Walk-in bathtubs have high sides and accessible entry doors that make bathing safer and more comfortable for older adults or anyone with limited mobility. Unfortunately, they can also be quite expensive to buy and install. The average cost for a walk-in tub is $2,000 to $5,000, not including installation, but luxury models can run $20,000 or more. This guide will break down the pros and cons of walk-in tubs so homeowners can decide if the cost is a worthwhile investment.
Average Walk-in Tub Cost
Without factoring in installation costs, the cost of a walk-in tub can range from $2,000 to $5,000. Installation adds another $2,000 to $10,000, raising the average total cost to between $4,000 and $15,000. Below are some of the factors that influence the overall cost of a walk-in tub.
- Type of tub: The more features, such as water jets and heated seats, the more a tub will cost.
- Tub material: Most walk-in tubs are acrylic, but some are gelcoat, a modified resin material sprayed over a fiberglass mold. Gelcoat is more porous and brittle than acrylic. As a result, acrylic tubs are pricier but more durable.
- Installation and labor: Depending on your bathroom’s current plumbing, installing a walk-in tub may require more work and thus higher labor costs.
- Brand: Some retailers are more expensive than others.
Walk-in Tub Cost by Type of Tub
A basic walk-in tub allows the bather to soak while sitting upright. However, some models have other features, such as air jets, water jets, or double doors. High-end tubs with more features are more expensive, as are two-person tubs. The table below breaks down price ranges for various walk-in tubs by type and feature, not including installation costs.
|Type of Tub||Special Feature||Cost|
|Aerotherapy tub||Air jets||$3,000–$8,000|
|Bariatric tub||Larger width||$4,000–$10,000|
|Basic soaking tub||Improved safety and accessibility||$2,000–$5,000|
|Combination shower/tub||Higher walls and shower fixtures||$3,000–$10,000|
|Hydrotherapy/whirlpool tub||Water jets||$3,000–$8,500|
|Luxury tub||Multiple (e.g. heated seats, remote controls, etc.)||$10,000–$20,000|
|Two-seater tub||Two backrests facing each other||$5,000–$20,000|
|Wheelchair-accessible tub||ADA compliant||$4,000–$11,000|
Walk-in Tub Cost by Tub Material
Most walk-in bathtubs are either made of fiberglass sprayed with a layer of gelcoat or acrylic reinforced by fiberglass. Acrylic tubs are more expensive, but they’re also more durable and popular. Not all brands or styles of tubs are available in both materials. Gelcoat tubs typically range from $2,000–$5000. Acrylic tubs, on the other hand, cost between $3,000–$10,000.
Walk-in Tub Cost by Installation and Labor
As you might expect, replacing a bathtub costs more than lining or refinishing it. Installation costs vary by walk-in tub type since some require more sophisticated plumbing or fixtures. Standard tubs tend to be the least expensive, and tub/shower combos and bariatric tubs tend to be the most.
Your bathroom’s current plumbing and layout may also determine the difficulty and cost of walk-in tub installation. Here’s a breakdown of some of the expenses that may influence the price of walk-in tub installation.
Installing a tankless water heater
Moving water supply pipes/hardware
Replacing drain pipe to accommodate quick drainage
Replacing flooring or drywall
Widening bathroom door
Walk-in Tub Cost by Brand
As with most things, walk-in tub costs vary by the brand you choose. Exact tub prices are typically only available by quote and depend on the model and features. However, Safe Step tends to be toward the low end of the cost spectrum while Jacuzzi is at the high end. Kohler walk-in tubs come in the widest variety of price points. See price ranges for six popular walk-in tub brands below.
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Factors that Affect Walk-in Tub Cost
When considering overall walk-in tub installation costs, here are some factors to keep in mind.
- Converting a shower to a tub
- Extra features and upgrades
- Plumbing and electrical
Converting a Shower to a Tub
Unfortunately, this project isn’t as simple as removing the previous tub or shower and connecting the pipes to the new one. Walk-in tubs are taller than their standard counterparts, and the plumbing will need to be reconfigured to fill and empty the new tub properly.
If the new walk-in tub is shorter in length than the previous one, extension panels ($250 to $300) may be needed to block off the unused parts of the alcove. You may also want to replace the tub surrounds—or the materials surrounding your tub that prevent water damage—which can cost between $200 and $1,000. Your tub’s flange, or raised rim, may need to be replaced to fit the new fixtures better, costing from $50 to $150. If you remove the old showerhead, you’ll probably want to install new tile to cover it.
Walk-in tubs have doors that allow people with limited mobility to enter and exit without stepping over a high ridge. Inward-opening doors save space in the bathroom, but outward-opening doors offer more space inside the tub. All other features being equal, you’ll pay about $400 to $600 more for an outward-opening door.
The standard walk-in tub door is U-shaped, but larger and combination tubs may have S-shaped doors that are wider at the top. L-shaped doors have an even larger opening at the top, ideal for users who need caregiver assistance to get in and out of the tub.
