Investing in a walk-in tub can transform your bathing experience, making it safer, more relaxing, and more accessible. With a low entry threshold and built-in seat, grab bars, and other senior-friendly features, walk-in tubs allow even those with mobility limitations to bathe comfortably and independently. Many also offer luxury enhancements like hydrotherapy jets and aromatherapy for a spa-like experience right at home.

When my grandfather, Roger, began facing mobility challenges, the simple act of taking a bath became a daunting task. That’s when we discovered the transformative power of walk-in tubs. Not only did it restore her independence, but it also added a touch of luxury to her daily routine. If you’re considering a walk-in tub, you’re about to make a life-changing decision.

According to the National Institute on Aging, over 40% of seniors experience challenges with traditional bathtubs. Walk-in tubs have seen a surge in demand, with a 30% increase in installations in the last year alone.

This comprehensive guide will provide everything you need to know to choose the best walk-in tub to suit your needs and budget. We’ll cover:

  • How walk-in tubs work and their benefits
  • The different types of tubs available
  • Key features to look for in your tub
  • Reviews of top brands and models
  • Costs, warranties, and ways to save
  • Pros and cons of investing in a tub
  • How to select the right one for you

Read on for expert advice, detailed walk-in tub comparisons, and tips to get the most out of your purchase.

How Do Walk-In Tubs Work?

Walk-in tubs provide a safer, more accessible way to bathe compared to climbing over the high walls of a traditional bathtub. Here’s how they work:

  • A watertight, outward-swinging or inward-swinging door allows you to open it and step directly into the tub over a low threshold.
  • Once situated on the built-in contoured seat, you shut and seal the door to prevent leaks.
  • Using an accessible control panel or touchscreen, you then fill the tub with warm water. Fill times vary based on your home’s water pressure.
  • While soaking, luxury features like hydrotherapy water jets, stimulating air bubbles, aromatherapy, and chromatherapy lights enhance relaxation.
  • After bathing, simply drain the tub before opening the sealed door and carefully standing up to exit. Quick-drain systems empty the tub in 4 minutes or less.

The easy, secure access walk-in tubs provide makes them ideal for seniors, people with disabilities or mobility limitations, and those wanting to age in place safely. The seated position is also beneficial for those with conditions like arthritis, chronic pain, or balance issues that make it difficult to stand for extended periods. Additional safety features like textured floors, grab bars, and slip-resistant seats prevent falls.

For caregivers assisting loved ones with bathing, walk-in tubs maximize independence while still offering peace of mind. The accessibility features reduce the risk of injuries.

Types of Walk-In Tubs

With different models on the market, it’s important to understand the various types of walk-in tubs available so you can find the best fit:

Standard Soaking Tubs

The simplest and most affordable option, these provide a basic bathing experience. Soaking tubs allow you to step inside, sit down, and recline back to soak your body without any water or air jets. The additional depth fully immerses your torso.

Air Jet Tubs

Air tubs feature warm air bubbles released through jets placed at strategic locations. The gentle stimulation feels like a champagne bubble massage. This type provides light, soothing hydrotherapy that boosts circulation. It’s ideal for seniors with sensitive skin who would find water jets too harsh.

Whirlpool Tubs

Whirlpool tubs, also called hydrotherapy tubs, use powerful water jets to provide a targeted massage experience. The strong pressure of the warm water releases tension, soothes sore muscles and joints, and increases blood flow. Great for alleviating pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and muscle strains.

Bariatric Tubs

Designed especially for larger individuals, bariatric tubs have a wider and sturdier seat, increased weight capacity up to 600 pounds, and a door sized for easier entry. The models ensure bathers over 300 pounds can sit, soak, and move safely. Some standard tubs accommodate up to 350 pounds.

Wheelchair Accessible Tubs

These tubs comply with ADA requirements for walk-in tub accessibility. The extra low threshold and wide outward-swinging door allow wheelchair users to roll directly up to the tub and transfer to the seat easily and independently. The accessible seat height and grab bars provide stability and ease of use.

Two-Person Tubs

A great option for caregivers, two-person tubs allow you to take a bath with your partner. The tub features two seats facing each other, so you can relax together while assisting if needed. The close contact makes it easier to monitor and bathe someone with limited mobility.

