A shower chair, or a handicap shower chair, is some sort of seating arrangement that allows people with disabilities to wash or be washed in a tub or a shower. It’s used for all types of disabilities that contain balance and mobility issues. Those two can come together but are often found separately too.
Best Handicap Shower Chairs
How does a bathroom become an accessible bathroom?
We’re going to refer specifically to a mobility-accessible bathroom here, but there are solutions for various other disabilities like hearing or sight loss.
Even if you use a shower chair, most of the time it’s not enough. You may, at the very least, need to grab bar(s), anti-slip floors (or mats), and a well-lit space. Then, if you have a wheelchair, you may need to raise the toilet and lower the sink (while at the same time making it wall mounted to be able to fit the wheelchair underneath it). If you’ve lowered the sink, it’s natural that lower the mirror too and make it larger. Also important is the shower: you can transform it to be a walk-in type or just make it square.
Then, if you want to keep going you can bring aids that fit your needs. For example, having a place to put a towel within reach may be useful and so is installing technology that doesn’t let the water get too hot, and/or anything in between. This section is customized with features that you have discovered to make your life easier.
Finally, you may want wider doors, windows you can reach, and generally more space to move. That would come last because they’re the most difficult changes to make, but if you need them before—if, for example, your wheelchair doesn’t fit through the door—then you’re more than welcome to do them all on your schedule. These are just suggestions.
What are the characteristics of handicap shower chairs?
Almost every other characteristic works toward establishing this one common goal: the person using it must be secure. The whole purpose of showers chairs is to be something safe that can handle the weight of a person who otherwise wouldn’t be able to bathe or be bathed.
Dimensions, weight, material, shape—the more stability they can lend the chair the more peace of mind the disabled person and/or the caretaker have.
They’re important for stability but also for fit. It’s recommended that you measure the tub or the shower and compare it to your desired shower chair. If the dimensions aren’t appropriate, it will definitely matter less what other features the shower chair has.
It’s a characteristic that can be interpreted in two ways: the weight of the chair and the weight it can support. Both are useful for stability, but technology has reached a point where the weight of the chair doesn’t matter as much. The weight it can support, though, will always be decisive.
The most common materials are metal, plastic, and wood. They must all be reinforced and/or treated because the environment is so wet. Also, the addition of rubber, especially on the feet, is critical.
This characteristic refers to what kind of chair is needed. Do you prefer a stool? Maybe a mounted bench. How about a shower chair? There is a wide array of different versions and new designs are added all the time.
Finally, this is a characteristic that has nothing to do with stability. Well, only in the sense that the design might affect how you go about cleaning your shower chair. Hygiene is, nonetheless, important.
Consider, for example, that your disability is caused by surgery or is one where surgery is required and you have to avoid infection. You aren’t in a position to discount the importance of keeping your shower chair germ-free through a process as simple as possible. If it has too many nooks and crannies, you might not be able to tend to it as you should.
Here are our recommendations for handicap shower chairs; we hope you’ll find one that suits your needs.
1. Drive Medical Folding Universal Sliding Transfer Bench
Why is it on our list?
Overall best. This transfer bench manages to be practical, comfortable, and have a budget-friendly price. We’re amazed at the amount of thought that went into creating this product; it really takes into consideration the various needs of people with disabilities. Drive Medical, like Medline further down, shows its experience in making aids.
Pros and cons
The sliding bench is 42” long, 18.5” deep, and has adjustable legs, making its height increase and decrease in increments of 0.5” from the minimum height of 21” to the maximum of 25”. The feet also two have suction cups that you can change according to your needs. Its seat width is 22.5”. The maximum weight it can carry is 300lbs, while its overall weight is around 10lbs.
We were talking about the amount of thought it went into the construction of it. Yes, it’s a sliding bench. That means that you, the person sitting on it, can be pushed or you can pull yourself with the help of a grab bar. The latter isn’t recommended for people with balance issues.
But that’s not the only aspect that makes it convenient; there are so many details that help with that goal. Take for example the safety belt. It helps a lot when you’re a disabled person or taking care of a person with disabilities. Or the soap dish. It’s useful, but if you don’t need it, you can simply remove the tray.
