Nothing beats a long hot soak in a tub especially if you are full of aches and pains. But if you suffer from mobility problems, and can’t manage to get in or out of a tub, the only other solution is the shower.
A walk-in bathtub can make bathing easier and safer for individuals who are unable to use a traditional bathtub. No more struggling to get in or out or worrying about slips and falls, just open the door to the tub and step in, and close the door behind you. Sit down and relax and enjoy the experience, in a safe and secure environment.
In this article, we will cover the different types of walk-in bathtubs that are available, and the factors you should consider before deciding on the right tub for your needs. We will also review some of the best walk-in bathtubs that will allow you to bath safely and independently.
Best Walk-In Bathtubs for Seniors Comparison Chart
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed walk-in bathtubs. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|Ariel EZWT-3060 Walk-In Soaker Bathtub||Energy Tubs Compact Walk-In Bathtub||Energy Tubs Compact Walk-In Bathtub||Ellas Bubbles HH3057-HB Hydrotherapy Walk-In Bathtub||American Standard 3252OD.709.CLW-PC Combination Walk-In Bathtub|
|Bath Dimensions||60'' (L) x 30'' (W) x 37'' (H)||37.5" (L) x 31" (W) x 38" (H)||52" (L) x 32" (W) x 40" (H)||55" (L) x 30" (W) x 38" (H)||52" (L) x 32" (W) x 40" (H)|
|Seat Dimensions||22" (W) x 17" (H)||22" (W) x 17" (H)||23" (W) x 17" (H)||19. 75" (W) x 15" (H)||24" (W) x 16" (H)|
|Bathtub Shell Material||Fiberglass||Fiberglass||Fiberglass||Acrylic||Fiberglass|
|Water Capacity||50 Gallons||85 Gallons||85 Gallons||75 Gallons||80 Gallons|
|Warranty||10 year limited warranty on frame and shell. 1 year limited warranty on parts.||Lifetime warranty on door, door seal, frame, and tub shell||Lifetime warranty on door, door seal, frame, and tub shell||Limited lifetime warranty on frame, door, door seal and shell. 5 Year parts warranty||Lifetime warranty on the door seal. 10 year warranty on tub shell and a 5 year warranty on all other parts|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
What is a Walk-in Bathtub?
A walk-in bathtub is a tub that has a watertight door, and which also has a small threshold that the bather has to step over. This allows them to bathe more easily, and helping to reduce the risk of slips and falls. They are suited for those who enjoy a relaxing soak in the bathtub, but due to disabilities or impairments, are unable to, or struggle to transfer into and out of a traditional tub.
With a walk-in bathtub, there is no need to swing your legs over the rim when entering or exiting the tub, unlike with a traditional tub. Instead, you open the door and step over the low step to enter the bathtub. You then close the door behind you, and sit down and wait for it to fill up. After bathing, you wait for the water to drain away, and you then open the door and step out of it.
A walk-in bath is suitable for a range of users including:
- Those with impaired mobility – Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or old age can impact someone’s mobility making them less agile. Restricted lower mobility can mean the user may struggle to lift their legs over the side of a traditional Reduced upper mobility can cause the bather problems when attempting to stand after washing.
- Anyone suffering from balance issues – Cognitive impairments such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis can affect someone’s fine motor skills, and this may impair their balance. For those who are unsteady on their feet, transferring into and out of a regular tub can prove particularly dangerous.
- Wheelchair users – Transferring from a wheelchair into a bathtub can be problematic. Often such users may have to rely on a transfer bench, bath lift, or bath hoist as well as the assistance of a caregiver to help them wash.
- Obese users – Heavier users may have to rely on a shower instead of a bathtub if they are unable to, or find it challenging transferring to and from a tub. A walk-in tub can allow plus-sized individuals to still be able to enjoy a soothing soak.
What are the Benefits of a Walk-in Bathtub?
Types of Walk-In Bathtubs
There are a wide variety of walk-in baths, the most common styles include:
Soaker Walk-In Tub
A basic level walk-in tub is called a soaker. A soaker does not have any spa-like features such as water or air jets. They are suitable for those looking for an economical bathtub that you can comfortably sit in while you bathe. The cost of a typical soaker can vary anywhere from $1,800 up to $3,000 depending on the make, dimensions, and features.