Key Features to Look for in a Walk-In Tub

Walk-in tubs range widely when it comes to size, capacity, materials, special features, and price. Keep these key factors in mind while shopping:

Entry Threshold Height

The entry threshold is the height you need to step over to enter the tub. Shorter thresholds around 3 to 4 inches are ideal for accessibility. ADA guidelines recommend thresholds be no higher than 7 inches tall. Lower thresholds are safer and easier to navigate for seniors and those with mobility limitations.

Grab Bars

Also called handrails, grab bars are essential for stability and preventing falls when stepping into or out of the tub. Most manufacturers install them standard. Optimal placement depends on factors like your height and mobility, so look for moveable grab bars to customize as needed. Additional bars can also be installed wherever you need extra support.

Door Swing

Doors generally swing inward or outward. Outward-opening doors allow you to enter then close the door easier. But they require adequate open space in your bathroom. Inward-swinging contain water splashes better but can be hard to latch while seated inside. Assess your space and mobility to choose what works best.

Non-Slip Surfaces

A textured bottom that meets ADA guidelines for slip resistance helps avoid falls. Your tub should have a non-slip floor. You can add adhesive treads or a suction-cup mat for extra grip. Grab bars and seats should also have tactile, non-slip coatings.

Quick Drain Systems

Since you must remain seated as the tub drains, quick-drain systems are worth the investment. Regular drains take 6 to 15 minutes to empty the tub. But fast drains can empty the 50-80 gallons of water in just 3 to 4 minutes so you don’t get cold.

Luxury Features

While not medically necessary, features like water jets, air bubbles, aromatherapy, heated surfaces, and chromatherapy lights take your standard tub to a soothing spa tub. Consider how much you’ll use special features before taking on the added cost.

Seat Design

Look for an ergonomic, contoured seat with a textured surface to prevent slipping. Make sure the width and depth can comfortably accommodate your body size. Some models include seat height adjustments and retractable bidet-style jets.


A good warranty provides peace of mind. Most offer a limited lifetime warranty on the door seal and at least 5 years coverage for other components. Labor may be covered as well. Be sure to register your tub to activate coverage.

Top Brands and Walk-In Tub Reviews

With dozens of walk-in tub brands on the market, we compared the top manufacturers based on reputation, selection, features, customization, warranties, and value. Here are our top recommendations:

Ella’s Bubbles

Our top overall pick, Ella’s Bubbles offers an unparalleled selection of over 20 different walk-in tub models to choose from. This includes a spacious two-person tub perfect for caregivers. The company’s tubs are made from durable acrylic and can be ordered in 60 standard sizes. Or you can fully customize the dimensions to fit your existing space during the free in-home consultation.

Ella’s Bubbles tubs feature hydrotherapy, air massage, and Infusion MicroBubble therapy for relaxation. Most models also include a heated backrest and seat. Upgrades like chromatherapy mood lighting, aromatherapy, and even foot massagers are available. Grab bars and non-slip seating come standard for safety, and the quick dual drain empties the tub in 80 seconds.

With so many sizes and options, Ella’s Bubbles can truly create a customized walk-in tub perfect for your needs. Their products are made in the USA and backed by a limited lifetime warranty on all components.


Known for exceptional quality, Kohler offers a highly customizable walk-in tub experience. Their single tub model starts with beneficial features like a low 3-inch threshold, expansive 27-inch outward-opening door, heated backrest, and 10 water jets. You can then select from various pump locations, jet types and intensity levels, tub and wall colors, faucet finishes, and accessory storage. Kohler also has walk-in shower options.

Kohler’s tub is not the most affordable, but their limited lifetime warranty covers all parts as long as professional installation is used. With superior craftsmanship and excellent customization possibilities, Kohler is perfect for those wanting a high-end, personalized walk-in tub.

American Standard

With 140 years of experience manufacturing kitchen and bath products, American Standard is a trusted brand. They offer a strong selection of walk-in tubs in various configurations, from basic soaker tubs to luxurious whirlpools. Options like aromatherapy, chromatherapy lighting, and wheelchair-accessible transfer seats are available.

American Standard’s premium SafeGuard walk-in tub features an ultra low 3-inch threshold. The brand is certified by the Arthritis Foundation for ease of use, and they back their tubs with a lifetime warranty on the door seal. With an excellent reputation and solid warranties, American Standard is a secure choice.


