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The 5 Best Walk-In Bathtubs of 2022

Sep 22, 2022

By Cara Everett, MS, RDN
Medically Reviewed by Christopher Norman, MSN, APRN, APHN-BC, GNP-BC
Reviewed by Kathleen CameronBSPharm, MPH, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Affiliate Disclosure
This content and its featured products and services were independently reviewed by a third-party, credentialed Reviews Team. If you make a purchase using the links included, our partners may earn a commission. NCOA, however, does not receive a commission for purchases.

Best Walk-In Tubs - Key Takeaways

  • Walk-in tubs offer a safe and convenient way to bathe for people at risk of falling and those with mobility issues.
  • The price of walk-in bathtubs ranges from $5,000–$20,000, including both the tub and installation.
  • Medicare and private insurance don’t cover the cost of walk-in tubs, but customers can take advantage of discounts, community and/or local organizations, and government programs to help pay for them.

If you’ve fallen in the past, have difficulty getting in and out of a bathtub, or are concerned about your safety while bathing, you may want to consider investing in a walk-in bathtub as part of a comprehensive home falls prevention plan. With built-in safety features and a lower threshold to step over than traditional bathtubs, walk-in tubs can lower your risk of falls and injuries in the bathroom.

But how do you choose the best walk-in tub from all the choices available? Our Reviews Team has conducted in-depth research to find the top walk-in bathtubs on the market. We’ve compiled the results from our hands-on testing, analysis of customer reviews, and research on pricing and features to help you make an informed decision.

A quick look at the best walk-in tubs

Why you can trust our expert review

Our Reviews Team recommends products and services we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent more than 400 hours conducting in-depth research on walk-in tubs to give you the most accurate review. To make these selections, we:

  • Consulted with three walk-in tub and geriatric care experts
  • Mystery shopped nine walk-in tub brands
  • Researched the design, features, and customer service of the top walk-in tub manufacturers
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews

How we chose the best walk-in tubs

Based on independent research and consulting with geriatric care experts, our Reviews Team has determined the following factors to be important for our readers when shopping for a walk-in tub:

  • Cost
  • Ease of use
  • Dimensions
  • Safety features
  • Extra features
  • Door swing design
  • Warranty

We had all of our selections medically reviewed by an expert in the field to ensure each brand and model is appropriate for our readers’ needs.

Table 1 Comparison of the best walk-in tubs, as of July 2022

Brand

Tub cost

Type

Threshold height

Special features

Safety features

Warranty

Ella Ultimate Walk-In Tub

$6,566

Whirlpool

6 inches

Water/air jets, bidet jets, colored LED lights,  foot massage

Two grab bars, slip-resistant flooring

Limited lifetime on parts, non-transferable

Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker

$1,999

Soaker

5 inches

Handheld shower

Grab bar, slip-resistant floor

1 year

American Standard Gelcoat Entry Series

$5,202

Soaker

6 inches

Quick drain system, handheld shower

Two grab bars, slip-resistant flooring

Lifetime warranty (door seal), 10 years (tub shell), 5 years (all other parts)

Ella Transfer

$4,673 and up

Whirlpool

4.5 inches

Water/air jets, bidet jets, colored LED lights,  foot massage

Two grab bars, slip-resistant flooring

Limited lifetime on parts, non-transferable

AmeriGlide Sanctuary 2646

$3,361

Soaker

6.25 inches

Handheld shower

Slip-resistant floor

Lifetime warranty (door seal), 10 years (tub), 5 years (pump and motor), 1 year (faucet)

Best Walk-In Tubs for 2022

Most Features for the Money: Ella Ultimate Walk-In Tub

Ella's Bubble Ultimate walk in tub

Pros Includes features such as air and water jets, foot massage, and dual drains that typically cost extra with other brands Customization available to meet your specific needs
Cons Highest-priced tub on this list ($6,566)
  • Cost: $6,566 (tub only)
  • Free purchase and installation quote? Yes, in-home consultation
  • Tub type: Whirlpool
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall: 60 inches long x 30 inches wide x 38 inches tall
    • Seat: 21 inches wide x 15.5 inches deep x 15 inches tall
  • Threshold/step-in height: 6 inches
  • Door style: Inward swinging
  • Water capacity: 85 gallons
  • ADA-compliant: Yes
  • Standout features: Handheld shower, two grab bars, 17 water jets (including bidet jets), 17 air jets, colored LED lights, foot massage, dual drains, inline water heater to maintain warm bathing temperature, auto-clean system
  • Warranty: Lifetime limited non-transferable warranty

The Ella Ultimate Walk-In Tub, manufactured and sold by the Chicago-based Ella’s Bubbles company, comes with many features considered extras on other models. This is why we chose the Ella Ultimate as the walk-in tub with the “Most Features for the Money.”

