The Shower Chair Buying Guide

About this Shower Chair Buying Guide

Are you in the market for a shower chair but is baffled by all the options? If you feel that some advice is needed to help you decide, be sure to read through this guide to find out which shower chair would best suit your requirements.

If you already own a shower chair, please see The Shower Chair Safety Guide on how to use it safely and correctly.

Note: This article is a translation from another post. While this guide is written primarily for the readers in Asian countries, most of its content will apply to anyone who wants to purchase a shower chair.

Different Types of Shower Seats

If you do not know yet, the three types of shower seats are shower stoolsshower chairs, and transfer benches. Each type has its advantages and best use scenario.

three types of shower seats are shower stools, shower chairs and transfer benches | The Shower Chair Buying Guide
three types of shower seats

Now let’s go over the issues to consider before picking out the appropriate type.

The Physical State of the User

If you have already shopped around, you will most likely have seen many shower chairs with armrests. The backrest of a shower chair and the armrest are essential if the user is in a poor physical condition. That includes users with poor balance or lacking body strength.

The backrest and armrests provide the user with some support in case he/she needs rest while bathing. The armrests reduce the strain on the user’s back and legs during the stand-up and sit-down motions.

Therefore, shower stools may not be the appropriate choice if the user is not in an adequate physical state. Better to consider shower chairs or transfer benches.

We will talk about placement at a later section of this guide, but if a shower chair has to be moved around often, it will be better to get a lighter product.

How Tall is the User?

Most shower chairs are height adjustable to suit most users. Experts say the seat panel height should be at the mid-point between the lower buttocks and the back of the knees. Please see a demonstration at 7:30 in this video.

source: YouTube video by Taipei Consumer Protection Center
title: shower chairs for the elderly press conference

Another valid view states the height should be equal to the back of the knees. This way, the user’s feet are kept flat on the floor. 

The first view gives a user an additional leverage during the standing-up motion. The second view stresses on a user’s comfort and stability. In any case, most height-adjustable shower chairs should accommodate both settings for the average users. You can check by measuring and compare it with the product’s specifications.

However, if the user is very tall or very petite, then you must find out if the chair you intend to get will adjust to the required height.

How Heavy is the User?

Shower chair manufacturers must specify the weight capacity of their products. Most advertisements will include this data. You can also find this inside the owner’s manuals.

The industry standard starts at 250 pounds to 300 pounds. There are bariatric versions that exceed 400 pounds also.

Some claimed that it is safer to get a shower chair with a weight capacity that exceeds the user’s weight by 40 pounds. The intent is to provide a fail-safe measure to the user, which is not bad. Then why not get one that’s 60, 80, or 100 pounds over the user’s weight? Such practice renders the designed weight capacity unreliable.

Further, it is also common for vendors to “mark-down” the weight capacity before retail. For example, a shower chair retailed with 275 pounds weight capacity specification is usually rated for 300 pounds originally.

Shower chair manufacturers commonly use ISO 17966 testing protocols to gauge the mechanical strength of products. According to this specification, the amount of force used for the static loading test has a safety factor of 1.5 applied to it. For example, 450 pounds of force is applied to a shower chair with 300 pounds capacity specification during testing.

A demonstration of Seat Static Loading Test
(backrest testing is being conducted simultaneously)
source: YouTube video by Furniture testing
titled: Seat and Back Static load test

So, is it necessary to get a shower chair with the extra capacity? It is entirely up to the user. In reality, it may not matter as much if a user understands how to use it safely.

Environment and Space Issues

Please consider the following:

Will the shower chair you are interested in fit in the space available?

Advertisements should be clear on the product dimensions. Just make sure you have the required space.

Can the shower chair be placed and oriented appropriately, so toiletries and items such as showerheads and faucets are easily within reach?

It’s very dangerous for a user to over-stretch for things while sitting on a shower chair. Consider a product with compartments or place an additional table for these items if needed.

Is the ground surface leveled enough so the shower chair can stand stably?

A shower chair’s anti-slip leg tips will not work well if all legs are not in contact with the floor/surface. Think about redoing the floor, if needed.

Before buying a shower chair to place in your bathtub, check the available flat surface at the base and compare it with the product specs. It has to sit leveled inside the tub.

Once the shower chair is in place, does the user still have enough space to maneuver comfortably? Is there going to be a caregiver? And how much space is required to work?

Check the available space beforehand to avoid being stuck with a shower chair that gets in the way of everything.

Finally, you need to think about the additions that may become necessary in the future, such as grab-bars, anti-slip mats, or walk-in bathtubs. Will this shower chair get in the way?

As time goes on, the installation of more safety equipment becomes necessary. While we cannot plan for everything, but it is still a good idea to think about this beforehand.

Conclusion

A shower chair is just a simple piece of equipment that allows the user to sit down while taking a bath. Selecting a suitable product shouldn’t feel like rocket science.

The Shower Chair Buying Guide has pointed out the most important issues that everyone should consider before making the perfect choice. Please comment below if you have important information to add to this guide.

Finally, it is also advisable to consult your physician about this topic.

P.S. Take a look at this article, The Shower Chair Safety Guide, to know how to use your shower chairs properly.

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