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If you have limited mobility, it’s important to consider the design of your home. This includes investing in products that make your living environment more accessible and safer.
One example is a walk-in tub. It’s a safer alternative to a traditional tub, which requires you to step over a high threshold. A walk-in tub omits this feature, so it’s easier to get in. This can give you a greater sense of independence, comfort, and safety.
If you’re thinking about investing in a walk-in tub, read on. We’ll explore the best walk-in tubs, along with alternatives and tips for installation.
Best for luxury: ANZZI Left Drain Walk-In Bathtub
Best for design: Universal Tubs HD Series 60-Inch Walk-In Whirlpool Bath Tub
Best for small spaces: American Standard Gelcoat Premium Series 52-Inch Right Hand Walk-In Air Bathtub
Best for comfort: Empava EMPV-WIT373 52.5-Inch Acrylic Freestanding Walk-In Bathtub
Best for budget: Universal Tubs Builder’s Choice 53-Inch Walk-In Soaking Bath Tub
What are walk-in tubs?
A walk-in tub is a bathtub with a door. It lets you walk directly into the tub, rather than stepping over a high edge.
Also, “Walk-in tubs have very high walls and an elevated seat,” said Ralph Severson, licensed contractor and owner of Flooring Masters. This means you can submerge yourself in water without sitting on the floor.
How do walk-in tubs work?
A walk-in tub has a door with a watertight seal. It also has a faucet that fills the tub with water, just like a standard tub. It may have a handheld showerhead attached to a hose as well.
When you’re done bathing, the water flows down the drain. Once the tub is empty, you can walk out of the tub.
Is a walk-in tub right for me?
You might be a good candidate for a walk-in tub if you have limited mobility. This includes mobility issues related to age, injury, or chronic conditions.
Are walk-in tubs covered by insurance?
Walk-in tubs are generally not covered by health insurance. However, every insurance company is different, and some states might offer financial assistance. Your healthcare professional can let you know about state programs that may provide financial help.
Does Medicare cover walk-in tubs?
Currently, Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for walk-in tubs.
Medicare only covers durable medical equipment (DME). DME includes equipment and devices deemed medically necessary. A walk-in tub isn’t considered a DME, meaning Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for related costs.
Again, your state may offer programs that offer financial help.
The tubs on this list were chosen based on their safety features and recommendations from home contractors. We also considered specialty features that might make the tub more enjoyable to use. Finally, we included a range of prices to accommodate different budgets.
The price range for walk-in tubs can vary greatly. Without installation, walk-in tubs may range between $1,800 to $6,000 or higher.
The tubs on this list range in price. Pricing is indicated as follows:
- $ = under $2,000
- $$ = $2,000–$4,000
- $$$ = over $4,000
The installation is an additional cost. According to CostHelper.com, replacing a bathtub may cost between $1,500 to $5,000.
Best for luxury
For a spa-like experience, consider this freestanding walk-in tub from ANZZI. “This walk-in bathtub comes with whirlpool jets that provide a soothing massage,” said Ryan Thompson, plumber and owner of Plumbing Informer.
“It has a quick-fill faucet, which can quickly fill up the bathtub. This is important because one of the most common complaints about walk-in bathtubs is that they take too long to fill up.”
The step-in threshold is 4 1/4 inches tall. Other standout safety features include a showerhead with a 60-inch hose, grab bars, textured flooring, and an ADA-compliant seat. The term “ADA-compliant” refers to design standards defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, for accessibility.
In addition to the whirlpool jets, other spa features include color therapy lighting and air jets. The tub has a built-in heater to maintain the water temperature as you bathe.
According to ANZZI, all products come with a lifetime warranty.
Best for design
This tub offers ADA-compliant seating and slip-resistant flooring. “It also has a quick-fill faucet and buttons that are designed to reduce stress on fingers and joints,” said Severson. The tub has a built-in grab bar, and the step-in threshold is 7 1/4 inches tall.
Severson points out that the tub’s drain is powered by a pump, so all the water will drain in about 1 minute. This might be ideal if time and convenience are your priorities.
The tub has specialty features as well. It has 12 adjustable whirlpool massage jets and colored lights, which are used for chromatherapy, or color therapy. Universal Tubs offers a 10-year warranty on the tub shell, frame, and finish, as well as a lifetime warranty on the door’s watertight seal.
If you need help choosing a tub, the company invites customers to call their consultants. They can also help you find a certified and licensed installer.