For example, while most walk-in tub companies charge more for features like hydrotherapy (water massage), air jet massage, and dual drains (which empty the tub more quickly), all of these are standard with Ella walk-in tubs. Many people find water and air massage to be great for sore muscles and joints, and quick drain systems add to the convenience of using a walk-in bathtub. 

The Ella Ultimate is also one of the more modern models on the market, with a brushed stainless steel door and chrome fixtures. In addition to the wide range of features, its size will also be attractive to many customers. 

At 60 inches long, the Ella Ultimate will fit the space of a standard existing bathtub. That extra length is also nice for taller people and those who want to stretch their legs out in the tub. Cleaning is easy with this brand, as the water jets create cleaning ozone bubbles every time the tub is used, and the air jets automatically pump extra water out after each bath.

The Ella company states that its gravity-driven dual drain technology allows the tub to drain in about 80 seconds, meaning users don’t have to wait long to exit the tub. You can also add the following optional features: 

  • Digital controls in place of push buttons
  • Heated seat
  • Head support 
  • Seat riser for those who need extra support or want to cover the bidet jets
  • Shower column and screen for using the walk-in tub as a shower 
  • Swivel tray (for a drink, book, or other supplies)

Customer service

You can reach Ella’s customer service department in the following ways:

  • Phone: 1-312-757-5554
    • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday
    • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT Saturday
  • Email: info@ellasbubbles.com 
  • Mailing Address: 2101 S. Carpenter Street, Chicago, IL, 60608

Ella’s Bubbles also provides free technical support for as long as you own the tub. 

Payment and financing options

If you buy your walk-in tub directly from Ella, you can pay in the following ways:

  • Credit card 
  • PayPal
  • Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin or Ethereum) 

Ella also offers financing through PayPal, Klarna, and Hearth, independent lenders that have variable interest rates depending on how quickly you pay off your purchase. Third-party retailers may offer other payment and financing options as well.

While this walk-in tub is pricier than many other models in our lineup, a variety of therapeutic benefits come standard with the Ella Ultimate. If you experience muscle soreness or fatigue, or other issues that are alleviated by massage, this model could be an excellent option.

Most Affordable Walk-In Tub: Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker

Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker walk in tub

Pros One of the lowest-priced walk-in tubs on the market Returnable within 90 days from the manufacturer and other retailers
Cons Fewer extra features (such as dual drains and water jets) than most other models Shorter warranty than other brands
  • Cost: $1,999 (tub only)
  • Free purchase and installation quote? No
  • Tub type: Soaker
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall: 52 inches long x 30 inches wide x 40.5 inches tall
    • Seat: 17 inches deep x 23 inches wide x 17 inches tall
  • Threshold/step-in height: 5 inches
  • Door style: Inward swinging
  • Water capacity: 75 gallons
  • ADA-compliant: Yes
  • Standout features: Handheld shower, grab bar
  • Warranty: 1 year

The Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker is a basic model that doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, but it’s priced several thousand dollars less than most other brands, making it our top pick for “Most Affordable Walk-In Tub.” 

It has a high-gloss triple gelcoat for durability, a built-in 23-inch seat, a slip-resistant floor, and comes standard with a faucet plus a handheld shower. You can choose between two configurations, a left drain with a door that opens to the right, or a right drain with a door that opens to the left. 

Ariel walk-in tubs are available through the manufacturer or through retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wayfair. If you’re interested in this model, it’s worth checking out all possible sellers to find the best price. Ariel doesn’t offer installation with its products, so whether you order from the company or a third-party retailer, you will need to find your own installer. Ariel does offer four-to-seven-day free shipping within the continental U.S., and some retailers offer free shipping as well.

While Ariel does not have a showroom to try out one of its models in-person before ordering, the company does offer a 90-day return policy. If the tub arrives at your home and you aren’t happy with it, you can return it—although you will have to pay shipping costs, which could be pricey for an item this big. 

But keep in mind home improvement stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot carry Ariel walk-in tubs, and you may be able to find a location that has a floor model to look at (and possible sit in) before ordering.

Customer service

If purchasing your Ariel tub through the manufacturer’s website, you can reach the customer service department in the following ways:

A member of our Reviews Team member called Ariel and was greeted promptly by a representative, who was helpful in answering our questions.

