Buyer's Guide: Selecting the Right Shower Seat

Trying to decide on the best seat for your shower or tub?

Our buyer's guide can help!

We cover everything you need to know to make the best decision.


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More than cleanliness: Shower seats offer better independence and quality of life

Suppose you or a loved one has started experiencing balance or mobility issues. In that case, you might consider bathroom safety products to prevent falls and injury.

After all, most falls occur in the bathroom.

Also, independence is a vital aspect of having a good quality of life, especially when bathing. Studies have found that bathing is much more than for cleanliness; but offers a source of relaxation and daily routine.

Shower chairs are one of the most common bathroom safety aids.
They offer a safe place to sit while bathing. However, choosing the ideal shower chair can be challenging if you're new to bathroom safety.

This guide covers everything you need to know to make the best decision possible, including what a shower chair is, how they compare to transfer benches, key things to consider before purchasing, and more.

By the end of reading this, you'll be ready to choose the best shower chair to meet your needs.

Selecting the right shower chair

What is a shower seat?

Shower seats, also known as bath seats, are water-resistant chairs or stools designed to be placed inside a shower or bathtub. This provides you with a safe and comfortable place to rest while bathing if you tire easily or cannot stand for long periods. 

Who Should Use a Shower Seat?

With so many bath safety products, it can be hard to know which option is best for you. Shower chairs for adults provide more security while bathing than other options, such as grab bars or safety rails. This added stability might be necessary if you:

  • Have significant balance issues
  • Have weakness in the legs
  • Have a high risk of slipping or falling
  • Tire easily

It's also common to use multiple bath safety aids simultaneously. Grab bars provide a safe item to hold onto while sitting/standing. In contrast, bath mats add stability and prevent you from slipping.

What is a shower seat?

That said, there are other options for those who need extra stability, such as a transfer bench. Consider the following pros and cons to determine if a shower seat is the best option for you:

- Offers full-body support while bathing
- Removable
- Compact, will fit in smaller bathrooms
- Allows more space for caregiver assistance
- Does not offer much support while entering and exiting the tub or shower
Transfer Benches vs Shower Chairs

Transfer Benches vs Shower Chairs

Another bath safety option to consider is a transfer bench, and you may be wondering what the real difference is between that and a shower seat. Shower seats and transfer benches have many similarities, and both offer a safe place to sit while bathing. The main difference is the type of placement they are each designed for.

Shower chairs are smaller and designed to be placed entirely within the tub. This makes them most compatible with smaller bathrooms and allows more room for a caregiver to assist the user if necessary.

On the other hand, transfer benches are designed to straddle the tub with two legs inside the tub and two outside. This makes them bulkier but allows them to provide support when entering and exiting the tub. Shower chairs can only offer support once you are inside the tub.

If you have a small bathroom but need assistance getting into and out of the bathtub, you might consider pairing a shower chair with a grab bar or safety rail. However, if you have a high risk of falling and need a considerable amount of support, a transfer bench is the best option. For more information, check out our guide to selecting the right transfer bench.  

Transfer Bench
Shower Chair
- Sits on the inside and outside of the bathtub/shower
- Generally wider and longer than shower chairs
- Offers more support to assist individuals transferring in and out of the bathtub/shower
- More ideal for those who struggle getting in and out of the bathtub/shower
- Requires more space in the bathroom
- Sits on the inside of the bathtub/shower
- Generally smaller and more compact than transfer benches
- Typically has a smaller weight capacity than transfer benches
- More ideal for smaller bathtubs/showers
- Easier to store and transport (more portable)

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Shower Seat

Once you’ve determined that a shower chair is the best option, there are a variety of factors to consider to ensure that you find the right one. Because of the nature of bath safety products, most companies do not accept shower seat returns, so you will want to consider each factor carefully and thoroughly before making a purchase.  

Overall Shower Seat Size

Overall Size

The shower seat’s overall dimensions are essential to bear in mind when shopping around. Your chair will be of little use if it doesn’t fit inside your tub or shower! To ensure that you find a shower seat with the right dimensions, measure the width of your tub floor or the width and depth of your shower floor. You will want to choose a shower chair with dimensions smaller than these measurements to easily and safely fit inside. 

Shower Seat Seat Size

Seat Size

You will also want to pay close attention to the shower stall seat's dimensions to find one you can sit safely and comfortably on. To find the proper dimensions for you, measure your backside’s width when sitting on a flat surface. The seat should be somewhat wider than this measurement so that you can sit securely on the chair without risk of sliding or falling off.

