Cat's ears visible over the corner of a walk-in tub

The Best Walk-in Tubs 2021

While on a surface level, using the bathtub is a simple process, for seniors or people with disabilities, climbing into a bath can become a difficult task. The steep step-in threshold alone can be difficult for seniors or people with disabilities to walk over. It is also far too easy for somebody to slip on leftover water in their tub, or to trip when leaving the bath.

These are small details that caregivers put much thought into when thinking about how to best accommodate the needs of their loved ones while caring for them at home. And it can be hard to find a solution. Especially on one’s own. For that reason, we’ve compiled a buyer’s guide for those looking for a bathtub that can help seniors. 

Instead of bathtubs, try to find the best walk-in tubs for seniors. In this article, we will outline the differences between a walk-in tub and a bathtub, the helpful features of a walk-in tub, and a few great options for walk-in tubs online. For people who need it most, a walk-in tub is a simple change that can offer a caregiver a world of relief.

What makes a walk-in tub different from a regular bathtub?

Walk-in tubs help seniors and other people with disabilities easily enter, bathe, and exit out of their tub without fear of slipping or losing balance.

These tubs include low step-in thresholds ranging anywhere from 3 to 7 inches. Additionally, they are equipped with watertight doors. Upon entering a tub, there is typically a seat, multiple handrails, and a textured floor.

How much do walk-in tubs cost?

The price can vary depending on the vendor, however, a majority of walk-in tubs are at least over $1,000. You can fetch one for as much as $9,500 or as little as $1,800. The price of one depends on many factors, including what kind of tub it is.

What are the different kinds of walk-in tubs?

There are three distinct types of walk-in tubs to consider when choosing the right one for your loved one. 

Soaker Tub

  1. This is the basic model of a walk-in tub. A majority of these tubs include non-slippery textures, grab bars, and a seat with a comfortable height.
  2. One variation of the soaker tub is the lay-down tub, in which individuals can lie down while they bathe. It also includes non-slippery surfaces and grab-bars. 

Water/Air Jet Tubs

  1. Hydrotherapy tub
    • These tubs use strong water jets to massage your feet and back, making it perfect for people with aching sores. Hydrotherapy tubs are also helpful for people with arthritis.
  2. Air therapy tub
    • In this jet, air jets guide the flow of water around an individual’s body. Air therapy tubs are appropriate for seniors with sensitive skin that cannot withstand the power of water jets, but they want the benefits from hydrotherapy.

Wheelchair Accessible Tub

  • These tubs have outward swinging doors for people with wheelchairs to easily enter and leave them.
  • The seats are typically lower than other tubs.

When choosing the best walk-in tub, which features matter most?

There are several key features that you should be on the lookout for when making your choice. 

  1. What is the tub’s low step-in threshold?
    1. The lower the step-in threshold, the easier it is to enter. consider how high your senior is able to lift his or her leg.
  1. What is the type of door?
    1. Inward
      1. Inward swinging doors open towards the walk-in tub. These doors require less bathroom space to open and will not bump into many surfaces in or outside of the bath.
    2. Outward
      1. Outward swinging doors are good for people who do not want anything in their way when entering a tub. This is perfect for people in wheelchairs who want to transfer themselves to the seat of a walk-in tub as smoothly as possible.
  1. Are there textured surfaces?
    1. Once somebody enters the tub, all surfaces they touch must be non-slippery.
  1. Is the drain system efficient?
    1. Tub doors will not open until the tub itself is drained completely. Thus, it is important to find a walk-in tub with a high drainage rating so that no one gets stuck in the tub, cold and waiting for the water to drain.
    2. Along with draining, look out for tubs with quick filling systems. Tubs that do not fill up with water quickly will result in an individual feeling cold for some time before the water reaches them. 
  1. How long does the warranty last?
    1. There is no piece of technology that lasts forever. Thus, look for tubs that have good warranties. Some tubs have lifetime warranties on certain parts, while others may have a warranty that lasts for a decade. Since walk-in tubs are a heavy investment, choose a tub with good warranty plans in case any of the features begin to show wear and tear.