Payment and financing options

Payment options will vary based on retailer, but if you buy your walk-in tub directly from Ariel, you can pay by credit card or PayPal. Third-party retailers may offer other payment and financing options as well.

If you need the added safety a walk-in tub provides but not a lot of extra features, the Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker may be just what you’re looking for.

Best Soaker Walk-In Tub: American Standard Gelcoat Entry Series

American Standard Gelcoat Entry Series walk in tub

Pros Competitively priced deep soaker tub Trusted brand in home appliances and fixtures
Cons Fewer standard features (such as water jets and dual drains) than higher-priced models Quick drain system uses a pump to empty water from the tub (as opposed to gravity-based systems of other brands)
  • Cost: $5,202 (tub only)
  • Free purchase and installation quote? No
  • Tub type: Soaker
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall: 51.5 inches long x 29.75 inches wide x 42 inches tall
    • Seat: 23 inches wide x 15 inches deep x 17 inches tall
  • Threshold/step-in height: 6 inches
  • Door style: Inward swinging
  • Water capacity: 60 gallons
  • ADA-compliant: Yes
  • Standout features: Handheld shower, two grab bars
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on door seal, 10 years on tub shell, 5 years on all other parts

The American Standard Gelcoat Entry Series 52 x 30 with Soaker System is an affordably priced model that’s two inches taller than most other walk-in soaker tubs, allowing users to have a deep soak in the bath. This made it our pick for “Best Soaker Walk-In Tub.” Deep soaking tubs can help save space in the bathroom since they’re taller while also allowing the bather to be comfortably submerged in an upright position. 

Because it’s a bit smaller than some other models, it uses less water. American Standard walk-in tubs come with a quick drain system that empties the tub in less than two minutes.

American Standard walk-in tubs are not available directly from the manufacturer, but they are widely available through home improvement stores and online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair. American Standard provides a store locator on its website to help you find retailers and showrooms in your area.

This company is a trusted name in home appliances, with more than 140 years in the business. From about 1,100 customer reviews, the company has a star rating of 4.5 out of 5 on the Consumer Affairs website and a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on TrustPilot, indicating high customer satisfaction.

Customer service

You can reach American Standard’s customer service department in the following ways:

  • Phone: 1-855-815-0004 
    • 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday
    • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Saturday
  • Mailing address: 30 Knightsbridge Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854

Payment and financing options

Payment and financing options will vary based on retailer.

American Standard is a trusted brand in household fixtures, and because this company sells its walk-in tubs through retailers across the country, there is a good chance you can see one in person before purchasing. This, combined with affordability and a solid warranty, makes American Standard a good option for anyone wanting a soaker walk-in tub.   

Best Wheelchair-Accessible Walk-In Tub: Ella Transfer

Ella's Bubble Transfer walk in tub

Pros Includes features such as air and water jets and dual drains that typically cost extra with other brands Five sizes available
Cons Outward swinging door requires more room outside of the tub
  • Cost: $4,673 and up (tub only)
  • Free purchase and installation quote? Yes, in-home consultation
  • Tub type: Wheelchair-accessible with whirlpool options
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall: 52 inches long x 26 inches wide x 40 inches tall
    • Seat: 14.25 inches deep x 19 inches wide x 17 inches tall
  • Door style: Outward swinging
  • Water capacity: 45–85 gallons
  • ADA-compliant: Yes
  • Standout features: Handheld shower, two grab bars, 13 water jets (including bidet jets), 17 air jets, dual drains, inline water heater to maintain warm bathing temperature, auto-clean system
  • Warranty: Lifetime limited non-transferable warranty

The Ella Transfer walk-in tub includes an outward swinging door measuring 33–36 inches wide, depending on the model. That’s about twice as wide as most other brands: the Ariel Walkin 3052 Soaker, for instance, has an 18-inch-wide door. With the extra-wide door and a low 4.5-inch threshold, the Ella Transfer makes it easier for someone in a wheelchair to get in and out of the tub, giving it the title “Best Wheelchair-Accessible Walk-In Tub.” 

While the Ella Transfer doesn’t come standard with all of the features included in the Ultimate, you have a variety of packages and tub sizes to choose from. In addition to selecting the tub dimensions you want, you can also add the following options:

  • Two- or five-piece faucet system
  • Heated seat
  • Head support 
  • Seat riser for those who need extra support or want to cover the bidet jets
  • Shower column and screen for using the walk-in tub as a shower
  • Colored LED lights 
  • Foot massage
  • Microbubble therapy (bubbles that function as a gentle massage)

All Ella Transfer tubs come standard with digital controls and provide the same self-cleaning technology as the Ella Ultimate.

