The one thing that users with impaired mobility dread, is falling while taking a shower or bath. When their wish it to stay independent during their hygiene routine, to fall and be injured, is their worst nightmare.
In the US, around 235,000 people every year suffer a fall in the bathroom, the majority of these falls occur in the shower or the bathtub (source). Being able to shower independently when you have a disability that affects your mobility, can prove a real struggle, and if you’re unsteady on your feet, it can also increase the risk of falls.
The use of a shower seat can make washing more comfortable and safer for seniors. It allows someone to sit down while they wash, providing the user with extra support as well as helping to reduce the risk of dangerous slips and falls.
Shower seats offer a range of benefits, they’re also a much cheaper alternative than installing a costly walk-in bathtub. In this article, we will cover the different types of shower seats that are available and what factors you should consider before purchasing one. Finally we will cover the best shower seats that are available to suit different individual needs, ranging from shower stools, shower chairs, shower chairs with wheels and transfer boards.
Best Shower Chairs Comparison Chart
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed shower chairs. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|Carex Easy Swivel Shower Stool||Elite Care Wall-Mounted Shower Seat||NOVA Shower Chair||Drive Medical Bariatric Shower Chair||Platinum Health Sliding Transfer Bench||Mefeir Folding Shower Commode Chair|
|Weight Capacity||300 lbs||352 lbs||300 lbs||500 lbs||330 lbs||350 lbs|
|Dimensions||4.4" (L) x 14.5" (W) x 14.5" (H)||20.6" (L) x 18.7" (W) x 6.9" (H)||19.25" (L) x 21.25" (W) x 33.75" (H)||20" (L) x 17.5" (W) x 30" (H)||20" to 22" (L) x 34" to 33" (W) x 35" (H)||7.91" (L) x 20.08" (W) x 38.58" (H)|
|Height Adjustable||14.75" to 20.75"||15.5" to 20.5"||16" to 20.75"||14" to 19"||19" to 23.5"||31.5" to 40.8"|
|Seat Weight||4.4 lbs||6.61 lbs||6.7 lbs||7.5 lbs||20 lbs||15.87 lbs|
|Features||Cushioned and seat swivels 360 degrees||Bariatric chair||Padded seat, back and armrests Swivel seat and pivoting armrests||Padded seat, footrest, safety seat belt, tissue holder|
|Chair Type||Shower stool||Wall-mounted shower seat||Shower chair||Shower chair||Transfer bench||Shower commode chair|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
What is a Shower Seat/Chair?
A shower seat is a freestanding waterproof chair or stool that allows someone to take a shower or bath while sitting down.
Shower seats are specially designed for those with disabilities that impact their mobility, they allow a user to wash more comfortably while safely sitting down. Not only can it help someone to remain more independent as they don’t have to rely on others to assist them with their hygiene regime, but it can also increase safety as it can reduce the risk of falls while showering.
Who are Shower Chairs Suitable For?
The use of a shower chair can be beneficial for a range of users including:
- Anyone suffering with dizziness, balance issues or muscle weakness – these conditions can increase the risk of falls especially on slippery surfaces which is particularly dangerous for the elderly who may struggle to get-up afterwards. A shower chair will allow someone to safely shower while remaining seated helping to prevent any nasty slips or falls.
- Those recovering from surgery – exerting too much pressure on a user’s joints for anyone who have recently undergone surgery can be detrimental for their recovery. A shower chair can take the pressure off their legs, knees and hips which can help to speed up recovery.
- Chronic pain sufferers – Trying to wash hard-to-reach areas such as the back, shoulders or legs can prove particularly difficult and painful for seniors, in particular for those suffering with chronic pain. Being able sit down while washing, can reduce the need to bend down and it also allows the user to take regular rests when needed.
Types of Shower Chairs
Shower chairs come in a range of styles to suit different types of needs. The most common ones include:
A shower stool is a freestanding stool that allows a user to take a shower more comfortably and provides additional support while they sit down to wash. The legs on the stool are height-adjustable and the feet are fitted with rubber ferrules that prevent it from moving while the user is showering.
The seat is usually constructed from durable plastic, and the frame, from sturdy light-weight aluminium or sometimes from steel. Shower stools are lightweight and compact, they can be carried to and from the shower cubicle with ease and they require limited storage space.
Shower stools are ideally suited for users that require some additional support while they sit down to wash but are steady on their feet and are able to sit and stand up without requiring any additional support or assistance.
A shower chair differs from a shower stool in that it is fitted with armrests or handles and it also has a backrest. A freestanding shower chair provides additional support over a stool as the handles/armrests assist the user in sitting and standing, and the backrest provides extra back support while washing.
The chair is usually height-adjustable and the seat often has drainage holes so that the water can easily drain away. Some chairs come with padded seats for increased comfort which is ideal for anyone that may suffer with pressure sores and some are foldable so they can easily be stored away when not in use.