A soaker can come in a range of sizes. Common sizes include 52 – 60 inches in length, and 28 – 32 inches in width. Most soakers come with an extendable handheld shower, and they are fitted with several safety features, including grab bars and textured anti-slip floor to help keep the users safe.
Soakers are deeper than a traditional bathtub, and they are designed to provide the bather with a full-body soak, usually up to the shoulder area. Soakers can range in depth from 30 inches up to 46 inches. Extra-deep bathtubs are ideally suited for individuals taller than 6 feet.
The height of the seat is typically 17 inches from the tub floor. This assists the bather when sitting or standing, therefore eliminating the need for any bending or excessive straining on the user’s joints.
Wheelchair Accessible Walk-In Tub
Most standard walk-in bathtubs have inward swinging doors. While these types of doors are ideal for compact bathrooms as they take up less room, they can prove problematic for users in wheelchairs, as they make transfers into and out of the bathtub more challenging.
Wheelchair accessible walk-in tubs have larger outward swinging doors that are usually L-shaped, and they also have a lower threshold. This type of door assists with lateral transfers, as the user can slide more easily to and from their wheelchair into the bathtub.
Bariatric Walk-In Tub
Standard walk-in bathtubs have weight capacities of up to 300 lbs. For heavier individuals, heavy-duty bariatric walk-in tubs are available. They have weight capacities of up to 600 lbs and they also generally have a wider door to assist with transfers.
Bariatric walk-in bathtubs also have wider seats typically 24 – 30 inches to allow for a more comfortable seated position for larger framed individuals.
Hydrotherapy & Therapeutic Choices for Walk-In Bathtubs
If you suffer from stiff or aching joints and muscles, you may want to consider a walk-in bathtub that offers therapeutic properties. This essentially upgrades the bathtub into a functional spa that not only provides you with a relaxing soak, but it can also help to relieve aches and pains using hydrotherapy.
Walk-in tubs that use hydrotherapy are particularly suited to those with mobility impairments as well as for seniors suffering from age-related diseases such as arthritis. Different types of therapeutic properties that are available for walk-in bathtubs include:
A hydrotherapy or whirlpool walk-in bathtub uses a number of directional jets located around the tub to recirculate water.
The jets provide the user with an invigorating deep tissue massage that can help to relieve aches and pains in joints and muscles. It can also assist in improving circulation. As the jets are often directional, they can be directed to target problematic areas of the body, to assist with pain relief and relieve tension.
With an aerotherapy bathtub, air is pumped through the jets. This causes millions of tiny pulsating bubbles to be released into the tub, providing the bather with a relaxing and soothing experience. It provides a gentler and effervescent type massage and it is generally quieter than a whirlpool tub.
For users with particularly delicate skin who may bruise easily, an aerotherapy bathtub is usually a better choice, as water jets may prove too powerful.
Chromotherapy is a type of color light therapy. It involves using different colored lighting to enhance the mood and wellbeing of the bather. Built-in LED lights in the bathtub shine different colors. These are designed to provide the user with a relaxing and soothing experience, while they unwind in the tub.
Some bathtubs also feature a built-in aromatherapy system that allows the bather to release their favorite aroma while they unwind in the tub. To use the aromatherapy system, you place some essential oil drops or aromatherapy beads into the diffuser located on the tub, and it will slowly start to release the fragrance.
If you’re undecided about whether you would prefer a tub that uses water or air jets, a combination walk-in bathtub can be a good option to go for. It uses a mixture of both air and water jets, allowing you to alternate between an invigorating hydrotherapy massage or a more relaxing aerotherapy massage, depending on your particular mood. A combination tub may also be fitted with additional features, including chromotherapy and/or aromatherapy.
How to Choose the Right Walk-In Bathtub?
Choosing a walk-in bathtub can often feel like a mine-field. Do you opt for a simple soaker, or do you choose one that offers hydrotherapy properties? Will it fit in the bathroom, and will it be able to provide a full-body soak? Will it be safe, and should I choose one with swing in or swing out door? These are some of the many questions that prospective buyers commonly have when choosing a walk-in bathtub.
