The Best Walk-in Bathtubs of 2021 (According To Us)
Walk-in tubs have become increasingly popular in recent years. Once seen purely as a functional alternative to a regular tub for older people they now boast leading design and features. While the key feature, a door that means you enter at ground level — rather than climbing over the side — is common to them all, they can offer a range of features from simple seats to integrated heating and hydro-therapy massage.
Whatever features they offer, their main benefit is safety. Having a bath is a surprisingly dangerous activity. Many Americans fall foul of the wet and slippery conditions of the bathroom every year. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the bathroom was the most dangerous room in the average American home. Even mild physical conditions multiply this danger, making bathroom safety a priority for millions of Americans.
Fortunately, there are many models available from which to choose, and the following are the top rated options on today’s market:
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Here are our full reviews of the most popular and top rated walk-in bathtubs currently on the market.
Ella Deluxe Air and Hydro Massage Walk-In Bathtub
The Ella Deluxe measures a comfortable 30″ x 55″ and features an extra-wide seat that is just under 20 inches in width. This deluxe model is fitted with a heated seat and backrest to keep you comfortable and warm while the tub area is filling with water. In addition, it has a removable rubber back and neck rest for extra comfort. It also features a 12-jet hydrotherapy system with a dial to control intensity. An in-line water heater is part of this model as well, and this ensures that your bathwater stays warm longer. The unit’s air therapy system has three different air flow speeds and an auto-purge feature designed to keep the pipes free of residual water.
The five-piece Huntington Brass faucet is manufactured from solid brass and fitted with chrome plating for a beautiful look. The hand-held shower head has a retractable spout and a flexible, five foot-long hose. The Ella Deluxe also boasts a rustproof, stainless steel frame with leveling legs that can be adjusted for easy installation. This unit comes with the buyer’s choice of a digital controller or an easy to use push button panel. Additionally, this tub is outfitted with two, stainless steel grab bars, a low-entry threshold, and a textured, slip-resistant floor to enhance your safety when you bathe. It also has two, 2-inch overflow drains and a wall extension panel kit. Its door swings inward and seals quickly without the need for excessive pressure and the door features beautifully crafted tempered glass with a frosted finish. This model has a lifetime limited warranty on the acrylic tub shell, door seal gasket, door, and frame. It also comes with a five-year warranty on all other parts.
- Features a 12-jet hydrotherapy system
- Has an in-line water heater
- Your choice of push button control or digital controller
- Backrest and seat are heated
- Comes with two, built-in stainless steel grab bars
- Floor is textured to prevent slips
- Includes a jet air massage system
- Has 3-speed air flow intensity control
- Features auto-purge technology to keep the unit clean
- Good warranty coverage
If money is no object, the Ella Deluxe is a terrific choice for anyone who wants comfort, safety, and convenience while enjoying a touch of luxury.
Arista Whirlpool Fully Loaded Walk-In Bathtub (Best Value)
The Whirlpool Fully Loaded by Arista is built to last, with a solid, stainless steel frame and eight precision support points. It measures 27″ x 53″ and has a white, Lucite acrylic finish that is reinforced with triple coat fiberglass. It is easy to maintain as well, since it features removable front access panels.
This model also has several luxury features, such as 12 water jets and 20 air massage therapy jets. Additionally, it has an in-line water heater so that you can extend the length of your bath without finding yourself in tepid water. This unit is also perfect if you are looking for a full body, deep soak bathing experience.
It has excellent safety features, such as three built-in grab bars, as opposed to the one or two featured by most walk-in bathtub models. It also has an ADA compliant contoured seat, and a slip resistant, textured floor. Additionally, this unit features an easy to operate, soft touch, electronic control pad that does not require excessive pressure to operate. It has an inward swinging door and is available in left or right drain configuration. A complimentary hand shower, drain and faucet are included with this unit.The door seal is covered by a lifetime warranty.