Shower chairs are suitable for users with impaired mobility, especially for those who are unsteady on their feet and require additional support when sitting or standing. They’re also useful for anyone that tires easily and may need to sit back in order to take a break from washing.
Wall-Mounted Shower Seat
A wall-mounted shower seat as the name suggests, attaches to the shower cubicle’s wall. These types of shower seats can usually be folded against the wall when not in use.
Some models come with two height adjustable legs that attach to the front of the seat, while other versions rely instead on a wall bracket that locks securely into place and bear’s the user’s weight. For extra support, some wall-mounted shower seats come with armrests and a back rest.
Wall-mounted shower seats are compact and take-up minimal space so they are particularly suited for smaller shower cubicles or wet rooms. They are also useful if the shower is shared by others, as the seat can be folded conveniently away when it is not required by a particular user.
Shower Chair with Wheels
There are also shower chairs available that come with wheels that look similar to a waterproof wheelchair.
They allow someone to wheel themselves or be wheeled into a shower cubicle without needing to stand-up. The chair is fitted with lockable castors, once the user is correctly positioned in the shower cubicle, the brakes can be applied which stops the chair from moving.
Apart from the regular features that a standard shower chair has, such as a backrest and armrest, it also has extra features such as a footrest. Some models also come with a commode that is integrated into the seat that assists the user in going to the toilet as well.
Wheeled shower chairs are particularly suited for anyone that is unable to stand for prolonged periods of time such as stroke sufferers or wheelchair users that may struggle to shower or use the toilet.
A good alternative for users that have an over-bath shower is a transfer bench. They are particularly suited for users that find it challenging trying to manoeuvre in and out of a bath and those recovering from recent surgery as it can help to avoid excessive straining.
A transfer bench consists of a longer seat that extends over the outside of the bathtub. It allows the user to remain seated while they transition in and out of the bath.
In order to use the bench, the individual needs to sit on the far end and slide across. Once they reach the bath rim, they simply need to swing their legs over without needing to get up which can avoid the risk of falls. Some benches have a sliding seat which allows someone to slide more easily into the bath and therefore requiring minimal effort.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Shower Chair
When deciding on the right shower chair for your particular needs, it is important to consider the following factors:
Always measure the dimensions of your shower cubicle or bathtub to ensure that the shower chair or transfer bench that you’re thinking of purchasing will fit adequately.
If you have a small shower cubicle, a shower chair may be too big, you may therefore want to consider fitting a wall-mounted shower seat instead which is compact and can be folded down when not in use. If on the other hand you have a corner shower, opt for a corner shower stool or chair that will take-up minimal space.
Don’t forget to also consider how easy it will be to sit down on the shower chair or stool once it’s in place. While there may be sufficient space for the chair or stool, is there enough room for you to safely sit on it afterwards?
The weight capacity of a shower chair will vary between different models, so it’s important to check that it will safely support your weight, otherwise it may prove unstable and it could potentially be dangerous.
Most shower chairs can support weights up to 250 lbs. For larger users, bariatric shower chairs are available which have a higher weight capacity of up to 500 lbs. These usually feature an extra-wide seat that will provide extra stability and comfort.
Do you plan on only using your shower chair at home, or will you be taking it with you when you go on vacation or when you visit friends or family?
If portability is an important factor, opt for a freestanding shower chair or stool. A shower stool is lightweight and compact and can easily be transported or stored away when not in use. If space is really at a premium, consider a foldable shower chair that requires minimal storage space and can comfortably fit in a narrow space.
Your physical limitations will determine the style of shower chair that will prove most beneficial for your particular needs.
If you just require some extra stability while you shower and you’re able to stand and sit without any issues, a shower stool should be sufficient for your needs. If on the other hand, you need to have some extra support while sitting or standing or you suffer with a painful back, a shower chair with armrests and a backrest will prove more useful and will provide extra stability while you sit and shower.
If your mobility is severely limited, and you’re unable to stand for prolonged periods of time, a wheeled shower chair with integrated commode will be the best option. This will allow you to be transported safely to and from the shower cubicle by your carer without needing to get up. For users that need to sit-down for prolonged periods of time, and are prone to pressure sores, they may want to opt for a padded seat which will be more comfortable over a harder plastic seat.
A transfer bench is a better option for those with an over-bath shower. If you struggle to get in and out of a bath, or you’re recovering from recent surgery, a transfer bench will allow you to remain seated while transitioning to and from the bathtub, thus helping to prevent excessive straining as well as reduce the risk of falls.
