Walk in Bathtub

Walk-In Bathtubs for Seniors/Elderly

A Walk-in Bath is a bath with a door which making getting in and out of the tub easier. Walk-in bathtub offer comfort, easy access and durability for elderly and disabled.


Walk-In Tubs

What is a Walk in Bathtub?

A walk in bathtub is a bathtub that is designed for you to literally walk in to. The purpose of this is for those that have trouble climbing in and out of the traditional bathtub style, eliminating much of the hazards of slipping and falling. This is accomplished with adding more vertical elements to the bathtub design instead of having more horizontal space as with a normal bathtub. Walk in bathtubs usually contain footholds and handlebars and many feature seats so that you don’t have to stand while bathing, placing less pressure on your legs.

Who are Walk in Tubs for?

Walk in bathtubs are great for those that have weak knees or problems standing for long periods of time as many of these are built with seats. This extends doubly over as the primary reason for these bathtubs to exist is to assist both the elderly and any disabled individuals. With the design of these bathtubs, anyone can easily enter into the bathtub with the assistance of guide rails and steps without fear of tripping and falling on slippery bathtub surfaces.


Popular features

Popular Features of Walk-in Tubs

Walk-in tubs have a range of features that help make bathing a more comfortable and safer experience. Below is a breakdown of some of the most common elements of these tubs.

  • Step-in height: This refers to the height of the threshold you’ll need to step over to get inside the tub. A standard bathtub can have thresholds of 15 inches. For walk-in tubs, the average stepover is between 3 and 7 inches. That means there’s no need for high leg lifting or balancing. Some wheelchair accessible tubs are even lower. Opting for the lowest height possible is best if you want safer access to your tub.
  • Watertight door: Walk-in tubs are sealed with watertight doors, which allows bathers to step into the tub safely. This standard feature will either swing inward or outward, depending on the tub and your preference. Although these doors have tight seals, opening and closing them requires minimal arm strength.
  • Hand-held showerhead: A hand-held shower head is one of the best ways to take a shower while sitting down. This allows even those with limited mobility to easily bathe without straining themselves. Many shower heads also come with adjustable force and spray, which is convenient if you prefer less water pressure.
  • Built-in chair: Fixed chairs are a common feature of walk-in tubs which allows you to sit comfortably during your bath, while also reducing the risk of falling. These chairs are usually soft and some are even heated. Depending on the tub, the chair can be adjusted to meet your specific height and needs.
  • Therapy features: Hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, and heated surfaces are considered more luxurious additions. High-quality whirlpools and air jets help soothe and massage seniors with aching muscles and joint pain.

Different Types of Walk-in Tubs

Just like regular bathtubs, walk-in tubs come in all shapes and sizes. Many are designed to help with specific accessibility or therapy needs. Before selecting a walk-in tub, you may want to compare your options to see which one meets your needs the best. Below are some of the different types of walk-in tubs on the market.

  • Soaker: The soaker is a large standard walk-in tub with a watertight door and a fixed seat. This tub makes a good option for those trying to keep their costs down.
  • Hydrotherapy: These tubs, often referred to as whirlpool or jacuzzi tubs, are known for their strong jets that help massage sore muscles. Hydrotherapy walk-in tubs are an excellent choice for aiding in arthritis.
  • Wheelchair accessible: Roll-in or wheelchair accessible tubs have wide swinging doors and grab bars, making it easy to move from a wheelchair onto the seat inside.
  • Aromatherapy: These tubs provide soothing and relaxing scents while you bathe. They mix in essential oils with the water to give you a truly spa-like experience.
  • Bariatric: A bariatric walk-in bathtub has wide doors and is designed to support people who weigh more than 300 pounds.