Shower Seat Adjustable Height

Adjustable Height

Most shower chairs come with height-adjustable legs, but you will want to confirm this before purchasing. Height-adjustable legs allow you to adjust the seat’s height to a most comfortable level for you. This way, you can sit comfortably without straining your joints or “plopping” down. The height range the chair is capable of will vary from chair to chair, so be sure to check the specifications and choose a seat that meets your individual needs.

Weight Capacity

Weight Capacity

Your shower seat should be able to support your weight safely. Shower seats can support anywhere between 250 pounds to 400 pounds depending on the model. If you need more support, a bariatric shower chair might be right for you. Always check the product’s weight capacity before purchasing to ensure it can be used safely.

Shower Seat Materials


Since you will be using it in the shower or bathtub, you will want a seat made of materials that can withstand regular exposure to water. Seats made of rust-resistant materials such as plastic, aluminum, or steel are most common. While chairs made entirely of plastic are available, the best, most sturdy option is a combination of a plastic seat and aluminum or steel legs.

You might also consider purchasing a shower chair with drain holes in the seat, which can better prevent water build-up and mold and mildew. 

Shower Seat Style

Chair Style

There are two common types of shower chairs, stools, and seats, and the best option for you is mostly up to your own needs and preferences. Stools are more compact, but because of this, they are narrower and typically don’t have backrests. This can make them uncomfortable and less safe to sit on. Comparatively, seats often have a wider space to sit and can come with or without a backrest. However, they don’t always offer the same features as shower stools. For example, the swivel feature is most often available on stools. 

Shower Seat
Shower Stool
- Larger, offers more support and sitting space
- May be more comfortable to sit on
- Offers more support, safer
- Comes with or without a backrest
- Smaller, more ideal for compact spaces
- Offers less support, not as safe
- Doesn't have a backrest
- Has the option to swivel
Suction Feet vs Padded Feet on Shower Seat

Suction Feet vs. Padded Feet

Because shower chairs are regularly on a wet surface, most chairs feature rubber, slip-resistant feet to ensure the seat remains stable when sitting down. Be sure to confirm your shower seat of choice includes these before purchasing. If you have significant balance issues, consider suction cup feet that secure the chair entirely to the floor for maximum stability.

Choosing between a seat with suction cups or padded tips is ultimately up to what you prefer. Suction cups are recommended, as they secure the chair to the tub and floor and prevent slipping. However, if you choose padded tips, be sure they are considered 'non-slip' tips to ensure your safety.

Back vs No Back on Shower Seat

Back vs. No Back

If you decide on a shower seat rather than a stool, you must choose between a seat with or without a backrest. Generally, a shower chair with a back is recommended, especially if you have a balance or back issue. Although it may be slightly inconvenient when transferring into and out of the tub, a backrest provides additional stability and further reduces fall risk.

Shower seat with arms vs no arms

Arms vs. No Arms

You may also have to decide whether you want a shower chair with or without armrests.

Using a shower chair with arms can assist you in comfortably sitting down and standing up. It's especially useful if you can easily step into the tub and sit on the chair from the front.

If it is safer for you to sit on the side of the chair and lift your legs over the tub wall, then a chair without armrests would be a better choice.

Padded vs Unpadded Shower Seat

Padded vs. Unpadded

Shower chairs can come with either padded or unpadded seats. Padded seats offer extra comfort, which can be helpful if you take long showers, have a thin or bony body, or are prone to skin tears. On the other hand, unpadded chairs are typically more affordable and easier to transfer onto and off of.

Shower seats with swivel/sliding features


As previously mentioned, certain shower chairs come with a seat that can either swivel or slide, which aids in entering and exiting the bathtub. If you opt for a shower chair with this feature, it is crucial to ensure that it has a secure locking mechanism that can hold the seat in place while you shower for added safety.

Customer and Publication Reviews

When selecting a shower seat, it's crucial to consider the opinions of previous customers and publications. These reviews can provide valuable insights into the product's quality and performance. Feedback from customers who have already used the shower seat can be beneficial in assessing its comfort, durability, and ease of use.

Additionally, publication reviews offer impartial evaluations and comparisons with similar products available in the market. By devoting time to review these assessments, you can make an informed decision and select a shower seat that suits your specific needs and preferences.

Product Warranty

When considering a shower seat, it is crucial to view the product warranty. A good warranty can provide you with a sense of security, ensuring you are covered for any issues with the product.