Top Shower Chairs Reviews
- Stool dimensions: 4.4" (L) x 14.5" (W) x 14.5" (H)
- Height adjustable 14.75" to 20.75" in 1" increments
- Padded seat
- Swivel 360 degree seat
- Lightweight aluminium frame (4.4 lbs)
- Weight capacity 300 lbs
The Carex Easy Ez swivel shower stool is perfect for anyone that requires some extra support while showering.
The seat is padded for extra comfort and it also swivels 360 degrees which is ideal as it allows you to get on and off easily without needing to strain yourself even if there’s limited space in the shower cubicle or bathtub. The swivel seat will also lock into place once it senses that your full weight has been applied, so you won’t need to worry about it rotating when you’re washing yourself.
The stool is height-adjustable and ranges from 14.75″ – 20.75″ and adjusts in 1″ increments which should be suitable for most users. The width between the chairs legs is just under 13″ which means it can be used in the tightest of spaces.
The frame is made from durable aluminum with non-slip rubber ferrules so it won’t rust and it is also extremely lightweight, weighing just 4.4 lbs, so it can easily be carried out of the bathroom when it is not in use.
The stool has a storage shelf which is located beneath the seat where you can store essentials such as shower gel, shampoo or a wash cloth, so you will have everything within easy-reach and you will never need to get up while washing.
Another benefit of the stool is you won’t need any special tools to assemble it, it just involves slotting the frame into the seat.
- Dimensions: 20.6" (L) x 18.7" (W) x 6.9" (H)
- Height adjustability: 15.5" to 20.5"
- Seat weight: 6.61 lbs
- Contoured and textured seat with drainage holes
- Side griping handles
If you have a small shower cubicle and you’re looking for a shower seat that will take-up minimal space, you may want to consider the wall-mounted fold-down shower seat from Elite Care.
The wall-mounted seat is contoured making it extremely comfortable to sit on, it also has gripping handles on either side to provide extra-support when sitting or standing.
The seat has drainage holes to reduce water accumulations and the seat is textured to reduce the risk of slips.
The seat depth from the wall is only 2” so it will take up minimal space. When not in use, it can be folded down which is useful if you share the shower room with someone else.
The height of the seat is adjustable and can range from 15.5″ to 20.5″, it also has a good weight capacity of 352 lbs.
- Chair dimensions: 19.25" (L) x 21.25" (W) x 33.75" (H)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Height Adjustable 16" to 20.75"
- Chair weight: 6.7 lbs
- Padded armrests
- Easy assembly
- Seat with drainage holes
- Width between arms: 19.25"
If you’re looking for extra support while washing, and you’re maybe unsteady on your feet, you’ll want a shower seat that will allow you to wash in total comfort, without having to worry about falling over.
The Nova shower chair with armrests and backrests will provide you with enough support in the shower or bathtub allowing you to comfortably wash without having to fear that you’ll slip while getting on and off the seat.
The shower chair is fitted with padded armrests which are comfortable to grip providing you with good support and stability.
The durable molded-plastic seat is height adjustable and can range from 16″ to 20.75″ and the seat is wide enough to suit most users (15.75″ (W) x 13″ (D). It is fitted with drainage holes which helps to reduce the risk of slipping off when the seat is wet. The wide backrest will provide you with amble back support and will allow you to take regular rests if required.
Assembling the chair is a breeze, you simply need to slot the armrests and backrest and it will lock into place with the push buttons without requiring any additional tools. The backrest can easily be removed if you want to store it when not in use. As it only weighs 6.7 lbs, it can easily be carried to and from the bathroom without too much difficulty.
The feet of the chair are fitted with skid-resistant ferrules that will prevent the chair from moving when it’s in use. The frame is constructed from aluminum which means it’s both lightweight and rust-proof.
- Chair dimensions: 20" (L) x 17.5" (W) x 30" (H)
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Seat dimensions: 20" (W) x 12" (D)
- Seat weight: 7.5 lbs
- Height adjustable: 14" to 19"
- Drainage holes
- Aluminum frame with cross brace style
The usual weight capacity of a shower chair ranges between 250 – 350 lbs. If you’re looking for one with a higher capacity than this, you will need to opt for a bariatric one instead. The bariatric shower chair from Drive Medical is a good option to go for with its 500 lbs weight capacity.
This chair will support larger frames due its larger seat dimensions (20″ (W) x 12″ (D)) providing the user with extra stability and comfort. Easy-to-grip handles are fitted on either side of the contoured seat providing the user with extra leverage when getting on and off the chair, therefore helping to reduce the risk of falls. The seat has drainage holes which allows the water to drain quickly.
The seat is adjustable to suit different needs and can be incremented in 1″ intervals from 14″ to 19″.
The aluminum frame has a cross brace style build which makes it extremely stable when the chair is in use.
