We understand that you are here to find a walk in tub for your parents or loved ones so they can safely bathe and maintain a high quality of life. We’ve researched and reviewed dozens of models and narrowed our list down to the 6 safest, most comfortable, highest value models with limited installation costs. Be sure to choose wisely. An informed decision can save you thousands of dollars and save your elderly loved ones from injury or an assisted living center.
Buying a Walk in Bathtub (Read This First)
If seniors wish to age in place at home rather than at an assisted living center, a walk-in bathtub is a necessity. According to the AARP, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, accounting for nearly 235,000 visits to the ER in 2008 alone. Unfortunately, it was “especially treacherous” to Americans aged 65 and older.
Purchasing a sitting bath is not cheap by any standard, but it pales in comparison to the emotional and financial costs of an ER visit or assisted living center. Thankfully, a safe, durable, and even luxurious bath isn’t nearly as expensive as you think it is (including installation!).
This review and buying guide will give you the ability to determine the best model for your loved one so they can live happily and safely right in their own home.
Pros and Cons of a Walk-in Bath (Why They Are so Important for Seniors)
A walk-in tub eliminates the most dangerous hazards to senior safety in the home and provides a number of life-improving therapeutic benefits (It’s like having a spa in your bathroom!).
Falls are by far the leading cause of ER visits to the elderly, and, as we mentioned before, the bathroom is the room where they occur the most. Since this is most likely your first time buying a walk-in bathtub, here are a few of the pros and cons of owning one (and why they are so important for your loved one).
Nothing is perfect! While there are many benefits to a walk-in tub, these benefits come with (very worthwhile) costs.
How to Choose the Right Walk-In Tub for Your Loved One
“Which kind of tub is best for me?” “How much does a walk-in tub cost?” “How do I know which model to get?”
We hear these questions daily! And for good reason!
Not only is this an incredibly important investment, but there are also so many features available on today’s tub models that it’s hard to know what’s necessary and what’s a luxury. Tubs range from simple soaker tubs to luxurious, spa-like hydrotherapy water jet tubs that will have you scrambling for excuses to visit your parents every Sunday.
Here’s what to take into account FIRST so you can be a wise shopper
- 1Consider Your Needs: A handicap tub doesn’t have to have all of the bells and whistles to keep your loved one safe. Before shopping, make sure you take into account your loved one’s needs. Do they have specific needs like wheelchair accessibility? Or are any extra features just for luxury? Do they have certain medical conditions that a hydrotherapy model soothes, or do they just need to wash in safety? Knowing what you’re looking for before you shop will make it way easier to find the right fit.
- 2Examine Your Space: How much space is in your home? A walk-in tub is typically the length of a regular tub, just taller and a bit wider (30 in. is the most common width, though they can go up to 60). Keep in mind that renovations drastically increase installation costs.
- 3Factor in Hot Water Capacity: A normal walk-in tub requires about 50 gallons of hot water. The last thing you want is for your parents to sit in cold water waiting for the hot water to kick in. If you have a 40-gallon heater, consider upgrading or adding a tankless water heater.
- 4Know the Necessary Safety Features: Safety is priority #1, so never purchase a tub that doesn’t come with these features: handrails, non-slip flooring, fast drainage, in-line heating, and low step-in height.
The 6 Best Walk-in BathTubs
With these factors in mind (and some other very strict criteria), we evaluated the best models on the market based on experience, customer reviews, and company reputation.
Our top choice was the Ellas Bubbles Companion Massage Tub. All of the safety features jumped right out at us, but what impressed us most was the range of comfort features available (18 hydrotherapy jets with intensity control, 15 air jet system, etc.). And the best part? It fits two!
1. The Best Walk-in Bathtub - Ellas Bubbles Companion Massage Tub
The Ellas Bubbles Companion Tub is without a doubt the best overall value on the market. It’s more like a spa retreat than your average bathtub. Whereas most models come with basic safety features and just one hydrotherapy or air jet, this bad boy comes with BOTH air jets and an 18-jet hydrotherapy system for the ultimate leg, back, and neck massage while bathing.