It is essential to search for a warranty that covers the seat itself and all accompanying accessories, such as mounting hardware and non-slip padding. By carefully reviewing the warranty before purchasing, you can confidently invest in a quality product that lasts years.

Replacement Parts

While a shower seat is an excellent addition to any bathroom, it is not immune to wear and tear. Having readily available replacement parts ensures you can continue using the shower seat for a long time, even if certain parts break or wear out.

It is always better to be prepared in case of any eventuality, and having replacement parts on hand can save you time, money, and stress. Therefore, investing in a shower seat with readily available replacement parts for sale is wise to ensure your safety and comfort in the bathroom.

How to Use a Shower Chair Safely

  • If the seat’s legs are adjustable, adjust them to an appropriate height for you. The seat should be at a height that allows you to sit comfortably without straining your joints or “plopping” down. Check each leg to ensure it is locked in place after adjusting.
  • Place the seat entirely inside the bathtub or shower.
  • ALWAYS make sure your shower seat is level and stable before using. Using a wobbly or uneven shower chair can lead to injury.
  • Carefully step over tub walls and stand in front of the seat, close enough to touch the back of your legs.
  • Slowly lower yourself onto the seat, using armrests for support if available.
  • If you have trouble safely stepping over the tub walls, you might lower yourself onto the seat from outside the tub and lift your legs over the tub walls. This method is not typically recommended with a shower chair, so always carefully assess the technique’s safety before doing so. If you need to do this often, a transfer bench might be a better option for you.


  • Be patient with yourself and don't rush. It is necessary to take your time to prevent falls or other injuries while in the bathroom.
  • If possible, use a handheld showerhead. This can help you maintain independence while bathing. It allows you to thoroughly rinse yourself while seated and will enable you to adjust the water pressure if you desire comfortably.
  • If the user has limited sight or poor depth perception, place a brightly colored towel on the seat. This provides a contrast that helps them distinguish the difference between the chair and the bathtub floor.

How to Maintain a Shower Seat

Because your shower seat is regularly exposed to water and warm, moist air, it can be easy for mold and other bacteria to grow. To keep your shower seat looking and performing as good as new, be sure to do the following:

  • Wipe the chair clean of soap and other residues after each use.
  • Dry with a towel or soft cloth after each use to avoid damage from water build-up.
  • Clean regularly using a mild detergent and warm water. A bristle brush is best to ensure even the crevices of the chair are thoroughly cleaned. Be sure to clean not only the seat but also the underside and the legs.
  • If your seat has drainage holes, they can be regularly cleaned using a cotton swab. These holes are just as susceptible to mold and mildew growth as any other part of the seat.
  • Rinse and dry thoroughly after cleaning with detergent.
  • Check often to ensure there are no cracks or other damage and that the legs are locked in place.

Common Questions

Does Medicare Pay for a Shower Chair?

Unfortunately, no, Medicare does not cover the cost of shower seats or any bath safety products. Medicare covers equipment that is used for a specific medical need, and shower seats typically do not meet this requirement.

How Much do Transfer Benches Cost?

Although Medicare does not cover shower seats, most can be purchased for a reasonable price. Most shower seats cost between $25 and $70 depending on their materials and features.

If you have any further questions about finding the right shower seat for you, consult with your doctor, or feel free to speak with a Carex representative. For more information about staying safe in the bathroom, check out our Ultimate Guide to Bath Safety.

Are Shower Seats a Good Idea?

Shower seats are definitely a good idea, especially for those with mobility issues or who want to enjoy a more relaxing shower experience. With a shower seat, you can sit comfortably and take your time washing without worrying about slipping or falling.

The added peace of mind and bathing independence can improve confidence and lower stress levels for a better quality of life.

What are the Disadvantages of Shower Chairs?

While shower there are many benefits of shower chairs; they do come with a few drawbacks, including:

  • They can take up a lot of space in a small bathroom. This can make it challenging to move around, especially for those with mobility issues.
  • Some people find them to be uncomfortable to sit on for extended periods.

Where is the Best Place to Put a Shower Seat?

Where you place your shower seat is going to depend on a few factors:

  • Where does your shower head spray? You want your shower seat to be close enough to get sprayed but not too close that it only reaches your head. An excellent way to test this is to turn on your shower and see where the water lands.
  • Where are your bathing accessories? You want your shower seat close to your shampoo, conditioner, and other bathing aids. It's essential for them to be within arms reach to prevent overreaching.
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About the Author

Stephanie Schwarten is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelors degree in Professional Writing. She specializes in content marketing as well as both developmental and copy editing. 

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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