What is Walk-in Bathtub?

A walk-in Bathtub is a great option for people with mobility issues and senior residents. A walk in bathtub is elevated higher, with a door on the side, which give you a way to walk in and have an easier and safer bath. The handrails and grips are designed in such a way that keeps your head above the water and you easily get in and get out of the bathtub itself.
In the traditional bathtub, you have to step over 18-20-inch to access the water which can be a safety risk for people with the mobility issue. In the walk-in bathtub, water is accessible by climbing only 4-7 inches with the swinging door. Walk-in bathtubs make possible safe and independent living at any age. Walk-in bathtubs have a watertight swinging door which gives a tight seal. They can be opened and closed very easily. They also have a built-in chair and handheld showerhead. You can sit comfortably and avoid the risk of falling and hurting yourself.

Walk-in Bathtub offers spa-like experience with no sharp edges at all. This type of bathtubs is deep enough for immersion as well as have seat for sitting for soaking and relaxing. Apart from the basic features, you can choose from multiple advanced features to truly enjoy your bathing time.

  • For the therapeutic purpose, you can have aromatherapy, chromotherapy and hydro jet therapy.
  • For safety purpose, you can choose from the anti-slip tub floor, wide no step door, built-in grab bars, Anti-Scald technology, and in front access panels.
  • For better comfort, you can have a heated seat, minimal strength locking handle, and anti-slip comfort seat.

Types of walk-in bathtubs

Walk in bathtubs are built to provide safer and independent alternative of normal bathtubs. There is an extensive list of features in the bathtub to boost your bathing experience. You can choose from different types mentioned below according to your preference and budget. This list doesn’t include some advanced features like chromotherapy and aromatherapy.

Soaker tub:

The soaker tub is a basic and inexpensive model of walk-in bathtubs. They do not have any therapeutic features such as air or water jets. It has three basic features like the watertight leak-proof door, built-in seat and handheld shower. They come with safety measures like grab bars, anti-slip floors, and easy accessible low entry steps.

Whirlpool:

Walk in whirlpool bathtub has high-pressure jets of water or air for therapeutic purpose. The message your tired muscles and give you a relaxing experience. They come in two types with warm water or air and help you to target different muscles for relaxation. Whirlpool walk-in tubs help in relieving joint and muscle pain. They also help in strengthening muscles and joints and giving better mobility.

  • Aero-therapy is walk-in tubs fitted with jets for warm and humid air for therapeutic massage experience. They give bubbling bath which helps in treating a number for respiratory problems. The number of small high-pressure air jets is fitted in a different part of tubs.
  • Hydrotherapy includes different high-pressure jets of warm water which provides with a more intense massage. Jets are fitted in a different part of bathtubs and help in reliving muscles pain with help of water jets. You can adjust the pressure and angle of jets according to your preference.

Wheelchair-accessible tub:

The wheelchair-accessible tub has an outward opening door which allows for easier entry from the wheelchair into the bathtub. They have wide door opening and easy access sitting area in the tub. This design makes sliding from wheelchair to tub very easy.  You should choose a wheelchair accessible tub which meets the standard of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Bariatric tub:

Standard walk-in bathtubs are deep and easy to access. But they are designed for people who weigh less than 300 pounds. Their narrow design can be uncomfortable for some people. Bariatric walk-in tubs are designed with the wide door opening and can hold up to 600 pounds. They have a larger sitting area as compare to other tubs and accommodate any size person. Bariatric tubs can have the same feature as any other advanced walk-in bathtub with an added comfortable area to enjoy and relax.

Who Needs a Walk-In Bathtub?

The decision of having walk-in bathtub is more than just replacing your bathtub. It is about independence and safety for the user. This type of bathtub gives the option of having a peaceful, relaxing bath in the comfort of your home. You don’t have to depend on anyone as these bathtubs are easily accessible. They are designed for safety and accessibility with all the necessary features.

People with mobility issues: we all have slipped or fallen in the bathroom; this is especially hard for an individual with mobility issues. Walk in bathtubs are designed for comfortable usage for people with balance and movement issues. They have a lower step-up area in comparison to traditional bathtubs. They have easily accessible grab handles and sitting area. This gives them dignity by not depending on anyone for having a bath.

Senior citizens: Aging is a natural phenomenon by 2010 there were 41.5 million citizens in America alone. If you have a senior citizen living with you or you are a senior citizen, then you should consider having the walk-in bathtub. Tradition bathtub can be a safety risk for senior citizen in many ways. Walk in bathtub allows them to have independent and safer bathing experience. Some features like a whirlpool can also do wonders for joint and muscle pain.

Caregivers: Giving or assisting bath in traditional bathtubs can be a risky and tiresome job. Most good care houses opt has walk-in bathtubs for their residents. This decreases the risk of slipping and falling. This also gives residents confidence that they don’t have to depend on anyone for basic hygiene.

