6 Common Issues With Poor Quality Shower Chairs – Showerbuddy

6 Common Issues With Poor Quality Shower Chairs

6 Common Issues With Poor Quality Shower Chairs

Showerbuddy |

There’s a temptation for individuals with minor levels of mobility impairment to look for ‘cheap’ options for a shower stool. These can be found for under $100 online or in homeware stores. But are these actually doing the job? And are they the right choice for someone even with minor mobility impairments currently?
In many cases the answer is no – many mobility impairments, especially those in old age or related to a degenerative condition may start out minor but evolve to being more significant. It can be hard to ascertain at what point the shower chair ceases to become functional. This leaves a period of time where users may be navigating their bathroom routine under unsafe conditions with a chair that can’t support them properly.


In this article, we cover 6 common problems with a low grade shower stool or chair, so you have a better sense of what ‘cheap’ means in this product category.

They’re not super stable during use

One of the core parts of a shower chair’s function is the stability it provides the user. Bathing, without full motor functions and independent control over one’s posture is a very hazardous exercise – one has to deal with slippery surfaces, temperature control and manipulation of bathing products.

A very cheap shower chair or stool is usually designed with plastic and metal components that are not of a great standard, nor are they manufactured with the same attention to tight tolerances that proper medical grade assistive equipment will offer. Of course, every product where safety is part of its function is required to pass certain ISO standards as well as regional requirements. But there’s no doubt that the basic, fixed shower seats with thin frames and basic plastic bucket seats do not support an adult body weight shifting and leaning in different directions. A non-centred position and the right size can topple these products over. With bathing’s requirement of reaching different parts of the body, it’s normal for a solo user to be off-centre. Unless the usage is with a user who can remain perfectly centred and still whilst a carer or partner bathes them, these formats are going to show their limitations.

And why should users have to negotiate product limitations whilst navigating their own mobility challenges as well? It’s simply not what assistive technology ought to do in our view.

The adjustments are limited or ineffective

Low cost options remove more than just build quality. They are unable to make adjustments economically viable either. A simply cheap shower stool will at best offer some pin and hole metal leg adjustments if that; many will simply be of a fixed height that the user and their shower or bath must accommodate.
Beyond this, there’s little that can be adjusted with cheap shower stools and still be stable and functional as a good shower chair. Consider things like backrest adjustment – simply not an option with a moulded plastic bucket seat.


If you want things like backrest adjustments and even the inclusion of arm rests, you’ll find you move out of the budget options and into a category between affordable and professional grade. These may have a better build and have more functionality, but will still be relatively basic compared to what you can get through the likes of Showerbuddy. With funding as an option in many parts of the world, users can end up spending more on an above-average shower chair just to get a few of the functions of a proper bathroom mobility solution.
It really pays to do your research around the products on the market and compare this with the needs of the user. Whether you’re the user, their partner or their occupational therapist, make sure the equipment that is introduced to the daily routine will be able to be modified and adjusted to suit them.

They don’t cater to a range of body types and ages

Your cheap shower stool’s lack of adjustment creates another restriction – a single size of seat rated only for one body type and size. Mobility impairment affects millions of people across all demographics and body types. Why should the equipment used only target an ‘average’ adult size? That’s likely the problem one encounters when aiming for the low quality shower chair from your local department store.
Consider the dimensions of a small elderly lady as compared to a 6 foot 4, 240 pound 40 year old male. Could the average cheap bath chair keep both of these people perfectly stable for bathing? It’s unlikely.


When you need to ensure that the individual can stay supported and in place throughout the duration of the bathing experience, a cheap option for a big user can be quite risky. A lean in one direction or non-centred body position can see the mobility impaired user slip, fall or even damage the stool itself.

By going with a more proven, high grade assistive bathroom equipment option, you can proceed with confidence that the user will be enabled plenty of support, in a range of body positions that best accommodate their preferences.

They’re hard to position the user in for comfortable bathing

Bathing comfortably is something we all deserve to enjoy in our daily routine. But low cost chairs don’t offer much in the way of comfort through their basic, high volume manufactured design. There’s essentially one position the user can have in the seat, with a fixed back preventing any sort of recline and no arm rests removing the possibility of resting oneself in either direction.
What can happen in these situations is that the user ends up thinking mostly about the stool itself, paying close attention to their own safety and stability. This can be stressful and make the anticipation of daily showers uncomfortable. We don’t think it’s okay for anyone to have to feel scared about bathing, so if a chair has this impact on someone, it’s not the right product.

They don’t last the distance

Going low cost also means the chair may wear out quicker – loose fittings, bent frame, cracked seats and rusted components from prolonged water exposure.
These products are low cost, but they’re also manufactured at a high volume rate. The companies that create these may also make hundreds of other products and their model is around quantity not quality. Someone with very modest mobility needs temporarily may find these adequate as a minor help to an otherwise self-supported bathing routine. But anyone who requires long term help from equipment may encounter issues from the cheap options.


Rarely do these cheap stools come with lifetime warranties that actually cover the product through rigorous use. Some even mention ‘wear and tear’ as an exclusion – but shouldn’t a shower-based product be up to the task of daily wear and tear? We think so, which is why we cover our frames for life.

There’s another issue here – a product that doesn’t last the distance but broadly meets an individual’s modest support needs will end up being repurchased (if not the same model, a similar price point). It’s not uncommon for users to purchase 4-5 shower chairs as they wear out or cease to be functional in a certain way. If that person were to find a better quality bathroom mobility solution, they may end up saving money in the long run.

They don’t manage the transfer process effectively

But all of these issues are eclipsed by the biggest issue of all: how do you get onto and off of the shower chair if all it consists of is a basic thin frame and a cheap plastic seat? What about getting over the edge of a bathtub edge or shower lip/curb? Is this really that safe for the user or their carer who will be carrying some of their weight?

There’s plenty of concerns with transferring someone into a shower – not least of all the fact that this manoeuvre happens in a slippery environment to begin with. A shower stool that only considers a stationary, perfectly seated user is a very limited solution in our view. Much of the anxiety around bathing comes from the access and exiting.

Consider the following stages of using the shower that don’t include bathing itself:

  • Entering the bathroom
  • Getting in a practical position to get over any edge to the shower
  • Executing the movement into the shower area
  • Assuming a safe seated position on a stool/chair
  • Preparing to exit the shower
  • Conducting the movement to get up and out of the shower
  • Leaving the bathroom

The basic, cheap shower stool addresses none of these things. Relying upon a loved one or even carer to have the strength and technical understanding of manual lifts presents new risks to the process.

Consider a proper bathroom transfer solution

Instead of dealing with those risks brought about by an ineffective shower stool, consider the shower stool as just one part of a broader consideration – ‘bathroom mobility’.
If a mobility impaired person has trouble bathing themselves without support, remember all the other things that need help, too. Using the toilet is another common routine that we don’t recognise the complexity of until coping with a mobility impairment.


If mobility challenges are going to be of any significant impact and/or duration, strongly consider the benefits of a complete solution that takes care of the transfers in and out, bathing, toileting and even bedside commode use.

Further reading

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in these resources online:

The information in this article is intended as general information only and is not a replacement for official health guidance by your local medical providers. Please always consult an occupational therapist and/or local healthcare for more specific guidance.