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Ultimate Buying Guide to Walk-in Tubs

By Jessica Thomas August 13, 2021 Aging

So you’re looking to buy a walk-in tub. If so, smart choice! A walk-in tub is meant to elevate the bathing experience and protect you from any falls or injuries that can happen while you’re enjoying your bath time. Walk-in tubs are a development that has changed the way people live, allowing them to keep their independence whenever bath-time comes around.  

When it comes to walk-in tubs, there are so many features, designs, and everything in between to take note of while browsing. The search for that one perfect walk-in tub can be overwhelming, and at one point, it may feel like you’re ready to throw in the hat and just buy the first walk-in tub that seems to get the job done. This article is your sign to stop, take a breath, step back, and really think about what you want. Buying a walk-in tub is a pretty long-lasting investment, so you want to make sure you’re getting the right tub to fit all your needs and wants. 

Benefits of a Walk-In Tub

First thing’s first, who exactly needs a walk-in tub? The common misconception is that a walk-in tub is mainly for older adults who risk falling in their bathroom tub, but the truth is a lot of people can benefit from having a walk-in tub. Others who might benefit from a walk-in tub include people who have trouble walking, standing up for long periods of time, or even those with no mobility issues may find enjoyment in a walk-in tub. Here are some of the benefits of a walk-in tub:

  • Accessibility 
  • Safety 
  • Privacy 
  • Independency 

These are just the basic building blocks of every walk-in tub. So if you are looking at a tub and it is missing one of these very basic factors, then the tub probably won’t be helping as much as it should. 

#1 Door Direction

Walk-in bathtubs with doors give you something else to think about. The direction of the doors, how they swing open, and even the expansion of said doors. You have to determine the right door that fits your tub, and whether it will swing inward or upward, left or right, and how wide it can open. Here are a few tips for figuring out the door situation on a walk-in bathtub:

  • Inward swinging doors are perfect for smaller bathrooms 
  • Outward swinging doors are great for more accessibility and can accommodate people sizing-wise
  • Left-handed or right-handed doors matter in terms of what side your drain is on. You can learn more about this when talking about the installation process with the company of your choosing.

#2 Size of Walk-In Tub

The size of the walk-in tub you choose will greatly depend on the dimensions of your tub, the size of the bathroom, and how wide you wish the tub to be for accessibility purposes. Some tubs can be customized, and others can simply fit the dimensions you are looking for. However, as a precaution, you should measure the tub’s dimensions to get accurate sizing details. 

#3 Walk-In Tub Features

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Walk-in tubs come with so many features. It’s honestly easy for you to get lost in the sea of them. Do you want basic safety features, or are you looking for something a little more on the luxurious and pampering side? Here are some of the more popular features to look out for in terms of getting a great quality walk-in tub: 

Quick Drain: 

The time in which the water drains from the tub can be something to consider while looking for a walk-in tub. The quick drain feature is a solution. This is a feature many people look for in their walk-in tubs because no one wants to sit there in cold water, and you want the water to drain out quickly, so you don’t slip and fall. Without quick drain, it could take a standard walk-in tub anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for the water to completely drain, making you susceptible to a slip and fall or at least an uncomfortable end to a shower. Super fast draining tubs can drain water from 1 to 2 minutes, and fast-draining tubs anywhere between 2 to 6 minutes. 

Sturdy Handles:

You want sturdy handles in your walk-in tub so you’re not gripping something flimsy that can still ultimately leave you in danger of a fall. Straight safety bar handles are a great basic design to hold on to.  Then there are two-in-one handles that not only offer support, but also act as a space to put some of your shower products in. If you want to add a little more design flair to your walk-in tub, you could also consider the curved handles. 

Overall, a good handle should be textured for a better grip, have slip and corrosion resistance, and of course, a weight load of at least 300 to 500 pounds. Handles should be especially important when looking for a walk-in tub, as they can make the difference between almost slipping, and a complete and painful fall.

Aluminum Door: 

When it comes to the door of a walk-in tub, the material is very important. An aluminum door and doorframe can prevent your walk-in tub from leaking, as a door made of flimsier material may lead to unexpected leaks. Not to mention that aluminum is sturdier than other materials. Though you may be tempted to get a glass door because it’s ‘prettier’, it’s important to note that glass doors can shatter, have unstable grab handles, and can accumulate dirt, mold, and scum like you wouldn’t even believe. This is why an aluminum door outweighs glass doors, and why it would be excellent for a walk-in tub. 

Acrylic Tubs: 

When looking for that special walk-in tub, material can be key to show the tub’s strength, reliability, and even if it will be an easy cleaning job. Fiber-glass tubs may be popular for their design or look, but acrylic tubs may prove to be the most efficient material for walk-in tubs. Acrylic tubs are more durable in the long run and easier to clean. The extra acrylic layer can add more durability to the surface of the tub, so you can see that the investment into this walk-in tub is long lasting and worth it. Acrylic seating tubs offer more strength as well over tubs of, say, fiber-glass. 

