What will I need to install a grab bar next to toilet?


I’m wanting to install a Glacier Bay 18” grab bar next to the toilet in a 49 year old house. The instructions for the grab bar state that you can use toggle bolts or WingIts for studless installations and that a 1/8 drill bit is required. Upon further research some sites advise not to use toggle bolts, but to use wood blocking or screw into a stud and show a different size of drill bit is needed. What size toggle bolts would I need? Wood blocking or WingIts, in my opinion, would require carpentry skills beyond my capability. Needless to say, confusing. Can anyone clear this up for me?


q what will i need to install a grab bar next to toilet
  15 answers
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Apr 14, 2021

    Hi there! If you can be certain to install it with screws into studs that would absolutely be the sturdiest best possible way you can go. In a pinch, instead of a drill bit, I've just screwed a screw in the wall, wiggled it around and made a hole big enough like that in sheet rock. Toggle bolts are as simple as pushing them into the hole and tightening the screw, just gotta make sure the hole is big enough so they can get into the wall.

    • April April on Apr 15, 2021

      That’s a good idea! Thanks for your help and encouragement!

    • See 1 previous
    • Lina Lina on Apr 21, 2021

      Yeah, the video was very helpful, thank you.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Apr 14, 2021

    Hi April,

    Hope this helps:

    3. Place a bar near the toilet

    Placing a bar near the toilet is really important. It is very easy to lose balance while trying to sit down or get up. Even young people can lose balance after they try to get up after a long time of sitting down. For elderly or disabled people, it’s hard all the time. Therefore, a grab bar should be placed near the toilet in one of the following places.

    If the toilet is near a wall, or between the two, a small 18-inch or a U-shaped bar should be placed on either one or both of the walls. When placing them, make sure you take into consideration the height of the bar. You want to make it easily reachable from the toilet. If possible, have the person at hand sit at the toilet and measure the distance so it’s just right for them.

    If your toilet does not have a wall close enough, you can have a toilet frame attached to the toilet itself or use a security pole. You can even mount a pole into the ground if you have to.

    ref: https://www.edmchicago.com/places-to-install-grab-bars/

    Here is the how to, locate the studs for support of the grab bar:


    One observation, since this is a bathroom location, I would recommend the grab bar with a grip surface rather than a smooth finished one. Also, the ones that stick to a surface are unreliable and I would hesitate to use them.

    • April April on Apr 15, 2021

      Yes, it definitely helps. Thank you! And thank you for your suggestions as well. I agree.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Apr 14, 2021

    • If the wall is tiled, but not all the way to the ceiling, you could use a stud finder to find the studs above the tile. However, if there is cement board where you will mount the grab bar, you do not need to mount to the wall studs. [2]
    • If the wall is tiled to the ceiling, a stud finder probably could not be used. Tiled shower walls are almost always covered by cement board, and a stud finder cannot detect studs through it and the tile. The grab bar will then be mounted using wall anchors in the cement board, as grab bars normally are. If wall anchors are packaged with your grab bar, this is what they are designed for. If wall anchors are not in the package, buy the heaviest short, plastic wall anchors available. These must have 14 gage pan head screws in the package to be strong enough.
    • WingIts - World's Strongest Fastener - WingIts are rated up to 300 lbs. (depending on application) and will never Loosen. Millions of installations and No Issues. WingIts utilizes a #8 stainless steel screw, which is ideal for installing Bath Accessories, Window Dressings and Shelving.



    • April April on Apr 15, 2021

      Thank you for the helpful insight and links, Robyn!

  • William William on Apr 14, 2021

    Studs are never where we want them to be. If you can mount one end into a stud you can use toggle bolts on the other end if there is no stud there. We installed a lot of grab bars in the nursing home I worked at. We made sure we hit at least one stud and used toggle bolts at the other end.

    • April April on Apr 15, 2021

      Thanks, William! Great idea! Good to know! Especially when wanting to install it horizontally instead of diagonally.

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 15, 2021

    Where To Put Grab Bars In A Bathroom (And How To Install Them)


  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 15, 2021

    It will depend on the type of wall you have as to how you hang the bar. Sheetrock, wall panels, or tile (perhaps something else even). Each has it's own set of challenges for installation. Going on sheetrock or wall panels, it will be key to locate the studs. When we had to add them to my parents' home, the therapist had a serious warning about improper installation. She had seen so many people use the suction kind of not hit a stud and they pulled away from the wall. You can get a stud finder that works well and isn't expensive. Locate the studs first then you can make the determination of placement of the bar. If you can't place the bar directly into studs, you can install a 2x4 or 2x6 into the studs that is long enough to go into the studs and longer than the bar. Then install the bar onto that wood. You could paint it to make it look better but safety is the #1 concern.

    • April April on Apr 19, 2021

      Thank you for your helpful insight, Kathy! Yeah, I agree, the regular grab bars would appear to be far more sturdier than suction cup grab bars.

    • See 2 previous
    • April April on Apr 28, 2021

      Thank you, Vimarhonor, for your expertise! The family member that will be using this is fairly small framed and well under 200 pounds. I think the max weight the rails can handle is 250-300. I’m debating rather the suction cups will work because we have small tiles on the floor. You’ve definitely given me a lot to think about and to consider.

  • Annie Annie on Apr 17, 2021

    Ideally you want to mount through to the studs in the wall. If you toggle through drywall it will have limited capabilities.

    • April April on Apr 19, 2021

      Thanks, Annie! Sounds like at least having one side into a stud is crucial.

  • April April on Apr 19, 2021

    Btw, does anyone know what size of toggle I’ll need? I’ve heard 3/16 is good but looking to know what length, since it appears only one side will be able to be fastened to a stud.

    • See 1 previous
    • April April on Apr 21, 2021

      Okay, thanks Annie! I notice they sell them in 2”, 3” and 4”. Which do you think would be most applicable?

  • Betsy Betsy on Apr 19, 2021

    Hi April: With any luck, the studs will be where you need them. In reality, they won't be :( I would advise against toggle bolts as they are not secure enough and may pull out of the wall. What you can do is to get a board about 20" long and about 3 or 4 inches wide and maybe a 1/2 inch thick. Find your studs and screw this board, horizontally, to the centre of the studs, using 2 screws on each end, 4 screws in all. Drill holes in the boards first. and then into the studs to avoid cracking either one. You can paint or stain it to your liking. Then, screw your bar onto the board and into the wall, using at least a 2" screw. This should give you security, but I wouldn't do any tricks on it :)

    Good luck

  • Robert Robert on Apr 29, 2021

    The right way would be to install 2×4's in between the studs with wood screws at the height you want the grab bar to be the screw the grab bar to the 2×4's yhen patch the drywall

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Apr 30, 2021

    It needs to be instlled between studs . all hardware is always included with racks

  • Sharon Sharon on Aug 04, 2021

    As a state caregiver, its recommended to install into the studs with 2.5 to 3 inch screws. Those suction cup things are dangerous. I wouldn't recommend toggle bolts, the ones on my towel racks keep getting pulled out so I don't see how they could prevent a fall.

    IMHO it would be safer to get the toliet bars rather than something on the wall that can't hold the weight of a person falling. I've had most of my clients use these for the toliet, they fasten into the same holes where the toliet seat screws are. If your person needs a higher toliet seat they also sell them with bars.... I used this for my tiny mom.