Walk-in tubs offer a more comfortable, accessible bathing experience than standard tubs, including built-in safety features and extra therapeutic functions. Our team analyzed seven walk-in tub brands, evaluating costs, customer reviews, safety and comfort features, and more. Whether you’re swapping out an old tub during a bathroom remodel or building a new bathroom from scratch, here are our top recommendations.
Top Walk-In Tubs of 2023
After analyzing each company’s product selection and evaluating their safety and comfort features, we find these walk-in tubs to be the best:
Compare the Top Walk-In Tubs
Get an idea of what each walk-in tub brand offers with our tool below:
Types of Walk-In Tubs
There are multiple types of walk-in tubs. Each type fulfills different needs.
- Bariatric tubs: Bariatric walk-in tubs have sturdier seat designs to improve comfort and safety for larger people. Standard walk-in tubs accommodate people up to 300 pounds, but bariatric tubs increase capacity up to 600 pounds.
- Hydrotherapy tubs: A hydrotherapy tub operates like a conventional whirlpool tub but features therapeutically placed water jets to target sore muscles. Consult your doctor before using a hydrotherapy tub if you experience hypertension or other cardiovascular conditions.
- Soaking tubs: A soaker tub is the most basic walk-in tub design. These tubs are deep enough for your torso and lower body to fully submerge while seated on a built-in seat or bench. Soaker tubs don’t include water or air jets, so the bathwater remains still for a deep soak.
- Wheelchair-accessible tubs: Companies design wheelchair-accessible tubs to allow people in wheelchairs to transfer more safely and easily from their chairs into the tub. Often, these tubs have a wider door, lower threshold, and adjustable chair height so the bather can transfer onto the seat without obstacles. A wheelchair-accessible bathtub minimizes the risk of falling and makes bathing less complicated. Some manufacturers also offer sliding wall tubs. These tubs use a sliding wall to create an extra-wide entry and often feature an adjustable chair.
- Two-person tubs: Companies often design two-person tubs as walk-in tubs. These tubs allow bathers to face each other and assist one another if needed. Sharing a bath with your loved one is a relaxing experience, and many of these tubs replicate the atmosphere of a high-end spa with LED lighting and built-in aromatic features.
Walk-In Tub Features To Look For
Walk-in tubs provide features in two main categories: safety and comfort. Safety features are often required for certain homeowners to bathe, while comfort features create a more therapeutic bathing experience. Below are some features we recommend looking for to ensure you receive a quality walk-in tub.
- Aromatherapy add-on: Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and overall well-being. Typically, a walk-in tub uses an aromatherapy canister in a four-part plumbing assembly. You can insert and replace personalized scents or essential oils to tailor the experience to your needs and preferences.
- Chromotherapy add-on: Chromotherapy, or color therapy, uses colored lights to create a therapeutic bathing experience. Color plays a vital role in how we think and feel. Certain colors are known to influence our mental and physical health. Combining chromotherapy with hydrotherapy creates soothing effects and helps enhance your mood and overall well-being.
- Step threshold: Step threshold refers to the height of a tub’s raised strip of tile, marble, or other material that prevents water from leaking out. Walk-in tub entry thresholds vary in height. For instance, Kohler’s walk-in tubs have a 3-inch threshold, while others can be as tall as 7 inches.
- Handrails and grab bars: Grab bars and handrails are standard for walk-in tubs. Many factors determine optimal grab bar placement, such as your arm and leg strength, range of motion, grip strength, balance, and coordination. We recommend checking with your contractor or the manufacturer to determine if it can move the tub’s built-in grab bars to meet your mobility needs.
- Nonslip surface: Most walk-in tubs have nonslip surfaces. The best nonslip surfaces are textured rather than smooth. You can add a bath mat or traction stickers inside the tub for increased safety.
- Quick drains: Walk-in tubs fill and drain while you sit inside, so you might get cold. The fill time depends on your water heater’s flow rate, and drainage time varies among tub models. We recommend finding a tub with a quick-drain system. These systems drain the tub in four minutes or less, while conventional drain tubs take anywhere from six to 15 minutes.
- Self-cleaning: Many walk-in tubs use a self-cleaning feature to prevent skin infection, illness, and mold. These features may be jets that spray antibacterial and anti-mold chemicals or ultraviolet lights that eliminate bacteria. Other tubs also have ozone sanitation, in which ozone-enriched water kills microbes.
- In-line water heating: Walk-in tubs use large quantities of water, especially those with hydrotherapy jets, so a technician might recommend an in-line or tankless heater to keep up with the demand. An in-line heater provides a consistent hot water supply and doesn’t require filling up a larger reservoir with hot water.
- Pillows: You can increase your walk-in tub’s comfort with ergonomic pillows and headrests. Some headrests include a heating feature for maximum comfort.
- Handheld showerhead: A handheld showerhead makes bathing easier for people with mobility challenges. It also helps with shampooing and tub cleaning.
How Do Walk-In Tubs Work?
These are the main steps to using a walk-in tub. The following steps refer to a basic soaker walk-in bathtub.
- First, you access the bath via a low-entry step and door.
- Then, you close and seal the door. Companies design doors and closures to do this with little effort or strength, ideal for those with arthritis or other mobility issues. The bath is completely watertight, so there’s no danger of spills or leakages on your bathroom floor.
- Next, you fill the tub using a thermostatically controlled mixer tap. In other words, you use an ergonomically designed control panel to fill the bath. The fill time can vary due to the water pressure in your home. Sometimes, an additional pump is required to speed up this process, but your installer will check this before beginning work.