Or, finally, the mesh put there with the purpose to stop objects from falling into the tub. That feature was added with balance issues in mind and for the comfort of both the disabled person and their caretaker.
And while we’re on the topic of convenient features, the Drive Medical’s transfer bench folds. It’s light enough to carry and store or transport. You can take it with you when you’re traveling. Added to that, it can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water. It’s also a good price for sliding benches.
As a weakness, we’ll have to put the return policy. It specifically says that it’s your responsibility to make sure that the bench fits. After 14 days, they won’t accept returns.
Drive Medical Folding Universal Sliding Transfer Bench is overall a great bench.
2. Medline Tub Transfer Bench
Why is it on our list?
Very sturdy. It’s a product that offers great stability, not only for its category of transfer benches but for the larger one, of shower chairs and other bath aids, as well.
Medline is a company that has specialized equipment geared towards people with disabilities. They appear to listen, learn, and are willing to apply what they know from one area to another and from one product to another. In this case, it really shows.
Pros and cons
The bench weighs 12.9lbs and can support a weight of up to 350lbs. Its dimensions are 17” wide, 12” deep, and the height is adjustable from 19.5” to 23.5”. Its legs’ length is able to be customized and they have two anti-slip suction cups on the tub part. Important to note here is that you are the one who says if that’s the left side or the right side. The arm and backrest can easily be moved to accommodate your bathroom.
It’s got an aluminum frame that improves the bench’s sturdiness. That’s how it can handle the weight it does even if it’s pretty light. Usually, if the weight of the chair is less, it reduces its heft, making it flimsy. Not in this case. The suction cups play an important role in the bench staying stable.
What’s more, the Medline Tub Transfer Bench has, in addition to drainage holes peppered across its surface, antimicrobial protection. It’s called Microban and it’s built-in the product so it will never wear off. While it won’t protect you against germs, needing cleaning like any other aid, it will help with the spread of bacteria, mildew, or mold.
At the disadvantages, we have to talk about its assembly. It doesn’t need tools, so it has that in its favor, but it can take a while to see how everything fits together. Once you understand the principle, it’s easy but still not easy enough depending on your disability. You may need somebody there to help you.
Medline Tub Transfer Bench is a sturdy transfer bench.
3. Vaunn Medical Chair
Why is it on our list?
Adjustable chair. This product is exactly what it says: an adaptable shower chair. It’s secure, sturdy, and designed to help a wide array of people with disabilities. That doesn’t mean that it’s without disadvantages but, in the end, if you’re looking for a shower chair at a good price, this might be the product for you.
Pros and cons
The chair’s height varies on several variables. First one is leg height; it can be between 16” and 21”. Then, you have the arms added to it, they’re 6.5”, so if you have arms installed, it’ll be between 22.5” and 27.5”. And, finally, the backrest, which has 6.5” more than the arms, bringing the overall height at 29” to 34”. Both the arms and backrest are optional.
Keeping with the dimensions theme, the chair has an outside width of 17.5” and a depth of 17.5”. Its seat has a width of 17.75” and a depth of 12.75”. The width between the arms (angled outwards) is 21”. And finally, the backrest has a 16” width. There’s another width we should mention, the feet’s; this time is expressed as a diameter: each is 2”.
Vaunn Medical chair is light, weighing 8lbs (just 6lbs without the backrest) and can support the maximum weight of 250lbs. That along with the width between arms shows that it can easily be suitable for larger people. It’s hardy due to the stout frame, made out of anodized aluminum and its adjustability compounds that.
For example, if have a cast on your arm or any type of medical equipment attached to you that has to have space, you can easily remove the arms and the backrest. And you’re still secure; the rubber feet are non-skid, offering safety in a wet environment.
The chair’s design is another point in its favor, being comfortable and practical. It’s got a safety-seat contoured. On the surface of it, draining holes keep the water from pooling and the chair becoming slippery. The anti-bacterial seat and the padded arms are both useful in a shower chair and also nice to sit on, which is so important.