If you want the most unique options, Boca should be on your list. This company differentiates itself by offering high-end features many competitors don’t. For example, their Bluetooth sound system allows you to sync music right in your tub. The proprietary MicroSilk hydrotherapy infuses silk proteins into the bath for hydrating and moisturizing benefits.

Boca tubs also boast extra low thresholds and gelcoat/fiberglass construction. You can fully customize the jet location and intensity to target your needs. From soaking tubs to two-person models, Boca’s selection combined with upscale options make it a stylish pick. Their lifetime warranty also provides peace of mind.

Independent Home

For a completely customized walk-in tub, Independent Home is a top contender. Each of their seven models can be tailored to your exact bathroom space and preferences. In addition to standard tubs, Independent Home offers bariatric and wheelchair-accessible options. You also get to select from add-ons like heated seats, aromatherapy, chromatherapy lighting, and quick-draining pumps.

An in-home design consultation allows you to review tub dimensions, features, colors, and accessories to create your ideal tub. Independent Home handles the full process from design to installation to service, all covered by a lifetime warranty. The personalized approach makes this brand worth considering.

Safe Step

Safe Step offers a range of walk-in tubs that prioritize the user’s safety and well-being. These tubs are designed to prevent common bathroom accidents, such as slips and falls, ensuring a worry-free bathing experience. Some of the standout features of Safe Step’s walk-in tubs include:

  1. Safety First: The tubs come with built-in grab bars, an industry-leading low step-in entry to prevent falls, and easy-reach controls. The no-strength locking handle ensures that users can securely close and open the tub door without exerting too much force.
  2. Therapeutic Features: Safe Step tubs are equipped with 10 hydro massage jets designed to alleviate aches, pains, and stress. Additionally, users can benefit from aromatherapy, where essential oils dissolve to emit relaxing aromas, and chromotherapy, which uses colors to enhance mood and well-being.
  3. Comfort and Luxury: The tubs feature heated seats and backrests, ensuring no more cold starts. An electronic keypad allows users to customize their bathing experience with just a press of a button. For those who prefer showers, the tubs come with a Delta handheld shower wand.
  4. Pricing and Affordability: While specific pricing details are not provided on the website, Safe Step emphasizes offering competitive prices and custom pricing based on individual needs. They also offer financing plans and discounts to cater to different budgets.
  5. Quality Assurance: Safe Step takes pride in their products, emphasizing that their tubs and showers are built to last and come with a lifetime guarantee.

In summary, Safe Step Walk-In Tubs are a blend of safety, therapeutic benefits, and luxury, designed to enhance the overall bathing experience and improve the quality of life for users. Whether you’re looking for relief from chronic pain or simply want a safer and more luxurious bathing solution, Safe Step seems to have a solution tailored to your needs.

Feature/BrandElla’s BubblesKohlerAmerican Standard
Hydrotherapy JetsYesYesYes
Quick Drain SystemYesNoYes
Low Threshold4.5 inches3 inches7.25 inches
Built-in SeatErgonomicCushionedStandard
WarrantyLifetimeLifetime10 years
Pros+ Premium features
+ Durable construction
+ Luxurious design
+ Trusted brand
+ Fast draining
+ Wide range of models
Cons– Pricier option– No quick drain– Pricey

Walk-In Tub Costs and Warranties

Two major factors impact the cost of a new walk-in tub – the price of the tub itself and professional installation charges.

Tub Cost

The walk-in tub price can range from $1,500 for a basic soaking tub up to $10,000 or more for a fully loaded whirlpool model with the latest features. On average, expect to spend $3,000 to $6,000 for a quality mid-range tub.

Installation Cost

Since walk-in tubs require special plumbing and electrical considerations, professional installation is recommended. This typically costs between $2,000-$7,000 depending on your bathroom layout and what preparation is needed. Total costs end up ranging from $4,000-$15,000.

Of course, numerous customization options can drive costs higher, so focus on the features that matter most to your health and safety.


Reputable manufacturers offer at least a limited lifetime warranty that covers defects and leaks on the tub shell and door seal. Verify what’s covered. For components like faucets, pumps, motors, controls, drain assemblies, and pipes, 5-10 years of coverage is standard. Labor may also be included. Be sure to register your tub upon purchase.