Customer service

You can reach Ella’s customer service department in the following ways:

  • Phone: 1-312-757-5554
    • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday
    • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT Saturday
  • Email: info@ellasbubbles.com 
  • Mailing address: 2101 S. Carpenter Street, Chicago IL, 60608

Ella’s Bubbles also provides free technical support for as long as you own the tub. 

Payment and financing options

If you buy your walk-in tub directly from Ella, you can pay in the following ways:

  • Credit card 
  • PayPal
  • Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin or Ethereum) 

Ella also offers financing through PayPal, Klarna, and Hearth, independent lenders that have variable interest rates depending on how quickly you pay off your purchase. Third-party retailers may offer other payment and financing options as well.

For people in a wheelchair who need the ease an outward swinging door can provide, the Ella Transfer is a great option with a variety of sizes, features, and prices to choose from.

Best Walk-In Tub for Small Spaces: AmeriGlide Sanctuary 2646

AmeriGlide Sanctuary 2646 walk in tub

Pros Most compact model of any walk-in tub our Reviews Team has researched Freestanding design allows the tub to be installed anywhere in the bathroom, making it a good choice for people with caregivers
Cons Each extra feature adds cost to the base price
  • Cost: $3,361 (tub only)
  • Free purchase and installation quote? Yes
  • Tub type: Soaker
  • Dimensions:
    • Overall: 46 inches long x 26 inches wide x 38 inches tall
    • Seat: 14.5 inches wide x 15 inches deep x 16.5 inches tall
  • Threshold/step-in height: 6.25 inches
  • Door style: Inward swinging
  • Water capacity: 50 gallons
  • ADA-compliant: Yes
  • Standout features: Slip-resistant floor
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty on door seal, 10 years on tub unit, 5 years on pump and motor, and 1 year on faucet

The AmeriGlide Sanctuary is the most compact walk-in tub we found, so we chose it as the “Best for Small Spaces.” It’s also unique in that you can install it in the middle of a bathroom if you’d like. This can be a good option for people who have caregivers who need to reach into the tub from all sides.

Because this tub is compact, the seat (14.5 inches wide) is not as wide as that of most other walk-in tubs. Compared to many models with seats measuring at least 21 inches wide, losing 6.5 inches of width could result in a seat that’s too small for many people.

One of our Reviews Team members who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall sat in a walk-in tub with a 23 inch-wide seat and found it comfortable, but felt the 14.5 inch-wide seat in the Sanctuary 2646 might be too confining. If you’re looking at this model, it’s worth marking the measurements on a chair to see if it would be large enough for you. AmeriGlide also makes other walk-in tubs with wider seats.

You can add the following options to the AmeriGlide Sanctuary 2646:

  • Water jets: $999
  • Air jets: $1,030
  • Fast drain system: $299

The fast drain system will empty the tub in less than one minute. Another charge associated with this model is a shipping fee of $385.

Customer service

If purchasing your AmeriGlide tub through the manufacturer’s website, you can reach the customer service department in the following ways:

When our Reviews Team called AmeriGlide’s customer service department, a representative came on the line right away. She was very helpful and friendly, answering all of our questions knowledgeably and even measuring a tub in the warehouse to obtain a measurement we couldn’t find online. She also gave us her email address in case we had any other questions. Overall, we were very satisfied with our customer service experience.

Payment and financing options

Payment options will vary based on retailer, but if you buy your walk-in tub directly from AmeriGlide, you can pay in the following ways:

  • Credit card 
  • Check
  • PayPal

Financing is also offered through PayPal and the third-party lender Bread. Third-party retailers may offer other payment and financing options as well.

For people in an apartment, condominium, or a house with small bathrooms, the AmeriGlide Sanctuary could be a great fit. Just keep in mind the seat is smaller than other walk-in tubs, so it may be too confining.

How do walk-in tubs work?

Walk-in tubs provide a safe and convenient way for people with mobility, balance, or strength issues to bathe. When shopping for a walk-in tub, keep in mind safety should be your primary concern. 

Nancy Mitchell, RN, is a senior care nurse who explained that not all walk-in tubs are created equal. “The major safety concerns relate to the height of the step threshold, number and placement of mobility bars, and overall ease of operation (how easy it is to reach the console, change settings, etc.),” said Mitchell.

