Jun 212009

Shower seats, chairs, stools, and benches come in many different shapes and sizes with a wide range of features.  Three key features to consider when purchasing a shower seat include:

  • Seat shape, dimensions, and capacity
  • Seat height and legs
  • Seat backrests and armrests

Seat shape, dimensions, and capacity

Shower chairs come in two shapes: flat and curvedBuilt in shower seats and fold-down shower seats are usually only flat.

The flat seat, as its name says, is the same height from side to side. Flat seats may have a horseshoe-shaped cut-out at the front to allow easier personal cleaning.

The curved (also called dish- or saucer-shaped) seat has slightly raised sides and curves in the middle. This type chair tries to match the shape of the seat to your bottom.


Both shapes usually have holes in the shower seat to let the water drain through.

You will also see shower chairs with padded seats, which can add more comfort when you’re sitting. The padding provides a softer surface that allows you to sit longer.  It’s also good for sensitive skin.

The padding is usually made of foam so that it can dry more easily.  You may read about cushions made of “closed cell foam.”  Closed cell foams are generally denser, helping to prevent the seat from absorbing water.  Another feature of a padded seat is the amount of padding.  This is usually measured in inches.

Seat dimensions are an important consideration when you are buying a shower seat.  It can be tricky, but use a flexible tape measure to take a measurement of your bottom when sitting in a chair.  Then check this measurement against the seat width and depth (W and D) of the shower seat you want to buy.  If the seat is not large enough for your bottom, your shower seat may tip over.

Another important consideration is the weight capacity of the seat.  Different seats can hold different weights, depending on the strength of the seat and legs.  Be sure that the maximum weight capacity of the chair you choose can hold you.  Be aware that heavy duty models are available should you need it.

Seat height and legs

Since you do not wear shoes in the shower, the height of shower seats is usually lower than the typical chair you sit in.  So be sure, when you are considering a shower seat, that you will be able to sit comfortably with your feet on the shower floor supporting you.  If your feet are not solidly on the shower floor when you are sitting, you will be less stable and can slide out of your chair.  And remember to consider the additional height that a padded seat can add.

For this reason, many shower seats come with adjustable legs.  These are usually aluminum legs with holes in them that let you adjust the seat up or down.  The holes can be at different increments such as ½ inch or 1 inch.  Allowing different increments means the shower seat can be used by different family members.  If each of the legs is adjustable, you can get the right seat height, even on showers that have an irregular surface, such as one that slopes down toward the drain.

Shower seat legs will typically have rubber, or suction type devices on each of the feet. This helps prevent the shower seat from slipping or sliding around once in place.

Make sure that the height of the shower chair allows you to reach the shower controls without having to stand up.

You should also consider height when a shower bench is being attached to the shower wall.  Don’t measure from where the holes go in the wall to hold the bench – instead measure the distance from the top of the bench to the shower floor.

Seat backrests and armrests

Some shower seats offer backrests and armrests that are either fixed in position or are removable.

Backrests provided added comfort as they support your lower back. Some chairs use padding, a non-slip textured finish, and/or a curved or contoured shape to ensure you can relax while taking your shower.  These features also contribute to your safety by helping to keep you in place in the seat.

Like backrests, armrests can also be padded, contoured, or textured. Armrests help make it easier to sit down or get up because you have something to hold on to.  On some shower seats the armrests swivel back independently, enabling easier side transfers for people who need help getting in and out of their shower seat.

Keeping these key features in mind when purchasing a shower seat will ensure that you get a seat that fits you just right!

You might also be interested in reading The Benefits of Shower Seats.