Obese people: Bariatric model of walk-in bathtub has wide door opening and comfortable bathing area. They are built with sturdier and wider sitting area in the tub. They are designed to hold up to 600 pounds. They also have anti-slip tub floor and sturdy handrails.

Features of the walk-in bathtub

Most manufacturers offer different innovative features for safety, therapeutic, comfort, and convenience. Almost all walk-in bathtubs are equipped with basic safety features for people with limited mobility and senior citizen. Generally, all walk-in tubs have low step-in entry, watertight entrance door, built-in seating, and anti-slip floors. Therapeutic features may vary from one to other walk-in tubs depending on its price and manufacturer.

Safety features

Walk-in bathtubs are designed for safety. They minimize the risk of falling by having some common features mentioned below.

  • Low step-up for entry: Walk-in tubs offer a very low threshold height with the swinging door to enter into the bathtub easily and safely. The common step-up height for the walk in bathtubs is around 4 to 7 inches.
  • Built-in seat: Walk-in bathtubs have the built-in sitting seat for comfortable and long relaxing bath. The seats are covered with the textured surface which helps in preventing any slipping off from the seat. Getting up from these seats is much easier than from a standard tub floor.
  • Anti-slip tub floor: Nearly all walk in bathtub models includes anti-slip textured floor surface to prevent slipping.
  • Quick release drain system: These features allow water to drain quickly after the bath.
  • Wide door opening: Some walk-in bathtubs has wide door entry for easy usage for an individual on a wheelchair or obese person.
  • Grab bars and rails: installation of grab bars and rails in bathtub allows ease in the entry or exit from the bathtub. This additional support feature is very suitable for the person with mobility issues or senior citizen.
  • Anti-scald technology: In this technology flow of hot water is controlled to prevent any accidental burns.
  • Sanitary coating: Walk in tubs comes with the interior coating of gel which prevents the growth of molds and bacteria’s. This also makes cleaning of tub an easy task.
  • Non-slip bath mats and rugs: A non-slip mat in the shower and a non-slip rug on the floor outside the shower prevents any slipping. This is an efficient and low-cost option.
  • Lighting: Your bathroom should be adequately lit during the day or night. Proper lighting is must whether it is daylight or electricity light.

Therapeutic features

Walk-in bathtubs have a wide range of therapeutic features. They are extensively used in old age homes and clinics to boost health and relaxing. They are used to relieve muscle and joint pain as well as therapy for stress and strain. Some of the common therapeutic features are mentioned below.

Aromatherapy: In this aroma of essential oils are diffused to give a relaxing atmosphere while having the bath. This enhances emotional and physical health. For example, lemon and rosemary uplifts mood and energize to have focus. Lemongrass and lavender help in relaxing tired muscles and relieve muscle and joint pains.

Chromotherapy: This is the therapy using colors, which help in health and harmony by stimulating sensations from a brain. Our body reacts differently to every color. For example cool colors like blue help you to relax and give peace while having the bath. And bright colors help to enhance focus.

Hydro jet therapy:  This includes different high-pressure jets of warm water which provides with a more intense massage. Jets are fitted in a different part of bathtubs and help in reliving muscles pain with help of water jets. You can adjust the pressure and angle of jets according to your preference.

Aero-therapy is walk-in tubs fitted with jets for warm and humid air for therapeutic massage experience. They give bubbling bath which helps in treating a number for respiratory problems. The number of small high-pressure air jets is fitted in a different part of tubs

Some of the other common features to enhance comfort in walk-in bathtubs are as following

Heated seat: This gives a warm touch to the surface of bathtub seats to enhance comfort and relaxation.

Easy locking handle: This feature allows closing and opening of the door with minimum strength. This gives independence to people with mobility issues to while having a bath.

Handheld flexible shower wand allows you to adjust shower according to your preference in any speed, angle, and height.

Size and Weight of Walk-in Bathtubs

Walk in bathtubs are available in large, medium, small size. These all size can fit standard bathtub size which is 30-32” wide and 60 inches in length. Some manufacturer also offers customization option to fit in your existing tub size. Most of them come which depth of around 30-32”. You can also use bathtub extenders to fill in any gap. This improves the aesthetics as well as helps in protecting against any damage to the tub. Since most of the walk in bathtubs are made of Acrylic, they are lightweight (approximately 100 pounds) and can be installed in the bathroom without any support.

Acrylic is the preferred material used by most of the manufacturers due to its durability and lightweight. Irrespective of your choice of the brand, try to go with a steel frame or fiberglass which is covered with acrylic that can give it a long-lasting stronger body.

Cost of Walk-in Bathtubs

The price of walk-in bathtubs can range from $3000 to $20,000 depends upon from where you purchase, brand and features you choose. However, you should be able to buy a walk-in bathtub that will suit your needs for around $5,000. The typical cost of installing an average walk-in tub is between $500 and $1500. Installation cost depends on whom you hire and from where you are.

Local distributors and showroom: You can examine personally features and quality from local stores. You may have to pay the little bit extra here (around 20-30%). The average cost of tubs start around $4000 and goes up to $10,000.

