Getting Creative for Bathroom Safety

A toilet with brown carpet installed around it, a baratric commode positioned on top of it, and a homemade grab bar installed on either side.

This picture shows a number things. For one, it shows how you can use a bariatric commode (with the bowl removed) on top of a toilet and it becomes a toilet seat raiser. This is a great way to raise the seat so it’s easier to get up and down, have arm rests, as well as accommodate a larger body.

But on the wall on the left and right side of the toilet are DIY grab bars. Built-in grab bars are the sturdiest (as opposed to suctioned, temporary ones). But they can also be expensive.

These are grab bars on a budget!

If you want to do things cheaply, but still have the sturdiness of a built in grab bar, one way to do this is by using what are called gas pipes or nipples (which just means the pipe has ‘male’ threading on both ends). According to one caregiver in Arizona, these pipes were an easy and affordable way to quickly get grab bars custom made installed. “My neighbor went and bought the pipe and installed it. And it’s very solid.” All they had to do was pop down to a hardware store and purchase them because they’re common in plumbing, hardware, and other home supply stores. They come in some standard lengths (e.g., 3, 4, 5 and 10 foot lengths) and widths (e.g., these are 3/4 inch) and stores will usually cut and thread pipes for you to the length that you need. You can find 24 inch nipples for under $10!

But you’ll also need a way to mount them. Gas pipe elbows (the curved pieces that connect the pipe to the flange mount) cost just a couple of bucks each. Flanges, which are also just a few dollars, are the round bases used to mount them on the wall. Note, it’s always a good idea to install these on studs!

While this is more work, it is less expensive than grab bars, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Do note that if you search for gas pipe railing, there are lots of “industrial style” railings out there that are also pretty expensive. Hardware stores are your best bet for DIY bars on a budget.

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