Best for small spaces
This walk-in tub by American Standard is designed for smaller spaces. It has a contoured seat for maximum comfort, along with 26 air jets for relaxing water-based therapy. Safety features include push-button controls, grab bar, and textured floor.
It also has an ergonomically shaped neck rest, which is a stand-out feature, according to Severson. This may be ideal if you’re concerned about neck support. Most walk-in tubs lack a built-in neck rest.
The tub “has a quick-draining system so you’re not stuck waiting several minutes to the open door,” added Severson. You can also call the company’s bath specialists to determine if the walk-in tub is right for you.
American Standard offers a lifetime warranty on the door seal, a 10-year warranty on the tub’s shell, and a 5-year warranty on all other parts. The company also offers in-home evaluations and professional installation.
Best for comfort
If you’re looking for a freestanding walk-in tub, you might like this 52-inch tub by Empava. “The Empava 52 has a curved and practical shape that makes it easy and convenient to install in bathrooms,” said Thompson. It has safety features like ergonomic control knobs, interior grab bars, and a handrail along the rim. The door is extra wide, and the floor is slip resistant.
A unique feature is the extra-low step-in clearance height, which is less than 4 inches tall. “[This] is great for people who don’t want to, or can’t, raise their feet too high when entering the tub,” said Thompson. Empava also offers a 3-year limited parts warranty.
Best for budget
If you’re looking for an inexpensive walk-in tub, consider this product from Universal Tubs. “This is a very safe and affordable tub without the bells and whistles,” explained Severson. “It still has a slip-resistant floor, safety rail, and a low step threshold.”
The tub has also ADA-compliant contoured seating, a quick-fill faucet, and a wide-opening door. It’s simpler than other walk-in tubs on this list. “If you don’t need a whirlpool or powered drain features, this tub performs well at a lower cost,” said Severson.
Universal Tubs offers a 10-year warranty on the tub shell, frame, and finish and a lifetime warranty on the door seal. The company can help you find a certified and licensed installer.
If you want to create a safer bathroom environment, walk-in tubs aren’t your only option.
Other potentially effective alternatives include:
A step-in shower is a pre-fabricated shower that has no threshold to step over. It has a seat or bench that allows you to sit while bathing. This is ideal if you prefer to use a handheld showerhead versus soaking in a tub.
According to Severson, you can install non-slip flooring, safety rails, and comfortable seating in a step-in shower. The floor tile can also be continued throughout the bathroom.
A good option is the Freedom ADA Roll In Shower. Safety features include a folding shower seat, grab bars, and a textured floor. It also meets all ADA guidelines and has a 30-year limited warranty.
If you’d like a shower that’s built-in and tiled, contact a licensed contractor who is experienced in bathroom remodeling. If possible, work with a contractor who has experience installing accessible showers for people with limited mobility.
Your contractor can install safety features such as a bench, grab bars, and ergonomic doors. They can also provide suggestions based on your budget and personal needs.
For an inexpensive and simple way to make bathing safer, install grab bars in your existing tub or shower. A contractor who has experience designing bathrooms for limited mobility can determine the best location for each bar.
It’s worth noting that towel bars aren’t the same as grab bars. Towel bars lack sufficient support, so using them as grab bars might be unsafe.
A shower bench or chair is another budget-friendly option. When choosing a bench, make sure the feet have a non-slip grip. Some benches fit into the tub, while others are placed over the edge so you can sit and slide into the tub.
To reduce the risk of slipping, place a non-slip mat in your tub or shower. Consider placing a non-slip mat or anti-slip rug just outside of the shower, too.
Some state programs might offer financial assistance for walk-in tub installations. However, Medicare and insurance companies generally don’t provide coverage. Walk-in tubs usually aren’t considered medically necessary.
Many retailers offer financing options that let you pay for a product over time. This won’t reduce the overall cost, but it might be easier to pay in smaller portions.
A walk-in tub may be ideal if you have limited mobility. Compared with a standard tub, this type of tub is safer because you don’t have to step over a high edge.
Typically, walk-in tubs have safety features like grab bars and slip-resistant floors. You can also get tubs with specialty features like whirlpool jets and colored lights.
Walk-in tubs are available in different sizes, shapes, and configurations. A licensed contractor can determine the best option for your home and needs.
Currently, walk-in tubs aren’t covered by health insurance and Medicare. However, your state might offer a financial assistance program, and retailers often have financing options.