News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

The Pros and Cons of Built In, Fold Down and Moveable Shower Seats or Chairs

Blog Post - Opening image pros cons built in fold down moveable shower seats chairs | Innovate Building Solutions #FoldDownShowerChairs #ShowerChairs #BuiltInShowerSeats

So, you’ve come to accept the fact your spouse IS NOT as steady on their feet (especially in the shower) as they used to be (even though they won’t admit it).

Or your wife has been complaining shaving her legs while bending over in the shower, IS NOT getting any easier.

Or you just want the ability to relax after a long day on the job – and there’s no place to sit and do this today in your shower enclosure.

These are all smart reasons to consider buying (and installing) a shower seat (or a shower base which has a seat built into it). But – if you’re like most people – after you begin researching you find it’s waaaay more complicated than you thought. Not only are their different materials you can choose like teak, bamboo, high pressure laminate, tile, and cultured stone (to name just a few), but there’s also different types of shower seats.

Should you choose a built-in shower seat?

Or should you opt for the flexibility of a fold down seat?

Or do you think a moveable shower chair sold at durable medical equipment stores would be best for you, your spouse, child, or grandparent?

The choices are more involved than first meets the eye.

It’s for this reason I wrote this post. My goal is simple. I’m going to show you the pros and cons (‘er advantages and disadvantages) of built in, fold down and moveable shower seats. In the comments section at the end, I’d love to answer your questions and see which option you think is best.

So, let’s dig into the pros and cons of shower seats. I’ll start with built in seats (which I’ll split into two categories (1) built in shower seats created during construction, and (2) seats which are built into the shower base during the manufacturing process). Next, I’ll look at fold down seats, and lastly I’ll discuss moveable shower chairs.

The Pros (Advantages) of Built in Shower Bench Seats Created During Construction

Pro #1 – You can make them any size or shape

When you’ve got a custom shower, the ability to vary sizes can be a big advantage. And when you (or your contractor) are site-building your shower bench seat you can make it straight, angled, or even curved. You can make it big, small – or any size in between. Its dimensions are only limited by your space, imagination and construction skills.

Pro 1 built in shower seat long tile shower bench seat | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerSeats #BuiltInShowerBench #ShowerChair

Pro #2 – You can vary the height and depth of your built-in shower seat

Just like a comfort height toilet is taller to make it simpler to transfer, a shower bench seat can be raised to make it simpler to slide onto, and easier to get up from. And if you need a deeper seat for those ‘deeper’ bodies (and yes, I’m being P.C. here) you can make that happen also.

Pro #3 – Built in bench seats are sturdy and can support a lot of weight

Since these seats are built with framing underneath, they’re capable of supporting the most weight, depending on the design of the framing underneath them.


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Pro #4 – Built in bench seats DO NOT LOOK INSTITUTIONAL

Who wants their shower to look like an old person lives there? ‘Er that would be NO ONE. And unlike plastic shower chairs you find in the medical equipment stores, built in bench seats are luxurious – even though they can have an important function of keeping your family safe from falls. Bench seats can add to the resale value of your home vs. taking away from it with a ‘General Hospital special’ shower chair.

Pro 4 built in shower seat do not look institutional | Innovate Building Solutions #BuiltInShowerSeat #BuiltInShowerBench #BuiltInShowerChair

Pro #5 – You’ll have more room for storage

Everyone can use more space for towels, shampoos, or conditioners. The shower bench seat can serve ‘double-duty’ as a storage center to keep slippery materials (like soap and shampoo bottles) off the floor. It can also serve as a staging place for towels.

The Cons (Disadvantages) of Built in Shower Bench Seats Created During Construction

Con #1 – Waterproofing site-built shower bench seats can be tricky

When you’re building a shower bench seat (or your contractor is doing it for you) you’ve got to be meticulous in your waterproofing techniques to make sure you don’t end up with leaks through the seat and onto the floor below. How are you going to waterproof the transition between the shower seat and the shower walls? What seat topper will you use so no water penetrates through the bench seat (‘er one tip here is to NOT use tile on the seat top– which is porous and can lead to problems down the road)? How will you waterproof the side of the bench seat?

