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Best Walk-In Bathtubs & Showers for Seniors

Walk-in tubs allow seniors and those with disabilities to continue bathing safely long after that option is gone with a standard tub. They are easier to access, safer to use, and can provide not only comfort but a luxury experience with some styles. If you are shopping for a walk-in tub, consider what features are most important to you.

The most critical and distinct feature of a walk-in tub is the leak-proof, walk-in door that allows you to walk in, sit down, then close the door before filling the tub. This will have a leak-proof seal. Bathtubs come in various sizes and configurations depending on the size of your bathroom and the tub features. There are several things to consider when shopping for walk-in tubs, including:

Tub Size

You’ll find walk-in bathtubs in just about every size and shape imaginable. Keep in mind that the sides will tend to be higher, but this isn’t always the case. The most common tubs are between 26 and 32 inches wide, 60 inches long, and have walls around three to 3.5 feet high. For these, reconfiguring your bathroom shouldn’t be necessary.

Tub Style

There are several kinds of walk-in tubs available. The standard is a basic soaker tub that fills with water and allows you to get a bath or soak. You can scale up to fancier models that offer options such as whirlpool jets, air jets, or a combination of the two for therapeutic relaxation. All walk-in tubs have some kind of seat, whether it is removable or molded into the tub.

Door Styles

Most walk-in tubs have doors that open inward. However, if you or your loved one used a wheelchair or are obese, you may want to look at tubs with an outward opening door. The downside to outward-opening doors is the need for more space in the room. When shopping, always check the door seals carefully and ask about the length of the warranty on the door. A strong door seal is the most important feature on a walk-in tub.

Fill & Drain Systems

One complaint users of older style walk-in tubs have is that it can be uncomfortable sitting in the tub waiting for it to fill and drain. For this reason, many manufacturers have developed faucets designed to fill the tub quickly and pumps to help the tub drain faster, so you don’t have to sit for too long.

Installation

A walk-in tub is something you don’t want to install yourself. Be sure you buy from a company that will send a professional to install your walk-in tub so that it is properly leveled and sealed. You need the plumbing and control panel to be hooked up properly, and you don’t want any mishaps along the way.

Three Great Walk-In Tub Companies

When it comes to walk-in-tubs, some of the best companies out there have been around for years. Both Kohler and American Standard have been around for years and are backed by solid reputations for quality. Safe Step focuses on walk-in tubs only, but they rank high in customer satisfaction and quality.

Kohler Walk-In Bath

$4,000-$10,0000

Kohler put a lot of time and effort into developing a full line of tubs designed for optimal comfort and safety in a variety of sizes. The one thing common to all of them is a threshold that is just three inches high, so almost anyone can step in with no problem, and it’s the industry’s lowest. The seats are roomy and comfortable, and handrails make entering and exiting easy. 

Popular extra features include whirlpool jets, heated panels, extra-wide doors, and more. When you call Kohler, they will send out a representative to explain the options and discuss your needs or use their new virtual quote system online at Kohler Virtual Quotes. One caveat – Kohler contracts out estimates and installation. Most of the time, they do a good job, but occasionally it doesn’t work out. Kohler will do their best to resolve any issues. The limited lifetime warranty on Kohler walk-in tubs is the best in the business.

Pros:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Textured, non-slip surfaces
  • Quick filling and draining
  • Extra-wide doors
  • Ergonomic control panels
  • Hydrotherapy options
  • Stylish tub surrounds to fit any décor 
  • Heated back and neck rest

Cons:

  • Not available in all states, including Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, New York City, and portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas
  • Sub-contracts installation
  • Can be pricey

Final Thought: The selection is truly impressive; the quality is top-notch, and they have unique offerings that you won’t find elsewhere, but contractor quality varies.

4.6 Stars

American Standard Walk-In Tubs

$4,800-$11,400

This company has been around for over 140 years and offers an impressive line of walk-in tubs. They use their own installers, so quality control of installation is strict and gets high marks.  Their tubs come in two shell options, a less expensive gel coat, and a premium acrylic model. Whether you can get an outwardly opening door depends on the style of the tub.

There are a variety of options available, including air spa tubs that improve circulation and chroma and aromatherapy for relaxing and unwinding. While not standard, quick-fill and fast-draining options are available. The control panel and easy-open doors have both been given the stamp of approval from the Arthritis Foundation. 

Pros:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Textured, non-slip surfaces
  • Quick filling and draining options available
  • Extra-wide doors
  • Ergonomic control panels
  • Hydrotherapy options 
  • Available in all states
  • Aromatherapy & chromatherapy options
  • Lifetime warranty on door seals

Cons:

  • No heated backrest
  • Can be pricey
  • Variable warranty (5-10 years) on gel coat tubs
  • Variable warranty (10-15) on acrylic tubs

Final Thought: American Standard’s installation is top-notch, and they have an attractive selection, although you won’t find faux wood surrounds or other embellishments.

4.8 Stars

Safe Step

Safe Step is recognized for its dedication to quality products and thoughtful safety features such as anti-scald technology that monitors water temperature and towel bars on the exterior of the door, so bathers don’t have to step out to get a towel. They offer a wide range of features, including a personal hygiene bidet (unusual in American tubs), chromotherapy, hydrotherapy, and more. Seated heats and slip-proof seats are standard.

The company offers a limited lifetime warranty, which gives you peace of mind. They also offer a walk-in tub/shower hybrid that most others don’t. Unfortunately, you can’t compare prices unless and until you set up an appointment for a sales visit at your home. Their website also has minimal information on individual models.

Pros:

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Textured, non-slip surfaces
  • Hydrotherapy options 
  • Available in all states
  • Aromatherapy & chromatherapy options
  • Heated backrest
  • Quick fill and quick drain
  • Military discounts available

Cons:

  • Prices aren’t available on the website
  • Some complaints from customers regarding hard sales tactics
  • Not as many hydro-jets available as with other brands

Final Thought: The lifetime warranty and excellent design of their products make Safe Step a contender, but be sure you know what you’re looking for before booking a sales call.

4.3 Stars

Our Top Pick

We went with the American Standard Walk-In Tubs for a few reasons. First, they are backed by years of experience and excellent customer service. If you call with a question or concern, you’re going to get a quick response and helpful response. Second, we love that they do all sales and installation in-house rather than sub-contracting. This ensures high standards and true professionalism. Some will quibble that their warranty isn’t a lifetime one on all the features, but most users say the American Standard tubs last far longer than their warranties.

Highly Rated

Kohler gets top marks from seniors who are looking for great selection and high-end finishes. They are one of the few walk-in tub distributors who have options such as marble and wood-look finishes, so your tub blends seamlessly with any décor, giving your bathroom a spa-like feel. Kohler’s walk-in tubs also have the lowest threshold available, so if you’re weak or have problems with lifting your feet due to poor muscle control, this is a good option for you.

Great Value

The pricing on Safe Step Walk-In Tubs is generally quite reasonable, especially when you take into consideration their various finance options. They also offer veterans’ and military discounts and other specials. However, to get these special deals and see their prices, you have to schedule an in-home estimate. There’s no obligation, but it would be nice to have a ballpark figure going in. Their products get top marks, so it can be worth it to talk to them and ask about any available discounts.

Summary

Bathroom accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injury in older adults. Before you have a debilitating accident in the bath or shower, invest in a walk-in tub so you can be safe and secure while relaxing in a new, spa-like tub in your own home.

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