How can I install a shower bar in a bathtub without drilling holes?

My 98 year old mother is staying with my sister since she has gotten out of rehab. She is very unsteady and sits on shower chair in the bathtub. She need something to hold on to during her shower, but my sister really does not want to drill holes in her tile walls. Any ideas about using something in the bathtub? Walker is to large to fit. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks in advance

  16 answers
  • Linda C Linda C on Feb 26, 2020

    You can buy a temporary handle that grips the outside edge of the bath tub.

    Try Amazon or Walmart.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 26, 2020

    you can get a seat with handles. My mother has one. Be careful if you go with suction cup grab bars and make sure she checks with each use, they come loose.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 26, 2020 has grab bars that are secured to the tub or shower surround with what looks like big suction cups. Just go to there site and type what you want in the search bar. When checking out items I pay attention to the customer reviews. Nice to hear how someone who already bought an item feels about that item after using it for real.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Feb 26, 2020

    We had the short bar with suction cups on the horizontal side of the tub, it worked pretty well as a stabilizer for getting up and down, but removed it because it created a further obstacle entering/exiting the fiberglass tub/shower enclosure. We then had the heavy duty textured grab bars installed and are much more secure with them. In fact, I would not even consider getting rid of them with this present set up. The plan for the future is to take out the tub, and just have a walk-in shower with a low lip of about 5" and still keep the metal grab bars. It seems that very few household members take baths.

    Also consider:

    There are pivotal seats with handles that straddle the tub side, a person can sit on it outside the tub, then lift their legs and slide onto a seat placed in the tub. This is just an intermediate step with navigation. It may work for your mother.

    I agree with Flipturn, an attached grab bar(s) is the way to go, I would not rely on a suction cup system, they do slip when there is adequate pressure applied to them.

    Best to you, your sister, an of course your mother, hope she does well in her recovery.

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Feb 26, 2020

    I agree. It’s probably best to have them professionally installed. A bar held up by suction cups could give way.

  • Em Em on Feb 26, 2020

    You are talking about your Mother for Heaven's sake.

    Suction cup bars are out of the question. Bite the bullet and install grab bars that are attached properly to the studs behind the shower wall.

    • See 1 previous
    • Em Em on Feb 27, 2020

      Here is a thought. Home Depot sells small tiles with stamped designs like a sea shell or just small squares like an 2" x 2" you could glue on top of the holes if you ever remove the bar.

      It is a great selling point to have a grab bar in a tub/shower enclosure anyway.

      I would not listen to those with the suction cup idea.

      A friend of mine had a trip to the emergency room with her son. He grabbed onto one of the old soap dishes with the bar on it to help himself up and it was cemented into the wall. A small child pulled it right out, he fell smashed the back of his head on the tub and hit himself in the forehead with the ceramic soap dish requiring stitches. Elderly bones are more brittle than you think.

      NEVER sacrifice safety for money. Your Mom is worth more than that. Give her a hug from all of the Home talker's that care.

  • Lori Lori on Feb 26, 2020

    They sell a handicap grip bar that suction cups to the wall and works great!

  • This is your Mother, bite the bullet and install correctly. Get a contractor familiar with ADA requirements to install for you.

    You will never forgive yourself if something happens. I had them installed in both my mom's house and mine so no matter where she was, I could bathe her safely.

  • Pamela Pamela on Feb 26, 2020

    I agree , you should make it safe , without any question about it ! If your mother is a very tiny person , the suction cup bar might work , the suction bar that goes on the tubs edge , might be sturdier . But I would have someone who weighs considerably

    more than your mother test it first , making sure they use their full weight to pull themselves up with it , if it moves even the slightest bit , it would be a no go and have someone come in and out one in properly , by drilling it in to the tile . You should never take a chance !!! A fall in the tub or shower could be tragic !

  • Pat Pat on Feb 26, 2020

    I agree with installing grab bars permanently by screwing into the studs. I know of younger people that use the grab bars while showering or even cleaning the shower stall. We have one on the side of the shower and one on the back of the shower..both vertical. Husband has a bench with arms in the shower also. Also have a suction cup mat on the floor so as not to slip. Can't be too careful.

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Mar 22, 2021

    If your sister is worried about re-sale of her house with grab bars in the shower,

    buyers actually like the ADA assets added to a house, because then they don’t have to do it.

    Blocking in the walls is not likely to be where you need it, so be prepared to buy grab bars that match up with the stud spacing @ 16” on center.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 22, 2021

    If you are concerned about safety why not bite the big bullet and install a walk bath?

    They are becoming so mainstream that even the Home Depot carries them:

  • 17335038 17335038 on Jan 30, 2022

    There are many serious accidents that occur due to persons depending on suction cup or gripper grab bars for support while getting into and out of the bath. Don't take your chances, or put someone else in a risky position. As others have already said, get a sturdy stainless steel grab bar properly installed.

    Even if the particular person requiring the grab bar will be living at the residence only temporarily, the bar can always be used by anyone else (younger folks slip in the tub and incur injuries as well), and for a place to hang up hand washables to dry.

  • Shar Menlo Shar Menlo on Feb 01, 2022

    Make sure your suction grab bar has security levers which anchor the bar to the surface of the tub surround. This way your Mom would not pull the bar from the wall.