When it comes to effectively designed site-built shower bench seats, the devil really is in the details as you can see from this YouTube video below showing a failed tile bench seat project.


Con #2 – Site built shower seats are expensive

It takes time (and a lot of it) and expertise to build on site a shower bench seat. If you’ve got an expensive (yet qualified) contractor on the job, they will OBVIOUSLY be charging you for their time (which is getting more expensive as it’s getting increasingly challenging to find a decent contractor).

Con #3 – Site built shower seats eat up space…. all the time

Unless someone in your family needs to use the shower bench seat every time they shower, then this big ‘ol bench seat is sucking up precious space FOR EVERYONE ALL THE TIME. Unlike a fold down seat which you can fold down (or folds up) when needed. Besides fixed shower bench seats can block a portion of the shower entry, making it harder to get in.


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Con #4 – Fixed shower bench seats can’t be installed ‘after the fact’

Sometimes you don’t know you need a shower seat, until you need a shower seat (now, that’s profound, isn’t it?). For example, someone in your family got into an accident and now a shower seat is essential. Or their health has gotten worse, and now they’re unable to shower standing up.

And since a fixed shower bench seat must be installed during construction, this isn’t an option you can add to an existing shower if you suddenly need it.

Con #5 – Fixed shower bench seats can be expensive to build glass shower doors around

Since a bench seat often projects beyond the shower pan, your glass shower enclosure needs to be custom designed to work around the bench. And yes – custom does = EXPENSIVE!

Con 5 built in shower seat working around shower seat with glass block wall | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerBench #CustomGlassShowerEnclosure #BuiltInShowerBench

The Pros (Advantages) of Built-in Shower Bench Seats which are manufactured into the shower base

Pro #1 – You don’t have to worry about waterproofing

In manufactured units the shower bench seat is molded as one complete unit along with the shower pan. This eliminates the concern about waterproofing between the bench seat and the shower pan.

Pro 1 built in shower bench seat manufactured into shower base | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerBench #ShowerChair #ShowerSeat

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Pro #2 – They don’t require extra field labor to install

Since the seat is part of the shower pan, there’s no additional labor costs from your contractor to install them.

The Cons (Disadvantages) of Built-in Shower Bench Seats which are manufactured into the shower base

Con #1 – Bench seats built into the shower pan are expensive!

Due to the complexity of manufacturing these units they ARE NOT a cheap date. Expect to pay significantly more for a built-in shower pan/ shower seat combo system than buying a shower pan plus a fold down shower seat.

Con #2 – You have ZERO flexibility with a manufactured system regarding depth, width, and height

If you need a custom sized shower pan – this option is OUT! If you need a wider bench seat than comes standard with the unit – FUGGITABOUTIT (as the New Yorkers might say). If you’d like to make the bench seat higher from the shower floor to make transferring easier, this also a no-go. Basically – what you see is what you get with a bench seat manufactured into the shower base.

The Pros (Advantages) of Fold Down Shower Seats

Pro #1 – Fold down shower seats give you more room when not in use

Perhaps the smartest reason to use a fold down shower seat – is they’re folded up (and out of your way) when you’re NOT using them.

Pro 1 fold down shower seat in weathered teak | Innovate Building Solutions #WeatheredTeakShowerSeat #FoldDownShowerSeat #ShowerSeat

Let’s face it, most showers aren’t as big as you’d like. So, why let a fixed built-in seat eat up your room if it’s rarely used (and for most of us guys – who don’t shave our legs – this is a feature we seldom, if ever, use…although the guy in this image below might disagree with that comment- ha! ha!).

