Installing a grab bar in a tub surround

I need to install a grab bar in a plastic tub surround. The surround is about seven millimeters (0.2756 inches) thick. The person who will be using the bar weighs less than 155 pounds.
What is the best way to install the bar? I do not know how to find the studs in the wall. Can I just screw the bar to the plastic surround? Thank you in advance for all replies.
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On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:10:39 -0800, Daniel Prince

It MUST go into the studs. Borrow or buy a stud detector, drill a pilot hole and use the proper screws.
If you go into the plastic, you risk injury when the screws pull out of the flimsy plastic and you risk damage tot he surround.
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And I will add this....
If you can't locate the studs and firmly anchor the grab bar into the studs then don't put the grab bar up! It is better to not have the grab bar there than to have it there expecting it to hold only to have it fail when needed.
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On 12/3/2011 11:52 AM, BobR wrote:

And for the benefit of newbies that didn't see the grab bar thread the last hundred times, don't even think about one of those suction-cup grab bars like they sell on TV/Sunday paper/Harbor Freight. Like he said above, NO bar is better than a bar you can't trust. If you can't bring yourself to drill holes, go to the medical supply house, and get one of the grab bars with the big U-shaped things on the bottom, that fit over the room side of tub.
Side note- there is often air space between tub surround and studs. Sometimes, you need to use a larger hole and a bushing around the bolt, to avoid making the plastic shower look all funny. A longer bolt than comes with the grab bar may be required, and the usual precautions about a dab of silicone over the screw hole in plastic, before you dog the screw down, apply.
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wrote:

My mother had one of those, and though it never came off, I was concerned about it. The outside of the tub was vertical, but the inside not quiite, and I knew if it budged up at all, it would be loose after that. Knowing my mother, she probably never put much force on it, for that very reason.
I also put a grab bar on the stud just outside the bath. I didnt' drill the holes big enough and it was hard to get the screws in. But when I removed it, it was far harder to get them out. It was a rented apartment and though they face worse damage for much less reason, I really wanted to leave the apartment the way my mother found it, not because of the money they would charge me, but for some other reason.
I almost failed but I did get them out. .
The hole should be about as big as the shamk of the screw, not counting the threads.

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I do not think the plastic is flimsy. I think it is the same material that the vanity countertop is made of. Also, it is more than a quarter of an inch thick.
The surround goes all the way to the ceiling. Can you recommend an electronic stud detector brand and model that would work well to detect the studs through the surround and the drywall under it?
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On Sun, 04 Dec 2011 07:44:26 -0800, Daniel Prince

I don't care how thick it is. Plastic surrounds are too flimsy to screw a device used to take a person's weight. Plastic cannot take machine threads or screw threads well enough. It can cause serious injury.

I've only ever used a Stanley and a Zircon and they worked for my needs. In any case, I'd locate the stud and drill a 1/16" hole to be sure it really is a stud. Then the proper pilot hole for the screws.
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On Sun, 04 Dec 2011 07:44:26 -0800, Daniel Prince

1/4" plastic is still too "flimsy" to support a grab bar. A Stanley stud detector will work. So will a Black and decker - as well as many much better units. Mine is a Stanley. It has 3 thickness modes - 1/2", 1" and 1 1/2" Mine is the intellisensor 77-255

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On Sun, 04 Dec 2011 07:44:26 -0800, Daniel Prince

If wood were only 3/8 or 1/2", it woudl be too flimsy also. I think the screws I put into the studs were 1 1/2" long, but maybe 2". A half inch is like nothing.
I have a Zircon also. My brother bought it for me for my birthday. I thought I would never use it but it's so gooood.

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On Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:10:39 -0800, Daniel Prince

You MUST locate the studs bedind the suuround A grab bar is a safety device. If it fails (which it WILL if fastened only to the surround) you have a SERIOUS safety issue.
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Everyone here means an electronic stud finder. They really work and they work well.
Were you to borrow or find for sale a magnet on a pivot, like in a clear plastic windowt, what used to be used as a stud finder, I consider them very hard to use and unreliable.
(They still sell those, don't they?)

Absolutely.

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wrote:

The "nail finder" - it works REAL good finding metal studs. Not much good for wood studs if the drywall is glued on or the nails have rusted away.

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On Sun, 04 Dec 2011 00:02:11 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Good to know (although the electonic stud finders find them too, iirc). Since I never throw anything away, I still have this nail finder deep in the bottom of some drawer.

Okay, they call it ia nail finder now, but didnt' they call it a stud finder 30 years ago?
I tried to use one where the studs were wood, the drywall wasn't glued nor had the nails rusted at all, and it was all but futile.

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There may be one more thing to consider. And that is that the tub surround may not be tight against the wall behind it. If that's the case, when you tighten the screws into the stud you will deform the surround. Apparently there are some products designed to deal with that:
http://www.adaptiveaccess.com/solidmount.php
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wrote:

Back when there was no better technology they were better than the alternative (punching holes till you found something solid). The method was scanning 24 inches or more across the wall, back and forth every half inch untill you got a hit. Then you mark the "hit" and scan up and down from there looking for another "hit" to confirm and establish a pattern. To be sure, you would go 16 inches each direction and try again to RE -CONFIRM what you had found was, in fact, a stud.

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