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How To Safely Install Grab Bars on Shower Walls with No Backing

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

A grab bar on the back wall of a tub surround
Grab bar on back wall of a bathtub surround

This is a situation that arises frequently when someone needs a grab bar installed in an unsupported wall in their fiberglass or acrylic bathtub or shower surround. Many of these walls flex when they are pushed on, making it apparent that they are not of sufficient thickness or strength to safely install a grab bar on a shower wall.

In this case, there can be a gap of several inches between the surround wall and the studs. Most people either give up at this point or simply install a grab bar that is screwed directly into the fiberglass or acrylic wall surface which at best is questionable for strength and safety.

Below is the innovative answer to this problem:

An instruction sheet

The Solid Mount Parts List
Solid Mount Parts

The installation of a Solid Mount
Solid Mount Installation

A Solid Mount fact sheet
A fact sheet

A picture on determining wall thickness
Determine wall thickness

A photo of the back side of a shower
Back side of the unit

Below is an installation video by the inventor of THE SOLID MOUNT:

If you find that the gap between your surround wall and the stud is beyond the maximum specified distance for The Solid Mount as shown above, the videos below show how to solve that dilemma:

This one takes a little ingenuity, but certainly will leave you with a firm support for your grab bar.

Finally, there are situations which do not allow you to locate your studs. First, if the wall above the tub or shower surround has been tiled, some stud finders may not be able to get a reading to locate the studs. Secondly, there is something called a domed acrylic or fiberglass shower. These units are fully enclosed, not allowing access to walls above the bathing surface, therefore, the studs cannot be located. In both of these cases, if there is no access to the walls behind or beside the tub or shower from an adjacent room, then the one thing that can be done to secure a grab bar is to use a Toggler SnapToggle.

Note: This will have to be done using your best judgment as to the wall thickness on your tub or shower wall being heavy enough to support a grab bar. This is always the last resort.

If you determine that your wall has enough strength to try this method it will most surely continue to flex to some degree after the grab bar is installed. But considering the reliability of this type of wall anchor, using six of these anchors for each grab bar will, in most cases, give sufficient strength to install grab bars on your shower walls with no backing.

We have another blog article which gives greater detail on this type of fastener which you may want to watch if you determine to go this way.

Below is the link to that article:

And here is a brief video of how the SnapToggle is installed in drywall.

This example is installation into drywall, but the fiberglass or acrylic wall installation is similar. Keep in mind, six 1/2" holes would have to be drilled into the tub or shower wall to install one grab bar and the actual holes would have to be drilled within the circumference of the grab bar backing to make sure that the drilled holes would remain hidden.

Note: Before purchasing the Toggler SnapToggle, notice whether or not bolts are included in the package amount that you desire. Some packages include bolts and some do not. These anchors can be used with multiple lengths of bolts, so you may have to purchase bolts separately according to the wall thickness on which you will be using these anchors.

Again, this type of installation has to be at your discretion. These anchors are quite strong, and the closer the grab bar can be installed to the front flange face, the back wall contour lines or soap dish areas, the more stable and secure the installation will be.

Now you can safely install grab bars on your shower walls with no backing.

Please don't forget to leave us any comments or questions in the comment section below!

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