Caucasian man shaving hair from legs | Innovate Building Solutions #FoldDownShowerBench #FoldDownShowerChair #FoldDownShowerSeats


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Pro #2 – Fold down shower seats can be installed (after the fact) …assuming the right supports are behind the wall

Maybe you’re remodeling your shower today but think it’s a possibility you may need to care for your elderly Mom, Dad, Aunt or Uncle down the road. With smart planning you can add backer boards behind your shower wall surrounds and be prepared to add a fold down bench seat (if needed) at a later date for a safe shower.

Pro #3 – Fold down shower seats come in a wide range of prices

Since fold down seats come in more materials than you can ‘shake a stick at’ (as your grandfather used to say), you can either find a budget one (like this stylish ABS plastic unit below) or a higher-end model like a teak fold down seat. You will be able to find a fold-down shower seat which fits your budget…and they’re less expensive than built-ins.

Pro 3 fold down seat in a graphite color from budget ABS plastic | Innovate Building Solutions #PlasticShowerSeats #HighEndShowerSeats #HighEndFoldDownShowerSeats

Pro #4 – You’ll have room below your seat for a wheelchair or more leg room

Unlike a fixed bench seat, which is ‘boxed in’ during construction, the fold down seat is open below where you sit. This space can be used for a wheelchair or more legroom.

Pro #5 – Fold down seats can be installed at any height you like

For the tall people in your family, you’ll install the fold down bench seat higher on the wall. For those ‘V.C.’ (vertically challenged) family members, a lower setting can be smart. However, it’s nice to know the height is completely in your control.  

The Cons (Disadvantages) of Fold Down Shower Seats

Con #1 – Fold down seats can be dangerous if not installed properly

Fold down seats need to be properly anchored. If this isn’t done right, you could have a seat (and most importantly a person) who falls because of this. Make sure the manufacturer’s installations are followed to the ‘T.’

Con #2 – Some fold down seats look like they were designed for ‘grandma’

If this shower is all about function and safety – and style points don’t matter – you can certainly find fold down shower seats which look like you’ve yanked them right off the wall of your neighborhood assisted living facility. However, it’s nice to know for just a few dollars more you can get fold down seats which are safe AND stylish!

Con 2 stylish fold down seat doesn't look institutional | Innovate Building Solutions #ComfortableShowerSeats #StylishShowerSeats #FoldDownShowerChairs

The Pros (Advantages) of Moveable Shower Chairs

Pro #1 – A shower chair can be moved in or out as you need it – especially if it’s only a temporary need  

Sometimes a shower chair is only needed after a major surgery. In this instance you can buy a chair for showering and then store it in your basement or garage in case it’s needed again (hopefully it won’t be needed). It won’t take up any room – after it’s required – and you won’t have to make a permanent structure (like a fixed shower bench seat) or drill holes in the walls and add anchors (like required with a fold down seat).

Pro 1 shower chair credit | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerChair #MoveInShowerChair #PortableShowerChair

Image Source: Wayfair

Pro #2 – Some models have wheels so you can move around in the shower

What can be tough about fixed shower seats and fold down seats is they can’t be moved from wall to wall in shower. This can be difficult if your shower controls, shower head and hand-held shower are in different places. With a shower chair with wheels, you can slide around to reach the controls or roll under the shower head.

Pro #3 – You can find shower chairs with padding for your behind

Sitting on a tile or cultured stone fixed bench seat is not only uncomfortable, but also as hard as a rock. If these materials would hurt your back (or back end), consider a shower chair with padding.

Pro 3 shower chair with padding credit | Innovate Building Solutions #PaddedShowerChair #PaddedShowerSeat #ShowerBench

Image Source: Caregiver Products

The Cons (Disadvantages) of Moveable Shower Chairs

Con #1 – A shower chair looks oh soooo geriatric!

Nothing quite says, ‘grandma lives here’ like a shower chair. And if you’re anything like me (OK – I’m fessing up and telling you I’m a 62-year-old guy who spends $9.99 every quarter coloring his hair, but I swear I look 39 after I do it!) and HATE, HATE, HATES looking old, a shower chair is something you’ll want to avoid like the Coronavirus.   