Health Benefits of a Walk-In Tub

Walk-in tubs can help with a number of health concerns, including:


The Arthritis Foundation has reported that warm water therapy is proven to help alleviate pain caused by musculoskeletal conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis and low back pain. To maximize the benefit of warm water therapy, researchers recommend that you:

  • Soak for at least 20 minutes
  • Drink water before and after to stay hydrated
  • Use warm, not hot water – Ideal temperature range is 92 to 100 degrees
  • Perform gentle stretching exercises while you soak

Cardiovascular Health

A recent study has found that warm baths can help to improve cardiovascular health. For those with heart issues, a warm bath can help by:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Increasing blood vessel dilation
  • Decreasing arterial stiffness

Blood Sugar Level Reduction

For those with Type-2 diabetes, a warm bath may help reduce blood sugar levels. Researchers found that subjects in a study who took regular warm baths had reduced peak blood sugar levels by 10%, increased energy expenditure levels by 80% and burned an average of 126 calories per hour. While people with Type-2 Diabetes should continue to eat well and exercise, a warm bath could help reduce their blood sugar levels.

Stress and Anxiety

A warm bath has long been used to help people relax and relieve stress. An advancement in bathing called chromatherapy has taken the relaxing benefits of a warm bath to the next level. Chromatherapy is the use of colored lights to help enhance relaxation and reduce tension. Some walk-in tub models have optional chromatherapy lights that can increase the tension reducing benefits of a bath.

So as you can see, the therapeutic health benefits of bathing coupled with the accessibility of a walk-in bathtub make them an attractive bathing solution for those with limited mobility due to aging, illness, or disability.

Disadvantages of walk-in tubs

There are some disadvantages to having a walk-in tub.

Walk-in tub fill and drain times

Two downsides are that you have to get in the tub before you fill it and you can’t exit until it’s drained.

Standard walk-in tubs take six to eight minutes to fill up and up to 15 minutes to drain. Some newer models, like those from Kohler and Ella’s Bubbles, have quick drain technology that empties the tub in as few as two minutes.

Features like heated seats and advanced drains can help you stay warm throughout your bath, and a scald prevention valve is critical to preventing dangerously hot water from burning you.

Walk-in tub water usage

Some walk-in tubs hold much more water than traditional tubs, and supplying this much warm water can be taxing for many water heaters. If you’re buying a large walk-in tub, consult the manufacturer to see if your water heater is up to the task.

Not all walk-in tubs hold enough water to create this problem, though. An average tub holds about 50 gallons of water, while some walk-in tubs can hold up to 80 gallons.

While a walk-in tub is generally deeper than a traditional tub, this depth does not always equate to more volume. In some cases, a walk-in tub may be narrower than a standard tub, and the seat in a walk-in tub takes up much of its potential volume.

How Much Do Walk-In Tubs Cost?

As with anything else, the brand and any extra bells and whistles you choose will play a factor in how much a walk-in tub costs. The average cost of a tub with installation can range anywhere from $1,500 to as much as $20,000. While those prices might initially make your jaw drop, just remember that’s still less expensive than a fall-related hospital visit. To invest in your health and wellbeing long-term, we think the price is worth it. While traditional Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of a walk-in tub, you’ll be able to get a tax reduction if the tub is installed for a medical safety reason! The cost of your walk-in tub will vary based on several factors, including:

  • Hydrotherapy or jets: These features may tack on an extra fee, as the installer will need to wire electricity to the tub.
  • Luxury Features: The more customized features you add, the more you can expect your tub to cost. For instance, if you want to add a decorative bath wall and upgraded finishes, or if the tub needs to be customized to fit the size of your bathroom, you can expect to pay more.
  • Plumbing: Walk-in tubs hold a lot of water. You may need a new water heater or upgraded pipes to have enough hot water and allow the tub to fill quickly.
  • Installation: Installation may be included in your walk-in tub’s cost, depending on the brand and where you purchase it. However, if it’s not included, installation is an additional cost to consider, which can range from around $1,000 to $3,000.

Installing a walk-in tub could raise your home’s value

Why Do I Need a Walk-In Tub?

There are several advantages to adding a walk-in tub to your home aside from making it easier to take a bath or shower. Let’s take a look at how a walk-in tub can improve your quality of life and safety.