Also, while we’re on the subject of the design, it’s got a tool-free assembly. It may seem intimidating because it comes in a lot of pieces, and yes, that’s a disadvantage, but it fits together easily. There’s a video you can watch if you follow the link to bring you peace of mind.
That being said, even though you don’t need additional tools, you’ll still need to screw hardware in and lots of it. And since they aren’t tightened with anything, they have more chances to come loose at some point. Those are disadvantages that we found and they can be better summarized as it’s a bit of a hassle.
The Vaunn Medical Chair is a great adjustable shower chair.
4. Coastal Vogue Oasis Shower Stool, Driftwood
Why is it on our list?
Made out of wood. We mentioned that wood can be among the materials shower chairs are made out of and this is a perfect example. It looks great in a bathroom, it comes assembled so there’s no installation needed, and it’s practical too.
If you don’t want a plastic and metal-based product, you might be interested in finding out more about this one.
Pros and cons
Coastal Vogue stool is 18” high (the distance between the platforms is 12”), and 16.75” wide. Each platform is a quarter of a circle with a radius of 12”. It weighs 10.35lbs and has adjustable non-slip footpads. The footpads can adjust their height for sloped floors like most showers have.
The wood is teak and waterproof. Coastal Vogue boasts with the time and research that went into sealing it, making it possible to be used in the shower. Their stool has five different coats, each with its purpose, and two additional ones for protection. There is no mold, no discoloration, and nothing to threaten its integrity. Also, included you will find instructions for cleaning the stool.
They also stress the importance of the manufacturing process. It’s important for them to be involved and for there to be as little distance as possible between the lower and upper levels of the company. The CEO’s brother spends several months a year taking part in the fabrication process and—as a company with a woman owner—they pride themselves with offering the local men and, especially, women jobs.
Added to that, another advantage to the stool is the design. Made to fit snuggly between two walls, the position offers the stool extra stability. It’s a great idea for any shower chair because the person using it can balance or, if necessary, rely on the wall for security. Add a grab bar and you’re set. And the extra platform helps with the support but can also easily serve as a place for toiletries.
But it can also be a disadvantage. It clearly wasn’t meant for larger people to sit on since it doesn’t even offer a maximum weight. That’s not good because although a stool can prove stable for people of, for example, 250lbs once or twice, it doesn’t tell you how long that structural integrity holds. If it wasn’t built for it, that doesn’t mean that it can never handle a certain weight, it just means that you are all of a sudden unable to tell how long the product will last.
That’s a point we thought was worth knowing and so is our next one: personal space. Because it has a smallish radius it means that you have exactly as much room to wash. It can uncomfortable or even dangerous if you feel the need to lean forward to have space to move and lose your balance.
Coastal Vogue is a good stool for a bathroom.
5. Moen DN7110
Why is it on our list?
Attached to the wall. We have tried to keep this list as varied as possible to respond to the largest number of needs that we could. To do that, we considered it necessary to include not a chair but a seat that’s attached to the wall.
This design has its share of advantages and disadvantages, as do all products, but we felt it was important to include in the shower chair category if only so you know the possibility exists.
Pros and cons
We know we mentioned strengths for the product but we’re going to start with its specifications, that way we’ll be able to understand each other better when we talk about the points in its favor. Its seat is 20.5” wide at the base or on the inside and 19.6” at the top or the outside, while its backrest is 20” wide and the hardware that keeps it attached to the wall is 16” wide. In depth, the seat is 16.1”.
And in height, the seat is 1.2” and the backrest is 15.4”. The raised seat goes up a half-inch or so over the backrest at 16.1”. The overall width, from the wall, of the backrest and the raised seat is 2.8”.
The Moen DN7110 weighs about 5lbs and it can support weights up to 400lbs. It’s made out of teak wood, but it’s uncoated. Granted, the wood should be coated, it holds up to water better so you might have to look into a teak oil or sealer.
