How to install a towel bar and other bath accessories

Bathroom accessories are often the last to be installed in a new or remodelled bathroom. It’s also easy to make errors here, which can cause costly damage to tiles and other finishes. Follow the guidelines to ensure you get it right the first try.

Standard heights are often more like guidelines than rules. If the project is ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act), be sure to comply with the requirements. Double-check your local code authority to verify that the rules are applicable in your particular area. The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) publishes many bathroom hardware details as well as other design recommendations.

Tip

If you plan well, blocking can be installed before drywall installation at the locations where towels racks, grab bars and other accessories will go. Blocking provides a stronger attachment than wall anchors and helps to ensure that accessories are secure and sturdy.

Tips On Where To Install Your Bathroom Accessories
Tips On Where To Install Your Bathroom Accessories

Towel bars and ring

Towel bars and other towel hardware should generally be located close to each sink and bath fixture. Towel bars work best when placed on the longest bathroom wall. They should be as horizontally long as possible. Towel hooks or robe hooks are available in both single and group configurations. They work better on shorter walls than towel bars.

Standard towel bars should be between 42 and 48 inches above the ground. Towel racks that are hotel-style (which include towel bars and a top shelf, and are often installed above the toilet) need to be at least 48 inches above ground. Towel and robe hooks should not be lower than 70 inches above the ground. Multiple hooks should not be more than 9 inches apart. The towel rings should not be more than 20 inches from the vanity countertop.

Mirrors

Cu Series Square Towel Bar Brass Buy Online At Bathroom City
Cu Series Square Towel Bar Brass Buy Online At Bathroom City

Mirrors can be mounted at various heights depending on their type. They should be placed between 38 and 42 inches above finished floor. This is measured from the bottom edge to the mirror.

Mirrors are usually placed over sinks and vanity countertops. However, this can change depending on the layout of the bathroom and the size of the mirror. It is recommended that at least one full-length mirror be installed in a bathroom for public use.

Dispenser or Soap Dish

Soap dishes should not be higher than 44 to 54 inches above the floor. They should also be placed out of direct sunlight. The soap dispenser should be placed at least 40 inches above the floor and maximum 48 inches above it. The push button for the dispenser should not be higher than 44 inches above ground.

Toilet paper holder

According to the ADA, the toilet paper holder should be installed between 15 and 48 inches above the floor. The NKBA recommends a height of 26 inches. According to the NKBA, the holder should stand 8-12 inches in front the front edge the toilet. This measurement is taken from the center of holder.

Wall cabinets

Bathroom wall cabinets are usually installed 54 inches above the ground. This gives you 18 inches more clearance than a standard 36 inch tall vanity (with countertop). The cabinet height can be adjusted to accommodate different vanity heights or toilet heights. However, a minimum 18 inch clearance above the vanity is recommended.

Grab Bars

There are many applications for grab bars in both commercial and residential settings. For details specific to your project, always consult the local code authority. Grab bars reinforcements should be installed in many cases before finishing walls or installing tub or shower finishes.

There are a few requirements that grab bars must meet:

  • Toilets: Each toilet must have a grab bar measuring at least 42 inches in length. This should be installed horizontally on the side wall closest to the toilet. It should be 12 inches from the rear wall (behind it). A 36-inch grabbar should be placed on the rear wall, centered above the toilet tank. If space is tight, a 24-inch grabbar is acceptable.
  • Bathtubs that do not have permanent seats are required to have two grab bars at least 24 inches in length. The ADA recommends that the top bar be placed 33 to 36 inches above ground level and the bottom bar 8 to 10 inches above tub rim. The bars should not be more than 12 inches away from the foot-end walls and 24 inches from each other. A minimum 24-inch bar must be placed at the tub’s edge. The ADA standards state that the head-end wall must have a minimum of 12 inches starting at the tub’s edge. The bars at the end of the wall should extend 33 to 36 inches above floor.
  • Two bars are required for bathtubs with permanent seats. One bar should be at 33 to 36 inches above ground level and one at 8-10 inches above tub rim. The bars should not be more than 12 inches away from the foot-end walls and 15 inches from head-end walls. A minimum of 24 inches is required for the foot-end wall. It should start at the tub’s front edge.
  • Roll-in showers: A bar must be placed at least 6 inches from any wall and 33 to 36 inches above ground. On walls with seats, a bar is not necessary.
  • Transfer shower: A continuous or wraparound bar must be installed along control (faucet wall) and should extend at least 18 inches along the back wall. It should also reach a height of 33-36 inches above the floor.
  1. Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards. U.S. Access Board.
  2. NKBA Kitchen and Bathroom Planning Guidelines, with Access Standards. Wiley, 2016

Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards. U.S. Access Board.

NKBA Kitchen and Bathroom Planning Guidelines, with Access Standards. Wiley, 2016