These safety concerns should be considered when choosing a tub that best fits your needs. For some people, a roll-in shower without a threshold may be a more appropriate option. A roll-in shower requires a bathroom remodel, yet may be comparable in price to a walk-in tub plus the installation. An occupational therapist can assess your needs and help determine what is best for you.

Outward vs. inward swinging door

Doors that open outward give you more room inside to sit down before closing the door, but they also require extra room outside the tub to accommodate opening the door. While inward swinging doors give you less room inside the tub to close the door and sit down, they require no room outside to open and carry a lower risk of leaking, because the water pressure from inside the bathtub helps keep the door closed.

Water use

Walk-in tubs generally use more water than standard bathtubs. About 50 to 80 gallons is a common volume for a walk-in tub, compared to 30 to 60 gallons for a standard tub. It’s important to know whether your hot water heater can supply enough hot water for a bath. In general, standard-sized walk-in tubs require at least a 50-gallon water heater, while larger-sized tubs (such as models for patients with obesity or couples) will need a 75-gallon water heater. Some walk-in bathtubs come with an in-line heater to help supply hot water as well.

Tub threshold

Because the threshold of a walk-in tub is so low, users must get into the tub and then fill it up, which can take 10–15 minutes for the largest models. Filling time also depends on your home’s water pressure. You may also wish to adjust the water temperature before filling up the tub so you don’t have to wait for the water to reach your desired temperature. While the filling time isn’t a problem for most people, waiting in the tub while it drains may be a different story.

People who are mobile and have good balance can begin drying off as the tub is draining, but people with mobility issues are at risk of getting chilled while they wait. Those customers may want to invest in a tub with a double drain or a fast-draining system (such as American Standard) to speed up the wait time.

What to look for in a walk-in tub

Walk-in bathtubs can seem like complicated appliances to purchase if you’re new to them. Manufacturers offer a wide range of options, styles, and price points. But we’ve simplified the process by dividing the factors into categories and explaining each one. 

Cost

The cost of walk-in tubs varies quite a bit depending on size and features. The models chosen by our Reviews Team are some of the most affordable walk-in bathtubs on the market, but installation will add to the cost of your new walk-in tub. 

The cost of installation can vary as well and is affected by how much work, if any, needs to be done on the existing plumbing and electrical system, as well as any other construction needed for installation of the new tub.

Size

Measure the space of your current tub or shower (or wherever you’re planning to install the new walk-in tub). When shopping, have these measurements handy so you can choose a walk-in bathtub that’s the same size. If it’s smaller, that’s usually fine too—many come with an extender kit to fill in any remaining gaps at the end or on one side. 

Most walk-in tubs are about 40 inches high, compared to the standard 20-inch height of most standard bathtubs. This extra height accommodates the bench and allows the bather to be submerged in water.

It’s important to know what size of seat you will need to bathe safely and comfortably. A member of our Reviews Team (see figure 1 below) sat in a few different models with seats that measured 23 inches wide by 15 inches deep, which is standard for many walk-in tubs. While she found those seats to be adequately sized for her 5-foot 5-inch frame, someone taller and/or larger would likely have felt cramped. 

Figure 1 A member of our Reviews Team tests the size of a walk-in tub

A woman sits in a walk-in tub display model to test the size

Walk-in tubs come in all different sizes, including those for couples and larger people. If you’re concerned about having enough room on the seat, look around to find a model that’s big enough for your comfort. 

You also don’t want a seat that isn’t deep enough. This could be a matter not only of convenience but also safety; a shallow seat may cause you to slip off when turning around while bathing or reaching for something behind you, for instance. 

In addition to the walk-in tub’s dimensions, check to see which side the drain is on. You’ll want to make sure it’s on the same side as your current tub’s drain to avoid extra plumbing costs during installation.

Tub type

Walk-in tubs fall into one of several categories based on style and purpose. Here are the most common types of walk-in bathtubs. Keep in mind many manufacturers offer several types in their product line.

Soaker walk-in tub

Soaker models have walls that are a bit higher than other walk-in tubs, allowing you to get submerged up to your neck while sitting on the tub seat.  

Bariatric walk-in tub

These tubs allow people who weigh more than 300 pounds to bathe comfortably and safely. Bariatric walk-in bathtubs have extra-wide doors and seats and larger overall dimensions.

Wheelchair accessible tub

Wheelchair accessible tubs comply with ADA standards, meaning they meet certain requirements for ease of use and safety features. The threshold on walk-in tubs for wheelchair use is very low, and the width of the door is wider, to allow the user to move from the wheelchair to the tub seat.