- Reasonably priced
- Deep soak configuration
- Three grab bars for additional safety
- Designed for freestanding or alcove style installation
- Textured, slip resistant floor
- Comes with 20 adjustable air massage therapy jets
- Has 12 water jets
- Features an in-line water heater
- Has an ADA compliant contoured seat
- Comes with complimentary fixtures
- Does not have quick drain feature, so this model takes approximately three to four minutes to drain
This reasonably priced model is the perfect choice if you desire a model with luxury features, but that is also easy to clean and maintain. If a quick drain feature is not important to you, you cannot go wrong with the Whirlpool Fully Loaded.
American Standard Walk-In Whirlpool Bathtub
The American Standard Value Series provides walk-in bathtubs based on the latest technology in comfort and safety. The Whirlpool Bathtub is a fully equipped model with advanced therapeutic options. It comes with a 10 year warranty on the tub itself, a lifetime warranty on the door seal, and a five year warranty on all other parts. This model measures 32″ x 52″ and features a whirlpool massage system with an in-line heater to maintain the water’s temperature. It boasts six water jets and a legs-only massage for an invigorating and soothing therapeutic bath.
This model has a watertight, full-sized door that opens outward and a low-entry threshold that is contoured for ease of use. The finish is made from durable, high-gloss gelcoat, and it has a polished chrome drain, handheld shower wand, and a premium, fast-fill faucet. Additionally, this unit has a built-in safety grab bar and an overflow drain.
For added safety, the floor is manufactured with a textured surface to lower your risk of losing your balance or slipping. There is also a built-in seat at standard chair height, which is contoured to provide extra comfort and allow you to stand up with ease. This bathtub also has an interesting feature called a tub extender. This allows the tub to be retrofitted into a standard bathtub space, even if the dimensions are not ideal. It also has simple to operate push button controls, and features American Standard’s patented Quick Drain technology that allows the tub to drain in approximately one minute. This model is available in white or off-white.
- Has patented Quick Drain feature
- Designed with a low-entry threshold door
- Boasts a quick-fill faucet for added convenience
- Comes with a textured floor and grab bar for safety
- Includes six built-in water jets
- Features easy to use push button controls
- Unit includes a tub extender kit
- Comes with excellent warranty coverage
- There is sometimes a delay when consumers call American Standard for service, so it is a good idea to schedule service calls far in advance or ask for the service ticket to be upgraded if a repair is necessary.
This model’s design, as well as its safety features, were developed to help maximize wellness and comfort for each customer. Overall, this walk-in bathtub offers great value for money and provides everything necessary to create a safe and comfortable bathing environment.
Ella’s Ultimate Air Hydro and Foot Massage Walk-in Bathtub (Editor’s Pick)
If you are looking for a luxury model with therapy features that include a foot massage system, then the Ella’s Bubbles Ultimate is a great choice. This unit measures 30″x 60″ and features a fast fill faucet, dual drains, a low step-in threshold, slip resistant floor, two stainless steel grab bars and a glossy white acrylic finish. It has an inward swinging door, and features 17 air jets and 17 water jets with an easy to use, intensity control dial.
All jets are designed to deliver therapeutic massage to the hips, lower back, feet and legs, and consistent water temperature is maintained with an in-line water heater. If you are concerned about the buildup of mildew and mold, you will be pleased to discover that this model features an ozone sterilization function that eliminates a vast array of microbiological bacteria. This model is also perfect if you are looking for a walk-in bathtub with a wide seat, as it has a 21 inch, contoured seat. It has a retractable hand-held shower head with a convenient five foot-long hose as well. A Huntington Brass, five piece faucet assembly is also included with this model.
- Comes with ozone sterilization function
- Features two, stainless steel grab bars
- Has a slip resistant floor
- Has 17 air jets and 17 water jets
- Features glossy finish and fiberglass gel coat
- Comes with a fast fill faucet
- Independently operated foot massage feature
- Has an attractive Huntington Brass, five piece faucet assembly
- Features a wide 21″ seat
This model is perfect if you are looking for a slightly larger than average walk-in bathtub with a wide seat and unique features such as the independently operated foot massage unit. If its price is not prohibitive, you are virtually guaranteed to be pleased with this model.
