Better Bench? Teak Bench? No Bench?

kmcgAugust 14, 2012

It seems like all the cool kids have built-in benches in their showers, but I'm afraid my 3' x 4' space won't allow for anything substantial. I've never had a bench; maybe I don't know what I'm missing, so I'd love to hear whether people have strong feelings about benches. My thought is that it might be something nice to have as we get older, in case of injury, illness, etc. But I don't need one just for the purpose of shaving legs - I can get one of those Mommy's Helper thingies.

I've seen Bill Vincent recommend the 17" Better Bench, but I'm assuming that's not big enough for an average adult to sit on (it's 12" on either side, and 17" across on the long leg of the triangle). Does anyone have one?

What about a slatted bench that mounts on the shower wall and folds up? Do you think that's better than a portable teak bench or something simpler? I don't want something that looks like medical equipment, but I do want something practical and functional.


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I wrestled with this, too. I think you're right that 3x4 isn't big enough for a built-in bench. Plus, I think the diagonal ones really are shelves for stuff, not perches for adults. For your sized shower, either (a) put in blocking for a fold-up seat, should you want to install one, or (b) look at cool portable teak benches a la Frontgate. Both of those options are practical and attractive.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 6:59PM
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Trust this: A "Better Bench," properly executed is plenty big. You're overthinking this...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Well, there are 3 sizes to think about,and I can fit only the smallest one. Would it really allow sitting?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 9:45PM
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We have a Better Bench in our shower. Frankly, it is too cold to sit on. I use it for shaving my legs.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:06AM
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corgi- this is what I love about gardenweb! I never would have thought about a shower bench being too cold, so I'm glad you mentioned it.

Does anyone have a fold-up bench and regret it?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Another comment about cold benches-- I had a built-in in my last shower, and never used it because it was too cold. Became a large, expensive footrest for shaving my legs.

Friends of mine did a built-in bench, but had the plumber route the hot water line through it so it warmed it up. However, turns out they never use the bench either.

In my current remodel, I will just have a portable teak bench.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:57AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We put a built in seat in our shower made of corian to match the counter and the shower surround. The corian is warmer than stone and we do use it. We have a separate hand held shower. I'm a barefooter and will sit there to wash my feet in the summer before going to bed. We also have steam in there so will sit while we steam. I use it as a foot rest to shave my legs and it holds shampoo bottles and such. DH recently had knee surgery and the bench and the handheld was a godsend for him.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:34PM
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Actually, being a part time wheel chair user I would much rather have a roll in shower that I could get into by myself than to need someone to escort me and get me settled onto a bench for my shower. Having a hand held is a given. If your planning for the future I'd just do it right the first time and skip messing around with a bench. JMHO.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:22AM
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Another vote for portable teak bench. If you really have wrestling on this topic go for portable one. So that you can remove it anytime you think. But yes have a second thought for its usage if not used in showers.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Thanks for the responses; I find it very helpful to hear from your experiences.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:18AM
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We also have a portable teak bench from Frontgate, bought it about eight years ago and it is just as smooth and soft as when it was new. It's comfortable, can be placed anywhere in the shower, and is perfect for someone who has intractable back pain when standing (like me). I don't think we'd have anything else!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 3:42PM
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One of the BEST things about our master bath renovation is the handsome wall mount fold-down teak bench seat purchased on line at Teak4U, or something like that. Sorry, can't remember exact name. I did not want a loose bench to trip over or clutter the shower area. And I did not want a wall mount that folded UP, revealing unattractive hardware when not in use. I searched all over and this company had the only product I liked. Hated the price, but within two minutes of having it mounted, DH and I were so thrilled that the price seemed oh-so-worth-it. Love this seat!! Wish we'd mounted our handheld shower a tad closer to this seat. It is heavenly to sit and soap up and rinse. I am surprised how much I like this seat!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:14PM
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we have a built in bench. Although nice, it wastes a lot of space. so we put in a drawer underneath it (accessible from outside).

In the next bathroom, we will put a portable teak bench.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 11:56AM
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I put a 17" Better Bench in my shower, which measures 45" square. It is plenty big to sit on..I don't as a rule, but wanted the option in case of injury or illness. The adjustable shower bar can spray right on it which I would use to warm it up before sitting. It is not crowded at all; I've never bumped into it when showering. I didn't consider teak because there is something about sitting on wet or damp wood (that can't be sanitized) that was kind of ewwww to me.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:50PM
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That looks really nice, olychick. I think it might be just a bit large for the 36" wall in my shower, but I'll keep thinking about it.