Threshold height

The hallmark of a walk-in tub is that it has a much lower threshold to step over than a standard bathtub. But not all walk-in thresholds are equal. Some are taller than others (typically between three and seven inches), which the models above demonstrate, and some are shorter to allow for easier access for wheelchair users to transfer.

Safety features

Most walk-in tubs on the market come with the following standard safety features:

  • Low threshold to step into tub, usually fewer than 7 inches tall
  • Handles or grab bars inside the tub
  • Built-in seat compliant with ADA wheelchair accessibility standards for height
  • Textured, non-slip surfaces
  • Leak-proof door

Some walk-in tubs also offer overheating protection (also known as anti-scald valves). As an added safety measure, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting the maximum temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burns.1

Special features

In addition to the standard features above that help ensure your safety while bathing, many walk-in tub makers offer some or all of the following special features.

Shower wand

Some models offer a handheld shower attachment. This can make it easier to rinse your back and other hard-to-reach areas. 

Headrest

Some models include a cushioned headrest, which can provide comfort and support while you relax in the bath.

Fast draining capabilities

Some tubs come with two drains and/or a pump that quickly empties the tub after your bath. This is especially nice for people who are not able to dry off while waiting for the tub to drain. 

Certain brands such as American Standard and Ella’s Bubbles offer quick draining technology as a standard feature, but other brands consider it an upgrade. 

Hydrotherapy

Also called water massage, hydro massage, and whirlpool, some walk-in tubs include jets that force water from the side of the tub into the sitting area, providing relaxation for sore or tense muscles. Keep in mind water massage is stronger than air massage, and it may be too strong for some people’s enjoyment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns whirlpools can carry a higher risk of bacteria in the water compared to standard tubs.2 For this reason, it’s important to talk to your doctor before using a whirlpool or hot tub of any kind if you have an open wound, burn, infection, or a compromised immune system. 

Air jet massage

Air jets work the same way as water jets, but instead of water coming through, air is forced through the jets into the tub. This gives more of a gentle, bubbling feeling to the bath rather than the strong massage of water jets.

Aromatherapy

Studies show that aromatherapy, or treatment with essential oils, can help boost mood, relieve anxiety, and lessen pain.3 Certain walk-in bathtub brands, such as Ella’s Bubbles and American Standard, offer the option of infusing the water with essential oils, potentially making your bath even more relaxing. 

Color therapy

Also known as chromotherapy, color therapy is a centuries-old method of treating the mind and body through colored lights. While studies vary in validity and reliability, research has shown that color therapy can be beneficial for a variety of illnesses, from high blood pressure to wound healing.4 

Some manufacturers offer walk-in tubs with an array of changing light colors. Whether they’re truly beneficial or not, many people enjoy relaxing in a colorful bath.

Ease of cleaning

This is an important factor, especially if you buy a large walk-in tub or have problems with mobility and balance. Walk-in tubs are harder to clean than standard tubs or showers due to their larger size and depth compared to standard tubs. 

If you have a caregiver or housekeeper who can clean the tub, that is a definite plus. Certain tubs are also self-cleaning, which means the jets spray a cleaner into the tub after each use. In the case of Ella’s Bubbles walk-in tubs, the ozone created during use and automatic emptying of the jets after use also helps clean the inside of the tub.

Accessibility

For larger people or those in wheelchairs, it’s important to pay close attention to the size of the seat and the width of the door on any tub you’re interested in.

First, decide what size seat you will feel comfortable sitting on to bathe without bumping the sides of the tub. It’s often not possible to try a tub out before purchasing it, but you can use the seat measurements from a manufacturer’s website or brochure and compare them to a chair or recliner you often use at home. 

Practice reaching behind your back and turning in the seat to make sure you can move around without losing your balance. If you’re concerned about having enough room in the tub, it’s worth the time and effort to make sure you’re happy with the size offered before ordering one. Ending up with a seat that’s too narrow or not deep enough to sit on safely will affect your experience (and possibly your safety) while using a walk-in tub.

Next, check out the door. Look at the width to make sure you can get in and out easily. For people in wheelchairs, walk-in tub manufacturers offer accessible tubs with wide doors that swing out to allow easy transfer onto the tub seat.  

It’s a good idea to have an occupational or physical therapist, or a nurse experienced in older adult care conduct a home safety evaluation before purchasing a walk-in tub with an outward-swinging door. They can evaluate your bathroom space, spot any hazards that need to be addressed when installing the tub, and talk you through getting in and out of the tub. You can usually set up an evaluation by asking your doctor for a prescription, which will ensure that insurance or Medicare pays for it.