To help simplify the buying process, we have come up with the following important factors you should consider when deciding what walk-in bathtub is best for your particular needs:
It is vital that you choose a walk-in tub that is safe, to prevent the risk of accidents in the bathroom. We would recommend that you choose one that has the following safety features:
- Anti-slip textured floor – Slipping on a slippery bathroom floor is an all too common problem, especially for anyone with poor mobility, or those suffering from balance issues. Check that the bathtub has slip-resistant flooring to reduce the risk of accidents.
- Built-in grab bars – Grab bars are particularly important, as they provide additional support when transferring into and out of the bathtub. Check that the tub is fitted with appropriate grab bars in strategic locations. It is recommended that there is a grab bar at the entrance of the bathtub, also one next to the seat that can assist the user when sitting and standing.
- Anti-scald valve – With a walk-in bathtub, you sit inside it while you wait for it to fill up. This can mean if you misjudge the water temperature and it becomes too hot, you either have to adjust the temperature and wait for it to cool down, or alternatively, you have to wait for the water to drain away before stepping out again. This could take many minutes and result in scalds and burns. This can be a particularly serious issue for those with decreased sensation, such as patients with neurological disorders, or those suffering with paralysis who are unable to judge whether the water is too hot or not. To reduce the risk of scalds and burns, it is recommended that you choose a walk-in bathtub that has an anti-scald thermostatic control valve. This helps to regulate the hot water and prevents it from reaching unsafe temperatures.
- Low step height – Step-in thresholds on walk-in bathtubs can range from as low as 3 inches up to as high as 8 inches. For those with limited range of motion, a bathtub with a lower threshold will make getting into and out of the tub easier and safer.
- ADA compliant seat – The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) recommends that the seating on a bathtub should be 17 inches in height. This helps to ensure it is accessible for individuals with impaired mobility and assists in reducing the amount of strain when sitting and standing. Always check that the bathtub is ADA compliant to ensure it has been designed to be as accessible as possible.
- Simple to operate faucets – Check that the faucet is easy to operate. This is particularly important for individuals with limited dexterity, or those with a weak grip. A single-lever faucet, will be easier to use than faucets that have separate controls that you need to twist and turn for cold and hot water.
Hydrotherapy or a Soaker?
Choosing a walk-in bathtub with hydrotherapy properties can be a great way to alleviate those aches and pains. Whether you suffer from stiffness in your joints, arthritis, rheumatism, poor blood circulation, or other age-related medical illnesses, hydrotherapy jets can help to bring relief from these conditions, and allow you to relax and unwind.
There are a range of hydrotherapy options for all needs. These include hydrotherapy (water jets), which provides an invigorating deep-tissue massage, to aero therapy (air jets), which offers a more calming and effervescent type massage.
If you enjoy essential oils, you can also choose a tub that uses aromatherapy and which releases the fragrance into the water, to provide a calming effect. If you prefer, you can choose a tub that uses chromatherapy that allows you to bathe in an array of different colors to enhance your wellbeing and mood.
If on the other hand, you’re simply looking for a walk-in bathtub that you can easily take a bath in without any extra features, a more economical soaker may be better suited for your needs.
Walk-in bathtubs can come in a variety of different sizes to suit different sized bathrooms. Typical walk-in tubs are 52 to 60 inches in length, and 28 to 32 inches in width, although more compact and larger ones are available.
Always ensure the bathtub dimensions are suitable for your bathroom otherwise your bathroom may require extensive remodeling, which not only may prove costly, but also disruptive. Don’t forget to measure any doorways and hallways as well, to ensure they are wide enough to allow the tub through into the bathroom.
Fill & Drain Time
The time it takes to fill the walk-in bathtub and how quickly it takes to drain is an important factor to consider, especially as the bather will need to be sitting in the tub while this happens. Filling or draining a bathtub can take up to 15 minutes, depending on the bathtub.
If you want to cut down the time it takes to fill and drain the bathtub, opt for a fast filling and draining one. These feature fast filling faucets as well as a quick drainage system that uses either a pump or dual drain system to remove water at a faster rate. This cuts drainage and filling times to just a couple of minutes.
Inward or Outward Opening Door?
