How to choose a shower seat for your bathroom

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There are many reasons why a person would need to be seated in the bathroom or shower.
 
A shower seat is often considered for people that are aged or unsteady in the shower and for people with disabilities so they can safely wash their legs, knees and feet while they are sitting.
 
If you are a carer for a friend or loved one, and you assist them in the showering process, with a  shower seat installed, you will be able to successfully bathe that person, knowing that there is no fear of them falling during the process.
Many people install a small shower seat so they can use it as a foot stool or as a small low bench to store large bottles of shampoo and conditioner on, within easy reach.
There are many types available to suit people’s requirements.
  • Freestanding or wall mounted
  • What size will fit?
  • What weight will it need to support?
  • Does it need to comply with Australia Standards?
  • Maintenance required 
  • Price 
  • Plus we will cover -
  • Wall type, fixing methods
  • The benefits of a wall mounted folding shower seat

Problems to watch out for -
Seating in the bathroom can be provided by a wide variety of seating types including:-

Bath stools (freestanding)
  • Fixed height
  • Adjustable height 
Bath Chair  with a backrest (freestanding)
  • Fixed height
  • Adjustable height
  • With or without arm rests 
Shower Seats (or Bench)
  • Free standing, many models are adjustable in height (don’t fold up)
  • Secured to the wall , fixed at a set height and will fold up when not in use
  • Range of lengths from 450mm to 960 mm
  Bath Board (unsecured installation)

When a bathroom has a “shower over bath” and does not have a separate shower a bath board can be installed across the top of the bath tub to allow a person to sit on the bath board, then swivel and lift their legs into the bath tub, where they can remain seated or they can stand to take a shower. 

You can select the seat that will fit into your bathroom or shower area that will suit your requirements and budget, be it long or short time requirement.
Some building owners and organisations require the installation of a shower seat that complies to the Australian Standard for people with Disabilities.
 
Please see the following Australian Standard criteria for a shower seat.
 
Australian Standard As 1428.1-2009, Design for access and mobility, General Requirements for access_ New building work 15.5.9 Folding seat (Page 84).
  1. A foldable seat shall be provided inside the shower recess, as shown in Figures 47 and 48, (that is 960 mm long, 470 to 480 mm high and installed 40 mm from the return wall) and shall—
  2. Be self-draining
  3.  Be slip-resistant
  4.  Have front corners that are rounded to a radius of 10 to 15 mm
  5.  Have top edges that are rounded with a minimum radius of 2 to 3 mm
  6.  Shall fold in an upwards direction and when folded the grabrail shall be accessible. 
Where the drainage is provided by holes or slots in a single seat unit or by gaps between the slats in compound seats, the diameter of the holes, the width of the slots and the gaps between slats shall be between 4 to 6 mm.
The fastenings, materials and construction of the seats shall be able to withstand a force of 1100 N applied at any position and in any direction without failing or loosening of the fastenings. (Note 1100 N is approx. 110 kg).
 
In Australia, the selections of shower seats that comply are limited to just a few.

To make the installation “safe and easy” -
Some wall mounted products come complete with all the screws and wall plugs that you will need to install it to the timber or brickwork in your home.
You should satisfy yourself as to the suitability of the fasteners provided or to obtain appropriate advice and assistance from a licensed trades person before affixing or installing these products.
 
To achieve secure fixing to the wall, of any  product or fitting, the screws should penetrate into solid timber or masonry and Toggle Bolts should only be used as an absolute last resort. After all you want to feel secure when you use this product.
 
In many cases where a folding shower seat is to be installed onto the wall of an existing shower area, your trusted handyman or tradesman will need to install some extra timber in the wall to enable the secure wall fixing that the folding shower seat requires.
 
Occupational therapists often recommend the installation of a shower seat for people that are aged or unsteady in the shower and for people with disabilities.
 
Problems to watch out for -
 
Most shower stools and shower chairs are made using aluminium frames to enable them to be light weight and will not rust.
 
Also a large quantity of shower stools and shower chairs are height adjustable.
Be aware that the little “Push Pins” can deteriorate over time plus they can get accidently bumped in, causing a leg to drop when the person sits on it next.
 
Shower Seats           
 
Cracked Wall Tiles at a Shower Seat Installation
 
There are two types of shower seats that comply with the Australian Standards that can be installed into disabled bathrooms. 
  1. Type 1 - Wall mount only
  • Type 2 - Wall mount with front support legs 
Let’s examine Type 1 - Wall mount only-
 
While they meet the requirements of the Australian standard, the installation may cause a problem.
 
As they are only wall mounted, the fixing method and fasteners into the wall need to be top quality.
Consider this - 
When the product is installed to a shower that is constructed with framed and sheeted walls and ceramic tile wet wall sheeting, it all appears very nice.
 
However – in reality, when the user drops their body weight the last 15cm onto the shower seat (that’s called the Flop Factor), the impact is such that the wall studs flex and as a result it cracks the ceramic wall tiles at the shower seat mounting position.
 
There have been many locations where these cracked ceramic wall tiles have allowed water to get into the wall and subsequently under the tile or vinyl floor, which causes the adhesive securing the floor tiles or vinyl in the shower area to fail plus in the long term can also cause structural damage.
 
This information also applies to any shower seat that complies or not, that is secured to the wall only.
 
Let’s examine Type 2 - Wall mount with front support legs
 
Type 2 which connects securely to the wall plus this shower seat frame has front support legs to distribute the person’s weight to both the floor and wall fixings to ensure that the person using the seat is very secure and well supported.
 
This type of shower seat is usually a better installation choice if your wall frame is timber or metal studs and you have ceramic wall tiles in the shower.
 
Generally this design of shower seat will also support heavier people.
 
This design of folding shower seat is secured to the wall only and not fastened to the floor, means that no holes need to be drilled into the floor tiles of vinyl, which have the potential of letting water get under the flooring to cause structural damage or the floor coverings to come loose and need replacement in the future
 
Two great benefits of a shower seat that is securely mounted onto the wall, compared to a freestanding shower stool or chair, is that -
  • You don’t have to try to put it somewhere when it is not in use.
  • You also know it is secure and won’t move about when you sit down on it or arising from a sitting position.
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