Need to install a grab-bar in shower. Advice?

My mother-in-law is having shoulder-replacement surgery following a particularly bad fall, and I need to install a grab bar for her in the shower. Her house was built in the '70s I believe, and the shower is covered with ceramic tile up to about five feet. She has a stainless steel bar that looks like it will work well, but I am not certain as to how to install it for a trouble-free and usefull life. It is set up for 1/4" screws, and I am wondering if anyone can tell me the best way to anchor it ito ceramic tile. Any help is appreciated.
Thanks,
Dave
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On 10/27/2011 9:17 AM, Dave wrote:

it needs to be screwed into the studs behind the wall behind the tile behind whatever the tile is mounted to. your first task is to find the studs. use a diamond or carbide bit (see the tile dept of home depot) to get through the tile, then use a regular bit to get through to the stud and drill a pilot hole in the stud for those screws.
use plenty of silicone sealant to prevent water intrusion.
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it needs to be screwed into the studs behind the wall behind the tile

First of all -- what Chaniarts said -- ;>0
Second, I've done this four times, the first time under the direction of my father-in-law who, while not a builder, grew up helping his contractor father build houses, and himself is a retired structural engineer.
I would be tempted to go to a local plumbing supply shop and buy a "dedicated" grab bar. It will be the proper size, etc and will come with the proper hardware. Last time I did this, it was about $20.
Second, some communities offer "grab bar installation programs" through something like a local coomunity senior center. In my area the program is free, all you do is call the senior center and schedule it. They do ask, if you can afford it, for a donation to help fund supplies.
Good luck. Pretty simple task -- except for finding the studs.
If the tile does not go all the way to the top of the wall, as you indicate, I would drill "search holes" in the wall above the tile to aid in finding the actual stud. That is, if you think you have the stud located, drill above to check.
There have been many times I think I found the stud and have been off by a bit.
Then, once you KNOW where the stud is, you can easily track it under the tile. Holes in the wall above the tile are easily patched and spot-painted.
Holes in tile are not so easy to fix. Good luck.
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On 10/27/2011 9:41 AM, tim birr wrote:

i use tiny super magnets to locate the drywall screws. 2 or 3 of them make a plumb line to find the stud lower down in the tile field.
no holes to patch.

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Good points about magnets AND installing bar on a diagonal.
I was told that bars next to toilets go straight horizontal -- everyone is working from the same height, more or less.
On showers, horitzontal or diagonal, but a diagonal is preferred. on the long wall of the tub if more than one person will be using. A vertical bar on the short wall (usually the wall with the shower head) helps with actual in-out of the tub.
I don't remember what heights we used, but I do remember I found sketches on various web sites. Do a search on Google images....
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When dealing with drywall a heavy duty T-pin, sold in fabric shops, makes a very small hole.
Colbyt
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Wow. Thanks for all the feedback. I have some tiny super magnets, and a stud-finder, and a brother in law who used to work construction. And I had no idea an offiial grab bar could likely be had so cheaply from someone so simple as a plumbing supply. All the help is greatly appreciated. Thanks much.
Dave
PS: I am likely going to give her two bars, one or use while she is standing under the shower, and the other for getting out of the tub/shower. Your advice on making use of a diagonal and maybe a straight up and down is taken to heart. I really appreciate having this NG available to ask questions like this and being able to get the advice of people who know what they are talking about. Thanks again.
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In addition to the other comments, the diamond tip little hole saws kick butt over a typical carbide tipped drill bit. I had to drill some holes in some ceramic floor tile to screw down a closet flange (there's a reason that the flange didn't go in first, too long to explain and not relevant) and the carbide bit failed miserably (as in, after 30 seconds of drilling, I thought I saw a mark on the tile) while the diamond hole saw when through it like buttah.
nate
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Others have pretty well covered the 'tub bar' stuff. I 'handicapped' equipped my house for my wife 3 years ago. some suggestions.
1. On getting in/out (out particularly) a grab bar outside the tub/ shower is a nice aide.
2. A bar mounted just in arms reach in front of the toilet is a monster help getting off that. I am physically in top shape for my age and If I had known how nice that assist bar is, I would have put one up 40 years ago. Even if it wasn't needed for a handicap, I would install one if I ever move.
3. A grab handle above the toilet and/or shower is also nice. Mine is mounted with a screw hook into the ceiling, length of chain run through a 'short bend' plastic conduit for the handle and back to the screw. Easy to adjust the length. Mounted so it is above and ahead of the toilet. Saved me a lot of trips in to get her off the pot when she first came home from rehab. Still their and reaches into the shower for further assist getting her out of that.
4. If you have a low toilet either replace it (Toto is nice but spendy) with a higher or even a handicapped one. One _can_ use a 'lift' seat (sorta a ring of plast several inches high) for the toilet but the first time you have to clean one you'll be looking for a higher pot. My Toto entered the house becaus of that :) Harry K
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Installtion is fairly easy except for finding the studs. Last time I did it I accessed the plumbing from the back of the wall and found where the spigot protruded throught the wall relative to the adjacent studs and measured off of that. Once you can accurately locate one stud the rest be at multiples of 16 inches from there unless they are 24 or unless they are really messed up. Exploring a wall not covered with ceramic tile with a stud finder will hopefully reveal what convention was used for placement of the studs.. Very important: the hole drilled through the tile should be large enough to clear the screw. The hole you drill in the wood should be small enough to grip the screws.
Jimmie
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