Most walk-in bathtubs feature an inward opening door. This type of door not only saves space, making it ideal for smaller-sized bathrooms, but it also reduces the risk of leaks from the tub, as the water pressure acting against the door ensures it remains shut and watertight.
The drawback of an inward opening door is it provides the bather with less room when entering and exiting the tub, which makes it unsuitable for wheelchair users and individuals with mobility impairments.
An outward opening door is better suited for users who need extra space when transferring into and out of the tub. An L-shaped outward opening door is particularly suited to wheelchair users. This type of door is larger which assists with lateral transfers, allowing the user to slide more easily from their wheelchair into and out of the tub.
As an outward opening door will encroach into the bathroom, you must ensure there is sufficient room to accommodate it.
Heated Seat and Backrest
Some walk-in bathtubs feature a heated seat and backrest that allows you to warm the seat before even stepping into it, and helping to keep it warm throughout your bath. This means you never have to be cold while waiting for the bathtub to fill up, and also while the tub drains away afterward.
Purchasing a walk-in bathtub is a sizeable investment so it is imperative that you choose a walk-in bathtub that provides a lengthy manufacturer’s warranty. This protects you in case it ever develops a defect or fault.
Warranties vary depending on the make and model of the bathtub. Warranties can range anywhere from a year to a lifetime warranty. A lifetime warranty is recommended as it will provide you with peace of mind that you won’t be left out of pocket if a fault or defect occurs.
Always check what the lifetime warranty covers. This will often vary depending on the components such as the frame, door mechanism, door seal, motor, heaters, faucets, jets, etc, and what costs are covered (parts, labor). At the bare minimum, make sure the door seal has a lifetime guarantee as you don’t want to be finding out that you’re unable to use your bathtub because it has developed a leak.
How Much Does a Walk-In Bathtub Cost?
The cost of a walk-in bathtub will vary depending on the type of bathtub as well as the dimensions, and the particular features that you opt for. A simple soaker will generally cost in the region of $1800 to $3,000. While a top of the range combination walk-in bathtub with air and water jets as well as chromotherapy or/and aromatherapy can cost upwards of $6,000.
Apart from the costs of purchasing a walk-in bath, you will also need to factor in the costs of fitting and installing the walk-in bathtub by a qualified installer. The costs of installing a soaker will generally be lower, providing there is no bathroom remodeling required. It should take no more than a day to complete. For walk-in bathtubs with extra features, such as air and water jets, the costs of fitting and installing it will be higher, as the pipping may need to be upgraded or replaced. It will also need to be connected to an electricity source to power the pumps and drainage systems.
In the below table, we breakdown the typical costs of purchasing a range of different types of walk-in bathtubs, as well as their installation costs:
|Type of Walk-In Bathtub||Bathtub Costs||Installation Costs|
|Soaker Bathtub||$1,800 – $4,000||$1000 – $1500 (1 day installation)|
|Bariatric or Wheelchair Bathtub (without jets)||$4000 – $6000||$1000 – $1500 (1 day installation)|
|Hydrotherapy (Whirlpool) Bathtub||$5,000 – $9,000||$1,500 – $2,500 (2-3 days)|
|Combination Bathtub||$6,000 – $10,000||$1,500 – $2,500 (2-3 days)|
Best Walk-In Bathtubs for Seniors
Ariel EZWT-3060 Walk-In Soaker Bathtub
Best Soaker Walk-In Bathtub
- Dimensions: 60'' (L) x 30'' (W) x 37'' (H)
- Seat dimensions: 22" (W) x 17" (H)
- Water capacity: 50 Gallons
- Door width: 15''
- Jet type: None
The Ariel EZWT-3060 soaker is perfect if you’re looking for a basic walk-in bathtub without all the bells and whistles that a hydrotherapy tub offers. The freestanding soaker with adjustable feet is 60 inches long and 30 inches wide, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to replace a standard tub in your bathroom as it should be the same size.
The bathtub is Ada compliant and has a grab bar to assist with transfers. The floor is textured to reduce the risk of slips and falls. The 17 inch high and 22 inch wide built-in seat is comfortable and provides plenty of room for all shapes and sizes.