Online retailers: They offer some of the most affordable prices in the bathtub. You can find a bathtub with as much as $1000. While purchasing online make sure about the brand you buy and quality by doing some research. If you find something then chances are it would be of very bad quality.

Home store chain retailers: They can offer big discounts and quality products. They also offer longer warranty period and excellent customer support. Some of the companies are Lowe’s, home depot and homeward bath.

Coverage options for walk-in Tubs

Unfortunately, most standard insurance companies and Medicare does not cover bathtubs. Medicaid may cover the cost in certain states in certain scenarios. You can also check following options before buying a walk-in bathtub.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture: For the elderly and low-income, it is possible that USDA can cover some cost of the bathtub. It is recommended to check their guidelines before to see if you qualify for a cover.

Veteran aid: In some cases for those who have a medical need related to military service can get veteran aid for a walk-in tub. This may cover the full or partial cost of a walk-in tub.

State assistance programs: Check your state’s Department of Health and Safety office to see if they have any funding program which covers this. Depending on the state you live they may have some program for senior citizens health.

Nonprofit groups: Some nonprofit organizations cover the installation cost of walk-in bathtubs needed for the medical purpose for those who cannot afford it.

Tax deductions: If you have walk-in bathtubs for medical necessity then you might able to some tax deduction. The deduction can be equal to complete or partial cost of the tub.

Water requirement for bathtubs

Yes, the walk-in tub does use more water than other traditional tubs, but it uses approximately the same amount of water as we use in our standard shower. Often standard shower is for approximately 7-8 minutes long and uses 7 gallons per minute. Hence, you required water is about 50-55 gallons. Smaller designs will require as little as 40 gallons whereas larger bariatric models average requirement is 90-100 gallons. Here you have to check whether your present water heater is capable to handle the larger volume of heated water or not.

How to drain the walk-in bathtub

Before selecting bathtub check whether the drain plug is in the right hand or in the left hand. For example, American Standard Cambridge 5-Feet Bath Tub has a Right-Hand Drain whereas Kohler K-1150 Bancroft 5-foot Bathtub has a Left-Hand Drain. So, be careful and ensure to purchase a right drain system according to your bathroom design. The time required for filling and draining of Walk-in bathtub depends on many factors.

  • The size of the tub
  • Water pressure
  • Inlet & outlet pipes size and
  • Quality of the plumbing

Earlier a standard size walk-in tub used to take between 6–15 minutes to fill or drain. But nowadays manufacturing company’s installs a quick fill and draining mechanism that requires only 1.5–3.5 minutes to fill in and drain out water from the tub. Choose a model with a fast fill and drain system as it reduces the waiting time. Since most walk-in tubs come with a hand shower, you can use that to keep yourself warm while the tub drains.

Installation of bathtub

If you are not a plumbing professional then it’s recommended to hire a professional. Safe installation requires plumbing, electric, tilting and framing skills. Just like any regular bathtub, a good plumber can be able to install your walk-in bathtub. While buying the tub, you may ask the manufacturer regarding plumbing services.  Most companies provide free of cost installation or charge the fixed amount of money to install the tub. Their plumbers are mostly experts for these works because of their daily experience in the same line.

Cleaning of bathtubs

Modern walk-in tubs have built-in cleaning or sanitizing system, like an Ozone generator or UN sterilizer, so cleaning of these tubs is an easy task. Here are some tips for cleaning:

  • Wipe the tub with a towel after use
  • Open the window after use to let the humidity out of the bathroom
  • Clean with a mild dishwashing detergent and water once a week.
  • For cleaning the drain, use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda once a week or even fortnightly. (Tips: go to see our other cleaning topics).

Warranty and services

All renowned bathtubs come with a warranty. Well, known good manufacturers companies give warranty for a longer period or even some time they give the lifetime warranty.  But here you have to see whether your warranty will cover all aspects including the faucets/fixtures, operating mechanism of the seat, the entrance gate and also other parts or not, to avoid unnecessary expenditures after post installation.

The pre-buying strategy of a walk-in tub

  • Your budget: A good Walk-in bathtub cost can between $3,000–$15,000 depending on the features you select and the installation work therein. In fact, it is an investment, so select accordingly and makes sure you have the tub which can fulfill your future needs. For installation help, most companies can help you to find the right professional.
  • Get an in-home consultation: So ask the providers for the home visit which is complimentary by them to help you assess your needs and measuring your space to get the correct dimension tub and freely discuss what features you need. After your consultation, you will know what dimensions and options will fit best in your space.
  • Get warranty package: Walk-in bathtubs are usually protected by a warranty on the entire package or on individual parts and pieces. Carefully study the warranty so when you have problems with your tub or its components, you will get services accordingly.
  • Certification: Walk-in bathtubs should be certified to safety standards in the country in which they are made. In the United States, CSA/UL certification is equivalent to the American Standards Association.

Check here how to choose bathtubs