Slips, trips, and falls in the bathroom account for more than two-thirds of emergency room visits. A study by the CDC found that 2.2 percent of injuries occurred while getting into the tub or shower while 9.8 percent of injuries occurred when getting out of the tub or shower. Walk-in tubs are specialty products that offer numerous safety and therapeutic features. Equipped with a hinged door, a walk-in tub has a much lower threshold than traditional tubs, allowing those who find stepping into a standard tub challenging to enter with ease. For the elderly or those with limited mobility, a walk-in tub can be lifesaving.
To help you choose the right walk-in tub company, we researched and compiled this comprehensive guide to make sure you find the perfect walk-in tub.
A walk-in tub has a watertight hinged door with a threshold typically around 3”-7” high (some companies offer even lower thresholds) versus a standard tub that generally has a 15” threshold. While most walk-in tubs offer convenient safety features such as a built-in seat and grab bars, the majority of walk-in tub companies will allow the customer to select additional features that can be put in place for maximum safety.
If a walk-in tub isn’t exactly what you are looking for, consider a walk-in shower. Similar to the walk-in tub, the shower offers a low threshold, conveniently placed grab bars and may include a seat in the corner. Safe Step and Designed for Seniors offer walk-in showers with a number of safety features that help minimize the risk of slipping and falling.
Getting in and out of the tub can be dangerous. That’s why it is important to know what safety features are offered and which of those features are absolutely necessary. However, adding on more features will cost you, so be aware of your budget and how much you are willing to spend. There isn’t a definite answer to what a walk-in tub should include as it depends on the situation and the individual's needs. Before choosing a walk-in tub, ask about these safety features:
Although walk-in tubs are advertised as a product for seniors, many walk-in tub companies offer high-end models with many spa-like features. Those with limited mobility, arthritis, diabetes, migraines, anxiety, and other ailments will find that a walk-in tub can provide the comfort and therapeutic benefits that may ease their symptoms. BOCA Walk-In Tubs, Hydro Dimensions, and American Standard can customize a tub with massaging air and water jets or a tub with aromatherapy and chromatherapy. Needless to say, just about anyone can benefit from a walk-in tub.
Injuries, illness, stress, or everyday aches and pain can make even the simplest of tasks feel exhausting. A walk-in tub offers to combat these conditions. For soothing aching muscles, a hydro massage is best. Air massage helps with blood flow. Aromatherapy uses natural plant oils and extracts and is said to help heal your mind and body. Aromatherapy has been known to reduce stress and anxiety, improve circulation and insomnia, as well as aid in digestive problems. Chromatherapy uses light and color to trigger emotions within our bodies and different colors can stimulate the mind, or it will relax and relieve tension. If you’re interested, ask your walk-in tub company about additional features:
There are several types of therapy tubs and each provides different therapeutic advantages. Consider how often you’ll be using your tub and what health benefits you’d like to see as a result. Walk-in tubs can be customized, but here are the most common therapy tubs:
Probably the most common of therapeutic walk-in tubs. A whirlpool tub uses jets to project water in a circular motion providing you with an at-home deep tissue massage. The motion offers quick relief for sore muscles but can also relieve joint pain and improve blood circulation. The jets can be individually placed to target painful or aching spots, allowing maximum pain relief. Most walk-in tub companies offer whirlpool tubs in a variety of shapes and sizes so finding one that will fit in your bathroom shouldn’t be difficult.
If you’re looking for something that offers a stress-reducing and soothing experience than an air tub is the answer. Air tubs have drilled holes that allow heated air into the water. Most air tubs will allow you to choose the speed at which the air is released and as the air bubbles rise to the top, you will be treated with a soft tissue massage. Air tubs are great for healthy blood flow and are also believed to cleanse your body.
Air tub/ whirlpool combo
If you can’t choose between the whirlpool and the air tub, then a combination of the two may be what you’re looking for. A combination of the two therapy tubs allows you to take advantage of both the tubs unique benefits. It’s especially beneficial to those dealing with multiple conditions and struggling to completely alleviate their pain. The air tub/whirlpool combination gives you the option to utilize the unique features and relieve your pain.
