The best walk-in tubs aren't just a safe way to take a bath. It's one of the best ways to maintain your independence and quality of life. One of the most common reasons seniors end up in a nursing facility or retirement home is because they are no longer capable of cleaning themselves. Maintaining good hygiene is essential to your overall health and a requirement for aging in place. With a walk-in tub, you can bathe yourself safely and easily, ensuring you can remain living in your own home for years to come.
We spent over 60 hours researching the best walk-in bathtub brands on the market. We spoke with experts, consulted with engineers, and read over the manuals to evaluate each brand's models. Below are the best picks based on our findings.
Kohler is a trusted brand for bathtubs, sinks, toilets, and faucets. So it’s no surprise they are on our list of best walk-in bathtubs. The Kohler Walk-in Tub features a wide door and the lowest step-in threshold of any tub we reviewed, making it the easiest and safest to step in and out of.
With 10 hydrotherapy whirlpool jets and 17 microbubble air jets, you get a luxurious soak with the Kohler walk-in tub. While other tubs have more jets, the self-cleaning feature and inline heater make it an excellent option. In addition, since the tub comes with a lifetime warranty on all parts and components, you can expect a well-made tub that's designed to last.
In addition, Kohler offers professional installation and financing for those with approved credit, making it easy to get the tub installed.
Walk-in tubs are expensive. Buying and installing a walk-in tub is quite an investment. With most brands, even the most basic soaker tub costs around $2,000 and this doesn't include the installation costs. With AmeriGlide, you know exactly how much each tub costs, as the pricing is transparently advertised. In addition, the most expensive tubs they sell are thousands less than most brands.
That said, the most affordable option AmeriGlide offers is the step-in bath conversion kit. At less than $600, you can safely convert your existing bathtub into a step-in tub. This option doesn't include the hydrotherapy benefits of most walk-in tubs, but it's an excellent option for those who can't afford a large walk-in tub. Of course, it's worth noting that this conversion kit doesn't work on cast-iron tubs.
AmeriGlide's warranty is a bit shorter than average. And the brand's online ratings with users is lacking, though this is typically due more to the installation service than the product itself.
Ella's Bubbles makes excellent walk-in tubs for all types of situations, from wheelchair accessible designs with wide outward opening doors to bariatric models capable of handling very large people. However, our favorite is the Big4Two walk-in tub because it features ample space for two senior couples to bath at the same time. In fact, this 80-inch long tub has the most hydrojets and air jets of any tub we reviewed.
Ella's Bubbles may be one of the most expensive walk-in tub manufacturers, but the quality of the designs are evident. Few manufactures have a design for everyone quite like Ella's Bubbles.
While MediTub's brand story is a bit cloudy and the claim of being the largest manufacturer of walk-in tubs might be questionable, this is our pick for best wheelchair accessible tub because the safe design makes it among the safest tubs to get into and out of, even if you're not in a wheelchair. When you open the outward swinging door, the seat is open, allowing you to sit directly into the tub without having to step over a threshold.
The tub is available with hydrojets, air massage, and aromatherapy. It provides the luxurious soaking experience you might find in a spa, but in your bathroom. And at a competitive price, it's more affordable than most tubs. That said, MediTub doesn't include installation in the price and financing is not available. Also, the warranty is not as long as other brands we reviewed.
The most stressful part of buying a walk-in tub is installing it. While some brands leave it to you to hire electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, Independent Home includes installation with the purchase of its tubs. They have a team of experts who go through a strict training process explicit to their tubs. This means they know and understand all the quirks and intricacies to putting together and installing an Independent Home walk-in tub. While this makes the tubs more expensive, it's worth it in the long run.
Independent Home offers nine walk-in tubs. There's a design for nearly everyone, from wheelchair accessible models to bariatric models. In addition, you can get all the luxurious hydrotherapy options, such as whirlpool jets, inline heaters, and air jets.
How does a walk-In bathtub work?
