What size towel bar should you use for your bathroom? With common towel bar sizes ranging from 18 to 36 inches, choosing the perfect option when you want to install a towel bar can seem confusing. Matching the towel bar size to the size of towels you plan to hang is an easy way to choose. The size of the bathroom can also be a consideration to make sure the towel bar looks proportional. Looking at all of the factors helps you find the perfect size for your new towel bar.
An 18-inch towel bar is ideal for hand towels, a 24-inch towel bar works well for bath towels and a 24- to 36-inch towel bar is ideal for bath sheets. Choose a towel bar that matches the proportions of the bathroom.
Common Sizes of Towel Bars
The most commonly available towel bar sizes are 18 inches and 24 inches. However, it's possible to find in-between sizes of 20 or 22 inches, as well as larger bars that are 30 and 36 inches. The smaller towel bars are meant for hand towels, but any towel bar over 22 inches should be sturdy enough to hold bath towels. The correct towel bar size for you depends on your towel sizes and hanging preferences, plus the size of your bathroom.
Towel and Towel Bar Sizes
What size towel bar you need depends largely on the towel size you're hanging. Most hand towels are 16 inches wide, or 8 inches when folded in half lengthwise. An 18-inch towel bar gives you plenty of space to fit two folded hand towels side by side or one unfolded hand towel.
Bath towels average 27 to 30 inches wide, or 13.5 to 15 inches when folded in half. A 24-inch towel bar will hold one folded bath towel, but the towel will be slightly scrunched when hung unfolded. If the scrunching bothers you and you want to hang your bath towel open and flat, you'll need to use a towel bar that's 30 inches or wider.
Bath sheets are extra large towels that measure 35 inches wide, or 17.5 inches when folded in half. To hang a bath sheet open and flat, you will need a 36-inch towel bar, but a 24-inch or 30-inch towel bar will hold a single folded bath sheet.
Considering Bathroom Proportions
While towel size is important, you also want the towel bar to look like it fits in the bathroom when considering what size towel bar to choose. One tiny towel bar in a massive bathroom might look too small. Likewise, a large 36-inch towel bar crammed into a tiny powder room or bathroom looks too big for the space.
For a standard size bathroom that is 5 feet by 8 feet, or smaller, use 18- to 24-inch towel bars to keep the hardware in proportion to the size of the room. If you have a large bathroom with abundant wall space, you have the luxury of using 30- to 36-inch towel bars to create a spacious display for your towels.
Measuring an Existing Towel Bar
When you want to replace an existing towel bar, grab a tape measure and measure along the bar between the inside edges of the supports. Typically, this measurement will not be an even number of inches, so round up to find the size of replacement you need. For example, if your existing towel bar measures 17.75 inches, you would need an 18-inch towel bar as a replacement. An existing towel bar that measures 23.5 inches between supports would be replaced by a 24-inch towel bar.
Whether you install a new towel bar or replace an existing one, you must make sure the supports are firmly anchored into the wall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines when using a power drill.
Rebecca Chandos has been writing professionally since 2004. Her articles on technology, entrepreneurship, travel and international politics have been published on a number of websites, including USAToday, Chron.com, LewRockwell.com and Matador Abroad. Chandos holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Columbia University.