What measurements matter concerning grab bars?

Brad, my question concerns new construction toilets that are 19 to 19 3/4 inches off of the side walls. The contractor states that we can extend the grab bars out on the sidewall, because all that matters in the 16-18 inches measurement is the distance from the actual grab bar itself to the centerline of the toilet. Is there any proof of this in the ADA guidelines?

Thank you!

-Johnny R.



It is not quite as simple as just extending the grab bar out from the wall. Although, that is a possibility without moving or completely building out the wall.

The requirement according to the ADA is that the space between the wall and grab bar should be 1 1/2 inches. The space between the grab bar and projecting objects below and at the ends should be 1 1/2 inches, and the space above shall be 12 inches minimum.

The purpose for the exact measurement of 1 1/2 inches space between the wall and the grab bar is so that a person can use their forearm for leverage to push up. If the space is larger than the required 1 1/2 inches, than the person’s arm could go between the bar and the wall. If they fell, it would act as a lever arm and likely cause them to break their arm.

A feasible solution that could be considered equivalent facilitation would be to build out the wall for a minimum of 12 inches above the grab bar, and 1 1/2 inches  on all the other sides. The grab bar would then be mounted to build this out.

Thank you for the question Johnny!


Figure 308.3.1

– Brad

Brad Gaskins