Despite its affordable price, the tub is well constructed and is made from durable acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass. For added protection, it has a high gloss triple gel coat to reduce the risk of scratches. The inward opening door is reinforced, and the large handle is simple to operate even by users with limited dexterity, so you won’t need to struggle when opening or closing the door.
The soaking depth of the tub is 32 inches, providing the bather with a deep immersion. It comes with a handheld shower as well as roman style faucets. The bathtub does not come with pre-drilled holes for the faucets, so you will need to drill some before installing them.
Energy Tubs Compact Walk-In Bathtub
Best Compact Walk-In Bathtub
- Dimensions: 37.5" (L) x 31" (W) x 38" (H)
- Seat dimensions: 22" (W) x 17" (H)
- Water capacity: 85 Gallons
- Door width: 24"
- Jet type: None
Measuring just 37.5 inches long and 31 inches wide, the compact walk-in bathtub from Energy Tubs is suitable for smaller bathrooms. Despite its compact size, it has a water capacity of up to 85 gallons allowing the bather to enjoy a deep and relaxing soak.
Entering and exiting the tub is a breeze with its large 24-inch front opening door and its low 6-inch threshold. To maximize safety, there’s a grab bar located at the entrance of the tub to provide the user with extra stability, and the anti-slip flooring helps to reduce the risk of accidents.
The ADA compliant designed seat is 17 inches high, allowing the bather to easily sit and stand, without having to struggle. The 22-inch wide contoured seat and neck rest provides the user with a comfortable bathing experience.
The bathtub is constructed from a fiberglass shell that has a triple gloss gel coat, making it extremely easy to clean. The Kingston single-piece faucet is easy to operate, and it also comes with a handheld shower. The tub features a Hurry Drain drainage system, which means the entire tub will drain in just 110 seconds, without the need for any pump or motor. So you won’t need to be sitting in the tub for long, waiting for it to empty after your soak.
There’s a lifetime warranty on the door seal, door, frame, and shell, providing you with peace of mind if anything does go wrong with your walk in bathtub.
Energy Tubs Wheelchair Accessible Walk-In Bathtub
Best Wheelchair Accessible Walk-in Bathtub
- Dimensions: 52" (L) x 32" (W) x 40" (H)
- Seat dimensions: 23" (W) x 17" (H)
- Water capacity: 85 Gallons
- Door width: 34.5"
- Jet type: Water & air
- Chromotherapy: Yes
The walk-in bathtub from Energy Tubs features a wide 34.5 inch L-shaped door making it ideal for wheelchair users and for anyone with limited mobility. The outward opening door and ADA compliant seat and grab bars makes lateral transfers easier, thus helping to reduce the effort it takes to enter and exit the bathtub.
The tub is 52 inches long and 32 inches wide making it suitable for smaller sized bathrooms. It is constructed from a durable fiberglass shell and it is coated with triple gel high gloss finish to assist with easier cleaning. It is suitable for individuals weighing under 250 lbs.
The tub is packed with a range of luxurious extras including a whirlpool and air massage system, as well as chromatherapy allowing you to use light therapy to provide a more relaxing bathing experience. The tub has 10 water jets that are designed to massage key pressure points and relieve any aches and pains. The air jets can be used to provide an effervescent type massage, which is not only extremely relaxing but which can also prove beneficial for improving circulation.
A problem with hydrotherapy tubs is they can be susceptible to bacteria and grime build-up. In order to remedy this, the tub is fitted with an ozone sanitizer. This helps to clean and sterilize difficult to reach areas including the jets and pipping. This prevents the build-up of mold and mildew, ensuring it is clean each time you bathe.
The tub includes a handheld shower as well as a 5 piece Roman-style faucets that are designed to fast filling, so you don’t have to wait too long for the tub to fill up. The Hurry Drain system ensures the tub can be drained in under 2 minutes.
Ellas Bubbles HH3057-HB Hydrotherapy with Heated Seat Walk-In Bathtub
Best Hydrotherapy Walk-In Bathtub
- Dimensions: 55" (L) x 30" (W) x 38"
- Seat dimensions: 19. 75" (W) x 15" (H)
- Water capacity: 75 Gallons
- Door width: 16.25"
- Jet type: Water jets
- Heated seat: Yes
The Ellas Bubbles HH3057-HB walk-in bathtub is perfect if you’re looking for a well-built and reliable hydrotherapy tub that is not too expensive.