The best part? It seats two, so your parents can enjoy more time together! It’s easy to clean, drains in about 1 minute flat, and is designed to let your loved one(s) relax without worrying about scalding temperatures or soaking in cold water. Prepare to visit mom and dad several times a week.
The downside is that all the features add to the price and difficulty of installation. But it’s well worth it!
2. American Standard 3052.109.WLW Gelcoat Whirlpool 30"x52" Walk-In Bathtub
This value model from American Standard is equipped with all of the latest safety and comfort features as well as a lifetime warranty on the door seal.
American Standard has long been a trusted name in the appliance game, so you know you’re getting quality. As far as safety goes, it’s as good as any model on the market—the extra wide seat, ADA compliant grip bar, low-entry door, and non-slip surface leave little room for anything to go wrong. The only thing keeping it from the top spot is the lack of comfort features. There are only 6 hydrotherapy jets (albeit high-quality ones that give a GREAT leg massage).
We especially loved the easy-touch button control (perfect for seniors with little knowledge of technology) and 10-year warranty on the shell. It really gave us peace of mind.
As far as safety and durability, it’s a no-brainer. But the price isn’t reflective of its lack of comfort features.
Walk In Tubs from Modern Bathrooms
3. Ariel EZWT-3060-SOAKER-R Walk in Bathtub: The Best Budget Model
If you’re tight on funds and tight on space, this is the model for you.
At 60 x 30, this tub is made specifically for shoppers that want ADA-compliant safety without all of the luxurious extras. It’s got everything your loved one needs for a safe soak: ADA-compliant grab bar, textured floor, heavy-duty door, and a support frame with adjustable feet.
Ariel’s Soaker-R is peace of mind on a budget. Your loved one can have a great soak and a therapeutic experience, and you won’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for a tub and installation costs.Believe it or not, the comfort actually surprised us considering the value. It’s just as comfortable as models that cost thousands more. Of course, it doesn’t come with any of the hydrotherapy jets or other bells and whistles of more luxurious models, but is that really what matters?
4. Spa World Venzi Rectangular Soaking Tub: Good for Arthritis
Normally, we wouldn’t include a model that wasn’t top of the line in safety or therapeutics, but the Spa World Venzi is an exception. It doesn’t have a seat, so it isn’t much like the other models.
This is purely a soaking tub, so it’s good for 2 kinds of shoppers: Those on a VERY tight budget and those with loved ones suffering from osteoarthritis.
This is because the Venzi has an ultra-low threshold. It’s possible to step in by barely raising your knee. The step-in height is extremely low, meaning there’s very little impact, if any, on the knee.
Bear in mind that there are no seats or handles, so it’s not up there in terms of safety like the rest of the entries on this list. The bottom line here is that it’s a good buy if you need a cheap soaking tub or the user can barely lift their knee. If you are looking for a top of the line tub, it’s best to look elsewhere.
5. Meditub Step-In Soaker Tub: The Most Comfortable Soaker Tub
If you’re just in the market for a soaker tub, a better option than the Venzi is the Meditub Step-In Soaker Tub.
Unlike other budget models at similar prices, this one blows the others out of the tub in terms of comfort and safety. The textured floor and ADA-compliant features are all of excellent quality, and its simple build lets you install it right into most bathrooms without having to change a thing.
In our opinion, it really sets itself apart from other soakers because of the ergonomic design. The headrest is featherlike, allowing for a comforting soak without the neck pains of normal tubs (be careful not to fall asleep!). Also, the easy-entry door swings both inwards and outwards, making for easy entry and exit (with no joint pain or risk of fall).
It doesn’t have the more therapeutic features of other luxury models, but for a soaker tub, it’s extremely comfortable and safe. And you can’t beat the price!
6. Lay Down Long Soaking Whirpool Tub
Last but not least, we couldn’t leave off the Lay Down Long Soaking Tub from Whirlpool.
It doesn’t come with its own grab bar, so that’s a negative. However, it does come with the Whirlpool name, which means a little something. Of course, you pay for the name. The tub’s main selling point is its durability. It’s made of iron-like fiberglass and weighs in at an astonishing 185 lbs.