A standard bathtub is designed for you to lie down and relax or stand up and shower. This means the height is about 14 to 20 inches, the width is between 30 and 40 inches and the length is between 50 and 70 inches. For seniors with mobility issues, the problem with this design is the curb. It requires you to step over a high ledge to get in or out of the shower. And with bathrooms posing the highest risk for falls in seniors, a walk-in bathtub lowers the risk of injury significantly.
Since walk-in tubs are taller than they are wide and feature a door with a watertight seal, you walk into the tub without the risk of tripping over a high curb. And instead of lying down, the tub has a built in seat, making it easy to get up and down. The best walk-in tubs also feature jets and other features to help ease aching joints and muscles.
Types of walk-In bathtubs to consider
As with regular bathtubs, there are lots of different types of walk-in tubs. Most are designed with a specific therapy or accessibility purpose in mind. Think carefully about the reasons you need a walk-in tub and evaluate how well each type fits this reason.
This is your basic walk-in bathtub. It’s nothing fancy. Just a large tub with a door and a seat.
Hydrotherapy Walk-In Tubs
Often referred to as Whirlpool tubs or Jacuzzi tubs, the hydrotherapy walk-in tub uses strong jets to massage muscles. It’s often recommended for aiding in arthritis.
Aerotherapy Walk-In Tubs
This type of walk-in tub uses air jets to move water in a gentle way around the body. This type of walk-in tub is typically recommended to seniors who want some benefits of hydrotherapy, but have sensitive skin that can’t handle the force of the water jets.
Wheelchair Accessible Tubs
Look for a walk-in or roll-in tub with a wide swinging door and grab bars for easy transition from the wheelchair to the tub seat.
Aromatherapy Walk-in Tubs
These tubs mix essential oils with water to provide a relaxing scent while you bathe.
Bariatric Walk-In Tubs
A bariatric walk-in tubs also feature wide-swinging doors and are engineered to handle people who are over 300 pounds.
Chromatherapy Walk-in Tubs
These walk-in tubs feature colored lights to improve the bathing experience. The ambience is not unlike an aromatherapy tub.
Combination Walk-in Tubs
Most walk-in tubs are a combination of types. For example, you can get an aromatherapy feature with a hydrotherapy tub or an aromatherapy air jets in a bariatric tub.
Features to Look for with Walk-In Tubs
Walk-in tubs are just like regular bathtubs, in that there are a myriad of features you may not even know to look for until it’s pointed out to you. Making sure you consider these important features is essential to buying the best walk-in bathtub for you.
The best walk-in tubs have handrails placed in strategic places to make it easier to get in and out of the tub. Handrails are a necessity and should be included in the price. Don’t rely on using the door or a contoured ledge for your stability.
Since walk-in tubs are designed to let you sit in an upright position, the chance of slipping is lower than with a standard tub. However, once the tub has drained, you need a nonslip floor to make sure you can get out of the tub without falling.
A walk-in tub’s door won't open until the water has drained completely. As such, look for tubs that have a high drainage rating. You don’t want to be sitting in cooling tepid water, waiting for the tub to drain. That said, a fast drainage system may require some alterations to the plumbing, such as switching from a 2-inch to a 3-inch drainage pipe.
Look for a tub with contoured edges and easily cleanable surface. A handshower faucet is excellent for cleaning yourself, but also the tub. If the tub uses air or water jets, look for self-cleaning models. The water can collect in the pipes and grow bacteria that can be difficult and costly to clean.
Typically a premium feature, in-line heating keeps your water warm while you soak so you don’t have to keep adding hot water to the mix. This is an excellent feature if your water heater isn’t capable of keeping up with your hot water demands. It also saves water.
Walk-in tubs aren’t designed for you to lay in like a standard tub. And there's a good reason for this - it’s safer and easier to get up from a sitting position than a horizontal one. However, some models offer a slightly reclined seat, which some people may prefer. That said, the lounger seats are more difficult to get in and out of for seniors with balance and strength issues.
While it’s not the same as having to step over the 20” curb on a standard bathtub, a walk-in tub usually has a small curb between the door and the floor so that the door can create a watertight seal. This curb can range between 3 and 7 inches tall. If you have limited mobility, make sure you choose a walk-in tub with a short step-in clearance.