A multitude of factors will influence your final cost:
With all the extra features it can be easy to get sucked in and end up spending more than you intended. It would be wise to sit down and determine what your needs are. If you don’t need or can’t afford specialty features, decide that before you consider making a purchase. If you decide now, it will be much easier to say no in the future.
A common issue in the industry is customers buying a walk-in tub and not realizing that it won’t work with their current bathroom setup. Instead, take the time to consult with a plumber about what will need to be done before you can install a walk-in tub. Sometimes installing the tub will be simple and will easily fit in your current bathroom layout. Other times, a complete relocation or remodel is necessary and will end up costing you extra. It is wise to know beforehand of any issues that could arise, as this will allow you to adjust your budget or expectations accordingly.
Don’t finalize a purchase of your walk-in tub without asking about what kind of warranty the company offers. A lower quality walk-in tub will usually come with a warranty period of one to five years. Higher quality tubs will have a lifetime warranty. Lifetime and limited lifetime warranties are quite popular in the industry, so be sure to ask about what’s included as it will vary from company to company. BOCA Walk-In Tubs, Hydro Dimensions, and Safe Step all offer lifetime warranties.
Additionally, not all walk-in tub companies allow returns. Before buying a tub from a company without a return policy, double check all measurements, features, and everything else pertaining to your walk-in tub before sealing the deal.
Because so many factors determine your final cost, most walk-in tub companies don’t have the pricing information disclosed on their websites. However, the average cost of a standard walk-in tub ranges from $3,000-$7,000. A hydrotherapy tub will cost more, so expect to pay somewhere around $10,000.
Buying a walk-in tub can quickly get expensive and unfortunately, both Medicare and standard insurance companies typically don’t pay for them. The Medicare website states, “Items primarily used for self-help, convenience, or personal comfort are not, by Medicare’s definition, medically necessary equipment.” A written recommendation from a doctor may get some form of subsidy, but this is rare. Medicaid can help in some states, but it isn’t wise to bank on this option.
To find out if your state Medicaid program might help pay for a walk-in bathtub, contact your state’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Here are a few other options to consider before paying out of pocket for your walk-in tub:
Most walk-in tub companies will offer financing options. This allows you to work out a financing plan with the company or you can get funded through an established dealer.
Designed to compensate for the lack of safety a standard tub provides, a walk-in tub is great for those who are at risk for falling or slipping while getting in or out of the tub. A walk-in shower is another great option as it can provide a seat for those struggling to balance. Walk-in tubs and some showers also offer numerous convenience and comfort features. If you’re interested in the health benefits provided from a walk-in tub or a therapy tub than yes, a walk-in tub is better.
If there are no hiccups with plumbing, electricity or the layout of your bathroom, then it shouldn’t take longer than one or two days. Although the installation time will vary with each company, most walk-in tub installations won’t take longer than a few days. Be sure to ask about the company’s installation process and make sure that it fits with your schedule.
Some walk-in tub companies will offer to remove and dispose of your old tub. Ask a service representative and find out which walk-in tub companies offer this service.
Most companies offer a range of tub sizes and dimensions, so it is likely one of those will fit your home. If not, you can even contact the company and ask if they can/will customize a tub to a specific size.
Some walk-in tub companies will offer a lifetime warranty, which means that the company will repair or replace the product during the life of the product. However, many of these companies have restrictions; it is best to call and ask a customer service representative.
A limited warranty generally refers to specified parts, certain defects, and other conditions. It could mean that just the parts are covered but not the labor to fix the parts. Again, we suggest you call and ask your walk-in tub company about the limited lifetime warranty before finalizing the purchase.
We recommend looking for a tub that fulfills your needs first and then your wants. Consider these questions:
Are you wanting a walk-in tub for safety or comfort?
What health benefits are you hoping to receive?
Is the tub within your budget?
Will adding additional features put you over budget?
We also suggest asking friends and family with walk-in tubs for their advice and taking a look at customer reviews. This will help you see what others are saying about the company and whether that sounds like a good fit for you.
Read real customer reviews and find the best walk-in tub company for you.