- Bench dimensions: 20" to 22" (L) x 34" to 33" (W) x 35" (H)
- Weight Capacity: 330 lbs
- Height adjustable: 19" to 23.5"
- Padded and swivel seat
- Padded pivot armrests
- Non-slip armrests
If you have an over the bath shower and you find it a struggle trying to get in and out of the bathtub, you’ll probably want to go for a transfer bench. We always recommend that you choose a transfer bench that has a sliding mechanism which makes it much easier than having to slide manually along one in order to get into the bath.
The transfer bench from Platinum Health has a sliding seat and a number of added extras which is why we thoroughly recommend it. Not only does the seat slide effortlessly, but it also swivels 360 degrees which makes for easy transfers without having to twist or turn. This reduces the need to exert undue pressure on your limbs.
The seat is padded which makes it very comfortable especially for anyone that is at risk of pressure sores. The armrests on the chair can slide open allowing you to easily sit and stand from the seat without having to struggle. The armrests are also padded, they’re constructed from a non-slip material so you’ll be able to grab them even with wet hands.
The transfer bench is height adjustable and can be adjusted from 19″ to 23.5″ which should be able to clear most bathtubs and it has a good weight capacity of 330 lbs.
For added safety, the seat has an adjustable strap which can be worn when transferring to and from the bathtub. This helps to prevent the user from jolting forwards and thus eliminating the risk of falls. The rubber feet prevent it from moving when the chair is in use.
The transfer bench is easy to assemble and comes in a choice of two different colours, including blue which is ideally suited for visually impaired users and a light gray.
- Weight capacity 350 lbs
- Dimensions: 7.91" (L) x 20.08" (W) x 38.58" (H)
- Height Adjustable: 31.5" to 40.8"
- Chair weight: 15.87 lbs
- Padded seat
- Tissue holder
The Mefeir shower commode chair is ideally suited for anyone with reduced lower mobility that struggles or is unable to stand-up. The chair has four wheels allowing your carer to effortlessly wheel you into the shower cubicle without needing to get-up, or you can propel yourself forward by using your feet. Once the user is in position, simply apply the brakes on the wheels to keep the chair static.
The integrated footrest allows the user to rest their legs while they are being transported to and from the bathroom. To ensure safety, the wheeled chair has an adjustable safety seat belt which can be worn during the transportation stage to prevent the user from sliding forwards.
The multi-use chair can be used as a wheelchair or a comfortable seat or it can be used as a shower seat as well as a commode. It has a padded seat which is waterproof and can support weights up to 350 lbs. The padded seat can however be removed to help with personal care, washing and going to the toilet.
The seat has an ergonomically designed backrest that is height adjustable to maximize comfort. The seat can be adjusted from 19″ up to 23″ and it features additional extras such as a side pocket to store essentials and it also has a toilet roll holder.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ensuring that your shower seat is set at the correct height for your individual needs is vital. If the seat is too low or too high, it may prove uncomfortable, and you may struggle to sit or stand which could increase the risk of falls.
To ensure that your shower seat is set to the correct height, follow these simple steps:
- Get the user to stand up on a flat surface without any shoes on, measure from their knee down to the bottom of their foot and take a note of the measurement.
- Adjust the height of the shower stool or chair to the measurement taken in step 1.
- Finally, get the user to sit on the shower seat. If the seat has been set to the correct height, the user’s knees should form a 90 degree angle and their legs should be parallel to the floor.
- Before using the shower chair, ensure it has been set to the correct height for the user (see above section for steps). Make sure all legs have been set to the same height otherwise the chair could become unstable and potentially dangerous.
- When placing the stool or chair in the shower cubicle or wet room, ensure it is placed on a flat surface and it is stable.
- If the shower stool or chair has suction cups, make sure they have all attached correctly to the shower floor.
- When sitting on a shower chair, apply equal pressure on the hand rests to avoid the chair from tipping over and slowly lower yourself onto it.
- Ensure essentials such as shower gel, shampoo, washcloth or a sponge are within easy reach so the user does not need to get off their shower seat to access them when washing.
- Use a non-slip shower mat in the shower cubicle to avoid any falls when transiting to and from the chair.
- After showering, in order to get out of the chair, ensure that you apply equal pressure on the hand rests when standing up.
Regularly cleaning a shower chair is important in order to avoid the risk of mold and mildew developing.
To clean your shower stool or chair, use warm soapy water and avoid any abrasive cleaner and wipe dry afterwards.
Assembling a shower chair is a relatively straightforward process, it normally does not require any additional or special tools.
Assembly normally involves aligning the legs to the underside of the seat and inserting the screws through the washer in order to attach them. Next, attach the backrest to the chairs metal frame and insert the screws. Finally, slot the armrests into the socket located on each side of the chair so they slot firmly into place.
It is always recommended however that you follow the installation instructions that came with your shower chair or stool, as assembly steps may differ between different models.