How to Find the Best Walk-in Tubs On The Market!

As we get older or face mobility challenges, then it can be more difficult to take care of ourselves. With 70 deaths a year being caused by slips or falls in the bath, looking at the bathroom can be an important way to improve safety.

One way to help yourself or your loved one stay independent for as long as possible is to make changes to the bathroom. For many people, installing a walk-in tub makes life easier, and with hydrotherapy options available can even improve health and wellbeing.

But deciding when to make the change, and which tub to choose can be daunting. That’s why we’ve done the research for you. In this guide, we’ll talk about what a walk-in tub is, what features you should look for and discuss some of the best-known brands you might be considering.

What is a Walk-in Tub?

Walk-in tubs were developed to help people who have trouble stepping into a normal tub. Although some do still have a step up into them, they are less than half the height of the step needed to enter a regular bathtub.

To allow ease of entry, they have a door which opens in the side which has a watertight seal. Some models have doors which open inwards, and others outward. The tubs usually have a built-in seat. They may be simply for bathing (this type is called a soaker) or have whirlpool or water jet features to be used for hydrotherapy.

When Should You Get a Walk-in Tub?

As we age, we begin to lose muscle strength and balance, and that can lead to an increase in accidents involving trips or falls. Some people are resistant to making changes to their life due to increasing age or mobility issues. That’s understandable but making adjustments can help a person to keep their independence or remain in their own home for longer.

If you or your loved one is finding getting into or out of the tub more challenging, then there are some steps you might consider before switching to a walk-in tub. Bath steps can break the climb into the tub down into two, smaller steps. A bathtub safety rail can be placed to help with stability getting into and out of the tub. As mobility decreases, then a bathtub transfer chair might become a better solution.

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By placing two legs of this chair outside the bath and two inside, it allows a person to sit outside and slide across until they are inside the bath. From there, they can either enter the water or use an in-tub shower.

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If the step into the bath is the primary problem, then using a footstool like this one can help with the movement into the bath. Useful for individuals who have hip or knee problems which prevent them from climbing as they once did.

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If stability is a problem, then having a safety rail which is secured to the wall can be helpful. Holding onto the rail until both feet are in the bath can help prevent slips and falls.

A walk-in tub is necessary if you want to bathe or have home hydrotherapy treatments, but you are no longer able to use these accommodations.

Installing a Walk-in Tub

It is possible to install your walk-in tub yourself or have a plumber or handyman do it for you. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to have a tub installed, then that could be a consideration. Video tutorials are available on YouTube to teach the basics, but you should keep in mind that the fitting usually forms a part of the warranty. If you have installed the bath yourself and it begins to leak, you could be responsible for the repair bill.

Installing a walk-in tub includes removing your existing tub, removing any tiles that will be in the way of the new install. Fitting the new tub and ensuring the water and electrical hookups are carried out correctly. Repairing or replacing tiles will make your new tub attractive, and a waterproof seal around the edge is essential to prevent water damage around or under the tub itself.

Alternatively, you could have the whole project carried out by the supplier. You may find some who promise that the tub can be installed in less than a day, but generally, it will take longer. Compare the guarantee for any problems with the fitting of the bath with other installation companies; a company that is confident in their work will give you a longer guarantee.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Walk-In Tub

There are several things to keep in mind when you are choosing your walk-in tub. To help you make the right choice, here are just some of them.

Door Seal

Walk-in Tubs are filled once the person is sat inside. This means that the seal on the door will need to be absolutely watertight. When choosing a manufacturer, look for one which has a good warranty for the door seal as this will be a mark of quality.

Temperature Control

The person using the tub must sit in it as it fills, which leads to two different temperature challenges. The first is scalding; if the water is too hot as it enters the bath, the person using the bath may become injured by the water or their attempts to change the filling temperature. One solution to this is anti-scald measures which some manufacturers include.

As you can imagine, it can become quite cold as you sit in the bath waiting for the water, or if a person remains in the water after the temperature has dropped. Ensuring that the room is adequately heated will help prevent this from becoming an issue.

Wheelchair Users

The doors on most walk-in tubs open inwards, to minimize the amount of space the tub takes up in use. This can make it more difficult for wheelchair users to access the tub, as the door is in the way as they transfer in.

The alternative is to choose a bath with a door that opens outwards, which allows the wheelchair to be placed much closer to the entrance. One drawback to this is the potential for flooding if the door should be opened when the bath is full. Some baths have a ‘rising wall’ door, which uses a mechanical solution. These tubs tend to be more expensive to come with the risk of mechanical failure.