Because of these differences in function, you’ll rarely see a single tub model available in all three door shapes. For tubs of comparable size, you’ll probably pay $400 to $600 more for an S-shaped door and $600 to $800 more for an L-shaped door.
Extra Features and Upgrades
Many add-on features can upgrade the comfort, safety, and convenience of a basic walk-in tub. Typically, you have to order a model that already has these features rather than having them installed later on. And of course, they all cost extra. Here are a few of the features you can look out for:
- ADA compliant seating
- Aromatherapy (built-in scent diffusers)
- Chromotherapy (built-in colored lights)
- Grab bars
- Heated seats and backrests
- Ozone sterilization that sanitizes the tub
- Slip-resistant floor
Plumbing and Electrical
Walk-in tub installation is not a do-it-yourself (DIY) job, so you’ll need to hire a plumber. You may need special pipes installed if you’ve chosen a tub with a fast-drain feature. Licensed plumbers charge between $50 and $150 per hour for jobs like this, depending on their experience level.
If your new tub has features like air or whirlpool jets that require power to run, electrical work will be required to hook these up. A licensed electrician typically charges between $40 and $100 per hour. If your home is older, you may need a new electrical panel to power the tub.
Jim Fuson, owner of 21st Century Home Inspections, says electrical work and extra plumbing are two of the main hidden costs for walk-in tub installation. “Storage, water capacity, and tankless water heaters, those are some of the things to consider. It’s much more water than you get in a typical tub environment.”
Fuson says you may also need structural reinforcement underneath the new tub if the floor joints are not designed to support that much weight, increasing the project’s overall cost.
Because a walk-in tub can necessitate a layout change, you may find yourself remodeling the bathroom entirely. The total cost of a remodel depends on how extensive it is, but it typically costs between $100 and $200 per square foot of bathroom space.
Walk-in tubs are usually fitted into alcoves where existing tubs have been installed since this requires minimal changes to the existing plumbing. However, if you choose to put the walk-in tub in a different place, you’ll probably have higher labor costs.
Whether or not you decide to remodel your bathroom around the walk-in tub, you’ll likely need to replace some tiles in your tub surrounds. Professional bathroom tiling can cost anywhere from $7 to $25 per square foot, depending on the price and size of the tiles.
Pros and Cons of Walk-in Tubs
A walk-in tub is a substantial financial investment, so it’s important to know the benefits and drawbacks of such a purchase before making it.
Professional vs. DIY Walk-in Tub Installation
Installing a walk-in tub isn’t a DIY job. Most of the time, this project requires substantial adjustments to existing plumbing that are best performed by a licensed plumber. Even without taking the plumbing into account, if the tub isn’t installed and sealed properly, moisture can become trapped in the walls and floor and cause rot. It’s not a good idea to attempt to save money by trying to install a walk-in tub yourself.
How To Save on Walk-in Tub Costs
There are a few ways to cut costs when buying and installing one of these tubs.
- Go minimalist: The price of extra features can add up quickly, so consider whether you need add-ons like 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 be sure to get several for comparison.
- Buy materials yourself: You’ll probably need materials such as tiles and tub surrounds in addition to the tub. If possible, purchase these yourself instead of going 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.
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Health Insurance and Walk-in Tubs
Medicare doesn’t typically consider walk-in tubs durable medical equipment. Walk-in tubs improve comfort, but Medicare will not cover their cost unless a doctor can prove that one of these tubs is necessary to treat a specific medical condition. In some states, those on Medicaid may be eligible for partial reimbursement for the price of the tub itself, but not the installation.
As for private health insurance, you’ll need to check the specifics of your policy. It’s unlikely that the insurance company will cover the cost of a walk-in tub unless a doctor can prove it’s medically necessary and likely to prevent future health problems. When possible, it’s a good idea to meet with an insurance agent in person, armed with documentation from your primary care provider.
How to Choose a Walk-In Tub
Once you’ve set your budget, here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding between different types of walk-in tubs.
- What features do I need? Which features can I live without?
- Where in the bathroom will I install the tub?
- Do I want an inward- or outward-opening door?
- Will the size of the tub require me to upgrade my water heater?
- What safety features do I need (grab bars, scald prevention, low step, etc.)?
- Does the tub come with a lifetime warranty?
How to Hire a Professional
Most retailers and even some manufacturers offer installation for the walk-in tubs they sell. These contractors are likely to have extensive experience specific to these tubs, but they may not be the cheapest option. If you decide to hire your own contractor, here are some things to look for.
- Experience with installing walk-in tubs
- A plumber’s license (or bringing in a licensed plumber)
- Good customer feedback on online review sites
- Excellent Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
- Itemized quote, contract, and warranty presented in writing
Free Quote: Get your quote from walk-in tub installation pros today
Walk-in tubs can provide a safer and more comfortable bathing experience for people with disabilities or other mobility issues, but they’re expensive to buy and install. Don’t count on health insurance to cover some or all of the costs. Plan your budget carefully to determine whether a walk-in tub is worth the financial cost.
FAQs About Walk-in Tubs
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