Feb 042011
 

The term “bariatric,” if you are not familiar with it, refers to weight. Simply put, a bariatric shower seat can hold more weight than the standard shower seat which typically can hold someone up to 250 pounds.

These heavy duty shower seats are available for people who weigh over 250 pounds up to about 900 pounds. These chairs are built to provide extra stability, allowing the larger person to enjoy the benefits of sitting while in the shower.

There are a number of factors to consider when you are about to buy one of these bariatric shower chairs. All bariatric chairs are not the same. By matching your individual needs with the considerations below you will be able to find a safe and comfortable chair.

The features you should consider are similar to the ones found in The Benefits and Features of Shower Seats.

  • Weight capacity
  • Construction and Materials
  • Dimensions
  • Seat height
  • Seat Legs
  • Backrests and Armrests
  • Cost

Weight capacity

The key feature to consider is, of course, how much weight the chair can hold. Chairs are available that can hold 350, 500, and even up to 900 pounds. This is the first thing to look for when buying a bariatric shower chair. A shower seat that is labeled “bariatric” or “heavy duty” should list its weight capacity. That’s the first thing you should look for.

And when you first get the chair, sit on it before you use it in the shower to be sure it’s stable and the seat legs do not bend in any way.

Construction and Materials

How the seat is put together will give you a clue about how sturdy it will be. Most bariatric shower chairs will have cross-braces going across the legs. This key feature is what helps the chair support the extra weight. If you have to assemble the chair yourself be certain these braces are tightly in place.

You need to consider what material the seats and legs are made of. You want the legs to be made of aluminum, rather than steel. Aluminum is less likely to bend and it will be more rust-resistant. The seats are usually made of vinyl or plastic which helps prohibit mildew.

You also want to know the materials used to hold the chair together. Is it screws, rivets, or all plastic? Screws must be securely tightened. Rivets must be welded properly. And the PVC must be solidly glued together.

Other questions about the assembly of the chair include:

  • Does it have drain holes in the seat to let water through, reducing the chances for mildew?
  • Is the seat curved or straight? Which one will you feel more comfortable sitting on?
  • Does the seat come with other construction options you want such as handles in the seat or padding on the seat?

Dimensions

The size of the seat is important because each of us has a different shaped body. Check the width, length, and depth of the seat. You want the measurements to be large enough to accommodate your bottom.

I recommend actually measuring how much space your bottom takes up when sitting in a chair. Then check to make sure your shower seat is wide enough for those measurements. If you don’t fit comfortably on the shower chair there is a danger of you slipping off, even if it can hold your weight.

Seat height

This measurement can be important, especially if you are tall. You want your feet to rest comfortably on the shower floor when you are sitting in your seat. Otherwise you may be off balance.

While sitting in a comfortable chair, measure the dimension from the floor to where your bottom is on the chair. This is usually from 14 to 19 inches. Some shower chairs have seats that are adjustable. Make sure the seat can adjust to the height you need.

Chair Legs

You don’t want your shower chair slipping around in the shower. Make sure that the legs have rubber tips or suction cups on them to hold the chair in place when you’re using it in the shower.

Backrests and armrests

Some models are available with backs and some come with backs and arms. People find that having a back or back and arms provides added support, especially if you are overweight.

The back prevents you from leaning too far back in the seat and the arms can help you get into and out of the chair. Attached arms can limit the width of the seat, so if you do want arms, make sure the width of the chair will still accommodate your body.

Bariatric Chair Cost

A shower seat with bariatric support will typically cost a bit more than a standard shower chair. The additional cost is for the added bracing used on these type seats. But it is well worth it for the comfort and safety. Also, chairs with backs and arms will also cost more.

You can find these chairs online and in local pharmacies or large chain stores. Prices can vary a lot, so be sure you are comparing similar models with similar dimensions and features.

