they bother to tell you b/4hand that they want bars............

If you got lucky and knew the stud layout-and got a bar to fit that place-equally easy and good.

I have used Hilti Togglers b/4 in situations like this.  I might only mount using 2 of the provided holes in the bar.  The toggler needs a 5/8's hole and is just like a heavy duty toggle anchor, but:

They have a plastic slide pc. that after you mark the hole and drill it-you insert the toggler and flip it to the backside of the cement board.  Then you draw up the plastic thing-which fixes the toggle into position. (unlike a normal toggle that you need to place onto the bar, then push all of them into the hole.)   The bolts can be removed and replaced-the toggler stays put.

By passing it through the tile and the backer board-you have a real secure fastening.  Take a look at the hilti site and see what I mean.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


Grap Bars (post #191466, reply #3 of 24)

I have to agree with the other post but I lean toward the Moen Secure Mount Anchors, they seem more secure when someone is putting weight on them

"If all else fails, read the directions"

grab bars and old walls (post #191466, reply #5 of 24)

Calvin:

 

This is an 1896 Victorian house with hollow core brick walls and original plaster over lath.  However, I did build out a wall just for the shower, using 2x4's set on its side.  So the furred out walls are 2-inches thick and took care of the problem of dealing with crumbling plaster.  I then installed durock over the 2x4's. But  I do not really remember where I placed the studs. 

 

I am familiar with Hilti fasteners.  I have used them once before when needing specialized fasteners for those old hollow brick walls I am dealing with. 

 

What is going to happen to those tiles when drilled?  Will they crack and will all the other tiles around them crack?

 

Thanks for your input.

 

Bonnie

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


grab bar (post #191466, reply #6 of 24)

To drill for Moen fixture, first drill a small pilot hole with masonary bit without using the hammer drill option.  You may get lucky and hit the stud.  Then you need hole saw bit that is for the masonary use. 

For the placement of the bars, you need to do some research online for the code recommended places.  You can also ask the HO if they want help getting out of the tub or stability in the tub.  Hope it helps.

If there's only 1-1/2" (post #191466, reply #7 of 24)

behind the wall covering, do not try to use SecureMount anchors. There will not be room to pivot them into place.

I'm afraid you have a fairly difficult job ahead of you unless you conclusively identify the stud layout and screw the bars directly to the studs. Since they are installed flat you have 3-1/2" to hit. You will need to buy the 16", 32", or 48" bars and put them where they hit the studs. 

That is, unless Calvin's Hilti Toggles will work. I haven't seen those, but it sounds like I need to check them out.

Anyone installing grab bars needs to know how to find the studs, and needs tools for drilling tile cleanly and easily. If both of those things sounds easy, fine.... if either of them sounds daunting, let someone else take the risk.

David (post #191466, reply #12 of 24)

Check these out.  Great thing to have on hand.

http://www.us.hilti.com/holus/page/module/product/prca_rangedetail.jsf?lang=en&nodeId=-77338

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


Finding Studs (post #191466, reply #9 of 24)

I was going to start this out with a cheap shot, but I will hold back.

Seriously, what you can do with the minimum of disruption would be to try to find the studs,  One way would be to get the smallest carbide bit and drill in along the grout line.  (You did keep some of the old grout, didn't you, so you can patch easily?)  When you hit wood, you have found the stud.  If you put in standard spacing, all is well with the world in finding the second stud.

Seal the holes that missed with some sort of sealant (I am guessing that you have a membrane in back of the cement board), leaving a depression.  Grout the depression, and  it will become almost invisible.  Drill at an intersection and the visibility is even smaller.

a cheap shot? haha. I am firing back.(: (post #191466, reply #16 of 24)

Dear John.

Fire away,  I can take it, working in that macho world of construction in the southwest.!  (:

My clients hired me to tear out the work done by a previous contractor only a few short years ago.  he was hired to remodel the only bath in this Victorian house.  First, he tore out the closets, leaving the two adjoining bedrooms without anywhere to hang clothes.  Then he tore out the original plaster and lath and installed drywall.  He then decided to put in a massive 6 ft whirlpool, in a room which measured barely 71 inches wide.  To run the pipes in the crawlspace, he cut some of the 114 year old floor joists.  When I opened up the floor, there was no support at all under the whirlpool. Fortunately, he had never correctly hooked up the whirlpool, so it had never been filled.  If it had, it would fallen through the floor.

