2023 Guide to Walk-In Bathtubs
- Read our 2023 overview of walk-in bathtubs to learn about top tub brands, typical costs, what to consider when buying, Medicare coverage and more.
Seniors and those with physical limitations often rely on home modifications to accommodate their everyday needs. Wheelchair ramps, grab bars and adjustable beds are just a few examples of such modifications.
When it comes to bathing, many older adults and those who have trouble with mobility turn to walk-in bathtubs for help.
A walk-in bathtub allows you to walk straight in without having to step up and over a tall ledge. Walk-in tubs provide a safer and easier way for those with physical limitations to bathe.
In our review of walk-in tubs, we outline the different types of walk-in bathtubs, their features, costs, some popular manufacturers and more.
What Are the Top 5 Best Walk-In Tubs Companies?
Five of the most popular walk-in bathtub manufacturers include (in no particular order):
- Industry leader in kitchen and bathroom appliances and design
- Three-inch step height is among the lowest on the market
- One of the best warranties you’ll find for walk-in tubs
- Large selection of walk-in tubs
- Made of high-quality materials
- Strong customer reviews
- Highly customizable tubs
- High on safety and ADA compliance
- Quality customer service
- Also sells conversion kits as a more affordable alternative
- Has a price match guarantee
- Sells wheelchair accessible bathtubs
- Largest manufacturer and distributor of walk-in tubs in the U.S.
- Some of the most affordable walk-in tubs
- Most products ship within a couple of days
How Do You Use a Walk-In Tub?
Using a walk-in tub is similar to but slightly different than a traditional bathtub.
- The top of a regular bathtub is a few feet off the floor, so you can fill up the tub before climbing in.
- With a walk-in tub, the bottom of the door is typically only a few inches high. If you filled up the tub and then opened the door to get in, water would spill out all over the floor.
That means you must first walk into the tub, close the door behind you, and then turn the water on and begin filling the tub.
The amount of time it takes to fill a walk-in tub will vary according to size and model or brand, but most walk-in tubs typically take somewhere between five and 15 minutes to fill with water.
Walk-in tubs typically have a seat, and many have a handheld shower wand to help with the bathing process.
Once you are finished with your bath and ready to get out the tub, you can’t just hop out like you otherwise would with a regular bathtub. You must trigger the drain and wait for the water to drain out before opening the door or else the water will spill out. As with filling times, the drain time of a walk-in bathtub will vary. Most tubs drain in less than 10 minutes while some can fully drain in under two minutes.
Once the water has drained, it’s now safe to open the door and exit the tub.
Are There Different Types of Walk-In Tubs?
Not all walk-in tubs are alike. In fact, there are a number of different types of walk-in tubs all designed to meet a different set of needs.
Soaker tubs are designed for just that – soaking. These entry-level tubs do not have any jets or massage elements.
Hydrotherapy tubs come with jets and additional features designed for water circulation. These walk-in tubs are great for treating achy muscles and joints.
- Tub/Shower Hybrids or Walk-In Showers
A walk-in shower is just like a regular shower but features a seat and handheld shower wand. A hybrid setup allows you to soak in a tub while also having the option of using an overhead shower.
Bariatric tubs are larger than regular walk-in tubs and are designed for larger and/or taller individuals.
- Wheelchair Accessible
A wheelchair accessible walk-in tub is designed to create an easy lateral transfer from a wheelchair onto the bathtub seat. There are also “roll-in” tubs and showers that allow you to remain seated in the wheelchair while bathing.
What Makes Walk-In Tubs Safe?
Walk-in tubs are a safer alternative than regular bathtubs due to the walk-in and walk-out nature of their design.
There’s no need to lift a leg up and over to get in and out. Just simply open the door to enter and exit the tub with the only obstacle to navigate being a short in-step that is usually just two to four inches in height.
Most falls occur in the bathroom, and a traditional bathtub can be dangerous for an older adult or one with limited mobility. Floors are wet and slippery, the surface of a bathtub is hard, and getting in and out requires stepping up and over the top edge.
Additional safety features commonly found in walk-in tubs include:
- Non-slip floors
- Grab bars
- Seats or shower benches
How Big Are Walk-In Tubs?
Walk-in tubs are about the approximate size of a traditional bathtub, which can measure around 60 inches long and about 35 inches in width. Walk-in tubs are often custom fit to the size of the space where they are being installed.
- Some companies sell “petite” walk-in tubs that measure around 45 inches long and 25 inches wide.
- Extra-large walk-in tubs measuring up to 80 inches in length and 40 or more inches in width are also available through some providers. These tubs are for large individuals or couples.
What Other Features Do Walk-In Tubs Have?
There are a number of features available for walk-in tubs that are designed for safety, luxury, comfort and convenience.
Walk-in tubs are highly customizable, and the list of bathtub features can include:
- Handheld shower wand
- Air or water massaging jets
- Built-in water heater
- Chromotherapy lights
- Self-cleaning mechanisms
- Push-button controls for jets, lights and water
- Heated back and neck rests
- Anti-scalding technology
- Quick-draining technology
What Is the Real Cost of a Walk-in Tub?
The price of a walk-in tub will vary greatly depending on a number of factors that include:
- Type of tub
- Size and water capacity
- Materials used
- Features and accessories included
- Modifying or customizing needed to fit in your space
- Delivery and installation fees
You can find some 2023 walk-in tubs available for under $2,000, while certain tubs can cost more than $20,000. Somewhere around $5,000 is a general industry average, based on our independent review of industry pricing information.
Does Medicare Cover Walk-in Tubs?
A walk-in tub does not fall under the category of durable medical equipment that is covered by Medicare Part B. In some rare cases, Medicare may cover a walk-in tub if a doctor certifies it to be medically necessary.
Some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans provide coverage for home modifications that assist with aging in place and may help cover the cost of a walk-in tub.
Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and combine all the benefits of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) into a single plan that often covers benefits not offered by Original Medicare.
How Do You Purchase a Walk-In Tub?
The steps to purchasing a walk-in tub include:
- Determine what kind of walk-in tub you would like to install along with which features or accessories you would like to have.
- Research the companies that sell walk-in tubs in your area (see below) and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
- Set up an in-home consultation to have your space measured and discuss your desired tub with a company representative.
- Schedule a day to have the tub installed.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Walk-in Tub?
The main disadvantage of a walk-in tub is that you have to remain in the tub until all of the water is drained before exiting. However, many of today’s walk-in tubs can fully drain in under five minutes.
Walk-in tub costs can be a disadvantage, as walk-in tubs tend to be more expensive than traditional bathtubs. Walk-in tubs also typically hold more water than a regular bathtub which may result in an increased water bill.
You may need a bigger water heater to ensure all of the water in a walk-in tub is heated.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Walk-In Bathtub?
It can cost an average of $10,000 to install a walk-in tub, including the cost of the bathtub itself, installation materials and the cost of labor.1
It may be possible to install a walk-in tub yourself, but bathtub installation may require some plumbing work that is best left to a trained professional.
Most walk-in tubs are installed by plumbers or contractors and some walk-in tub companies even supply their own installers. Installation may or may not be included in the price of the tub.
There are also conversion kits that convert an existing shower or tub into a walk-in tub. These conversion kits are typically more affordable than a standalone walk-in tub and can often be installed without professional assistance.