Return policy

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to try out most walk-in tubs before ordering them. While some box stores do have a few models on their floor, most of the options are only available to look at online. Bath remodeling companies and walk-in tub manufacturers have even fewer choices to see in-person before buying. 

Instead, they send a representative to your home to measure your bathroom space and look through models with you online. You make your choices on the model and features you want, and complete the ordering process with the representative. This can feel like a high-pressure sale for some people, although it does give you the chance to ask questions and speak to someone knowledgeable about that brand.

Buying a walk-in bathtub from a home improvement store can give you some of the best return options, as most of the large chains have store-wide return policies on all of their items. For instance, Home Depot offers standard 90-day returns on its walk-in tubs. 

Manufacturers’ return policies vary, though. While some manufacturers such as Ariel provide a 90-day return policy similar to most home improvement stores, others, like AmeriGlide, do not accept any returns on their walk-in bathtubs. 

American Standard and Ella’s Bubbles fall in the middle, both accepting returns within 30 days. Ella’s Bubbles charges a 25% restocking fee, though, which could be up to $2,000, depending on the cost of the tub. 

One company the Reviews Team called (but didn’t include in this review) would not give a definite answer on returns, saying it would depend on the circumstances and how much the tub had been customized. 

It’s important to see the return policy in writing before ordering, so you know what recourse you have if the tub arrives damaged or you simply don’t like it once you see it in person. For example, the seat may not be comfortable, or it may be hard to reach the faucet and controls while seated in the tub. One of our Reviews Team members was surprised at how much pressure it took to hold the door closed while latching the handle on several walk-in tub models. 

Whatever the case, your new walk-in tub needs to be easy for you to use. After all, convenience is one of the major reasons many people buy a walk-in tub in the first place. If it’s not easy to use, it won’t be convenient for you to take a bath in.

Our Reviews Team recommends buying a walk-in bathtub from a company with a return window. This will give you the chance to sit in the tub, try out the door and controls, and make sure the grab bars are conveniently placed for you, all before installing it. 

If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, you can exchange the tub for a different model. While returning an item this large is a hassle, it’s far better to get the right model than to spend thousands of dollars on a walk-in tub that doesn’t meet your needs.

Warranty

Most manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty on the door seal. This is critical because without a secure, waterproof seal, you won’t be able to use your walk-in tub. On other parts such as the jets, controls, and tub shell, 5-10 years of warranty coverage is standard. 

How much do walk-in tubs cost?

Most walk-in bathtubs cost between $5,000 and $20,000 for the tub and installation. They are a significant investment, often costing more than a standard tub or shower.

Keep in mind that walk-in tubs are seen as a home upgrade and can add value to your house. If and when you decide to sell your home, having a bathroom with a walk-in bathtub and other safety features can be an attractive selling point. With an ever-growing number of people wanting to age in place, you can see this as a smart investment in your home.

The final cost of a walk-in tub breaks down into two parts: the tub itself and the installation. While the price of most walk-in bathtubs is around $2,000 to $10,000, installation can add another $1,000 to $10,000 depending on a number of factors, such as the amount of construction needed, bathroom layout, and the existing plumbing and electrical configuration.

“Even the most basic conversion from traditional tub to walk-in tub will require a competent, experienced plumbing professional, as well as decorators/contractors to finish the job,” said senior care nurse Nancy Mitchell, RN.  

How to save money on walk-in tubs

Purchasing a walk-in tub and paying for its installation represents a significant investment. Although the cost of walk-in tubs can be steep, it’s a necessary expense in some cases to ensure your safety or that of a loved one while bathing. 

The good news is, with a little research and creativity, you can save money when buying a walk-in tub. Read on to see your options.

Save on installation fees

If you have a plumber or other handyman in your network of family and friends, you may be able to save thousands on installation fees by purchasing a walk-in tub from a home improvement store or an online retailer such as Wayfair or Amazon. These companies sell only the tub and don’t usually include installation. 

Keep in mind, though, that whoever installs your new tub should have experience with both plumbing and remodeling to do the job right. You don’t want problems with leakage or parts failure due to faulty installation. But if you trust their expertise and skills, this can be a great cost-saving measure.

Check out financing options

Making use of the financing plans some walk-in tub manufacturers offer is another way to save money. In June 2022, for example, American Standard offered $1,500 off plus no interest or payments for 12 months. 

