What Is a Walk-In Tub?

By Michelle LaRowe

  • Overview

    A walk-in tub is simply a tub with a door. Its invention allows disabled individuals to bathe independently. While adults may not have trouble asking or accepting help with basic household tasks, when it comes to personal care like bathing, they may feel helpless and unhappy about needing such personal assistance. For adults who have had to tolerate sponge baths or occasional showers with assistance because they were too heavy to be lifted into a traditional tub, a walk-in tub is the welcome solution.
  • Function

    Walk-in tubs provide individuals with disabilities, the elderly and those who don't feel comfortable stepping over the high side of a tub a safe way to bathe. For individuals in wheelchairs or those who use other assistive devices, walk-in bath tubs can be customized with seats, handles and grab bars to make transferring to the tub easy.
  • Features

    Walk-in tubs have a door in the side or front of the tub. The door opens so the you can walk or be transferred into the tub. Unlike a traditional tub where you need to step up a significant distance to enter, the threshold of a walk-in tub is only 2 to 6 inches high, depending on the model. Most walk-in bath tubs also have nonslip surfaces. Some models also have seats and handheld showerheads.


  • Considerations

    Unlike a regular tub, you have to enter a walk-in tub before filling it with water and wait until the water drains before you get out. A good door seal is critical. Buy your walk-in tub from a manufacturer that offers a lifetime warranty on the seal. It may be necessary to remodel a bathroom to accommodate a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs cost $3000 to $5000 or more, plus the cost of installation.
  • Types

    Walk-in tubs come in a variety of styles and sizes, from compact to extra long. Some models have a traditional tub spout, while others have air jets and offer a Jacuzzi or whirlpool feature. Some models are designed for easy access from a wheelchair or lift. Some models even have a temperature control valve that fills the tub with water at a preset temperature. Some models are designed and manufactured to meet the stringent requirements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). These models can be used in locations that are required to be ADA compliant.
  • Benefits

    Soaking in a warm tub helps to relieve stress and promote circulation. Increased circulation can help to reduce unsightly and painful varicose veins. Soaking in a walk-in bathtub can also reduce episodes of insomnia and can even help the body release impurities through the skin (see Resources). When bathing is easy and enjoyable, individuals are more likely to bathe often, improving their cleanliness.
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