Ella’s Companion Massage Walk-In Bathtub (Tub For Two)
This walk-in tub is aptly named The Companion Massage, as it features TWO 20″ seats that face each other. It is perfect for couples or companions who want to enjoy hydrotherapy together, or for a single user who simply wants the option of facing a different direction when bathing. Each seat features a removable back support for additional comfort. The Companion Massage model measures 30″x 60″ and has a low step-in threshold, slip resistant floor, and safety grab bar. This unit also boasts two, 2-inch drains that operate independently for faster draining, and an in-line water heater to maintain consistent water temperature. It is easy to take care of, due to its reinforced fiberglass gel coating. This model is fitted with a stainless steel inward-swinging door that can be completely removed for easy cleaning.
The Companion also features 15 air jets with three airflow speeds and 18 hydrotherapy jets. There is an intensity control dial built in to the unit that is easy to use, and jets are conveniently positioned to deliver therapeutic massage to your feet, legs, hips and lower back. Another feature you will find beneficial with this model is its ozone sterilization function. This feature was designed to eliminate a broad range of microbiological bacteria, as well as prevent the buildup of mildew and mold. Its high-gloss white, acrylic finish makes it an attractive model as well. The Companion Massage also has a scald-guard feature for additional safety when bathing.
- Seats two bathers
- Has 15 air jets and 18 water jets
- Features an intensity control dial
- Has in-line water heater and ozone sterilization
- Door is made from stainless steel
- Features scratch resistant shell
- Has a beautiful white acrylic gloss finish
- Has built-in safety grips and a non-slip floor
- Equipped with scald-guard feature
- Consumers have stated that this tub is heavy and difficult to maneuver, and therefore installing it does not make a good do-it-yourself project. Rather, it is best to have a contractor or several other individuals to help with getting it set up.
- Manufacturer’s warranty information must be requested from customer service
The Companion Massage is one of today’s best models if you are looking for a two-seat, walk-in bathtub with an abundance of terrific features and an attractive appearance.
American Standard Luxury Walk-In Tub with Air Spa and Whirlpool Massage
This model is an American Standard Luxury Series walk-in bathtub that measures 30″ x 51″ and features an attractive acrylic finish. Its configuration allows you or your loved one to enjoy a similar experience to that which would be expected from a larger model; however, this unit uses less water and fits in a smaller space than other bathtubs.
It comes with a tub extender kit that provides a way for the unit to be retrofitted into the space in which your conventional bathtub was placed. It features a full-size, V-shaped door with a low-entry threshold, and is fully equipped with all the therapeutic and safety features found in any high-end luxury model.
For example, the air spa system boasts 26 air jets that deliver an effervescent, relaxing and invigorating therapeutic massage. Additionally, it boasts 13 water jets for extra massage benefits. The heated blower works at variable speeds to deliver warmth through thousands of small bubbles, which ultimately help to boost circulation. The unit’s in-line heater guarantees that your water will remain at the perfect bath temperature for a significant length of time. This model also has a non-slip floor and a built-in safety bar. It comes in an attractive shade of off-white, called “linen,” and its warranty includes 15 years on the tub shell and ten years on all other components.
- Luxury model
- Features practical configuration
- Beautiful acrylic finish
- Has non-slip floor
- Comes with a built-in safety bar
- Features 26 air jets
- Has 13 adjustable water jets
- Uses an in-line heater to guarantee water temperature
- Comes with a tub extender kit
- Features a full-size, V-shaped door
- Good warranty coverage
If you do not mind the higher price tag, it will be difficult to find a more luxurious walk-in bathtub. This model also has more therapeutic features than most similar models on today’s market.
Meditub Wheelchair Accessible Hydrotherapy Walk-In Spa Tub
If you or someone you love needs a wheelchair accessible, walk-in bathtub, you should consider this Meditub model. This unit measures 29″ x 53″ and is designed for accessible, independent bathing for those who regularly use a wheelchair. Featuring elegant craftsmanship, it is comprised of the highest grade fiberglass, with a strong gel coating for additional durability and beauty. This model is manufactured to the industry’s highest safety, functional and quality standards and is built to last. It also features a stainless steel frame with adjustable feet for easy leveling and installation, and is a brand that is known for its strength and durability. It boasts an outward swinging door and an ADA compliant contoured seat as well.