NOTE: Some overweight people use wheelchairs. For them, bariatric transfer benches are available. These transfer benches are long seats that provide extra support legs in the middle. You can then more easily move from your wheelchair to sit in your shower. Read more in Bariatric Shower Seats, Shower Commode Chairs, and Shower Transfer Benches

Jan 132011
 


VIDEO VERSION

Just like its name says, the built in shower seat is a seat which is permanently built into the shower. The base can be made of ceramic or concrete. The seat is then finished with tiles or granite. The beauty of the built in shower seat is that it is both attractive and a very convenient way of making a shower more comfortable.

Some built-in shower seats run the length of the shower. Others are simply built into the corner of the shower. (For more info, read Choosing a Corner Shower Seat.)

You can have this type seat constructed either during the building of a house or during the process of remodeling a house.

Shower Bench Benefits

The basic purpose of the shower bench is convenience. It can be used for sitting while taking a shower. This is very important because people who are ill or weak may need the support the shower bench provides while they shower. But even healthy people can also use the bench to more easily shave their legs or when using a pumice stone, for instance.

Other uses of the built in shower seat include the fact that it can serve as a safety measure. Without a seat or bench in the shower, the user is more likely to slip and probably have a bad fall if he or she has to stand amid the slippery water and soap suds. With a shower seat, this is less likely to happen.

If the shower bench is long, it can also be used for storage. Shampoo bottles and brushes as well as kids toys can all be left on the bench. Using the bench for storage means you won’t have to have any of those plastic accessory holders hanging from your shower head.

Another important element of the built in shower bench is its visual appeal. The bench can be covered with different sizes and colors of ceramic tile. But other materials, such as marble and granite are available. Depending on your design choice, you can add quite a bit of style and class to the shower.

Shower Bench Installation

In terms of the actual installation of the shower seat, it makes a lot of sense to use products of the highest quality. Attention should also be given to the fact that the shower seat will be in a place that is constantly wet. Therefore, durable and water-resistant material should be used.

Installing a shower seat in the shower after the house has already been built will involve a bit of remodeling. Therefore, it makes sense to apply the basic rules of architecture to the process. Be sure you plan for a seat height and width that will be comfortable for all users.

You should also plan for a slight slope in the bench to allow the water to run off and into the shower.

You must also install moisture proofing along the top of the shower bench and seal all spaces that water can get into. This will ensure that there will be no leaks. More to the point, this will make the whole system last longer and function more effectively.

The shower bench is not really a complicated thing to build into a shower. In some cases, it may be possible for an individual to construct one without the services of an expert. There are many online sites that offer construction advice.

For best results though, it might be better to involve professionals to get the job done. This ensures that you will get the best use of your built in shower seat.

Cost

The built in shower seat will be more expensive than the fold-down shower seat or the standalone shower seat. That’s because of material and construction costs. But for your money you do get a long-lasting and visually appealing addition to your shower.


Video Version

Nov 052010
 

When people are looking for shower seats they sometimes get confused because they read about fold down shower seats and folding shower seats. Don’t be fooled. These two types of seats are quite different.

  • The fold down seat is really a hinged shower seat, also called a retractable shower chair.
  • The folding seat is really a type of freestanding seat.

Here’s more about the two different types of shower seats.

The Fold Down or Hinged Shower Seat

If you’re short on space in your shower, but still want a place to sit while in the shower, the fold down or retractable shower seat may be your best choice. As I said, yet another name for this type seat is the hinged shower chair. That’s because this type of seat is attached to the shower wall, usually with some type of hinge.

Benefit: Less space

Because of the way it’s attached, the seat can then be lifted up or down and locked into place when you want to use it. When not being used, you again fold the chair down or up. That means that when not in use the seat will lie flat against the wall, taking up little shower space.

Benefit: Convenience

This type shower seat is very convenient because it stays in the shower where it’s handy for anyone who needs to use it. But if someone taking a shower doesn’t need it, the seat is out of the way. For more information about the overall benefits of shower seats, read What Are the Benefits of Shower Seats?

