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Applying ADA Requirements for Shower Seats and Tub Benches in Residential Spaces

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

When it comes to designing residential spaces for individuals with disabilities, ensuring accessibility is of paramount importance. One area that requires special attention is the bathroom, specifically the installation of shower seats and tub benches. These assistive devices play a crucial role in maintaining independence and safety for individuals with mobility challenges. In this article, we will explore the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for shower seats and tub benches in residential placements, highlighting key considerations for creating inclusive and accessible bathrooms. We will also consider this application for additions to an existing bathroom.

Understanding the ADA:

An ADA Shower Seat and Grab Bar
ADA Shower Seat Application

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law in the United States that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various areas, including public accommodations, employment, transportation, and communication. Title III of the ADA focuses on public accommodations and commercial facilities, including places of lodging, recreational facilities, and certain residential facilities, where accessibility requirements are essential for people with disabilities. Because of the extensive research that has been done by the government in this area, a homeowner can take advantage of this information to make appropriate additions to their existing bathroom.

Clear Floor Space:

To accommodate shower seats and tub benches, the ADA mandates the provision of sufficient clear floor space in the bathroom. The minimum clear floor space required depends on the type of device and its placement within the bathroom. For a transfer shower (roll-in shower), at least 36 inches by 36 inches of clear floor space should be provided alongside the shower compartment. This space is crucial for individuals using mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, to maneuver comfortably.

Shower Seats:

Shower seats are essential for individuals who cannot stand for prolonged periods or have difficulty balancing. The ADA requires that shower seats be installed in transfer showers, which must have a minimum size of 36 inches by 36 inches to allow for easy access. The seats should be mounted securely to the wall and have a height ranging from 17 to 19 inches above the finished floor. Folding or flip-up shower seats are excellent space-saving options, but they must be capable of supporting at least 250 pounds of weight.

Tub Benches:

For individuals who prefer or need to use a bathtub, ADA-compliant tub benches are essential. These benches provide a safe and secure seating option for those who find it difficult to step in and out of a traditional bathtub. The ADA does not explicitly mandate the installation of tub benches, but it emphasizes that if they are provided, they should comply with specific guidelines.

The guidelines for each of the three categories above can be reviewed in the U.S. Access Board website on the following link:

Mounting and Stability:

Both shower seats and tub benches must be securely mounted to the wall to ensure stability and prevent accidents. Grab bars should be installed adjacent to the seats and benches to offer additional support during transfers. Mounting height should be carefully considered, and the fixtures should be placed to allow for easy reach and use by individuals of varying heights. Please check out our blog on enhancing bathroom safety with grab bars, as well as the measurement requirements detailed in the U.S. Access Board link above.

Materials and Maintenance:

ADA-compliant shower seats and tub benches should be made of durable, non-corrosive materials that are easy to clean and maintain. Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure their longevity and safety for users. You can choose the shower seat or tub bench to meet your needs as well as finding a product that is can be utilitarian as well as visually appealing in your bathroom.


Ensuring that residential bathrooms meet ADA requirements for shower seats and tub benches is essential for promoting accessibility and inclusivity for individuals with disabilities. By providing sufficient clear floor space, securely mounting the devices, and considering the specific needs of users, we can create safe and comfortable bathrooms that cater to everyone's needs. When designing or renovating residential spaces, adherence to ADA guidelines is not just a legal obligation for builders but a commitment to building a more inclusive society for all. For the homeowner adding to their existing bathroom these guidelines are simply a plus for making the home bathroom as safe as possible.

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