What Is A Bathtub Board?
A bathtub board is a board designed to rest across the top of the bathtub walls (aka tub board, bath board,shower board). It serves two purposes:
- Seat: It provides a convenient place to sit while performing bathing tasks.
- Bridge: It creates a bridge between the inside and outside of the bathtub, giving bathers the option to sit down on the side of the bath board first. From a seated position, a bather can then lift each leg one at a time over the tub wall, thereby eliminating the need to ‘step’ into the tub.
Who Can Benefit from a Bathtub Board?
A person who…
- can’t tolerate standing for long periods of time
- has trouble stepping over the bathtub wall to get in and out of their bathtub, or
- is able to slide sideways from a wheelchair seat onto the board.
Bath Board Types
Bath boards are available in three different types. The key difference among the bathboard types lies in how the board is held in place.
- Rests on Tub Walls: Most bathtub board models simply rest across the top of the tub’s walls and are held in place by adjustable rubber stops attached underneath the board.
- Clamps to Tub Wall: One side of the board is designed to clamp to the bathtub wall to help hold the bath seat more securely in place. The other side of the board has two legs that extend down inside the tub for added support.
- Screws to Tub Wall: Some models are designed to be screwed into the bathroom wall. The screws help to prevent the board from moving or tipping.
Details To Consider
Following are some helpful considerations to take into account when determining whether a bathtub board is a suitable solution for you or not.
- Shorter Users
A Bathboard that rests directly on the tub walls usually work better for persons of shorter stature. If you are taller, be aware a seat that rests at the height of the tub walls may be too low for you to easily stand up from.
- Taller Users
A few bath board models have skis or other mechanisms fixed to the underside that function to elevate the board above the height of the tub walls, making them better considerations for taller individuals.
- Width of Tub
Bathtubs vary in width as do tub boards, so it is important to confirm the bath board model selected has an appropriate width for your tub.
- Width of Exposed Tub Wall / Ledge
Bathboards are designed to rest on top of the bathtub walls. Most require there to be a minimum of one inch of flat surface present on top of both tub walls for the board to safely rest on top. If there is a nearly negligible ledge present between your tub and the adjacent bathroom wall, then you may want to consider a model that is a cross between a bath board and bath chair that rests on top of the front tub wall and has two legs that extend down inside the tub for support. For the hybrid type, confirm the clamp’s width and height of the legs are compatible with the dimensions of your bathtub’s walls.
- Tub’s Contours
Be aware, the bath board models held in place via rubber stoppers attached to the underside of the board don’t tend to work well in tubs with highly curved/contoured inner tub walls because the rubber stoppers usually rest where the interior tub walls flatten out. This can force the bathboard to sit rather far forward in the tub, which in turn means you could find yourself scrunched up at the foot end of the tub. Models that can be screwed to the bathroom wall are a better consideration in highly contoured tubs because they are usually designed to rest completely on top of the tub’s walls, making it possible to position the board all the way at the back of the tub.
- Tipping Hazard!
The models that rest on top the tub wall with rubber stoppers underneath do provide a place to rest if needed, but be aware they may tip forward when you bend down to wash your feet or may tip backward if you lean too far back. Models that clamp to the tub wall or get screwed to the bathroom wall will generally be more stable than the models that are just held in place with rubber stoppers underneath.
- Use Bathroom Wall As a Backrest
One obvious drawback of bath boards is that there is no backrest to rest against. A backrest can be created by positioning the bath board all the way at the end of the tub, making it possible to use the bathroom wall located at the back (aka. head end) of the tub as a backrest. Note: The tub board models with four rubber stoppers fixed to the underside of the board are likely to be prevented from resting all the way at the end of the tub by the curved shape of the interior tub walls. The bath board models that rest across the tub walls that are fastened via screws to the bathroom wall will usually work best if you do plan to use your bathroom wall as a backrest.
- Handle Attached to Bath Board
Is there a grab bar present on your bathroom wall beside the tub? If not, consider purchasing a bath board model with a handle attached to one side. This will provide you with a hand-hold to use when sliding yourself across the seat and into the tub.
- Bath Board With Swivel Seat
A bath board model with a seat, armrests, and a rotating seat can make boarding the seat and transitioning over the tub wall easier. The seat is first rotated to face the outside of the tub, a user sits down, then the swivel seat makes it easier to pivot the hips to face the showerhead. The armrests provide additional safety and support when sitting down and standing up. Some models include a single leg that extends down to meet the bathtub floor for added support.
- Bath Board Materials & Colors
Bath boards are offered in a variety of different materials which include, but are not limited to: solid plastic, plastic-coated steel, phenolic, teak, and cypress. Do you experience visual deficits? If so, it can be helpful to choose a bath board in a color that contrasts with your tub or bathroom walls to aid with depth perception.
- Weight Capacity
Confirm the weight capacity is adequate for your needs. If it is not, it could buckle in the center leading to a fall.
- Water Containment
A bathtub board rests on the tub walls which means it will block the shower curtain from being tucked into your tub, making it more difficult to keep water inside. A special pre-cut shower curtain can be obtained that is designed for use with tub benches/boards. Alternatively, slits can be cut in the existing shower curtain so it can be tucked around the board.
- No Return Policy!
Due to FDA regulations, bathtub products sold in the USA normally cannot be returned (unless they are still in their original packaging). Therefore, it is good to confirm the product will be suitable for your bathtub, prior to purchasing. If you opt for a model that clamps to the tub wall, check that the model selected will accommodate the height, width, and shape of your tub’s wall. If you opt for a model that rests on the top of both of the bathtub walls, confirm that it is suitable for the width of your tub and that there is enough flat surface present on tub of your tub walls to support the model you have selected.
The Homeability Advice™
A bathtub board is a simple, inexpensive solution for making a bathtub more accessible. A bathtub board is a good consideration for use in small bathrooms because it resides fully inside the tub. In other words, it doesn’t take up valuable floor space outside the tub that a person using a walker or wheelchair needs to be able to move around freely inside the bathroom. As a general rule of thumb, the models that are securely fixed to the tub wall or shower wall, will be safer than models that just rest on top of the tub wall. To learn about more options to make bathing easier, visit the guide: Getting in & Out of the Bathtub: Benches, Lifts, and Transfer Chairs.
A drawback of bathtub boards is that they make it impossible to tuck the shower curtain inside the tub and therefore make it more difficult to keep the water inside. To learn more about selecting an appropriate shower curtain, visit our Accessible Shower Curtain guide. Obviously, sitting while bathing is generally safer and easier, but it also comes with its’ own drawback, which is that you will be further away from the shower head. A simple remedy is to add a handheld shower head. To learn more about selecting an appropriate one for your needs, visit our Handheld Showerhead guide.
As always, we recommend you seek advice from your qualified health care professional about the appropriateness of a given solution or product for your needs.
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