Ready-to-Tile Shower Benches – Your Complete Guide

Oct 18 2023

Want to incorporate a built-in shower seat but hesitate over complex framing and tilework? Ready-to-tile shower benches make the process infinitely simpler.

These prefabricated foam benches are prepped for tiling immediately. Just secure to shower walls, apply tile over the waterproof foam form, then bask in convenient, code-compliant seating for years on end!

In this comprehensive post, we cover all you need to know about quality ready-to-tile shower benches including:

What Are Ready-to-Tile Shower Benches?

As the name suggests, ready-to-tile shower benches are pre-made, foam shower seats requiring only finish tiling by your contractor. Consider them a short-cut to custom built-in seating without lengthy framing and tile prep.

Benches consist of waterproof, structural polystyrene foam forms. They may include partially tiled tops upon delivery so only the front and sides require finish application to match shower wall tile and patterns.

Major manufacturers like QuickDrain USA, HYDRO-BLOK, and Noble Company offer ready-to-tile benches. Custom sizing accommodates nearly any stall dimensions.

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Why Choose a Ready-to-Tile Shower Seat?

Beyond sheer convenience, ready-to-tile shower benches offer additional advantages:

Faster Installation – Pre-shaped foam builds eliminate hours of framing and tile prep work. Just secure, finish tile fronts/sides, and done!

Pre-Sloped Tops – Benches come subtly sloped to shed water, keeping code compliant. No need to fuss with careful tile angle cutting.

Handicap Accessibility – Many meet ADA requirements for disabled access depending on dimensions ordered.

Fully Waterproof – Made of waterproof materials with integrated bonding flanges to tie into waterproof shower systems.

Lighterweight – At 2-4 pounds per square foot, easier for contractors to maneuver vs cement boards or mortar bases.

Economical – Save on specialized labor compared to fully custom builds. DIY-friendly option.

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Shower Bench Styles & Position Options

While ready-to-tile benches commonly install across corners, they adapt to various shower layouts. Consider positioning and styling elements like:

Corner Bench

  • Good use of space, supports user on multiple sides
  • Choose L-shape corner or simple 90 degree angle

Wall-to-Wall Bench

  • Spans any dimension – often opposite shower head wall
  • Requires careful center drain planning

Neo-Angle Placement

  • Fits nicely centered on angled back neo-angle walls

Bench Height

  • Typical overall height of 16-18” above drained shower floor to meet codes

Bench Depth & Length

  • Recommended minimum 20” depth though deeper options available
  • Determine length based on user heights and space available

Take accurate shower measurements before ordering to ensure an ideal layout fit for your needs and body type.

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Sizing Your Shower Bench Correctly

While ready-to-tile benches adapt to nearly any shower dimensions, follow general size guidelines:

Depth

Aim for at least 20” depth from front to back so most adults sit comfortably without sliding off. Scale up for wider users.

Length

Default to 4 foot lengths or as wide as space allows since excessive spans may feel tippy. Cut foam forms down as needed.

Height

Standard height of 16-18” or 12-15” for ADA handicap accessibility. Measure from finished drained floor.

Thickness

Typical 2” thickness. Custom thicknesses like 1” or 3” possible but alter tile transition requirements.

Slope

Built-in slope or angle on topsheds water. Note direction so bench INSTALLED properly.

Double check exact shower clearing and layout to determine dimensions ideal for your scenarios.

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Tiling Ready-to-Tile Shower Benches

With the underlying foam bench form locked into place, adding your finish tile completes the built-in seating vision.

Select Complementary Tiles – Choose sizes, textures, and design styles blending with rest of shower tile work. Account for bullnose edging needs.

Plan Attractive Grouting – Determine ideal grout joint colors/sizes complementing surrounding wall tile layouts.

Thinset Application – Before setting tiles, spread high quality polymer modified thinset over foam bench with proper V-notch trowel.

Cut Tile Pieces to Fit – Precise tile cutting around front edge curves and side returns results in seamless built-in appearance around bench form.

Set Tile Carefully – Keep straight, evenly spaced grout lines. Insert tile spacers as you work for consistency.

Grout Tile After Curing– Once thinset has fully cured, skillfully grout bench tile. Clean excess grout immediately for easiest results.