The easy-to-use threshold, strong build, and mountain-like weight of nearly 200 lbs make it a very solid buy at its price. You also get the peace of mind of knowing one of the biggest names in the industry is behind it.
An especially nice touch was the multiple faucets, allowing for an extremely fast and versatile soak.
Overall, we wouldn’t recommend it over the models above but thought it was a necessary mention.
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Walk in Tub?
The cost to install a walk-in tub depends on the type of tub you’re having installed and a variety of other factors. For example, you’ll pay more for a walk-in tub that provides far more benefits than being able to walk in and sit down in a bath similar to the one you’ve always enjoyed.
The Benefits of a Walk-In Tub
A walk-in tub has a number of benefits. It can go in the same place your existing tub sits, and it generally won’t require major structural changes to accommodate. For comparison, a walk-in shower often requires removing walls and even removing the nearby bath tub so you can walk into it. Common modifications for walk-in showers include extended sloped floors and tile and laminate on all surrounding walls. This is why the cheapest walk-in shower renovations with a pre-fab kit and no major structural work are nearly a thousand dollars and easily hit two thousand dollars. Rip out a bathtub to put in a large walk-in shower, and the entire price tag ranges from two to five thousand dollars. There are several design choices for the walk-in tub, and most of them are cheaper to install than this. That’s why many people go with a walk in tub.
The Cost of a Walk In Tub
At the low end of the market, a walk in tub costs 1,500 to 2,000 dollars. The installation costs alone range from several hundred dollars to three thousand dollars. When you need larger pipes water and drain installed to accommodate the new tub, the cost is, of course, higher. If you’re just removing the existing tub and installing a new walk-in model, the cost is slightly higher than if you replaced your existing bath tub with a different model. If you’re shopping around for a bath tub replacement, verify that their price quote includes the cost of removing and disposing of the old bath tub.
Features that Increase the Cost of a Walk In Tub
We’ll say that walk-in bath tubs coast 1,500 to 5,000 dollars. Walk-in tubs with hydrotherapy jets will cost five to seven thousand dollars. It is essentially a high end hot tub. If you buy a walk-in tub that comes with air and water features, the walk-in tub can cost ten to twenty thousand dollars. These features promise to improve your circulation. Bariatric walk in tubs cost 5,000 to 10,000 dollars.
Walk-in tubs that double as a shower range from 2,500 to 6,000 dollars. The main benefit of these models is that you can choose to take either a bath or shower.
The price tag of the project goes up with every structural modification you have to make. For example, you’ll have to pay more to have a new tile wall installed so that the walk-in tub doesn’t look like it was shoe-horned into the bathroom. You’ll pay more for custom glass doors instead of having a fiber-glass door that is the same color as the bath tub. Glass surround walls and replacement shower pans add to the price tag, too.
How Can You Save Money on a Walk In Tub?
Medicare isn’t going to pay for the cost of a walk-in bathtub unless someone has recently become paralyzed, whether it is due to an accident or a stroke. The same is true of Medicaid. Consult with a tax accountant to learn whether or not you could claim the walk-in tub as a tax-deductible medical expense. Conversely, you may find the walk-in tub to be worth the expense if it means you can take a bath yourself instead of requiring assistance.
Shopping around for walk-in tubs could save you a lot of money if you find a design that doesn’t force you to reconfigure the room. After all, the price of the project soars when you move the tub and/or shower or expand its footprint. If you’re removing the existing shower stall or moving the sink, you’ll be adding several thousand dollars to the project’s total bill. Anything that moves the plumbing connections significantly adds to the price tag. However, it is rare the fixtures actually need to be moved.
Be careful about using the walk-in tub installation as an excuse to makeover the bathroom. A room renovation like that dramatically increases the cost, and too many people attribute it to the new tub instead of the expanded scope of work. Yet this is a good time to remodel the entire bathroom for accessibility, whether it is putting in a half-wall by the toilet that eliminates the need for handle bars or lowering the counters.