Built-In Vs. Floating Shower Bench: Pros And Cons

Having a bench in your shower can provide comfort and ease for elderly or disabled people. It can be very convenient if someone in your house has an injury that doesn't allow them to stand in the shower. You are thinking about installing a bench in your shower and are wondering whether a built-in bench or a floating bench is the best option. We will give you the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn more.

Built-in benches will take up extra space in your shower room while floating benches offer more leg room. Built-in benches are more sturdy and can be customized. Floating benches be installed more easily into existing showers, but extra care should be taken to ensure it is installed correctly and withstand a sitting person's weight.

The best choice for a shower bench depends on what you will be using it for and what your current shower configuration looks like. This post will explore the topic further and tell you which material is the best. We will discuss whether a shower bench should be sloped, how deep it should be, and how tall it should be. This post will also outline the steps to build and install a floating shower bench. Keep reading to learn more.

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Built-In Shower Bench Vs. Floating (Pros And Cons)

Built-In Shower Bench Pros

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Contemporary double-shower with marble tiles and bench seat

A built-in shower bench can be an excellent design feature if you are building a new house or remodeling your bathroom. You can add elegant curves to make the seat stylish if you are designing a new shower. The shower seat can always double as a shelf for shower supplies if the seat is not used frequently. People enjoy the customizable aspect of adding a built-in shower into a new design, but it's not very customizable if you are adding a bench to an existing shower.

Built-In Shower Bench Cons

The ability to customize your shower only works if you are replacing or installing a new shower. If you are adding a built in shower bench into an existing shower, then it will not look as nice as an original shower that incorporates the bench into the design. Built-in benches take up more space and may partially block the entry into the shower. It will permanently decrease the standing room you have available in your shower.

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Floating Bench Pros

A floating bench will not take away space from your shower or from anyone who doesn't need to use the seat. Floating benches may have space underneath for a wheelchair, which makes it a better option for wheelchair users. The user of the floating bench will have more leg space and possibly more comfort. The installation should be done properly so the seat is sturdy and can hold 400 lbs or more. It needs to be installed into wall studs.

Floating Bench Cons

Floating benches do not look as nice as built-in benches that are incorporated into the design of the shower. There is danger for injury to the user if it is not installed correctly. This bench requires drilling into your existing shower tile that is currently waterproof. Depending on your installation strategy, moisture may find a way into the newly drilled area and cause mold to grow.


Before starting the project, you should imagine exactly where the shower seat will go. Think about where the showerhead is and whether it will stream to the shower bench comfortably. It is always a good idea to install grab bars along with a shower bench to give users extra support. Consider where you can place the bars, the bench, and how the water flows. Consider whether there is space for a wheelchair to roll up to the seat if needed.

What Is The Best Material For A Shower Bench?

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Bamboo and teak wood are the two most popular shower benches because they are naturally water resistant in their natural form. Bamboo is not water resistant after it is processed, so it requires chemical treatment to use as a shower bench. Teak wood doesn't require any chemical treatment. Teak wood is also stronger and more durable than bamboo. The best material is teak wood, while bamboo is the less costly second best option.

How Much Does A Shower Bench Cost?

A small corner floating bench costs from about $45 to about $140 on Amazon. You will also need the cost of mortar and your time in labor. The cost of a built in shower bench ranges from about $150 to $200 on Amazon. You will need to add the cost of mortar, tile, and labor. The estimated cost for a shower bench with materials and labor is $300 to $500. For more information on the cost of installing a shower stall, read How Much Does A Shower Stall Cost? [Inc. Installation Fees]

Triangular Innovis Better-Bench (Floating Shower Bench)

How Do You Build A Floating Shower Bench?

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There are different kinds of floating benches. These directions are for installing a larger, rectangular floating bench in the shower. It requires more reinforcement and labor time to complete the project. The alternative is the small triangular floating shower bench that has few steps to complete the installation. You will not need to reinforce the triangular bench like you will for a rectangular bench. Follow these steps to install a floating shower bench.

  1. Choose a waterproof material that is sturdy and supportive, or buy a floating bench and begin the installation process.
  2. Determine where the shower bench will go and how high. Measure and draw lines to designate the place it will be installed.
  3. Install a 4x6 wood block horizontally between studs.
  4. Place up the bench and mark all of the mounting holes.
  5. Use a 3/8 inch masonry bit to drill through the substrate.
  6. Insert wall anchors into the drilled mounting holes.
  7. Put a small amount of caulk inside each remaining hole.
  8. Tighten fasteners with a screwdriver
  9. Fill in the bench with dry pack deck mortar.
  10. Caulk around the upper edge of the bench

Plastic Shower Bench Waterproof

Can I Use A Temporary Shower Bench?

The easiest and most cost-effective way of having a shower bench is to use a movable, temporary bench. Long term care facilities and nursing homes often use movable medical shower benches. It doesn't take up much space, and it isn't a long-term commitment. You can buy a pretty bamboo bench with a shelf underneath the seat for more shower storage. It is easily removable to make the shower more spacious for people who don't need a bench. 

Premium Bamboo Shower Bench With Shelf

The main downside to using a temporary bench is that it may be wobbly in the shower. Showers are sloped to direct water to the drain, so the bench might not sit firmly on the floor, depending on your shower configuration. There are specially made universal shower benches for bath style tubs that will be sturdy and hold up to 400 lbs. This is an easy solution that doesn't require mortar and waterproofing to complete the installation.

Carex Universal Bath Seat (400 lbs)

Should A Shower Bench Be Sloped?

A shower bench should be sloped by 1/4 inch per foot in the direction of the drain. This will prevent water from resting and pooling in one section of the shower. Puddles of water forming in your shower will eventually lead to mold and mildew growing. If you already have a shower bench installed, you can use a squeegee to remove excess water after every use. A shower bench should always be sloped, whether it is floating or built-in.

Schluter Systems Kerdi Board Shower Bench

How Deep Should A Shower Seat Be?

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The depth is the measurement from the back of the shower seat to the front. The standard depth of a shower seat is between 15 and 16 inches, which is also recommended by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This seat is deep enough for the user to sit comfortably in the shower, but not so deep that it is difficult to stand up. A shower seat deeper than this might also block the entryway into the shower.

What Is A Good Height For A Shower Bench? ADA recommendations

A good height for a shower bench is between 17 and 19 inches, which is the ADA recommendation. This rule is not as cut and dry because short people and tall people might require a different height for optimum comfort. Before you choose your shower bench's height, you should measure the shortest person who will be using the seat. Measure from the ground to the back of the person's knee and subtract 1 inch. This is the ideal measurement. Taller people can always add a cushion to raise the height to a more comfortable level.

In Closing

A built-in shower bench is a way to customize your shower, and you can do it without sacrificing space. If you are working with an existing shower room, then space and location relative to the showerhead are important things to consider. The most cost effective solution is a corner floating shower bench that is attached to the studs. Any bench should be sloped to allow water to run off toward the drain.

If you're installing a new shower or considering a remodel, you want to make sure you have an easy to clean shower. For more information, check out this post Here’s The Easiest Type of Shower To Clean.

A collage of a built-in and floating shower bench, Built-In Vs. Floating Shower Bench: Pros And Cons

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