Con 1 geriatric shower chair credit | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerChair #ShowerSeat #ShowerBench

Image Source: CareProdx


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Con #2 – Where do you put the shower chair when it’s not in use

Shower chairs which are not being used are a pain in the butt (OK – bad ‘chair’ pun intended). If you’re bathroom is tight you don’t want it hanging out on the bathroom floor. And if your shower is small, you don’t want it in your enclosure either. Perhaps a collapsible unit will be better, but it’s still a pain figuring out where to store shower chairs.  

So, which option do you think it best for you – a built in, fold down or moveable shower seat or chair?

So now that you’ve read all the pro and cons of shower seats, which will work best for your family? I’d love your input below.

And if you’re still not sure which is best and/or want to get nationwide direct pricing on fold down shower seats, feel free to call me and my team at 877-668-5888 or click for a Free Design Consultation. We can not only help you with the shower seat, but also with universal or accessible design showers, stylish grout free shower surround walls and even glass shower doors.

We offer free design ideas, nationwide direct bathroom product supply, and referrals to bath remodeling contractors in your local area to do the job (through our bathroom dealer network). We also have our Ohio based Bath Doctor division to help with Cleveland bath remodeling projects.

Thanks for reading (and putting up with my humor).



If you want more advice  follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFoti.

And if you’re a bathroom remodeling contractor interested in being a dealer of custom shower wall panels, shower pans and glass shower door systems and purchasing quality custom shower kits, call 888-467-7488 and ask for Mike.




Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

Comments (6)

  • Mike! Great post – you covered most if not all aspects of including a seating option in a shower enclosure.

    My favorite option will always be the fold-down bench. They’ve come a long way in form and style, to the point where they have more of a “spa” look than a “hospital” look. The fact that fold-up benches get out of the way and take up virtually no space when in the upright position is a tough feature that is tough to beat.

    However – I cannot stress enough that a folding seat is only as strong as what it is installed on. Proper blocking is an absolute must, and in most cases, this must be done when the shower itself is being installed.
    There are rare cases where we have been able to open up the drywall on the opposite side of a shower wall to install blocking, but it’s a costly modification that should be left to professional installers.

    So my best advise to anyone remodeling their shower is this – plan ahead! Even if you do not want a bench now, it’s cheap and easy to block for one while you have the alcove down to the studs. …And if your remodeler is planning to install a shower that doesn’t need the space demo’d down to the studs first, find another contractor with a better system!

  • Yes Jake – there are lots of shower chairs on the market – some stylish, some look pretty institutional – but the advantage is you can move them in and out as you’d like. – Mike

  • Wendie – thanks for your excellent input. I also love teak bench seats – they work well in ‘wet spaces’ – and since you’re looking at a moveable unit you have a lot of flexibility with it. You can also get the fold down seats in teak as well. – Mike

  • Wendie Howland MN RN CRRN CCM

    You forgot another excellent option— a solid, stylish teak bench. When I ripped out the old tub/shower enclosure and put in a bee-yoo-tiful all-glass walk-in shower in anticipation of our inevitable aging, I wanted the flexibility of a movable bench. I can move it around, push it out of the way to stand, sit under the hand-held shower in its bracket on the side, or put a bunch of squealing grandchildren in there. When I had both knees replaced in 7 months I loved it because I could sit and pivot without stepping. The slatted seat is nicer than plastic and also drains nicely; I also tip it against the back wall to drain when the shower’s done to have room to towel off.

    One other caveat: I noticed your photos show a slanted grab bar. These are not ok because even if “nonslip” the slope allows a hand to slide downhill. Horizontal bars are safer, even if you have multiples placed in different places (of course bolted to the studs and attachments well-waterproofed before the tiles go up).

    Wendie Howland MN RN CRRN CCM

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