Look for deals

Don’t forget to search for good deals. As with most retail products, holiday sales are common. If you know you’ll be investing in a walk-in tub soon, wait until a week before the next big holiday and start watching the websites and store ads for the brand you’re interested in. 

Chances are, you’ll be able to get money off at these times. For instance, Ariel was offering 20% off all walk-in tub models the week of July 4.

Ask for price-matching

Some companies (especially big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s) will match the price of any competitor for the same tub. This means if you find the exact tub with the same measurements and features at another retailer (including the manufacturer), you can see if a store near you will match that price. 

If you find a retailer offering free shipping or less expensive installation and will also match the price of a competitor, this can be a great cost-saving measure.

See if you qualify for USDA funds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers Rural Repair and Rehabilitation grants and loans to help low-income people who don’t qualify for other financing to modernize and upgrade their homes, including the addition of walk-in tubs. You can visit their website to find out more details and fill out an application.

Consider a walk-in tub conversion kit

Walk-in tub conversion kit with area shown where a door can be added to an existing bathtub

If you simply cannot afford a walk-in tub but need the convenience and safety of a low threshold, you can buy a conversion kit for your existing bathtub. Available from AmeriGlide and home improvement stores for $230 to $600, conversion kits involve cutting an opening in the side of your existing bathtub and installing a door with a waterproof seal. Your tub will then function very similarly to a walk-in tub, minus the raised seat and extra features. 

Not only is the cost of a conversion kit far cheaper than a walk-in tub, you’ll pay much less in installation because there will be no removal of the old tub or adjustments to plumbing and electrical lines. You can also have extra grab bars and handles installed at the same time for added safety.

If you need a built-in seat, jets, fast draining, or other extra features, this may not be your best bet. But if cost is your primary concern, a conversion kit could be just what you’re looking for. 

Does Medicare cover walk-in tubs?

Unfortunately, Medicare will not cover the expense of walk-in bathtubs because they are not considered durable medical equipment.

Does Medicaid cover walk-in tubs?

In some states, Medicaid will help pay for the cost of a walk-in tub under certain circumstances. This can include situations in which someone is transitioning from a nursing facility to their own home and certain modifications are medically necessary. 

If you’re enrolled in Medicaid, check with your state’s Medicaid program to see if it can provide coverage for your walk-in tub.5

Who should use a walk-in tub?

Anyone who is concerned about their safety in the bathroom, especially those at risk of falling or losing their balance, could benefit from a walk-in bathtub. A walk-in tub is one of the safety features that may allow you or a loved one to continue living at home even when extra care and precautions are needed.

In a study of adults over age 65, researchers found more people fell in the bathroom than in any other room of their home. Bathroom falls were also more than twice as likely to cause injuries than falls in other rooms.6 And bathrooms are the third most common room where serious falls happen.7 It’s a smart idea to have a medical alert system in the bathroom for safety in case of a fall or other emergency.

Check out NCOA’s FallsFree CheckUp tool to see if you’re at increased risk of falling.

In addition to the added safety a walk-in tub provides, many people enjoy the convenience of stepping over a low threshold and sitting on a secure, comfortable seat while bathing.

Bottom line

The walk-in tub market is filled with options covering a wide range of prices, sizes, and features. After researching the best walk-in tub brands, our Reviews Team likes the features of the Ella Ultimate walk-in tub sold by Ella’s Bubbles, a company with an excellent reputation. But it’s important to think about your budget and both your present and future needs when deciding on the walk-in bathtub that’s best for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Avoiding Tap Water Scalds. Found on the internet at https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/5098-Tap-Water-Scalds.pdf
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water use in hydrotherapy tanks. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/other/medical/hydrotherapy.html
  3. Ho SSM, et al. Experiences of aromatherapy massage among adult female cancer patients: A qualitative study. Found on the internet at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28252835/
  4. Azeemi STY, et al. The mechanistic basis of chromotherapy: Current knowledge and future perspectives. Found on the internet at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S096522991930915X?via%3Dihub
  5. Medicaid.gov. Medicaid and CHIP How-To Information. Found on the internet at https://www.medicaid.gov/about-us/beneficiary-resources/index.html#when2contactstate
  6. Stevens JA, et al. Circumstances and outcomes of falls among high risk community-dwelling older adults. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4700929/#__ffn_sectitle
  7. Moreland BL, et al. A Descriptive Analysis of Location of Older Adult Falls That Resulted in Emergency Department Visits in the United States, 2015. Found on the internet at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1559827620942187

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