This Meditub model also features a patented, deluxe hydrotherapy massage system that includes a single horsepower pump with water jets. Each individual water jet can be adjusted with regard to the velocity of water as well as its level of pressure. The tub will maintain a consistent water temperature, as this unit features an in-line heater. It is also outfitted with an Air Switch Fingertip Touch Control to make it easy to adjust the jet and waterflow options.
This model is equipped with Autodrain Technology as well, which provides a way for you to drain your bathwater quickly, rather than having to wait to exit the bathtub. Traditional drainage systems in such units can take as long as six minutes to drain, but models featuring the aforementioned Autodrain Technology allow you to drain the tub in less than one minute. This unit also includes a seven-inch extension kit with a set of panels to use if you want to extend the tub. The Meditub Wheelchair Accessible model is quick and simple to install and comes with a one year guarantee on plumbing, 10 year guarantee on the tub itself, and a lifetime warranty on the unit’s door seal. This model is available in white.
- Easy to install
- Features adjustable hydrotherapy water jets
- Drains quickly
- Has an in-line heater for consistent water temperature
- Comes with Air Switch Fingertip Touch Controls
- Features Autodrain Technology for fast draining
- Comes with a seven-inch extension kit
- Manufactured from the highest quality fiberglass currently available
- Has a stainless steel frame and features a strong gel coating
- Comes with a good warranty on parts and performance
- Has ADA compliant features
- Built to last
- Appropriate for three wall alcove installation only
Easy to install and built from strong and durable materials, this model is well worth considering. If a sturdy, wheelchair accessible unit with hydrotherapy features is what you are looking for, this Meditub is a solid choice.
Spa World Venzi Rectangular Soaking Walk-In Bathtub
If your goal is a high-quality, walk-in bathtub that is perfect for soaking, then the Spa World Venzi is an ideal option. Measuring a comfortable 30″ x 60″, this model offers a truly luxurious experience. Made from industrial grade materials and featuring cutting-edge crafting techniques, this unit is not only ADA compliant, but is also easy to clean and maintain.
The Spa World Venzi features six adjustable water jets that are powered by a single horsepower pump. A friction heater maintains the temperature of the water for extended comfort with no extra power necessary. Although it does not have as many “extras” as other models, it is built to last, easy to care for and reasonably priced.
This model is a fantastic choice if you prefer a traditional, rectangular bathtub with spa jets, but need a low-entry threshold. The reasonable price of this model makes it the perfect choice if these are your goals.
Ariel Soaker Fiberglass Walk-In Bathtub (Budget Option)
This ADA compliant walk-in bathtub is a popular choice among many consumers due to its heavy duty reinforced door system and fiberglass resin coating. It measures 29″ x 48″ and features a free-standing support frame made of stainless steel. It is the ideal model for anyone whose priority is comfortable soaking. Additionally, it comes with a patented built-in neck and head rest.
The model also features Roman faucets and a hand-held shower head for added functionality and beauty. The Aerial Soaker comes with a three year warranty on all parts, excluding labor, and a one-year guarantee on its workmanship. It is also very reasonably priced and quick and easy to install.
If you are shopping for an inexpensive, but durable walk-in bathtub that is attractive and ideal for soaking, the Aerial Soaker is an excellent choice.
The Pros and Cons of a Walk-in Tub
Walk-in bathtubs are designed with safety in mind. Featuring a water-tight door they allow you to get into and out of the bath without having to climb over the side. While this is an action many people take for granted bathrooms, which often have wet, smooth surfaces, are associated with more accidents than any other room in the home.
There are many different models of walk-in tub, catering for every need. Whether it’s simply level access to help with a minor mobility problem or specifically designed for a wheelchair-user they help their bathers keep safe and retain independence.
Safety is the biggest pro of any walk-in tub. After bathing, it is their main purpose. Indeed, for many of the cons on this list you will be able to find tubs that have safety measures to address them.