The bathtub provides an invigorating hydrotherapy massage via its 12 water jets, allowing you to relieve those aches and pains while you enjoy a soak in the bathtub. There are 8 fixed jets located on the seat and this helps to provide relief to the hips, thighs, and back. The 4 further jets are adjustable, and are located at the bottom of the tub, these provide a relaxing foot and calve massage. The intensity of the whirlpool massage system can be adjusted to suit the user’s preferences using the large and easy to use push buttons.
The tub measures 55 inches in length and it is 30 inches wide making it suitable for taller individuals providing the bather with increased leg room. The tub shell is constructed from acrylic and it is reinforced with Gelcoat fiberglass for extra durability, making it scratch-resistant and easy to clean. A great feature about this tub is the stainless steel inward opening door is removable, allowing you to conveniently clean it when needed.
The 19.75 inch wide molded seat with removable rubber backrest and headrest provides increased comfort. To ensure the user is well supported and safe, two stainless steel grab bars have been fitted. One located near the entrance, and another is located next to the seat, to assist with sitting and standing. The textured slip-resistant floor provides increased traction on wet floors and helps to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
Both the seat and backrest are heated, which assists in keeping the user warm throughout the bathing experience. The tub is also fitted with an in-line water heater that keeps the water temperature at a constant level. To keep the tub free of mildew and bacteria, it uses ozone sterilization to help keep the jets and pipping clean.
The tub is fitted with 5-piece Huntington brass faucets, which includes a retractable pull-out shower, a spout, hot and cold levers, and a diverter. The faucets are designed to be fast filling and can supply up to 18 gallons per minute, although this will vary depending on your particular water pressure and plumbing used in your home. The bathtub uses a dual 2″ gravity-driven drainage system which provides fast drainage (less than 2 minutes) without the need for any additional motor or pump.
American Standard 3252OD.709.CLW-PC Combination Walk-In Bathtub
Best Combination Walk-In Bathtub
- Dimensions: 52" (L) x 32" (W) x 40" (H)
- Seat dimensions: 24" (W) x 16" (H)
- Water capacity: 80 Gallons
- Door width: 34"
- Jet type: Water & air jets
The American Standard 3252OD.709.CLW-PC combination walk-in bathtub is a good choice if you’re looking for one that will allow you to alternate between a hydrotherapy and aerotherapy massage, depending on your mood and particular needs.
The combination bathtub from American Standard has 6 water jets with variable flow and 21 air jets. If you’re looking for a deep tissue massage to relieve some aches and pains in your back or leg muscles, you can switch on the water jets. If on the other hand, you’re looking to relax, you can switch on the air jets instead, which will release thousands of tiny bubbles into the tub, and which will provide a therapeutic all-body massage to help you unwind.
The walk-in bathtub measures 52 inches long and 32 inches wide. If you are looking to replace a standard-sized bathtub, you can use the included extender kit to fill a 60-inch space.
The 34-inch extra-wide outward opening door with a low threshold is particularly suited for individuals with poor mobility, and for wheelchair users. It reduces the need for any unnecessary twisting or turning when entering and exiting the tub and it makes lateral transfers easier and safer.
The shell is constructed from fiberglass with a high-gloss Gelcoat finish. It comes in a choice of two different colors, including white and linen. The wide 24-inch seat is contoured to provide the bather with comfort. It also has the usual safety features as you would come to expect from a top-quality American Standard bathtub, including a grab bar, and textured anti-slip flooring. The seal on the door is covered with a lifetime warranty.
To help maintain the temperature of the bath water and allow the bather to enjoy a long soak, the tub is fitted with an in-line heater. To ensure the efficient running of the tub, there is an automatic purge cycle which helps to keep the jets and tubing clean and free of any mold or bacteria.
The quick filling faucets can fill the tub at a rate of 16 gallons per minute at 40 psi, which importantly cuts down the time you need to wait for the tub to fill. The bathtub is also quick-draining. It can pump water out from the tub in under 2 minutes, without the need for any extra plumbing.