One of the most requested items in a shower during a remodel? Design a bench! Pulled directly from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) Bath Planning Guidelines, “Plan a seat within the shower that is 17″ to 19″ above the shower floor and 15″ deep.” So, there you have it. The next time you remodel your bathroom, really consider adding a bench. Now, this shouldn’t interfere with your required/requested shower floor space (we recommend no less than a 3-foot square). The bench should sit outside of this footprint, so if there’s space, go for it! But then the question is: what style of bench should we design? A shower bench should be designed based on both aesthetics and function, while keeping space and why you are including one in mind. Let’s deep dive into the three most common options for your shower bench.
Completely Built-In Bench
A built-in shower bench is pretty straightforward and typically the easiest to install. Essentially, you just add a framed bench – like a knee wall – directly to your shower floor and box out the size you want. Then, it gets wrapped in the same waterproofing membrane and tile/stone as the rest of your shower. You can either blend and “hide” the bench by matching the shower walls (bottom left image) or use your counter material for a more seamless look (bottom right image). The two shown below also show two different ways that a bench can interact with your shower glass. On the left, the bench is actually placed in the room separating the shower and tub area. So, the glass runs along the back of the bench, and at the side. On the right, it was framed into the corner wall and stopped short of the glass.
PRO TIP: Consider placing a handheld showerhead next to any style bench. Easy access to water, and a great way to think about incorporating universal design considerations into your home before you need them.
Partial or Full Floating
Out of the two ways to create a floating-style shower bench, the easier to think about it taking a built-in bench and just chopping off the bottom of it. Instead of the bench being framed down to the floor, the shower floor still extends under the bench area. The floating bench then – much like a floating shelf – just hangs out in space. With lots of support… obviously! We’ll call these versions “framed” because you still have to use framing materials to create the box out. Then it’s again wrapped in the waterproof membrane, and then tile, stone, etc. Both of the images below show framed floating benches. They are both corner benches (meaning they are shaped like a triangle in the corner of the shower) but you can also create any other shape you can imagine. Again, rectangles are still the other most common.
The second way to create a floating bench is to utilize a stone (or other similar, solid-surface material) and attach it atop a waterproof bench bracket. You can use a bench bracket from a place like Federal Brace or another similar manufacturer. Just make sure they are a rust-resistant material since brackets can be exposed to water. Our favorite is the Sutherland Bench Bracket which supports up to 500 lbs per bracket.
PRO TIP: Consider using a leftover (remnant) piece from your vanity counters to create a shower bench. Just use a floating shower bench bracket to support it at the wall, and voila! An easy bench that matches your space without much extra thought.
After-Market Shower Bench
Don’t like the idea of a shower bench permanently taking up valuable floor space? There are still options out there for you! A wall-mounted folding seat (left image below) will act just like a floating bench when utilized. However, if you want the extra room, just fold it up and out of your way! It only takes up a few inches from the wall to mount. The one below shows an older version of the Wall Mounted Folding Seat from Mr. Steam, but their newest one is just as awesome – and comes in other metal colors to match your shower fixtures. And the last option? You can always purchase a good-looking freestanding waterproof seat. Below we show a teak seat (teak is a naturally water-resistant wood) or you could go with a solid surface like the Ovale from Rejuvenation Hardware, similarly seen in the header image above!
PRO TIP: If you also have a tub, and want a seat or shelf at your tub too, consider a matching set. Some tub manufacturers (like MTI Baths) will have an accessory line that can include several options for both your tub and shower.