The walls of the house are hollow core brick with lathe and plaster over. The walls are not level or plumb and neither is the floor.  MY first task was to correctly run the plumbing and redo the electrical.  Then rebuild the structure underneath the bathroom. It was creepy work in the crawlspace, that's for sure.   I had to strip the woodwork and adding matching, where needed; restore the plaster walls, etc.  I added wainscoating and crown moulding.  Finally, I had to level the floor.

The width of the bath was barely 71 inches, so a six ft tub was out of the question.  I had to use a 5 1/2 ft one instead.  To keep the symmetry, I decided to furr out the wall around the tub/shower only, by attaching 2x4's flat to the wall, on 3 walls.  Then install the tub.  It actually worked out very well and visually sets off the bathtub and my tilework. 

So the work was all finished and  homeowners decided on grab bars!  haha.  And that was the only thing I did not know how to do.  Hence, I sought advice from all you fellows.

 

I have enclosed some pics.  Perhaps I should add photos to the galley, such as my  octagonal oak staircase and a fanciful cedar gazebo with five irregular sides, put together timber frame style.!  And the little English castle, with secret tunnels that go to a tiny indoor pool.

 

Bonnie

 

PS I specialize in historic preservation.  I also build new houses to look old, specializing in storybook design.  I have an 18 month waiting list.   

   

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


You've got a shot of the (post #191466, reply #21 of 24)

You've got a shot of the furring on one side (and presumably it's symmetrical).  Plus you can make out a few of the fasteners in the partially tiled shot.  Enough there to compute the locations of the studs.

On a separate note, don't forget about water sealing the fasteners.  Some of the fasteners are self-sealing on reasonably smooth surfaces, but others need a dab of silicone at least to keep them reasonably water-tight in a shower.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Bonnie (post #191466, reply #11 of 24)

I carry the Hilti togglers (do not be confused by non hilti toggle bolts) along with most any anchor necessary and appropriate to fasten almost anything.  I hate being without what might work, so I don't have to fall into the slump of going out and hunting for something...............I hate that and the customer isn't impressed either.  Time is money-out of their pocket.  Sometimes the higher price comes with the benefit of being prepared.

In this situation, I would know how high I would like the bars, rough location if that is an option as far at location along the wall.  I would know my layout or have a way to find it.  With that in mind, or not-if I was hired to mount the bars not knowing what the heck was back there.  Finding a flat stud is not hard-behind a tile wall, might be a problem. 

Once located, I'd mark the three holes (necessary in most grab bar installs)as close to a tile joint as possible.  I'd move it up down sideways to hopefully catch two of the holes in the joint.  Less likely to crack a tile drilling on the edge.  The first hole would we with a small tapcon bit-plenty of those in the van. 

I've tried to get to a flat stud, tried to drill along a joint in the tile and now by drilling - pretty much am now stuck with mounting. 

With your 1-1/2" space behind the backer board you are right on the verge of the hilti toggler working.  It should turn in just a bit less room than that.  If you like, I can go out to the van and measure.

If all else fails or is inappropriate, I might consider using the straight expandet anchor.  A masonry anchor that has no lip-just a ribbed plastic sleeve, the same size as the hole you drill -sized according to the screw you use.  Then you could drill the brick-use a long enough screw and "start" the anchor on the screw-push through the tile/backer bd. and into the hole in the brick.  A couple taps on it and it should seat.  Tighten the screw and she go nowhere.

Best of luck.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


I have used Hilti Togglers (post #191466, reply #10 of 24)

I have used Hilti Togglers b/4 in situations like this.

Hi Calvin.  I LOVE those anchors you're talking about.  I think they're actually made by Toggler.  I used to get them at Home Depot, but the last time I was there, they didn't seem to carry them anymore.  According to the Toggler website, Lowes carries them.  The next time at at Lowes, I plan on stocking up on a few more.

I think that they're plenty strong enough for a safety grab bar.  I don't see any advantageto the Moen system.  In either system, you're kinda screwed if it catches the edge of a stud... no room for the anchor and not enough stud to hold a screw.  At least with the Snaptoggles (as Toggler calls them), there's still 2 more holes available.

The best approach is to know (post #191466, reply #8 of 24)

The best approach is to know in advance that you'll want the bars and install blocking in the right places.  Then the bars can just be screwed into place.

Second-best is Wingits anchors.  In most cases as secure as attaching to blocking.  After that are several Wingits knockoffs -- of these the Moen units look to be about the best, and are available at many big box stores.  All of these need more than the 1.5-2" you have behind the Durock.  But you could probably gouge out the wall behind to get the clearance, especially with the top-of-the-line Wingits (since they expand like an umbrella rather than having a toggle that swings).

Second-worst choice is toggle bolts.  Worst choice is plastic expansion anchors.  The Hilti "Togglers" may be a fairly good option -- never stopped to consider them for this duty.