If this is the first time you hear of them, the main difference between the oil and sealer is that oil nourishes the wood while the sealer traps in its’ natural oils and resins. Another, more applicable to our subject, is that a sealer would make it waterproof and the oil won’t. But oil would also hold up for a while. It depends on your preference which product you end up choosing.
Back to the seat, included is a limited lifetime warranty. It means that for five years, you can return the product for manufacture defects. Of course, to be able to do that you have to be able to prove that you haven’t used it for other purposes and you haven’t cleaned it with products that might affect its integrity.
It’s a good sign that Moen is willing to stand by the quality of their products but the more time passes the fewer chances you have of proving your claims are accurate.
That being said, the Moen DN7110 is a stable and sturdy chair. If you install it properly, you are assured that you won’t have any problems with wobbling. And, although its main purpose is the shower, it can easily be installed in other rooms or hallways, offering the support of a convenient seating without the space taken up by a chair. That’s another one of its strengths no matter where you place it.
For weaknesses, we chose a big one: the installation. You need a lot of tools, measuring, making sure everything’s level, drilling holes, and screwing in hardware. We recommend asking for help if you aren’t sure what you’re doing. It isn’t easy and, for a disabled person, it’s even worse. Once installed, you have a great seat; it’s just the process that’s complicated.
The Moen DN7110 is a secure wall-mounted seat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wouldn’t a normal chair work if you put it in the bathtub or shower?
Well, it works in the sense that it can support the same weight that it could but we can’t know about its stability or integrity. Most shower chairs have elements that help with being put under water. It’s a two-pronged system: they can’t afford to slip and they have to be water-resistant to a certain degree.
The wood develops mold, the metal rusts, the plastic slips. If you need something to tie you over until you buy a shower chair, you can carefully try an anti-slip mat and a stable chair you don’t like very much in case you have to throw it away. We strongly recommend, though, to use an actual shower chair.
How much does a shower chair cost?
That depends on the type. We have on our list benches, chairs, stools, and wall-mounted seats. Aids of this type are under $500 and the ones on our list are under $250, not including shipping. The cheapest ones are the stools, around $50, and the most expensive are the wall-mounted seats. The price range generally follows this pattern, increasing in price: stools, chairs, transfer benches, sliding transfer benches, and wall-mounted seats.
What does a European toilet key refer to?
A European toilet key is just that: a toilet key meant for accessible toilets. These kinds of facilities are found in Germany, the Czech Republic, Holland, Austria, Slovakia, and Switzerland with more countries joining in and more accessible places built. We said places because it’s not only good for bathrooms, it opens elevators too. England has its own key, called the Radar Key and it works similarly.
Unfortunately, not all accessible toilets can be opened with this key. Sometimes you’ll need to ask for help getting access and to get the key itself requires you to be over the age of 70 or to prove that you have a disability. It’s still a step forward in terms of accessibility considering that the Euro key opens about 12,000 facilities and the Radar key around 10,000.
Do you have any tips and tricks for bathing with a disability?
Generally, you know your disability best; you know what you can handle, what you have problems with, and what’s impossible. Try to follow the guidelines you have set for yourself. If, however, you’re reading this in anticipation of surgery or the course of a disease (or simply age) that’s going to leave you with a disability, there are some tips we could share.
The first is: be prepared. If possible, avoid taking a bath when you’re tired and especially if you’re alone. Think ahead. You might want to put your clothes on your bed if you know you’ll be weary. Maybe put towels down if you know you’ll be exhausted. That way, you can rest on top of them without getting everything wet and creating more work for yourself.
Keep objects within reach is our next tip. Whether that means the towel is close to you or the shower is lower down the wall, you don’t want to overextend in a slippery environment. And while we’re on the subject, make sure you can grab onto things. You should make as many things slip-proof as you can.
Can technology help me bathe if I have a disability?
Technology helps a lot with compensating for disabilities. Most people have heard of high-tech prosthesis, and, while that’s the biggest growing industry, it’s by no means the only one.
Take for example the bathtub lift. You can be lowered into your bath with no issues or strain. Or an ADA-approved shower system that can stop the water to get too heated. Technology is everywhere and, if it can make our lives easier, why not take advantage?