Seal Grout Lines – Seal porous grout repeatedly to prevent staining. Re-apply sealant every few years.

Take time planning tile finishes to continue shower design details onto your handy seating for a cohesive designer look!

Waterproofing & Protective Finishes

While prefabricated forms have integral waterproofing, additional sealing ensures enduring performance:

Perimeter Caulking – Use mildew-resistant bathroom caulk to seal all joints where bench meets walls and at mounting flanges.

Grout Sealing – Seal grout lines repeatedly with water-repellent sealants to prevent staining and mold within porous joints. Reapply every 1-2 years.

Apply Protective Film – Adding water repellent surface sealants protects foam from chemical breakdown from routine cleaning exposure over decades.

Slope Check – Verify tops slope properly so water flows off the front and sides – not pooling. Adjust as needed.

Take steps to fully integrate and protect built-in benches within shower waterproofing systems so they withstand the test of time.

ADA Requirements and Safety Tips

Safety and accessibility really matter with built-in shower seats. Ensure:

Slip Resistance – Etch seat top or glue anti-slip silicone pads to provide grip. Rinse away soap buildup after each use.

Weight Capacity – Ready-to-tile bench forms and underlying framework supports over 500+ pounds when properly mounted.

ADA Compliance – Guidelines help optimize for handicap accessibility:

  • Approximately 17-19 inches above shower floor height
  • Minimum 20” depth x 25” across
  • Locate on side wall with adjacent 30”x48” clear floor space for transfers
  • Contrast tile color from walls for the visually impaired

Use Grab Bars – Install helpful handles ensuring stable ingress/egress, especially for elderly, injured or mobility impaired users.

Built correctly, your new ready-to-tile seat blends designer charm and critical function for all your bathing needs.

Incorporating Storage Features

Take bench usefulness up another notch by integrating storage cubbies and recessed shelves when framing:

Under Bench Storage

  • Discrete hidden storage keeps bulkier bottles/baskets handy but out of sight

Recessed Shelves

  • Small built-in shelves on bench back or sidewalls provide space for razors, soaps and hardware.

Side End Table

  • Attached side table offers space for towels, washcloths, and assorted shower accessories.

Draining Soap Dish

  • Add molded-in soap trays so bars dry between uses eliminating sticky messes.

Task your contractor to carve out crucial spaces for your bath-time caddies and accessories!

Cleaning & Protecting Your Investment

Put effort into ongoing care so your bench withstands moisture exposure over decades:

Grout Maintenance – Re-apply water repellent sealants into grout lines annually to prevent staining/mold. Avoid abrasive scouring.

Routine Cleaning – Use a soft cloth and pH-neutral gentle bathroom cleaners to lift dirt and soap scum buildup after each use.

Squeegee & Towel Dry – Wipe bench top with a squeegee then towel after each shower. Allow undersides to air dry too.

Inspect Caulking – Check for deteriorated or missing caulk annually. Re-seal gaps immediately to prevent water intrusion leading to leaks and wall damage.

With some periodic maintenance, your waterproof foam shower bench remains fully functional and beautifully integrated for years on end.

What’s the Total Investment?

Expect to spend $500 – $1000+ for quality ready-to-tile shower benches with professional installation.

Costs vary based on dimensions, design complexity, accessibility additions, tile upgrades, and labor rates in your area but here’s a budget estimate:

  • Ready-to-Tile Bench – $$250 – $600
  • Tile & Associated Materials – $50 – $200
  • Misc Supplies – $50
  • Labor & Installation – $150 – $500

This modest price buys you an expertly installed built-in bench suited for your exact space – with no lengthy construction and tiling hassles!

Get Seated Comfortably in Your New Shower!

We hope this guide provides everything needed to evaluate, select, install, and maintain ready-to-tile shower benches flawlessly fitted for your bath.

By understanding advantages over custom builds, placement options, proper sizing, tiling technique, adding storage, and more you can make informed choices to match your shower plans.

Just ensure coached installation by professionals so you safely enjoy code-compliant, watertight built-in seating for decades on end! Kick back and relax into the comfort your ready-to-tile bench affords soon.

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