Installing a handicap bar above a tub is not to hard when there is just a wall there, but what about when a ceramic tile wall surrounds the tub? How does one find the studs? How does one drill through the ceramic tile without breaking it? What tools will one need to successfully pull this off? Will it be stable enough to support a heavy person? Will this be affordable for someone on a budget? All of these things will be answered in the following paragraphs.
Tools needed screw drivers Phillips and flat, variable speed drill, level, tape measure. Masking tape, Carbide drill bit, and masonry or wood bit. Finding the right handicap bar for the job and one that is affordable is important as they come in all price ranges depending on what ones needs are and how thick the stainless steel is.
First thing one would want to do before installation begins is to locate the studs, which are behind the wall. A stud finder can be used for this by starting in the corner above the ceramic tile and lightly marking each stud as it is moved across the top. Another way without the stud finder is to use a measuring tape starting in the corner and try to find each stud using a nail. Measure from the corner of the wall to about 17″across and drive a nail barely in above the tile, use a small finishing nail for this. If it misses try to the left and again the right until contact is made, do not drive it all the way in.
After locating all of the studs use a level and draw lines in pencil for possible drill points. After purchasing the right bar for your needs proceed to place it were needed. Placing each support on the corresponding beam, sometimes it must be placed at a slight angle to catch the support beams behind the wall. Place masking tape behind each support base on the bar and mark the holes with a pencil, the tape is to help the drill bit from slipping on the slick tile. After lining it up, it is easier if one has an assistant, mark the holes with a pencil and remove the bar.
Now you are ready to drill the holes, using a carbide drill bit one may want to first drill a pilot hole using a smaller carbide bit drill bit. If one has not done this before, extra insurance against cracking he tile, kind of like training wheels. Place drill bit in a variable speed drill; slowly begin drilling you will only want to go through the top glaze with the bit so carefully do this. Pushing the expensive carbide bit could damage it and you would have to purchase another. While drilling one may have to cool the bit from time to time by running water on top of it.
After the initial drilling and you are through the tile with the right size bit you can use a masonry bit or a drill bit for wood to finish. Be sure it is smaller slightly than the screw itself, so the screw will fit snuggly.
Place the bar back up with a little assistance put screws in making sure at least two of the three on each base penetrates the wood. One can use a toggle bolt for the third hole simply for the prevention of water damage. One can caulk in the third hole if necessary, also be sure to caulk around the back of each base for extra insurance water will not run behind wall, just being cautious If you miss and have to move the bracket one can patch the holes with grout, now if there are covers attached slide them over the screws. This job if done slowly might take up to two hours, when finished test it out with someone heavier than normal or pull on it while lifting oneself. If the bar does not move it is safe and ready for use immediately after installation