Attachment of the Seat

Since people are going to sit on this type shower seat, how it is attached to the shower enclosure is important. These chairs should NOT be attached to a shower wall enclosure that is only a hollow type surface such as drywall, fiberglass, acrylic, or sheetrock.

These seats need to be attached to a reinforced backing such as wood or steel that is behind the shower enclosure wall. The mounting or anchoring bolts or screws should be appropriate for the type of backing they are being attached to. If you are not comfortable doing this type of construction, consult a plumbing professional.

As an option, some fold down shower seats are sold with legs. The legs will provide added support to the person sitting in the chair and fold up with the chair. Some of these legs are also adjustable so the seat can be used by people of different heights. Adjusting the legs also means this type of seat can handle shower floors that slope downward toward the drain in the middle.

Hinged Shower Seat Features

Here are some of the key features you should consider when buying a new hinged shower seat.

Weight capacity: Assuming it’s attached correctly, a typical seat can hold about 250 pounds (113 KG). With legs, seats can hold more weight, such as 400 pounds (181 KG). Always check the weight capacity of any fold down shower seat you buy to be sure no one will get hurt while sitting in it.

Seat size: Seats come in different lengths and widths, so be sure to find one that will fit the bottom that’s going to be in it. A typical length is 18 inches (45 cm), while a typical width can be from 16 to 18 inches (40 to 45 Cm).

Because of the way they are attached to the shower enclosure, these seats can also be found that run the length of the shower wall, providing added space for storage.

Seat material: You will have many different options when it comes to the material you choose for your retractable shower chair.

Teak is a stylish and popular option. It’s a brownish wood that is strong and resistant to moisture. It typically costs more than any of the other seat material options.

Rubberwood, also called parawood, is a lighter color than teak, but can be stained. It is also water resistant and less expensive than teak. If you want the look and feel of wood, but want something that is ecologically friendly, you may want to consider rubberwood.

Both teak and rubberwood seats usually have slats in them to let the water drain through.

Phenolic is a water resistant plastic often used in hospital fold down shower seats. It is a hard and strong material. It will also have slats to allow water to drain through.

Some manufacturers offer phenolic seats with padding for greater comfort while sitting.

Hardware: There are also many options for the mounting bracket and hinge materials used for these chairs. In addition to stainless steel, chrome, brass, and brushed nickel are often available options.

With the combination of hardware and seat material you can be sure the fold down seat fits in with the décor of your shower and bathroom.

Be sure the hardware you use has no rough edges so it will not cut anyone using the shower seat. Also, some hinged seats come with covers for the metal hardware.

Other options:

Some retractable seats are sold with backs and arms. A chair with a back offers greater support to the person using the chair. Arms allow people to sit more comfortably. These are especially useful when this type chair is being used by a physically challenged person who requires caregiver help when taking a shower. Others are sold with legs for added support.

Commode type chairs with U-shaped cutouts are also available for handicapped people who need the additional convenience.

Fold Down Seat Summary

The retractable shower seat is a great solution for a small shower that needs a shower seat. Choose the features you need before buying. When installing, be sure all the hardware is attached securely so the seat can be used without any worries.

Now let’s consider the folding shower seat.

Folding Shower Seat

The folding shower seat is meant to be used in the shower, then folded up and stored outside the shower. This means that when the folding chair isn’t being used it doesn’t take up any space within the shower.

Benefit: Portability

The primary benefit of the folding shower seat is that it is portable. If you want to use the seat in a different shower, or take it with you on a trip, you simply fold it up and carry it with you.

This type of folding chair is a one piece unit available in various materials and a choice of features. The most common features include the following.

Seat material

Teak: At the higher cost end are folding shower chairs made of solid teak wood. Teak is a brownish wood that is water resistant because of its natural oil content. The brown teak will turn to a more silver color over time. This is a natural process but does not mean the teak needs to be replaced.

