What you need to know when choosing a walk-in tub

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | October 6, 2016

Now that you've decided to purchase a walk-in tub, how do you know which one is best for your needs? Walk-ins are similar to any other bathroom fixture in that there are numerous styles and features offered by the various manufacturers. So what do you need to know before starting to shop? This simple guide to walk-in tubs should answer all your questions.

Walk-in tubs: a guide to their styles and features

Perhaps the three primary considerations when choosing a new tub are where it will be located, who will be using it, and if there are any special health conditions that need to be treated. Once you have those questions answered, you can start checking things off on the list below:

  • Size - Are you simply replacing your traditional tub with a walk-in or is the new tub part of an entire bathroom renovation? Sizes of walk-in tubs range from even smaller than conventional tubs to large enough to be considered a spa. Regardless of what type of project you have in mind, the new tub's size is sure to be an important consideration when doing your job planning.
  • Cost - Unless you're one of those lucky people for whom cost isn't an issue, establishing a budget for your new tub and its installation costs should be one of your first steps. Tub size almost always affects the price and so do the features or options the various models offer. Pricing can range greatly for the tub itself, and tub installation costs will vary based on whether you're swapping out an existing tub or starting with a remodeled space.
  • Hot water heater - Models that are larger or deeper than traditional tubs can take quite a bit of water to fill. Keeping the water at the desired temperature for a long bath that involves therapy can be a challenge. For this reason, many manufacturers such as American Standard and Premiere Care offer in-line heaters as standard or optional features. An in-line heater normally utilizes a thermostat that can be set to maintain bath water at the desired temperature.
  • Air jets - Does someone in your home have problems with their circulatory system? If so, look for a walk-in model that has air jet technology. The gentle massaging properties of air jets located throughout the tub may help get blood moving in extremities.
  • Water jets - Whether someone in your family has arthritis or just aching muscles, a walk-in model with adjustable water jets may be able to provide quick relief. The number of jets offered can vary by model and manufacturer. In many cases, the direction and water pressure of individual jets can also be adjusted.
  • Chromotherapy - The use of lights and colors to heal the mind and body is called chromotherapy. Many manufacturers of walk-in tubs offer colored light therapy as a standard feature or option in their various models to make bathing a very relaxing experience.
  • Quick drain - Most walk-ins have a swinging door that makes it easy to get in and out of the tub. However, the door design means that it can't be opened after bathing until the water has drained past the bottom of the frame. Manufacturers such as American Standard offer Quick Drain technology that can significantly reduce the amount of time needed to drain water when bathing is complete.
  • Safety features - Does someone with a handicap or mobility issues live in the home where the walk-in is being installed? If so, safety features such as built-in grab bars, non-skid bottoms, and handicap height seats may be a priority. Many manufacturers offer these features standard or as add-on options.
  • Warranty - Regardless of how good a company's reputation may be, occasionally there can be problems with their products. Always check to see what type of warranty is offered by the tub manufacturer, low long it's in effect, and what it should cover.

Using this checklist when shopping for your tub should help you pick out the tub model that best suits your needs.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.