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What are the Pros and Cons of Walk-in Tubs: Your Amazing Buyer’s Guide

By Catalog Editor Staff

One of the most commonly used spaces in a home is the bathroom. There are various choices to make when designing your bathroom, like whether walk-in tubs are a good idea. This is an important one because the bathroom is where most people start and end their daily routines.

In answering the walk-in tub question, two primary factors come into play:

  • Heath condition
  • General comfort
Getting a walk-in tub is a significant investment, not just for those who have mobility difficulties or health concerns like arthritis or poor blood circulation. It is also for anyone willing to indulge in a bath without the risk that comes with the slippery and dangerous edges of traditional bathtubs.

There is a lot you should know before buying a walk-in tub. If you are considering making an investment in a walk-in tub, here is the ultimate buyer’s guide for you. 

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What is a Walk-In Tub?

A walk-in tub is simply a bathtub designed for you to just walk into. The reason for this is mainly to make the bathtub more accessible for people who may have some difficulty climbing in and out of bathtubs built the traditional style. This reduces the risk of slipping and falling in the bathroom. 

According to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the injuries that are sustained in the bathroom occur around the tub or shower – and the rate of injuries generally increases with age.

Walk-in tubs provide safety and comfort features rarely found in the traditional tub. 

How do Walk-In Tubs Work?

The walk-in tub is equipped with a watertight door that makes the tub more easily accessible. So, rather than over the side of the tub, you can just open the door, step in and fill the tub with water. 

The design of the walk-in tub incorporates more vertical elements as opposed to the horizontal structure of the traditional bathtub. They typically contain handlebars and footholds and a lot of them have seats. 

This allows you to reduce the pressure on your legs by sitting comfortably instead of laying down as you would in a traditional bathtub or standing as you would under a shower.

Who are Walk-In Tubs for?

Walk-in tubs are great for people who have weak knees or have difficulty standing for long, as most walk-in tubs have built-in seats. Walk-in tubs were primarily designed to cater to disabled individuals and elderly persons. 

Given the design of these walk-in tubs, there are guide rails and steps that make it easy for anyone to enter into the tubs without the fear of slipping and falling in the bathroom.

Pros and Cons of Walk-In Tubs

To determine if a walk-in tub is a worthwhile investment for you, considering the pros and cons is the way to go:

ProsCons
It is safer than most available traditional tubs and showersIt is costlier than most traditional tubs 
It has therapy options to help with relaxationYou may need some electrical work for the installation 
It improves blood circulation and helps to relieve physical discomfortYou may need to upgrade your water heater
It is easier to clean

Benefits of Walk-In Tubs

Here are some of the benefits you stand to enjoy from using a walk-in tub:

Safety 

Walk-in tubs are designed with features like grab bars, slip-resistant flooring, anti-scald valves, and built-in seating. Some tubs are further equipped with self-cleaning systems that help to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. These features are provided to ensure the safety and hygiene of the bather.

Comfort

Walk-in tubs have low entryways and are usually deeper than regular tubs. These features make the bathing experience more comfortable, particularly for those who have mobility difficulties.

Health 

Walk-in tubs can improve the overall health of the bather in different ways:

  • Symptom relief: Using a walk-in tub has soothing effects that help relieve the symptoms of health conditions like rheumatism, diabetes, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
  • Improve blood circulation: Walk-in tubs help to improve overall blood circulation. This will help increase mobility and reduce pains.
  • Relaxation and Stress Relief: Features like hydrotherapy, chromotherapy, air bath, and massage provide the bather with a soothing stress-relieving, and relaxing experience.

Disadvantages of Walk-In Tubs

There are some downsides to having a walk-in tub. Investing in a walk-in tub is still an excellent option for many homes. However, it is important to have all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Fill and Drain Times

A downside to the walk-in tub is that you cannot fill the tub with water before getting in and you cannot get out until all the water has drained. This process can be time-consuming because walk-in tubs take an average of 7 minutes to fill or drain. This also makes it important to ensure that the water temperature starts out fine and remains that way. 

Water Usage

Generally, walk-in tubs hold more water than regular tubs, and filling them with warm water can put pressure on water heaters. You may need to check to ensure your water heater can function well with a large walk-in tub before making a purchase.

However, it is not all walk-in tubs that are capable of creating this problem. The average traditional bathtub has the capacity to hold between 45 and 80 gallons of water, while most walk-in tubs hold just about 50 gallons. The depth of a walk-in tub does not necessarily equate to more volume.

Traditional TubStandard ShowerWalk-In Tub
45-80 gallons25-40 gallons50 gallons

Cost

Walk-in tubs are significantly more expensive than traditional tubs, especially when the cost of installation is added. Most walk-in tubs cost between $2000 to $6000, without the cost of installation. 

In addition, they are not considered Durable Medical Equipment (DME) by Medicare, and the cost of purchase and installation is not covered. However, some states offer some assistance with covering the cost under their respective Medicaid programs. You can check if your state runs such programs before making a purchase.

Features to Look Out for When Buying a Walk-In Tub

The standard features you get from a walk-in tub vary based on the manufacturer. In choosing the perfect walk-in tub for you, you will want to compare each tub based on what features are more important to you. 

Manufacturers design walk-in tubs to prioritize your comfort and safety as well as the longevity of the tub. Options generally range from quick drain tubs to acrylic finishes that are easy to clean.

Keep in mind that different tub models come equipped with various features, so ensure that you check out the features equipped in the tub you are interested in. Here are five common features you should find useful in choosing the right walk-in tub.

High-Flow Taps

Since you cannot run water into a walk-in tub before entering because of the door that needs to be opened, you may want to prioritize getting a tub with high-flow taps. High flow taps are designed to reduce the time filling the tub with water takes. This means less waiting time for you.

Aluminum Door and Door Frame

The doors of a walk-in tub are one of the most important features of the tub. You want to make sure you are getting a tub equipped with components of the highest quality because no one wants a leaky and faulty door.

You need a door and door frame made of durable materials like aluminum so it holds up the pressure from years of usage.

Stainless Steel Tub Frame

Your tub will weigh a lot more when it is filled up with you inside. For this reason, you need a tub that has a frame that can support the shell and all other components. Stainless steel will do the job fine and you do not have to worry about corrosion.

Acrylic Finish

Fiberglass is the primary constituent of most tubs, however, many of them also have an acrylic finish that is easy to clean. Opting for one of these can reduce your cleaning time.

Quick Drain

Like getting in, you need to wait for all the water to drain before opening the door to get out of a walk-in tub. Getting a tub with a quick drain means you have to wait for less after bathing. This reduces the chances of chilling after bathing especially in elderly persons.

Are Walk-In Tubs Worth It?

A walk-in tub can be an excellent choice for anyone with mobility difficulties, which includes persons with disabilities and aged persons, and anyone who wants to indulge in a plush bath. They are also a worthy investment for family members and caregivers of people with mobility difficulties. The pros tend to outweigh the cons in the long term for most people. 

However, you may consider alternatives like step-in showers, built-in showers, grab bars, a shower bench, or a non-slip mat. These alternatives to walk-in tubs can help increase the level of safety in the bathroom if safety is your major concern.

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Overall, a walk-in tub may be the better choice for anyone considering the safety, health, and comfort benefits it provides.

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