Because of its styling and water resistance this type folding chair will look good and works well in both indoor and outdoor showers.

Plastic: Molded plastic (PVC) is the most common material used for folding shower seats. Some seats are smooth while others are textured. Drain holes are built in to allow the shower water to drain through. These seats are usually molded in a slightly curved shape so it is more comfortable for your bottom. The plastic used is usually quite durable and will provide good support when you’re sitting on chairs made of this material.

Available options include handles on the sides for easy lifting, as well as back supports and arm rests. Some even come with a holder if you intend to use a hand held showerhead.

Mesh: Mesh folding shower chairs are often the lightest weight folding shower chair and fold to a smaller size than the plastic type chairs. Mesh resists mold and mildew and is a quick drying material.

Construction

The teak folding shower chairs are usually all one piece made of only teak.

The plastic and mesh chairs are constructed with a stainless steel or anodized aluminum frame and legs for strength. This material is corrosion proof so will not rust. Some chairs offer legs that are adjustable for people of different heights. And some legs will include rubber tips to help prevent the chair from slipping in the shower.

Other considerations:

Since it is meant to be portable, you will want to consider the weight of the folding chair. Typical weights are from 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 Kg), while mesh seats often weigh less.

When choosing a folding shower chair you need to consider the weight of the people who will be using the chairs. Typical chairs hold up to 250 pounds (113 Kg). If you want to hold heavier weights, you will need to find special bariatric shower chairs.

Also look into the seat length and width to be sure it will be comfortable for the user.

Finally, be sure that when opened, the chair will leave you enough space to stand up and walk into the shower and sit comfortably.

For more information, read The Benefits and Features of Shower Seats.

Nov 052010
 

If you’re short on space in your shower, but still want a place to sit while in the shower, the fold down or retractable shower seat may be your best choice. Another name for this type shower seat is the hinged shower chair.

The fold-down seat is attached to the shower wall. The seat can then be lifted up or down and locked into place when you want to use it. When not being used, you again fold the chair down or up. That means that when not in use the seat will lie flat against the wall, taking up little shower space.

This type shower seat is very convenient because it stays in the shower where it’s handy for anyone who needs to use it. But if someone taking a shower doesn’t need it, the seat is out of the way. For more information about the benefits of shower seats, read What Are the Benefits of Shower Seats?

Attachment of the Seat

Since people are going to sit on this type shower seat, how it is attached to the shower enclosure is important. These chairs should NOT be attached to a shower wall enclosure that is only a hollow type surface such as drywall, fiberglass, acrylic, or sheetrock.

These seats need to be attached to a reinforced backing such as wood or steel that is behind the shower enclosure wall. The mounting or anchoring bolts or screws should be appropriate for the type of backing they are being attached to. If you are not comfortable doing this type of construction, consult a plumbing professional.

As an alternative, some fold down shower seats are sold with legs. The legs will provide added support to the person sitting in the chair and fold up with the chair. Some of these legs are also adjustable so the seat can be used by people of different heights. Adjusting the legs also lets you take care of shower floors that slope downward toward the drain in the middle.

Features

Here are some of the key features you should consider when buying a new fold down shower seat.

Weight capacity: Assuming it’s attached correctly, a typical seat can hold about 250 pounds (113 KG). With legs, seats can hold more weight, such as 400 pounds (181 KG). Always check the weight capacity of any fold down shower seat you buy to be sure no one will get hurt while sitting in it.

Seat size: Seats come in different lengths and widths, so be sure to find one that will fit the bottom that’s going to be in it. A typical length is 18 inches (45 cm), while a typical width can be from 16 to 18 inches (40 to 45 Cm).

Seat material: You will have many different options when it comes to the material you choose for your retractable shower chair.

Teak is a stylish and popular option. It’s a brownish wood that is strong and resistant to moisture. It typically costs more than any of the other seat material options.

