Jun 212009

Shower seats go by a lot of names. Shower chairs, shower stools, or shower benches. They basically all have the same main purpose – allowing you to sit when you take a shower.

I’ve used a shower seat for many years now and I’ve learned that whether you are handicapped or not, they can provide many different benefits.

And don’t think they can only be used in a shower. If you get the right sized shower chair, it can also fit inside a tub.

Seven Shower Seat Benefits

1. Stability

A shower seat can provide support if you have a permanent disability that requires lower extremity support when bathing. But maybe your legs are weak or broken because of a temporary injury. In that case, a shower seat will allow you to maintain balance and feel secure when taking a shower.

2. Safety

Some people get dizzy or weak when they have to stand for a long period of time, such as when taking a shower. Sitting in a shower chair also helps these people. You can also slip when taking a shower, such as when your eyes are closed because you have shampoo in your eyes. Washing and rinsing your hair while seating helps prevent a dangerous slip in the shower.

Additionally, some people find it safer to leave a bathtub from a shower chair than getting up from the bottom of the tub and stepping over a high bathtub edge.

3. Relaxation.

This is one of my personal reasons for using a shower seat. If you find yourself tired or stressed out at the end of the day, turn on the shower, sit down, and allow the warm water to beat down on you. You’ll be amazed at how it can calm you down.

4. Luxury Showers in newer homes are often larger and have glass enclosures. A shower bench adds the impression of depth to the shower and provides additional visual interest. Teak shower seats, with their rich dark brown wood tones can also add a sense of elegance to your shower.

5. Storage

Some shower chairs have a top that lifts up. The space underneath can be used to store shampoo, sponges, razors, and even kids’ toys. Shower benches also offer a place to gather these items.

6. Footrest

Ladies, why should you have to bend all the way over if you want to reach your legs? A shower seat is a great place to rest your foot when you want to shave your legs.

7. Caregiver aid

If a caregiver must help someone bathe in the shower, it is often easier to reach them if they are seated. Chairs for children with special needs are also available. These are often adjustable to make the child more comfortable and make it easier for the caregiver.
Shower stools that rotate also allow a caregiver to more easily maneuver the bather’s body. Keep in mind, though, that stools usually do not have back support. This could be a safety hazard for someone who has trouble maintaining their balance.

All these benefits should give you some reasons to consider buying a shower seat.

Shower Seat Features

And when it’s time to look for a shower seat, there are a number of key features you should consider. These include:

  • Weight capacity
  • Construction and materials
  • Seat shape and options
  • Seat dimensions
  • Fit in shower or tub
  • Seat height
  • Seat legs
  • Seat backrests and armrests
  • Cost

Weight capacity

How much weight the shower seat can hold is a key consideration. Different seats can hold different weights, depending on the strength of the seat and legs. The typical shower seat is rated for about 250 pounds. 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. Read the article Buying a Bariatric Shower Chair to learn about shower seats that are built to hold up to 900 pounds.

Construction and materials

Shower seats can be made of PVC, steel, aluminum, hardwood, including teak, or mesh. Each offers different characteristics. Read Shower Seat Materials: PVC, Stainless Steel / Aluminum, Hardwood, and Mesh for more information.

Shower seat shape and options

You might think a seat is a seat, but since your bare bottom is going to rest on this type seat, its shape may make a difference to you. Shower seats, chairs, and stools come in two shapes: flat and curved. Built in shower benches are usually only flat.

The flat seat, as its name says, is the same height from side to side. Flat seats are available with 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. This type is my personal preference.

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

You will also see shower chairs with padded seats. The padding provides a softer surface that allows you to sit longer. It’s also good for sensitive skin. If you take longer showers a padded shower chair may be what you’re looking for.

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 which is usually stated in inches.

Shower Seat Dimensions

We may not like to admit it, but some of us are a tad bit larger in the bottom than others. So the size of the actual shower seat can make a difference. To know what size you’re looking for you have to measure your bottom.

How do you do that? It can be tricky, while you’re sitting in your favorite chair use a flexible tape measure to take a measurement of the space your bottom is taking up. I suggest doing this when no one is looking to avoid snide comments, especially from spouses.

Then check this measurement against the seat width and depth (W and D) of the shower seat you want to buy. You may think it’s silly to do this, but if the shower seat is not large enough for your bottom, you can tip over while in the shower.

Fit in shower or bathtub

Shower seats are designed for use in a shower. But remember that they will take up space in your shower. So check the chair dimensions against the dimensions of your shower so you know you’ll have enough space left to get in and out of the shower.

Also, if you are going to use one of these chairs in a bathtub, check its size, as bathtubs are often smaller than showers. What’s more, some tubs are curved on the bottom, making it difficult for the shower chair legs to stay flat. Some people find that they have to turn the chair sideways to use it in their tub, which can decrease your stability when sitting on the seat.

Seat height

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.

Make sure that the height of the shower chair allows you to reach the shower controls without having to stand up. If you have to stand up every time you want to reach a faucet, there is more chance for you to slip.

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

Seat legs

Because we come in different heights, 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 same 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.

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. The backrest also contributes to your safety by helping to keep you in place in the seat. Like the seats, backrests can be padded and/or contoured for extra comfort.

Armrests are another shower chair option. Armrests help make it easier to sit down or get up because you have something to hold on to. Armrests can also be padded, contoured, or textured. 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.


Simple shower seats typically cost from about $20 to $40. When you start adding backrests and arms, the prices can go from about $40 to $60. Teak and hardwood shower benches can cost from about $40 to over $100. And depending on finishes and hardware, some shower seats will cost more.
A built in shower bench will cost more because of the construction and labor involved.

Shower seats can be found in large chain hardware and drug stores as well as online.

I bought my online and it came fully assembled which meant I could use it right out of the box. But even if you have to assemble the shower chair yourself, you typically just have to attach the legs to the seat and your shower chair is ready to go.

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

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