Not many people think about what shower chairs are made of – but I did – so I’ve researched the topic and have filed the following report for you.
The shower is a wet place. Water sprays. Tiles and grout gets damp. The materials used for shower seats must be able to survive water, mildew, and mold. The types of materials most often used for shower seats include:
- Plastic, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
- Stainless steel / aluminum
PVC might also be referred to as vinyl or plastic. It’s a smooth material usually with a high gloss finish. Although PVC is a generic term, some shower chairs might say they use furniture- or medical-grade PVC. This is specially formulated PVC containing chemicals to protect against ultra violet sun rays, improve strength, and prevent shattering.
Some shower chairs are molded – that is, they are one piece of plastic material shaped into a chair or seat. Other shower chairs are constructed by gluing PVC pieces together. If not done well, pieces of the chair can become loose, thus becoming a potential hazard.
PVC typically will not chip, dent, or peel and is easy to keep clean. PVC shower chairs are lighter in weight than steel, aluminum, or hardwood chairs. They should not damage your bathtub or shower floor if dropped. They do not rust or corrode, assuring a long life.
Another benefit that you might not think of is that PVC surfaces don’t get cold. This can be very important when you have to put your bottom down on a shower seat.
The one negative about PVC shower seats usually relates to aesthetics. If you are going for an elegant look in your shower or bathroom, a PVC chair may stand out like a sore thumb.
Stainless steel or aluminum
Stainless steel or aluminum is most often used as either framing or hardware for shower chairs and benches.
Wheelchairs built especially for showering use stainless steel or aluminum to give the chair high strength and provide resistance to rust and corrosion.
Hinged shower seats and benches (also called fold-down shower seats) often use stainless steel for the brackets that attach the seat or bench to the shower wall. These brackets should have smooth edges to prevent someone from getting cut when using it.
Shower seat product descriptions may mention the gauge of the stainless steel used. As a general rule, better quality steel frames and tubing will have a lower gauge number.
Aluminum is often used for the legs of shower seats made of PVC. Aluminum legs are strong, lightweight, durable, and corrosion proof. Most aluminum legs have holes in them so the height of the seat can be adjusted. A potential problem is water getting into the open holes and causing corrosion inside the legs.
Two terms you may read in descriptions of shower chairs using aluminum are “anodized aluminum” and “powder coated aluminum.” Anodizing is a process used to increase corrosion and wear resistance. Powder coating is a finish that helps the metal resist corrosion and damage from the elements. Powder coating can come in virtually any color or finish, matte or smooth, is rust-free, scratch resistant, and ecologically friendly.
You might not think of using wood in a shower, but some woods are both water resistant and good looking. In particular, teak wood shower seats and benches are very popular. They are known for being durable, comfortable, and giving your shower a dash of style.
Teak is a tropical wood most often found in Indonesia. It has natural oils which make it resistant to the moisture and humidity found in bathrooms. The popularity of teak has led to growth in sustainable production throughout the seasonally dry tropics in forestry plantations. The Forest Stewardship Council offers certification of sustainably grown and harvested teak products.
Teak comes in brown hues that bring nature’s organic earth tones into your shower. Some shower seats will take on a silver grey patina after months of exposure to water. This is natural. However, if you find your wooden seat beginning to crack and buckle, you should become suspicious about it being genuine teak.
There are teak shower chairs with adjustable aluminum legs, triangular teak shower seats that fit into the corner of a shower, and longer teak benches that can be raised and lowered. Typically, there are spaces between the teak slats to allow water to flow through.
You may also find shower seats made of Iroko, which is a hardwood from tropical Africa. It is sometimes referred to as African Teak. For environmental threats to this type of wood, see this link.
Mesh is typically found in folding shower seats. Because mesh is pliable it is excellent for shower seats that need to be portable and lightweight. Mesh cleans easily and is resistant to mold and mildew. Shower seats made of mesh will fold into a small space for easy storage.
Typically, mesh shower seats hold less weight than those made of other materials. But if you need shower seat for traveling, mesh may be your best solution.