Rubberwood, also called parawood, is a lighter color than teak, but can be stained. It is also water resistant and less expensive than teak. If you want the look and feel of wood, but want something that is ecologically friendly, you may want to consider rubberwood.

Both teak and rubberwood seats usually have slats in them to let the water drain through.

Phenolic is a water resistant plastic often used in hospital fold down shower seats. It is a hard and strong material. It will also have slats to allow water to drain through.

Some manufacturers offer phenolic seats with padding for greater comfort while sitting.

Hardware: There are also many options for the mounting bracket and hinge materials used for these chairs. In addition to stainless steel, chrome, brass, and brushed nickel are often available options.

With the combination of hardware and seat material you can be sure the fold down seat fits in with the décor of your shower and bathroom.

Be sure the hardware you use has no rough edges so it will not cut anyone using the shower seat. Also, some shower chairs come with covers for the metal hardware.

Other options:

Some fold down seats are sold with backs and arms. A chair with a back offers greater support to the person using the chair. Arms allow people to sit more comfortably. These are especially useful when this type chair is being used by a physically challenged person who requires caregiver help when taking a shower.

Commode type chairs with U-shaped cutouts are also available for handicapped people who need the additional convenience.

Summary

The retractable shower seat is a great solution for a small shower that needs a shower seat. Choose the features you need before buying. When installing, be sure all the hardware is attached securely so the seat can be used without any worries.

Don’t confuse this seat with the folding shower seat which does not attach to the shower wall.

Jul 032009
 


If you are physically challenged because you are overweight or permanently or temporarily physically disabled, you can still experience the comfort of a shower.

The products available to help you include:
• Bariatric shower seats
• Wheeled or shower/commode chairs
• Shower transfer benches

Bariatric shower seats

The term “bariatric,” if you are not familiar with it, refers to weight. Simply put, these are shower seats that can hold more weight than the standard shower seat.

Bariatric shower seats are intended for people from 250 pounds and up. There are chairs available for people who weigh up to 700 pounds. These chairs are built to provide extra stability to the larger person in the shower.

Typically, the seat size will be wider than a standard shower seat to accommodate a larger person. Some bariatric shower chairs also have backrests and cross braces for additional stability and support. Be sure the legs of the seat are adjustable so the overweight person can move the seat to a position where his or her legs can also provide support when sitting.

Wheeled or shower/commode chairs

Wheeled shower seats, also called shower/commode chairs, allow people with disabilities to move themselves to the shower and provide seating when taking a shower. Additionally, this type shower chair can be used as a raised toilet seat as these chairs have a removable commode pail.

Wheels should be a major consideration when buying this type of chair. They should be large to accommodate easier movement across various types of floor surfaces. Most will come with swivel casters and safety locks.

Shower/commode chairs that tilt are also available. This allows caregivers to adjust the chair to more easily reach the person in it. The ability to adjust this type of shower seat is important when considering the growth of special needs children as well as the comfort of the adult user.

Shower Transfer Bench

Typically used for transferring from a wheelchair to a bathtub, this type of shower seat can also be used for moving from a wheelchair to a shower.

Shower transfer benches are usually one piece with a long seat in two parts, and four legs. The person moves from their wheelchair to the transfer bench, which is the outside piece, then slides to the actual seat.

Available options usually include padded seating and removable or adjustable backrests and armrests.

There are also sliding shower transfer benches. In these the person transfers from their wheelchair to a shower seat. The seat then slides, most often on rails, to a position where they can more comfortably take a shower. Some shower transfer benches have swivel chairs to add to the user’s convenience.

Typical features include a safety belt and a handle that can be attached to either side of the seat.

Another type of shower transfer seat is a wall-mounted shower seat that swings into the shower. First, the user transfers onto the seat from outside the shower. Then the chair swivels into the shower. When their shower is finished, the user swivels back out of the shower.

Specialty shower seats such as these help physically challenged people be comfortable when taking a shower.