Three Easy Ways to Make a Toilet Accessible and Maybe Even Stylish

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.


Comfort Arms
Getting on/off the toilet safely and easily is often an issue for people with mobility issues from Parkinson's disease to bad knees or a bad back.  Here are three relatively simple and inexpensive ways to make your toilet more accessible.

Versa frame:  The most inexpensive solution is a toilet frame or versa frame.

Toilet frame aka versa frame:  The toilet frame or versa frame runs about $35.00 and is a good short term solution.

Pros of toilet frame:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to install.
  • Ok support.
Cons of a toilet frame:
  • Shaky, no matter how you install these versa frames still shakes and wobbles which scares some people but they are strong.  
Recommended for:
  • People who require stand-by to minimal/moderate assistance with transfers.
  • People who perform standing pivot transfers by pushing off surfaces.
  • People with short-term disabilities such as recovering from a moderately severe injury or surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.
Not recommended for:
  • People over 300 pounds.
  • People who 'pull to stand'.
  • People who require moderate to maximum assistance to transfer. 

Grab bars:  Grab bars are strong and versatile so they can be configured in several different ways.
Great Grabz Wave

Grab bars: Grab bars run $30.00-$100.00 depending on shape, size, style and finish.  Installation runs from $60.00-$200.00 depending on the complexity of the job and if internal backing boards will be installed or if studs are easy to find.

Pros of grab bars:
  • Versatile.
  • Many sizes, finishes, and designs.
  • If installed correctly are a great solid support.
  • ADA grab bars must be rated for a 250 pound capacity but many grab bars have a 500 pound capacity.  Check with the manufacturer for grab bar capacity.
Cons of grab bars:
  • Can be difficult or expensive to install.  
  • Grab bars can't always be placed exactly where they are required.
  • If the grab bar is more than 16"-18" on center (or 8"-10" from the edge of the toilet) away from the toilet they are useless, it's too far to get good leverage.
Recommended for:
  • People who require stand-by to maximum assistance with transfers.
  • People who perform standing pivot transfers.
  • People who pull to stand.
  • People who perform lateral transfers.
  • Long term disabilities.
Not recommended for:
  • People over 500 pounds unless special bracing and heavy duty grab bars are installed.
  • If the wall is too far away from the toilet.
  • If there are no studs to attach the grab bar or a backer board. 

Comfort Arms:  Comfort Arms are like armrests for the toilet, they are good-looking, easy to install, and very stable unlike the versa frame.

Comfort Arms: Comfort Arms come in two widths standard (20" internal width) or wide (22" internal width) with weight capacity for both at 330 pounds.  Comfort Arms run $195.00-$205.00 a long term solution that is more cost-effective than grab bars.

Pros of Comfort Arms:
  • Good looking.
  • Easy to install.
  • Great long term solution.
  • Stable.
  • Less expensive to install than grab bars.
  • Good option for toilets that only have one wall available for a grab bar.  Comfort Arms provides bilateral support.
  • Good for transfers for people who utilize 'push-off' transfers.
  • Fit North American toilets both round and oblong.
  • Can be transferred to another toilet if occupant moves to a new home.

Cons of Comfort Arms:
    • Will only support up to 330 pounds.
    Recommended for:
    • People who require stand-by to maximum assistance with transfers.
    • People who have arthritic knees, or balance issues such as Parkinsons.
    • Long term disabilities.
    • People who require a stable surface for transferring.
    Not recommended for:
    • People over 330 pounds unless special bracing and heavy duty grab bars are installed.
    • People who utilize pull-to-stand or lateral transfers.
    FYI- Comfort Arms sold out in the United States but a new shipment is arriving in the next 2 weeks, click here to preorder and save $30.00 per set.

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