Paying for Walk-in tubs with medicare

Before discussing examples of walk-in tubs, it is important to address using medicare for them. Unfortunately, they are not considered to be durable medical equipment according to original medicare. Medicare does, however, offer reimbursements for other medical equipment, such as hospital-style beds, Hoyer lifts, and stairlifts.

While there are rare examples of medicare providing funding for walk-in tubs, you may need to call your loved one’s medical provider for more information. 

The Best Walk-in Tubs

Kohler’s Walk-in Tubs

Kohler has used their 140 years of engineering expertise to create the fully-featured Kohler Walk-In Bath. In marketing their walk-in bath, Kohler emphasizes the company’s mission in ensuring that they keep every one of their customers’ safety in mind when creating the best technological advancements for their homes. 

How does Kohler’s Walk-in Tub provide stability for each user?

The biggest feature that makes Kohler’s Walk-In Bath stand apart from the competition is their 3-inch step-in. This is the shortest step-in for a walk-in tub as other tubs may have up to 7-inch step-ins.

Furthermore, there are handrails on the walk-in tub’s door and sides, helping users enter the bath with ease.

Next, the default Kohler Walk-In Bath is an inward door installed on the right side, but for those who are left-handed, the customer can opt to change the door’s positioning. The door has a handrail on the top, helping those maintain balance as they enter the tub. 

What are the features of Kohler’s Walk-in Bath?

The Kohler Walk-In Bath has ten engineered water pool jets. These jets will massage your back, legs, and feet. Along with these jets, the seat’s Bask heated backrest makes the user more comfortable during their bath. 

If you prefer using air jets, then the Kohler Walk-in Bath’s bubble massage air jets directs the flow of water around the user’s body. Thousands of tiny, invigorating bubbles provide the user with a therapeutic experience. 

Next, not only does Kohler guarantee that their drain will empty the bath of water quickly, but the process is also as simple as turning the handle beneath the hand shower. 

More importantly, while the water drains, the user can use the heated seat, preventing them from feeling cold whether they are draining or filling the tub with water. 

What makes Kohler stand out from their competition?

As part of the cost for the walk-in tub, Kohler will send out a team to the user’s location and perform all the necessary installation work, including removing the user’s old tub for free. They will also show their customers how to operate the device and answer questions.

Additionally, The Kohler Walk-In Bath has a lifetime limited warranty. The user will have this warranty for as long as they own the house. This warranty only covers specific parts of the tub, but you can always ask Kohler’s team questions about the warranty.

Is this the best walk-in tub?

The Kohler Walk-In Bath’s hydrotherapy, air therapy,  the lowest step-in threshold, and even included free installation makes it a product that is attractive and even better than the competition. But there are some drawbacks to consider. 

First, Kohler does not show a price for the walk-in tub. Kohler creates each tubs per the customer’s specific requirements, so the price will change. However, the lack of a base price makes it difficult for caregivers to budget when choosing a walk-in tub.

While the tub is exceptionally well-made, the price may become a hindrance in choosing this tub as your perfect walk-in tub. But if you are looking for cheaper options, then there are other options to consider.

Gelcoat Value Series 30×60 Inch Soaking Walk-In Bathtub – Left Hand Door and Drain

Finding the best walk-in tub can be difficult as there are many features to consider, including the price above all. But if you are interested in one with a clear price and includes a few extra features, then look no further than the Gelcoat Value Series 30×60 inch soaking walk-in bathtub. 

How much does Gelcoat’s Walk-in bathtub cost?

According to American Standard, Gelcoat’s walk-in tub is $4,901.95. While this product is expensive, Gelcoat includes several features that make their product stand out.

Is the step-in threshold low? And what’s the quality of the door?

