A bathtub

What is the Cost of Installing a Walk-In Tub?

For those elderly with mobility issues, a great feature that can make life easier is a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs are installed in an alcove and allow seniors to get in and out of the tub without having to deal with the outer wall. Instead, the standard front wall of a standard tub is switched for one that has a door. Once the senior gets into the tub – either sitting on the floor or on a built-in seat – the senior or caregiver can close the door and seal the tub before filling it with water. If you are someone struggling with mobility or caring for a senior who is, then we have several articles for those that need walk-in tub guidance. This particular article will help you understand the installation process and all costs associated with it. 

Why should you install a walk-in tub? 

There are a variety of reasons why caregivers and seniors should consider upgrading to a walk-in tub option. Most elderly have a difficult time moving around and getting in or out of the tub can become a serious issue. Walk-in tubs lower the risk of injury or falls for people with disabilities and the elderly. Walk-in tubs may also be helpful for those struggling with obesity, dementia or other conditions that affect their mobility. In addition to lowering the risk of falls or other injuries, some walk-in tubs offer air baths, whirlpool jets or other therapeutic options. Caregivers and seniors can decide together on what best fits their needs. 

What about the general costs? 

There is a large range of products to choose from when deciding on which walk-in tub to buy. This and other elements can also affect the general cost of upgrading to a walk-in tub. This is why the range of walk-in tub costs is so wide, commonly starting at $3,000 and going as high as $8,500.  There are several add-ons you can also ask for, raising the cost of the entire process. 

On average, a standard 60-inch tub that has the walk-in option costs $4,000. However, this may not be the best option for the senior or the caregiver. Instead, you may need a non-standard size or specific type of a walk-in tub. Customers also need to consider whether or not they need an electrician to do work before or after, if a surround should be included, whether hooking up or placing a motor is required, and other options. The lowest cost of the entire process is about $2,500 and you can go as high as $20,000, depending on which features you ask for. 

What is the process of walk-in tub installation?

After you decide on what sort of walk-in tub to purchase, you will most likely want to research the installation costs. You may also want to understand the process of walk-in tub installation. The first thing you need to consider is your drain location, where the faucets and door of the tub should be, where the built-in seat can go and how to make everything ADA compliant. To ensure this, you need to keep the surrounding space of the drain location in mind. 

Assuming that neither the caregiver nor senior are a contractor by trade, here are some helpful questions to think about that you may not naturally come up with: 

  1. What are ADA requirements and can the installation specialist ensure you are complying with them? 
  2. Once you install the walk-in tub, are there any obstacles that may be in the senior’s way to the door? 
  3. What other features are necessary? For example, should you be discussing grab bars

When you decide on which installation specialist to work with, they will be able to go over these and other details with you. They will also do an on-site survey and you can ask them all these questions during the initial visit or consultation. 

What is the average cost of a walk-in tub installation?

In most cases, installing a walk-in tub requires a straightforward process of removing the old, existing tub and putting in a new one. In many cases, once the tub is removed, some tile has to also be taken off and replaced. This is because walk-in tubs – especially those that seniors plan to use as a shower – are usually a slightly different depth or height than the standard ones. Retiling costs between $10 to $20 per square foot of ceramic tile and an experienced professional will be able to do this pretty quickly. 

Installing a walk-in tub is quite close to installing a standard bathtub. So, the costs are also comparable. On average, professionals will charge $80 an hour and you can expect to pay around $1,000 in total. However, if your chosen walk-in tub has additional features—such as a whirlpool or an air bath—then the costs can be much higher. If you are replacing the motor or rewiring the electricity, then installation costs can go up to $2,000. 

Fortunately, most customers only need a walk-in tub that is standard and can fit into the already existing space in the bathroom. This means that you don’t need to remodel large parts of the bathroom or reconfigure anything major. Despite this, we suggest that you do consider some aspects of the installation that may raise the costs. Below are some examples. 

You should consider plumbing 

There are a couple of changes that installing a walk-in tub may lead to when it comes to your plumbing. First, seniors and caregivers may want to think about changing the pipe size. If you upgrade to a ¾-inch diameter, the tub will fill up much quicker. Additionally, you may also want to change your hot water heater. Since the walk-in tubs hold much more water than regular bathtubs a stronger heater may be a better fit. 

Upgrading the pipes can cost between $4,000 to $6,000 in total. Meanwhile, tankless heaters can cost up to $3,000. These will supply you with an endless amount of hot water. If you want to settle for 50 gallons, you can buy a standard heater instead for $600 – $800.  

You should also consider electrical

In addition to changes in tiling and plumbing, seniors and caregivers may want to think about what changes need to be made to their electrical configuration in the bathroom. A circuit of 15 amps will be necessary for the drain pump and additional jets that come with your walk-in tub. You will also need a GFCI grounding. Per hour, electricians will charge $65 – $85 and the overall upgrade can cost between $1,300 to $3,000, depending on your particular case. 

Factors that impact installation 

Unsurprisingly, installation costs can vary greatly depending on your home and bathroom configuration. Installation costs will change depending on your existing bathroom setup and how many changes need to be made. Other than this, the price range will have to be modified if you need new drain locations, electrical rewiring, plumbing rerouting, permits, disposal of old materials, upgraded tiling and flooring, or if your shower needs to be converted. Unforeseen repairs can also affect the total cost. 

Possible financial aid for walk-in tub installation 

As of 2016, 26 states have programs that help the elderly pay for walk-in tubs and installation, among other home modifications. These modifications are not covered by Medicaid and so these programs fill a specific gap in financial assistance. You should see whether or not you can qualify for this type of financial aid. 

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finances a program that helps those elderly residents located in rural areas who have a reduced income.  This program can help you with any home improvement or modification projects that can not be covered by your insurance. 

Other than the financial support offered by governmental organizations, nonprofits can also assist you with costs associated with walk-in tub installation. This is specifically about installation and not the purchase. However, even when it comes to the initial purchase, manufacturers may have options for you. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has provided you with the necessary information needed when it comes to walk-in tub installation and all costs associated with it. It may be easiest to purchase a tub that fits into your current bathroom dimensions so that you can make the contractor’s job easier and keep the costs low.

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