- The biggest pro is that they provide level, or close to level, access to the bath and remove the risks associated with entering, and most of all exiting, a traditional bath. Even mild physical or neurological conditions can make such an act perilous even before things are wet and slippery. The bathmat market exists for very good reasons!
- Walk-in baths will also have other features to help prevent falls, including seats, handrails and non-slip surfaces. These features will vary, so people can find the walk-in tub that’s exactly right for their needs.
The design of walk-in tubs means they must be filled and emptied with the bather in the tub. This can create temperature-related risk for the bather.
- First, because there is no opportunity to test and adjust the temperature before getting in there is the risk of scalds from water that is too hot as it starts to fill the bath. There is also the danger of being a boiling frog: sitting in water that is too hot, but to which you have adjusted as the tub filled. Even away from these extremes, people can spend a few uncomfortable minutes adjusting temperature if it isn’t right to begin.
- Second, because the bather has to remain in the tub while it fills and empties there is the risk of chilling, especially when wet after a bath. While for most people the use of a bath or robe might be enough to counter this, it can present a health hazard for some and — combined with other risk factors — even contribute to hypothermia.
Walk-in tubs are frequently taller than they are wide, often because they feature a seat, so bathers do not lie in the bath. This different position means that the water depth needs to be significantly higher, laying down means immersion only needs around one foot of water, but a seated position might need three or four times that depth.
This additional depth, as well as the space created by the seat, means that walk-in tubs can contain features not often seen in traditional tubs. Walk-in tubs often boast features like heated seats, hydro-therapy jets, water circulation and lighting.
There are a number of health benefits associated with simply bathing in deep water, like that offered by a walk-in tub. Bathing often helps reduce aches and pains and has been associated with lower blood pressure. A walk-in tub adds to these benefits with features that have specific therapeutic value.
Surprisingly, this depth does not necessarily mean walk-in tubs wastewater. While it varies based on design and how full baths are used, the different shape means they use around the same amount of water as a regular tub.
Unlike regular baths — which people tend to fill and drain while they do other things — you have to remain in a walk-in bathtub from the first drop coming from the faucet to the last drop draining away. Aside from the risk of chilling, this can make bathing a long process. Some models have rapid fill and drain features, but even these still take time, perhaps 5-10 minutes depending on the fill level.
There is also a risk of leaking, and even flooding, from the door. While most open inwards, so the water pressure keeps the door closed, some open outwards to make access easier for some users. If not securely shut these risk opening as the volume of water increases pressures. This could result in costly flood damage. Less dramatic are problems with the door’s seals, which can get damaged or degrade over time, allowing water to seep out.
Features and Cost
Most walk-in baths have a number of features that are not found in regular baths. Aside from the increased water depth and level entry virtually all will have well-designed safety features like additional handrails and non-slip surfaces, and most will have a seat. Many will have extra features like temperature safety valves or therapeutic jets.
While these can often be purchased as modifications for regular tubs, there are huge benefits in having a single integrated unit. Aesthetically a single unit will always look better than a regular tub with a seat, bathmat and add-on rails. It is also safer, since there aren’t multiple points where items can be loose and cause an accident, or where the additional hassle of using the add-on means it isn’t in place the time it’s needed.
These features come at a cost and while some states may offer Medicaid assistance they are not covered by Medicare, meaning most people will have to fund installation themselves. The price of walk-in tubs varies depending on features, but installation also needs to be considered.
While walk-in tubs have all their functions integrated into the unit and installation is mainly about connecting them to existing services, they often require remodeling in bathrooms. This is particularly the case where they are replacing traditional tubs. Most bathrooms are designed with the traditional tub shape in mind, meaning some work might be required to get the relevant pipes in the right place and there’s a good chance an unsightly gap will be left.
Every installation will be different so it’s impossible to give a meaningful average cost. However, at the lowest tubs start at around $1,500 and a straightforward installation about $2,500, making a total of $4,000. If your budget is higher there are feature-laden tubs at over $10,000 and a difficult installation requiring lots of work might be the same again.
Caring For Your Tub
WHAT TO USE
While some will suggest that it’s fine to use products designed for other uses on a bath and even a walk-in tub this is not recommended. There are a number of risks, they may be abrasive, damaging the surface and parts of your walk-tub, and the chemicals they contain may have unintended effects, from leaving a slippy residue to weakening the material or even exposing you to a build-up of toxic fumes.