To drill the large holes for the Wingits and their kin you need a carbide hole saw of the appropriate diameter.  With any of the anchors, if you can't locate the studs, you should drill a small hole first and wiggle a wire around in it to see if there is wood in the near vicinity.  The anchors won't work if you try to install them in wood.

(Must not be a very good tile guy if he's never installed a grab bar before.)


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

grab bars in the Wild West (post #191466, reply #17 of 24)

Dear Dan H.

Well, my tile man is fantastic.  He has to be because I am such a perfectionist. Grab bars are rarely installed in residential construction so it is not unusual that he and I would not know how to install them. Out here in the wild west we just don't do such things.! Only in commercial work.

 

Bonnie 

 

Yes, it would be wonderful to be able to imagine what every client wanted in the future.  Nonetheless, clients hire me and keep asking me to return because I always figure out how to get the job done, correctly and beautifully.

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


Bonnie (post #191466, reply #18 of 24)

Too bad they hired the other guy first.

 

You have pictures.

of the furring.

 

What's the problem?

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


oh yes the photos of the furring (post #191466, reply #20 of 24)

Calvin:

 

I had forgotten about the pics until I decided to post some.  That photo will help enormously.

 

And yes, my clients are quite upset they hired someone else first. But that means that everything I do is very much appreciated.  So it works out fine.

 

B.

White is poison to a picture!  Use it only in highlights.

Peter Paul Rubens. 1577-1640.

I would add: don't use white in architecture either, except rarely and sparingly.


I'm guessing your tile man (post #191466, reply #22 of 24)

I'm guessing your tile man only works for young people, then.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Wing-its installation video - (post #191466, reply #23 of 24)

 Wing-its installation video - http://www.wingits.com/This-Old-House-Installs-A-Grab-Bar_ep_67-1.html

You have to MISS the studs ;o)

BTW a deepscan studfinder ought to be able to see them ... or possibly the one below -

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stud4sure.jpg
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Jeff, (post #191466, reply #13 of 24)

Please post the make and model number of the stud finder that would reliably "see" through tile and backer board.

thanks.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


Stud finder (post #191466, reply #15 of 24)

Cal, as previously discussed I think you oughta buy an IR camera... when your wife isn't looking. You can generally find all of the framing and numerous other things in the wall, if you wait for and/or create the right conditions.

I have and sometimes use a Zircon like this http://www.zircon.com/products/edge_ss_pro_sl.html and it works fairly well. If you take the time to scan the area carefully you can usually locate all of the studs, and it sometimes works thru tile.

I believe Bosch and Milwaukee, maybe others, offers "deep scanner" tools of varying reputations. Here's an example http://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-2290-21-12-Volt-Sub-Scanner-Detection/dp/B002EL4LCG and I can imagine situations where something like this might help.

The rare-earth magnet-on-a-string trick works REALLY well and everyone should have a few in their truck.

David (post #191466, reply #19 of 24)

I wondered about the IR tool. 

But then I saw Bonnie's picture of the furring. 

 

Maybe you can give me the name of the company for the IR.  I might just get lucky come next fest and coerce.................convince them to send one out.

 

Thanks.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


For my tud finder I use two (post #191466, reply #14 of 24)

For my tud finder I use two or three of those small but super strength magnets.  I just lightly skim them back and forth across the surface until they find a screw,leave it there, then do the same with another magnet directly below until it grabs then roughly find a plumb line between the two and that's my stud.

Two possible problems here.  I've never tried it over tile (but those magnets are strong), and if you used ss screws to attach the durock the magnets may not be attracted to them.

installing grab bars in tiled shower (post #191466, reply #24 of 24)

I use Hilti Togglers. First locate the bars with the flanges toward the middle of a tile. Mark the top hole. Score the mark with a nail or punch and drill a 1/2" hole with a tile bit (not a twist drill bit). Drill thru the tile (about 1/2 inch) Change bits to about 1/8" and drill the rest of the way. If you hit wood you are golden. If you hit a hollow place drill the 1/2" hole all the way thru and insert the Toggler.
 Put a bolt (I use the 3/8" size Toggler rather than the 1/4") thru the flange and into the Toggler and screw it all the way in. Locate the other holes and mark with fine marker. Remove the top screw. Score all the other holes and drill them like the first one. Wherever you hit a stud use the screws that come with the grab bar (or stainless steel if they will get wet). Use stainless flat head bolts where there is no stud. Use the gasket that comes with the grab bart. If in the shower end put some caulk around the top of each flange, under the gasket and tighten down all the bolts.