The exact measurements of the step-in threshold are not shown on Gelcoat’s product page, but the company promises that the threshold is small. Furthermore, the door is full-sized and watertight. Thus, Gelcoat’s walk-in tub will prevent as much water from leaking as possible. 

One more positive feature about the door is its alluring door warranty. According to Gelcoat, they provide a lifetime warranty for their walk-in tub door. Unlike Kohler’s walk-in tub which guarantees a lifetime warranty depending on if the user still owns the home the tub was installed in, Gelcoat will replace the door at no additional cost anytime and anywhere. 

Additionally, the drain and door can be positioned either on the right or left side depending on the user’s preference. The tub also includes a textured floor that is easy to walk on, even after the water is drained and the surface is slightly wet. 

What are the walk-in tub’s best features?

First, Gelcoat boasts of their Quick Drain system, which requires no additional plumbing. Once activated, the drain will quickly pump water out of the tub. This helps users in leaving their tub without needing to stay inside for a long time.

There are also three jet systems associated with Gelcoat’s tub. Users can use the tub’s whirlpool massage feature in which 8 water jets massage their body. If your loved ones do not like using water jets, then they can opt for Gelcoat’s air spa massage. This system is powered by a single heated blower releasing thousands of air bubbles coming from 21 air jets. 

The user can also enjoy the benefits of water and air jets at the same time with Gelcoat’s Combination system.

Is Gelocoat’s tub worth purchasing?

Despite the steep price, Gelcoat’s walk-in tub boasts many features, including a combination feature. Furthermore, there is a ten-year warranty on the tub shell and a five-year warranty on all other components excluding the door. 

The warranty may not equal Kohler’s limited lifetime warranty policy, but Gelcoat is much more transparent with their price, and the tub’s hydrotherapy and air therapy are on par with Kohler’s jet systems.

Cheap Walk-in Tubs

Empava EMPV-WIT373 52.5″ Acrylic Freestanding Walk-in Bathtub

Walk-in tubs are expensive pieces of technology since they come with a plethora of features and are built to last for quite some time. But there are cheaper options, such as Empava’s Acrylic Freestanding Walk-in Bathtub.

What is the price?

The best part of Empava’s walk-in tub is the price, with Amazon pricing it at $1,799.99 before sales tax. If you have Amazon Prime, then you can choose the free 2-day shipping option, saving you more money. 

There is also a monthly payment option for Empava’s walk-in tub, but this comes with a catch. You need to apply for Amazon’s credit card and depending on your financial situation, this may or may not be an option available for you. 

How is the installation?

Unlike Kohler, the Empava does not include a free installation for the walk-in tub. However, Empava emphasizes that installation is an easy process. But certain user reviews were critical of the process.

According to one Amazon user review, they struggled in installing the drain since the vendor did not have the drain’s rough dimensions. Seemingly, the users’ gripes with installing the walk-in tub did not interfere with their overall satisfaction with the product. 

What is the step-in threshold?

Empava’s walk-in tub has a four-inch step-in threshold. While the threshold is a little higher than Kohler’s low step-in threshold, Empava’s walk-in tub also includes a handrail installed in the bath’s rim and a grab bar inside the tub. 

The amount of rails shows that the walk-in tub can support the average person’s weight and can accommodate people who may have problems with stepping over a 4-inch threshold. Along with the rails and step-in threshold, the bath’s surfaces are well equipped in preventing slips.

Why does an acrylic walk-in tub matter?

Acrylic surfaces offer quick-drying, non-slippery floors and easy clean up of any leftover water. 

Despite the secure surfaces, the drain is not nearly as consistent in performing its functions. According to one user review, a customer wrote that the tub drains the water slowly. Of course, this may be because of the customer’s specific installation of the product. But as established previously, the product does not disclose every piece of information needed for someone to install the walk-in tub without trouble. 

How is the door?