ADA Approved Safety Features:

You’ve heard the term ADA plenty of times, but what exactly does this acronym stand for? The Americans with Disabilities Act, most popularly known as the ADA, protects the rights of all individuals with disabilities and seeks to make a variety of establishments and items accessible to people who are disabled. When it comes to walk-in tubs, ADA approved features may make the tub safer and more accessible if you have a disability. Some of the ADA features included in many walk-in tubs include the features of anti-scald technology, durable hand-rails, textured anti-slip floors, and an appropriate seat height.

#4 Luxurious Extras: 

A walk-in tub doesn’t just have to be a basic tub that gets the job done. Luckily, there are a variety of walk-in tubs that not only have reliable safety features, but many also offer luxurious spa-like features so you can get an extra dose of pampering during your next bath. If you’re in the mood for a luxury experience in your walk-in tub, then you wouldn’t say no to a couple of these extra features:

  • Heated water jets to soothe and relax muscles
  • Microbubbles to additionally clean the skin
  • Aromatherapy to surround yourself with the pampering smell of your favorite essential oils
  • Chromatherapy, which is colored light therapy for mood enhancement

5 Great Choices for Walk-In Tubs

In the midst of looking for that one amazing walk-in tub, you may become overwhelmed with the many options and brands made available to you. Where to even begin when it comes to finding the right tub? Don’t worry! Here are five amazing choices for walk-in tubs if you haven’t found the right walk-in tub and you’re running out of patience: 

#1 Kohler Walk-in Tub

The Khohler walk-in tub is the perfect walk-in tub if you want additional luxurious features. This walk-in tub is considered the most luxurious walk-in tub on the market. If you want a tub that features hydrotherapy whirlpool jets, adjustable heated surfaces, and an extra-wide door for easy accessibility then this is the tub for you. It’s important to note that because this walk-in tub is so luxurious, it may come with a bigger price tag than other standard walk-in tubs. This tub is also not as wheelchair-accessible as other walk-in tubs, so if this is an issue you may want to look into another type of tub. 

#2 Safestep Walk-in Tub 

The best walk-in tub if you want a shower-tub combo with additional features is the Safestep walk-in tub. People enjoy this walk-in tub because of its excellent warranty. The tub offers spa-like features such as aromatherapy and heated seat, while also offering safety features like grab bars, medical-grade safety seat, and a low threshold for easy step-in. This tub has a door that only swings inward, so it may be difficult to enter the tub for some people. 

#3 BOCA Walk-in Tub

The BOCA walk-in tub is the ideal walk-in tub if you want extensive size choices. They have various sizes, such as petite narrow, petite short, standard, wide, deep soaker, two-seater, and wide/deep. This walk-in tubs have features like air and steam therapy to help with circulation, as well as whirlpool massage for aching muscles. BOCA does not offer in-home consultation, so you’ll have to reach out to their customer service for prices. 

#4 Elevate Walk-in Tub 

the best walk-in tub for caregivers. This tub is all one level, making it easy for caregivers to lend a hand if needed. This tub is also perfect if you use a wheelchair, as it doesn’t have a step-in. This walk-in tub features a hand held sprayer to effectively clean the whole body. There’s even a button for emergencies that can drain the water in 10 seconds. There are other features you can install in this walk-in tub as well, such as a color-light therapy system.

#5 AmeriGlide walk-in tub 

The AmeriGlide walk-in tub is the walk-in tub that gets the job done great. The best part about AmeriGlide is that you can convert your standard tub for about $1,000 to have a low-threshold for walk-in access, and include a leak-proof door. Prices escalate if you want to fully install a walk-in tub, but you can have a variety of choices with different options, whether you want seats, wide swing-out doors, different designs, hydrotherapy jets, and more. The AmeriGlide walk-in tubs are convenient and come with variety, so you can be confident in enjoying your next bath!

Find the Perfect Tub For You 

Looking for that perfect walk-in tub can seem like a hassle that can get pretty overwhelming after a search with no results. You want luxury, or you want more size options, or maybe you want a walk-in tub that just has the best safety features, or maybe you’ve really been looking for a walk-in tub that has that aromatherapy feature your friends have been talking about. There’s really an endless variety of features around walk-in tubs that can make the search for that perfect one seem endless. 

Maybe you don’t know much about walk-in tubs, and you’ve been looking to learn more about the features it should have and maybe those features that fall more into the optional luxurious range. Either way, there is that one perfect walk-in tub for everyone, and you will find the one that fits your needs and your bathroom! The guide above should help you pick and choose the features you want, the features you deserve, and the experience that you’ve been looking for. There is no need to settle for basic when it comes to buying a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs are meant to be a great investment that keeps you healthy and happy. 

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The Author

Jessica Thomas is a Public Health Professional, Health & Wellness Writer, and Entrepreneur. She has a B.S. in Health Administration with a focus on Aging Studies and an M.D. in Public Health. Before starting her business, Jessica worked for over 3 years as a Program Coordinator and Performance Improvement Leader in a hospital setting. Her roles focused on various senior initiatives such as fall reduction, preventing delirium, and addressing barriers in the healthcare system. Today, Jessica enjoys learning and educating others on aging in place, how tech solutions can help seniors, and health and wellness topics.

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