I like saunas and boats, so teak appeals to me as an alternative.

lizb - I found teakworks4U on ebay and I have to agree: love those fold down benches. They look like they don't stick out too far. Why do they have to be so dang expensive!!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I've also been considering a folding teak bench, and I just wanted to say that I looked at the ones from teakworks4u, but there are much, much more attractive ones with better looking hardware available elsewhere for similar prices if you google around.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 4:32PM
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Houzz is a good place to see some of the options. Here's a very small shower with one, for example:

Traditional Bathroom design by San Francisco Interior Designer K & M Designs

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 4:36PM
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Annie Deighnaugh,
I would love to hear how you like your corian surround. We are thinking of doing the same. thanks

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:13PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I posted also on the other thread... By surround, I mean the surround around the doorway entrance to the shower, the sill, and as a cap around the wall where the glass sits. The floor, walls and ceiling are done in porcelain tile.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I have the better bench in my shower and I never use it. It basically is a shampoo shelf and a ledge for shaving my legs. It seems small to me as well. sure did come in handy last summer/fall when I had my mother at my home for 8 weeks after a bad fall.

I put a hand towel on the bench, because it is cold, sat her on the bench, warmed up the water in the handheld and showered her every other day. She is about 160. This bench performed extremely well.

Get the bench. You might need it someday.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 8:13PM
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red lover - good (and funny) input! Are you counting her age in dog years?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Kmcg---you made me lol, something I could really use today.

No -- I meant 160 lbs not years!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 10:45PM
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We have a portable teak bench from Teak4u and we love it. We got it custom-sized, because I felt we needed it to be fairly narrow. I often move it directly under the shower spray and let the water pound my back...something you can't do with a tiled-in bench.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:04PM
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This is a great topic. I've been thinking lately about my master bathroom remodel of the future and wondering what I'll do in my shower. I would love to be able to either sit or prop my leg up for shaving. But I also wonder if my shower is too small for any kind of bench.

Thanks, Olychick, for the picture and dimensions of your shower and bench. It's incredibly helpful. If you don't mind my asking, can you feasibly fit two into the shower with the bench or does the bench interfere? I'm hoping to steal about 6" of length in my shower which currently can fit two with some minimal elbowing while one person shampoos. I'm concerned that adding a bench will make it impossible.

Thanks, writersblock, for posting that Houzz picture. That fold down bench looks much nicer than I'd feared a teak bench might look in a pale colored shower.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:07PM
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I vote for a teak or (if you can find it) an ipe portable bench. I wouldn't do anything but teak or ipe if you plan on sitting on it (too cold otherwise, at least for me). Ipe is less readily available, but is cheaper than teak and is probably even better than teak for use in a shower.

I expect to get a teak or ipe bench, but haven't done it yet. I'm afraid of the visual clutter (my bathroom is pretty minimalist), but I REALLY need somewhere to shave my legs! For the moment I'm sitting on the Ipe flooring. TMI, I know, but it is warm and comfortable. :)

Let us know what you choose.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:57PM
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kmcg - I just realised this thread is from August. What did you end up going with?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I'm glad people are continuing to discuss this. I decided to wait and get a portable bench at some point. My shower is small enough that the tile bench would have taken precious space, and the fold-down bench seemed pretty optional at this point, when we don't need to sit. I'm happy to see there are some quite attractive portables available. I also had the contractor reinforce one wall of the shower for future grab bars, in case they are needed.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:43PM
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A totally different consideration drove us - we wanted a skirted bench so that there wouldn't be a space underneath it to clean. It's tiled (ming marble) like the walls, and we've got an extra handshower holder (highly recommended!) by the bench so that you can hang up the handshower while you're sitting on the bench. So far we love it - it's not cold, but then again our bathroom is never cold. Our contractor just built it out of 2x4s and plywood, covered with the same stuff he used in the shower pan, so it was exactly the size we wanted (15" deep, and as wide as the shower). There's enough space to sit on it and put things down too.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 9:05PM
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