Jets in a whirlpool or jacuzzi tub can massage sore muscles and help you relax. Hydrotherapy can help seniors cope with injuries like burns, ulcers, and amputations. This feature is also great if you’re dealing with conditions like arthritis, as the water and jets can soothe aching joints and inflammation. Even if you decide not to add jets to your walk-in tub, simply soaking in the warm water also offers numerous health benefits. Warm water on its own can alleviate joint and muscle pain, and it encourages the release of endorphins to boost your mood.

Prevent Accidents and Injuries

Getting into a standard tub is one of the leading causes of falls for older adults with mobility issues or a history of falling. According to the CDC, a fall can result in a hefty hospital bill, often costing more than $30,000. For seniors on fixed incomes or a tight budget, this can add stress and financial strain to physical injury. Since walk-in tubs are designed to eliminate the hazards of bathing, your risk of falling will be greatly reduced, which means you can avoid an unpleasant and very pricey visit to the hospital as well.

Along with helping seniors avoid falls, walk-in tubs also remove the need for a sliding shower door, which poses another risk to seniors. As we get older, our balance and mobility begin to decline, especially when standing on slippery surfaces, like in a bath or shower. Because shower doors aren’t designed to support body weight, they may move or break if too much weight is put on them when trying to balance. Since walk-in tubs get rid of sliding doors and typically feature sturdy handrails, they are much safer.

May Increase Home Value

Installing a walk-in tub could raise your home’s value, especially if you live in a retirement community. Since retirement communities are designed for older adults, any added safety features and medical equipment, like a walk-in tub, can make your property more desirable and increase its value, which means a walk-in tub is a long-term investment!

Walk-in tub installation

Many walk-in tubs require professional installation, and companies don’t always include this in their cost estimates. Some homes, particularly older ones, may also need to have their electrical and plumbing systems updated before you can install a walk-in tub.

Another thing to keep in mind is that walk-in tubs are quite large — you need a relatively big bathroom for it to work. You might have to temporarily remove your door to fit the new tub inside.

Some walk-in tubs are more affordable to install than others. Gelcoat tubs are typically easier to lift and move and thus easier to get installed, while durable acrylic tubs are heavier and may take longer to install.

Your walk-in tub company should work with you to determine what needs to be done before installation.

Walk in Tub vs Shower Tub Combo

A shower bathtub combo is a flexible design, allowing you to take any existing bathtub and simply add a shower attachment, some curtains or doors, and you have a shower bathtub combination, giving you more flexibility in your bathing. Of the two, the shower, bathtub combination is easily more flexible in both price point and function as it gives the option for quick showers or long baths all in one more digestible price point as the many of these can be put together for under $500. For many, a shower bathtub combination is going to be the more practical choice as the negatives of a walk-in bathtub is one of time and flexibility. Walk-in bathtubs have only one method of bathing and it is a fairly time consuming one at that. Their purpose shouldn’t be understated however, as they are well-designed bathtubs, but if you don’t have elderly or disabled individuals in your home, a walk-in bathtub is not recommended.

How long does a walk in tub last?

With proper maintenance, a walk in bathtub should last anywhere from 10-15 years depending on the material used. Fiberglass will typically curb around the low end of the spectrum, lasting 15 years at the max, where as acrylic will have a much longer shelf life, floating between 25-30 years easily. The difference with walk-in bathtubs compared to other bathtubs is that not all of the surface area is used during bathing, meaning there may be build up and erosion on areas that are not immediately visible to you, so be mindful of this moving forward as these bathtubs are not cheap.

Will Medicare Pay for a Walk-In Tub?

In most cases, a walk-in tub is not considered a piece of durable medical equipment by Medicare, which means it's not covered. However, in some rare cases, Medicare may reimburse you for part of the cost, but the tub needs to be purchased and installed first.

Will Medicaid Pay for a Walk-In Tub?

If a person qualifies for Medicaid (which is determined on a state-by-state basis), there is a chance the walk-in tub may be covered. But, that is something you need to look into since rules and regulations vary. If you are looking for a reimbursement for a walk-in tub, you need to file a claim with Medicare and get a written prescription from your doctor stating that it is a medical necessity. As with any medical need, you should always consult with your doctor to discuss whether investing in a walk-in tub is right for you.

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