Built-in and floating shower benches make great additions to a bathroom in a wide range of circumstances. The type of shower bench which works for one household will not work for another, as each has different advantages and disadvantages.
Here we cover the pros and cons of built-in and floating shower benches to help anyone considering these options decide which type will work best for their space and the needs of their family.
What is a Shower Bench?
A shower bench is essentially a wide seat type that is installed in a shower, allowing people to sit down while washing. It differs from a shower chair because it will typically go from one side of the shower to the other, giving it the effect of a bench and providing more seating space.
A shower bench can be permanently fixed to the shower, or you can get portable shower benches. A fixed shower bench will be attached or built into the shower and made from a waterproof material such as marble or tile to ensure longevity and make for easy cleaning.
Benefits of a Shower Bench
If you enjoy having long showers, then a shower bench provides a comfortable place to rest so you’re not on your feet for an extended period of time.
You could sit down and rest on your shower bench while you enjoy a face mask or a deep conditioning hair treatment before the products need to be washed off. A shower bench might be particularly useful for elderly or disabled people who would rather sit down to wash.
A shower bench is also an ideal place for someone with an injury or someone recovering from surgery to sit down while they shower, preventing them from having to put added strain on their joints.
Some tasks are also awkward to complete in the shower while standing up, for example, shaving legs, and this would be made much easier and comfortable with the use of a shower bench.
If you are worried about falling in the shower, then a shower bench can make the shower a much safer place to wash, taking away the risks of injuring yourself.
Shower benches can also help to make the shower a safer place for young children, giving them a spot to sit while they get clean so that they won’t slip over.
A shower bench can also double up as additional storage, depending on the type of shower bench you have. A large shower bench can be used as a shelf for body washes and shampoos while still leaving enough space remaining for a person to sit down.
Having shower products at this height can also prevent users from having to reach down to the ground or up to a high shelf to pick them up, which could be a hazard. If you have a floating shower bench then you could also utilize the space underneath for the storage of personal products.
A shower bench can give confidence and independence back to a person who struggles to stand for the duration of a shower, whether that be due to injury, surgery, disability, or old age. This can do wonders for self-esteem, allowing them to live more independently for longer.
Types of Shower Benches
There are three main types of shower benches, all of which have advantages and disadvantages. These are discussed in detail below.
Built-In Shower Bench
A built-in shower bench is exactly that; a bench whose frame has been incorporated into the construction of the shower.
Many people love the look of a built-in shower bench as it gives the shower a luxury appeal similar to a spa or sauna. When designing your new shower, you can incorporate the shower bench to be custom-made so that it fits perfectly in the space and is completely integrated.
Most built-in shower benches will be covered in the same tiles as the floor or walls of the shower so that it looks seamless and appears to be one entire unit. This gives the shower bench a more high-end look.
Built-in shower benches are the most sturdy type of shower bench you can get because they can be heavily reinforced underneath the seat and surrounded by tiles so the reinforcements cannot be seen. If you are concerned about the weight limits of the shower bench, you could even have it built entirely out of solid bricks so that you know there is no chance of anybody causing the bench to collapse.
Use more space
One drawback of a built-in shower bench is that it usually takes up more space than alternative types. As this type of shower bench is built upwards from floor level, it reduces the amount of floor space and therefore standing space in the shower. You’ll also have to think carefully about the placement of a built-in shower bench so that it doesn’t block access in and out of the shower.
Difficult to retrofit
Built-in shower benches work best when they are designed and installed at the same time as the shower itself. If you want to add a built-in shower bench to an existing shower, you may find that it never looks quite right and will appear as more of an add-on than a proper piece of the shower.
Floating Shower Bench
A floating shower bench is fixed to the wall at seat height, and has no legs or support underneath it, therefore giving the impression that it is floating.
These benches can be permanently fitted in the seat position, or some floating benches have hinges so they can be folded up against the wall when not in use.
A floating shower bench takes up less space than a standard-sized shower bench as it doesn’t require any floor space. This means the space underneath can be used as storage, or if built at the correct height it can ensure there is enough space for wheelchair access to the shower.
Some floating shower benches have hinges at the wall which means they can be folded up when not in use; this makes them very useful for people who need a space to rest in a small shower.
Can be fitted at any time
A floating shower bench can be added to an existing bathroom at any time and it won’t affect the style. This is because floating benches are not designed to be integrated like built-in benches, and can instead be fixed onto existing tiles with screws and the correct hardware.
Less seamless look
If you want a seamless look in your shower, then a floating bench isn’t the best option. This is because it will always look like an add-on in the shower, rather than an actual part of the shower itself.
Floating benches are often made of wood or marble though, so you could coordinate the bench with other accessories in your bathroom to help it look more intentional, for example, a matching wooden frames mirror or a marble soap dispenser.
Can be weaker
A floating shower bench may have a lower weight capacity than a built-in shower bench because it doesn’t have any support underneath it and instead is relying on the integrity of the wall and proper installation. You’ll need to ensure a floating shower bench is installed by trusted professionals to sit on it with confidence.
Portable Shower Bench
A portable shower bench usually takes the shape of a small bamboo stool made from light construction so that it can easily be moved in and out of the shower.
Least expensive option
Portable shower benches are often constructed of bamboo and therefore have a lower price point than fitted shower benches made from hardwood, marble, or tile. This makes them a good option if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a shower bench, for example, if you only need it temporarily while recovering from surgery.
Can be moved
The obvious benefit of a portable shower bench is that it can be moved. They are not fixed to the wall and so can be taken in the shower when you need it, and removed when you don’t. This is great if there are people in the household who don’t need a shower bench, and don’t want their floorspace limited.
No fitting required
A portable shower bench doesn’t need to be installed and is, therefore, an instant option if you want a shower bench in a hurry.
Not as long-lasting
Portable shower benches are not as long-lasting as fitted shower benches because they tend to be made of bamboo, which can degrade over time when kept in a moist environment such as a bathroom.
Lower weight restrictions
A bamboo portable shower bench will not be able to hold as much weight as a fitted shower bench, though more sturdy portable options may be available if this is a particular concern.