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ADAAG Manual

Note: This document, portion of document or referenced document was published prior to the 2010 ADA Standards, and all or part of this information may only apply to Safe Harbored elements.

Handrails, Grab Bars, and Tub and Shower Seats [4.26]

ADAAG 4.26 provides technical requirements for:

  • handrails at ramps [4.8] and stairs [4.9]

  • grab bars at water closets [4.16], toilet stalls [4.17], bath tubs [4.20], and showers [4.21]

  • tub and shower seats.

Size and Spacing of Grab Bars and Handrails [4.26.2]

Use of a grab bar or handrail requires the formation of a power grip so that thumb and fingers can be opposed and the surface of the palm can be in maximum contact with the bar or rail surface. Large sections, particularly those of rectangular design, are not as graspable as small circular sections. A gripping surface with a diameter between 1¼ to 1½ inches is specified. Alternate shapes are permitted that allow a similar opposing grip. Standard IPS pipe designated as 1¼ to 1½ inches is acceptable. Recommendation:Consider a 1¼ inch specification for pipe since a 1½ inch specification may result in an outer diameter close to 2 inches.

The 1½ inch clearance between walls and handrails or grab bars is an absolute dimension; it provides knuckle clearance while generally disallowing entrapment of the forearm or elbow.

Wall-mounted objects, such as towel racks and dispensers, can interfere with the use of grab bars if placed above grab bars. A minimum 18 inch vertical clearance (specified for recessed handrails) may place elements above maximum reach heights.

Eliminating Hazards [4.26.4]

Handrails, grab bars, and adjacent surfaces cannot have any sharp or abrasive elements. Extensions must be rounded or returned to the walls, floors, or posts. Extensions with bottom edges within 27 inches of the floor are detectable within the standard sweep of canes.


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