There are many products that are ideal for the job. Or, if you prefer to do things naturally, a mixture of water and vinegar — one part of each — is ideal.
BEFORE YOU USE YOUR TUB
It’s important to clean your tub before you first use it to ensure there is no dust or debris left over from the installation. These might just spoil your first bath, but an unnoticed bit of debris could just as easily damage the surface or even the mechanisms of your tub.
First, give your tub a rinse, then wipe down with your choice of cleaner, before giving a final rinse and dry.
If your tub has any jets it’s important to clean these as well. To do this, you will have to fill your bath until they are covered by at least a few inches of water. This will require a specialist cleaner and there may well be some, or at least a sample, provided with the installation. Once they have been run through drain the tub and give it a final rinse and it will be ready to use.
AFTER EVERY USE
All tubs benefit from a light clean after every use, but walk-in tubs, which can have a few more nooks and crannies than traditional tubs benefit far more. At the very least the bath should be rinsed to remove any residue from your bath. Ideally, it should also be wiped and dried.
Mold and bacteria thrive in damp conditions. It will be impossible to get your tub totally dry, but the more moisture you can remove the less likely it is that mold will get a foothold. If you can it’s useful to open windows, or at least turn on any ventilation, for an hour or so afterwards to help keep the room dry.
Depending on how you use your bath you should schedule a regular deep-clean. If you use the bath daily or add anything to the water, like salts, this should be at least every two weeks. If you use it less frequently or just with water, then every month is likely to be enough.
This clean should be similar to your initial clean, using a cleaner on surfaces and using a custom cleaner to ensure that any water jets are thoroughly cleaned. These pipes are particularly important this they are the places most likely to remain damp between uses and, therefore, most prone to damp.
With so many models from which to choose on today’s market, deciding which walk-in bathtub is best may at first seem like a daunting endeavor. Here are some tips to make this task a bit less challenging:
The best place to begin is by analyzing your needs or those of the person for whom you are purchasing the tub. For example, you should give thought to whether or not wheelchair accessibility is needed or if there is a possibility it will be in the future. You should also consider how much time you or your loved one needs to spend in the tub, as comfort features are obviously more important if you plan to take long or therapeutic baths. Those with circulation problems definitely benefit more from models with air jets or hydro-massage functions. It is also essential to think about whether a model with digital controls or a push button panel is best. This largely depends on whether or not dexterity is an issue.
If bathroom moisture is a concern, always choose a unit with a door seal that is guaranteed. Self-cleaning systems are also important if you are worried about mold or mildew in your bathroom. Naturally, the appearance of the bathtub is something to which a bit of thought should be given, as costly items should be aesthetically pleasing and look nice in your home.
In addition to these considerations, there are several must-have safety features that should come with any model you are thinking of purchasing:
- Anti-slip surface
- Low-entry threshold
- Safety bars
- Easy to use controls
It also helps to think of all walk-in bathtubs as falling into one of three categories: inward swinging door models, outward swinging door models, and wheelchair accessible tubs. Models featuring a door that swings inward are the most common type of walk-in bathtubs for personal use, as they tend to be the most attractive looking and least expensive. For general use for an elderly individual or someone with mild to moderate mobility issues, such models are good options.
Although not as common as a model with a door that swings inward, tubs with an outward swinging door are best for those with severely restricted mobility or more serious conditions that affect balance.
Wheelchair accessible tubs–also referred to as slide in tubs–have a wider door and floor level entry. Not surprisingly, they are a bit larger than the aforementioned models and somewhat costlier; however, they are ideal for those who use wheelchairs.
Ultimately, these types of bathtubs are an excellent investment for seniors or any person who has problems with balance or mobility. Once you determine the kind of tub you need and which extra features are most important, it is simply a case of reviewing several options to find one that meets your needs and fits comfortably within your budget. With so many choices available on today’s market, you will probably be surprised at how easy it is to find the best walk-in bathtub for you or your loved one.
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