Empava’s walk-in tub includes a wide, inward door that is 20% wider than other walk-in tub doors. While there is no way to change the door’s positioning, Empava stresses that their door makes it easy for any user to freely enter and exit the bath. 

Out of all the features discussed, the door is Empava’s greatest strength since they specifically highlight the door’s width. The door is another example of Empava’s focus on creating a tub that supports the user’s body. 

Is this the best walk-in tub?

Empava’s walk-in tub is an inexpensive option for those looking for an effective tub. The tub’s acrylic surface, handrails, and door have non-slippery surfaces and maintain the average person’s weight. 

The price does come at a cost; Empava’s walk-in tub does not include any air or water jets. Depending on your preference, this may not be a deal-breaker. The lack of these jets may be the cause for the tub’s remarkably low price compared. 

If you are on a budget, then this walk-in tub may be the best choice for you. But if you are looking for something that has more features despite its cost, then there is one other walk-in tub that you should look into.

Walk-in tubs and shower combo

Sanctuary Medium Shower Enclosure Walk-In Tub

Many different types of walk-in tubs serve specific purposes. For the Sanctuary medium shower enclosure walk-in tub, not only does it fit the needs of people in wheelchairs, but the tub also includes a shower. This tub is priced at $4,279, but its accommodation for people with wheelchairs offsets the cost. 

Why is this tub considered wheelchair accessible?

The Sanctuary walk-in tub includes an outward swinging door that works for people in wheelchairs. This type of door offers enough space to transfer from the wheelchair to the tub. An inward door would obstruct too much space inside, thus preventing a person in a wheelchair from successfully entering the walk-in tub.

One downside is that the step-in threshold is 6.5 inches, which is the highest threshold out of all the walk-in tubs discussed previously. However, the seat’s height is 15 inches, which is small enough for people in wheelchairs to securely position themselves without fear of falling. 

What are the features?

The tub is made out of industrial-grade acrylic which means a non-slippery floor for any user. Apart from the acrylic texture, Meditub also built the tub a stainless steel frame with adjustable feet for ease of access in installing the product. 

There are also air and water jet options, as well as the ability to use both of them at the same time.  Sanctuary also included an overflow drain, which helps in quickly draining the water and ensuring that the user leaves the tub as quickly as they entered it. 

Of course, this walk-in tub differentiates itself from the competition by including a shower as well. This type of walk-in tub comes in two different sizes, small and medium, but only the medium size has a headrest on the tub. The shower is joined by faucet controls, giving the user ultimate control in how they experience their bath or shower.

What are the walk-in tub’s dimensions?

Since this walk-in tub includes an enclosure with a shower, its dimensions will differ from other products. The medium-sized tub is 27″ W x 47″ L x 36″ T, with 40 to 50 gallons. 

On the other hand, the enclosure is 27″ W x 47″ L x 43″ T. Sanctuary also advises that since this tub has an enclosure, it requires framed walls on all sides of the enclosure. 

What is the warranty? 

All door seals have a lifetime warranty, while the tub itself has a 10-year warranty. For other components, the pump and motor have a 5-year warranty and the faucets include a 1-year warranty. Sanctuary advises that if you or a loved have any more questions about the warranty, then contact their customer service.

Is this the best walk-in tub?

Since this tub is targeting specific people, it depends on what you or a loved one are looking for. If you are caring for someone who is in a wheelchair and they want a walk-in tub, Sanctuary’s product is built specifically for them with an outward swinging door.

If you want this walk-in tub because of the included shower, then be aware of the high step-in threshold. The other products discussed previously include much shorter step-in thresholds, but if that does not pose a risk to you or your loved one, then the added shower in this walk-in tub will make the price worth it.

Conclusion

There are many walk-in tubs for many different kinds of people. As a caregiver, you should talk to your loved one or patient about what kind of walk-in tub they want. By having this conversation, they can provide useful answers that will lead you into choosing the best walk-in tub.

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