- Enjoy the bath and any additional luxury or comfort features it offers.
- Finally, drain the bath before you open the door. Once you drain the tub, you can safely exit.
What Makes Walk-In Tubs ADA Compliant?
An ADA-compliant tub meets or exceeds standards set by Section 4.20 of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines. This section outlines the features that make a bathtub safe and easy to use for older adults and people with disabilities. Check with the manufacturer to see if the model you’re interested in meets ADA-compliant requirements.
Here are some of the most important ADA-compliant requirements a walk-in tub must meet:
- Grab bars: The ADA requires grab bars and handrails to ensure enhanced balance and stability.
- Floor space: An ADA-compliant tub must have an unobstructed floor space at least 30 inches wide and 60 inches long.
- Seat: Tub seats must be fortified and stable, with handholds on each side for effortless climbing.
- Showerheads: Whether a handheld showerhead or a fixed shower, an ADA-compliant tub must use a hose at least 60 inches long. Showerhead placement must be away from grab bars and rails.
Walk-In Tubs Cost
Unfortunately, walk-in tub installation costs significantly more than standard bathtub installation. The walk-in tub itself costs $2,000–$5,000. Installation adds another $2,000–$10,000, raising the average total to $4,000–$15,000.
Are Walk-In Tubs Covered by Insurance or Medicare?
According to medicare.org, most Medicare plans don’t consider walk-in tubs as durable medical equipment (DME). Therefore, if you have Original Medicare Part A, it won’t cover the cost of a walk-in tub. However, some Medicare Part B plans could cover up to 80% of walk-in tub costs under its DME provision if you meet several criteria:
- A doctor’s letter stating that the walk-in tub is medically necessary
- Proof that you purchased the walk-in tub from a DME provider
Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans may also cover a walk-in tub since it could classify as an aging-in-place home improvement. Additionally, if you qualify for Medicaid, you may have access to financial assistance from your state.
How To Save on Walk-In Tubs
There are a few ways to cut costs on walk-in tubs.
- Go minimalist: The price of extra features can add up quickly, so consider whether you need add-ons such as chromotherapy lights or air bath jets.
- Minimize labor costs: Have the new tub installed in the same space as the old one.
- Look for payment plans: Many retailers allow you to pay in installments.
- Get multiple estimates: The prices of most walk-in tubs are only available by quote, so request several to compare and find the best deal.
- Buy materials yourself: You’ll probably need materials such as tiles and tub surrounds in addition to the tub. If possible, buy these yourself instead of through the installation contractor.
- Look for local grants: Some areas of the United States offer home modification grants for elderly adults and people with disabilities to make their homes more accessible.
Are Walk-In Tubs Worth It?
A walk-in tub is a great way to upgrade your home with a safer, more comfortable, therapeutic bathing experience. But as with any home upgrade, deciding whether or not to get a walk-in tub is a big decision.
Check with your doctor to fully understand the benefit of installing a walk-in tub. In addition, review your budget or consult with your financial planner to determine what you can afford. Explore different financing options, and check with your local aging agency about Medicaid or Veterans Affairs (VA) assistance.
You can also consult an occupational therapist, a medical professional trained to help with home modifications and provide hands-on training to seniors as they adapt to changes in their home environment. Contact the American Occupational Therapy Association or your state’s occupational therapy association.
Ella’s Bubbles is our top choice for walk-in tubs. The company provides one of the broadest tub selections with competitive pricing, so you can most likely find a model that matches your budget and needs.
We recommend American Standard if you want experienced customer service and expertise. The company has more than 150 years of experience in bathroom products. Finally, we recommend Meditub if you need a wheelchair-accessible tub.
Walk-in bathtub installation is an expensive and daunting process. We suggest consulting various experts, including your primary doctor and an occupational therapist, to decide if it’s the right purchase for you. Request quotes from at least three walk-in tub brands before buying. This will ensure you get a tub that matches your health and safety needs, as well as your budget and desired comfort features.
Our Rating Methodology
The This Old House Reviews Team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and data to support our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for walk-in tub providers is on a 100-point scale based on six factors:
- Types (10 points): We browse each provider’s catalog to learn which types of walk-in tubs it offers, including two-person tubs, bariatric tubs, hydrotherapy tubs, deep soaker tubs, and wheelchair-accessible tubs. Providers that offer more types score higher.
- Safety features (25 points): We ensure the provider offers ADA-compliant tub models. We also assess if other important safety features are included handrails, a non-slip floor, a quick-drain system, and anti-scald technology.
- Ergonomics (15 points): We verify that each walk-in tub provider’s design, buttons, and other functions are easily accessible and to use. Walk-in tubs with features such as easy-lock handles, outward-swinging doors, pillows, and three-inch step thresholds scored higher.
- Warranty options (20 points): We analyze each provider’s warranty to determine its length and whether it covers more than just a few parts. Providers with more comprehensive warranties, such as a limited lifetime warranty on the whole tub, receive more points than providers with a limited warranty, such as a 10-year warranty.
- Average cost (15 points): We average the price of each provider’s tub selection to determine a typical cost range. The more affordable a provider’s pricing, the more points it receives.
- Extra features (15 points): We consider any extra comfort features a provider can add to its tubs, such as handheld showerheads, extra water jets, and aromatherapy and chromotherapy add-ons.
Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.
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