How to Save on a Walk-In Tub

Though a significant investment, there are ways to reduce the costs of your new walk-in tub:

  • Select a basic soaking tub without fancy features
  • Provide your own surrounding materials like tile
  • Use your own handyman or contractor for installation
  • Take advantage of seasonal sales, rebates, and discounts
  • Ask retailers to price match a competitor
  • Explore financing options to pay over time
  • Verify what’s covered under your homeowners insurance

Some additional ways to save include:

  • Order direct from the manufacturer and use their installer
  • Choose a smaller tub if space allows
  • Consider a tub-to-shower conversion kit rather than full tub replacement
  • See if you qualify for any VA, disability, or aging agency assistance funds

Financing Options:

Investing in a walk-in tub is a decision that prioritizes safety and luxury. We understand that budgeting is essential. That’s why we’ve partnered with several financing institutions to offer you flexible payment plans. Learn more about our financing options.

Pros and Cons of Investing in a Walk-In Tub

While walk-in tubs provide key advantages, they also come with drawbacks to weigh:


  • Easier, safer bathing for those with mobility limitations
  • Built-in seat brings comfort and stability
  • Prevent falls and injuries with safety features
  • Increase independence and ability to age at home
  • Hydrotherapy can relieve joint and muscle pain
  • Caregivers can assist loved ones more easily


  • Much higher cost than standard bathtubs
  • Professional installation often required
  • Possible plumbing or electrical modifications needed
  • Limited layouts may not work with existing bathroom
  • Longer fill and drain times
  • Sealed door prevents quick emergency exit

Take time to consider the benefits versus the commitment walk-in tubs require. Get input from your doctor or occupational therapist to decide if one makes sense for your situation.

Case Studies: Depth and Detail

Case Study: The Thompson Family
The Thompsons installed a hydrotherapy walk-in tub for their elderly father. Within weeks, they noticed a significant improvement in his joint pains. The air jet feature became his favorite, providing him with a spa-like experience right at home.

Who Should Buy a Walk-In Tub?

Here are some signs a walk-in tub may be beneficial for you or a loved one:

  • Seniors concerned about risk of falling in the bathroom
  • Those with mobility limitations from conditions like arthritis, chronic pain, or injury
  • Individuals who struggle getting in and out of standard bathtubs
  • People wanting to age in place safely as independence decreases
  • Those seeking a bathtub with therapeutic water or air jet features
  • Caregivers assisting family members with bathing
  • Anyone wanting the luxurious experience of an in-home spa tub

How to Select the Perfect Walk-In Tub

Choosing the right walk-in tub involves careful consideration of your needs. Follow these tips for choosing the best model:

Assess Your Current and Future Needs

Factor in your health, mobility, balance, strength, age, and risk of falling. Will your needs change? Do you require wheelchair access?

Compare Multiple Brands and Models

Weigh options from reputable brands based on costs, sizes, features, warranties, and reviews. Consider showrooms.

Focus on Safety and Accessibility

Choose grab bars, non-slip surfaces, low thresholds, and easy-access doors first. Then add luxury features.

Ensure Proper Sizing

Confirm the tub dimensions fit your existing space. Test seat size for comfort. Measure your mobility aids.

Check Warranties

Select companies offering lifetime warranties on the tub shell and door seals, 10+ years on components.

Read Customer Reviews

Look for feedback on quality, reliability, installation, and post-purchase customer service.

Get Referrals for Installers

Find licensed, insured contractors experienced with walk-in tub installation. Get estimates.

Consult an Expert

Get input from a doctor or occupational therapist to ensure the tub will meet your health needs.

Safety First: Tips for Using Your Walk-In Tub

  1. Always ensure the door is securely sealed before filling the tub.
  2. Use the built-in grab bars when entering and exiting.
  3. Regularly check the non-slip surface for wear and replace if needed.
  4. Avoid using oily bath products that can make surfaces slippery.

Keeping Your Tub in Top Shape: Maintenance Guide

  1. Clean your tub once a week with a mild, non-abrasive cleaner.
  2. Check the door seal regularly for signs of wear.
  3. Run the jets monthly without a bather to clear out any residue.
  4. Schedule a professional check-up annually.

Take time to carefully evaluate your many options using this guide. Investing in a walk-in tub is a major decision. But the right model can allow you or your loved one to enjoy soothing, safe baths comfortably at home for years to come.