Hydrotherapy

Warm water can be a useful treatment for a range of conditions including arthritis, recovery from joint replacement surgery and back pain. Gentle exercise, under the care of a physiotherapist, is carried out in warm water at body temperature or warmer.

You can carry out hydrotherapy in your own home using a walk-in tub. The most famous name in hydrotherapy tubs is Jacuzzi, who are known for their whirlpool baths, but you can also install a tub that provides a gentle massage with jets of water. Aromatherapy (essential oils) and chromatherapy (colored lights) options are also available.

Insurance

Although there are significant health benefits to installing a walk-in tub. The cost is not covered by Medicare, however, you should be able to arrange finance to fund the installation.

Size

Walk-in tubs are no larger than a regular tub. Depending on your personal requirements, you can have a tub in which you can lie down, or choose a shorter, deeper, unit with a built-in seat. Either option will fit in the same footprint as your existing tub, however, the shorter tub will leave space which can be filled with an extension to give you extra worktop or storage space in your bathroom.

The Best Walk-in Tub Manufacturers

When choosing your walk-in tub, you want to make sure that you are buying a good quality product for a fair price. In order to help you choose, we are going to take a look at some of the main players in the walk-in tub market.

American Standard

This company was founded over 140 years ago as the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company. They produce the full range of bathroom and kitchen fixtures and fittings, alongside their walk-in tub range.

They have an extensive range of walk-in tubs available in three different colors. The majority of their tubs include a built-in grab bar, and they offer two different drainage options; quick drain and minute drain, to help avoid chilling. They also offer all whirlpool, airstream and chromatherapy options.

https://www.americanstandard-us.com/-/media/sites/asus/images/products/walk-in-tubs/2017/3252od109al-32x52-outward-open-door-air-massage-walk-in-tub/b-3252od109alw-air-massage-walk-in-tub.jpg?w=300&hash=556CFB3C7C4DADC869A130A228E6DE267CEDE50F American Standards most popular model is the Gelcoat Premium which has 26 air jets in its massage system. It has a built-in grab bar and textured floor to allow for more independence when bathing. The Gelcoat finish is high gloss, and the door seal has a lifetime warranty.
This acrylic tub has thirteen water jets to provide a whirlpool therapy experience that can be full-body or just focused on the legs. The seat is regular chair height, allowing for a comfortable soak, and like the Gelcoat model has a lifetime warranty on the door seal.

Jacuzzi

This brand is a household name when we mean hot tub, we say Jacuzzi! They position themselves as a premium brand with their walk-in tubs described as luxurious safety. The company is 60 years old, and in addition to their walk-ins, they also create their famous hot tubs.

Features of their tub include a single-handle ‘fast-fill’ faucet, while their fast-drain option reduces emptying time by half. If you choose a tub that also operates as a shower, the controls are easy to access and grip. And as you’d expect, they have a hydrotherapy option.

Jacuzzi offers two different tub models, for smaller or larger spaces. Each model comes in two different size choices, and three different hydrotherapy options, which are:

  • PureAir – Air jets that provide a bubbling foot massage (aromatherapy option available in larger tubs).
  • Whirlpool – Hydromassage jets that can be adjusted to control the direction and power of the water.
  • Salon Spa – A heated seat and backrest help prevent chilling. This model includes both the foot massage and hydromassage options of the other models.

Kohler

Kohler has been in the bathroom business since 1883. Named after their home town in Wisconsin, all the tubs are designed and assembled in the USA. They include a lifetime, limited warranty on all their products.

Feature of Kohler’s range includes a heated back panel to prevent chilling during filling and draining, and an ultra-low step to get in. Their bath includes a multi-functional hand shower and a control panel for all the features that are in easy reach of all users.

Kohler has just one model of bath that is available in white and biscuit. You will get to choose from one of five wall finishes and pick the color of your faucet.

The Kohler price is inclusive of the bath, including the chosen options and fitting. Bubble and massage jets are included.

Safe-Step

Unlike other manufacturers who have added walk-in tubs to their existing bathroom ranges, Safe-Step is a walk-in specialist. Their products are specifically designed to not only meet but exceed the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Their range includes a tub, shower, and the hybrid which offers the best of both worlds. The tub includes a heated seat and backrest, hydrotherapy and chromatherapy options and a towel rail on the door to help prevent chilling.