How We Test
In 2014, Dignifyed's sister site Top Ten Reviews started reviewing walk-in tubs, and we’ve built on that knowledge to include not only reviews but also comprehensive information regarding frequently asked questions and pre-purchase considerations. Although we did not purchase, install or use the walk-in bathtubs, we’ve collectively spent over 60 hours researching online and consulting with professionals to determine which features are the most important in different specialty areas and to find the best walk-in tubs in each category.
We did not seek to make a comprehensive review of every walk-in bathtub on the market. Rather, we decided to focus on models, types, features and companies that would be readily available to most consumers. We stuck with the types of tubs that seem to be most prevalent in the market and models that would fit in most bathrooms in single-family homes.
All of the walk-in tubs we found are built for comfort and safety, but each tub has specialty features — such as water therapy and wheelchair access — that make it right for different people. We considered the design, style and features of each bathtub along with the warranty provided by the manufacturer.
Design and Style
We limited our evaluation to models that fit the standard tub alcove dimensions and models that stayed within a typical range of volumes. On average, the tubs we evaluated measured 30 inches by 60 inches and had a 70-gallon capacity. On all of the models we researched, you could choose the side of the tub where the drain and door would be located.
In our research, we reviewed product listings, manuals and user reviews, looking for bathtub models with solid reviews, product literature that was easy to read and understand, and the fewest complaints, particularly regarding highly used features, like door seals, faucets and jets.
Nearly all of the tubs we evaluated came with a range of standard features, including grip bars, nonslip surfaces, detachable showerheads and convenient fixtures that allowed the water to be controlled and drained easily. Some tubs had multiple drains to empty the tub faster. We looked at tubs in the following categories: soaker tubs, whirlpool baths, air jet baths, and combination tubs with both air and water jets. We attempted to find representative models in each of these categories to account for different needs and budgets.
Additionally, we looked for tubs that would allow for different levels of access. Walk-in tubs are typically built specifically for easier access for people with limited mobility. They usually feature a slim door, with a small ledge to step over, as well as a bench to sit on. Even with these conveniences, some models of walk-in tubs can still present challenges for some people, depending on their condition and level of mobility. We chose to evaluate tubs with slide-in doors in addition to those with walk-in doors to accommodate people in this category, including those who may need to use a wheelchair some or all of the time.
One important factor to consider when choosing a walk-in tub is its warranty. Walk-in tubs typically have more complex designs and features than standard tubs. Most walk-in tubs are more expensive than standard ones — walk-in tubs can cost $2,000 to $5,000 (or more), compared with $200 to $300 for standard tubs — making it even more important to protect your investment.
In our research, we looked for warranties that extended beyond the typical bathtub warranty, which is usually in the one-year range, depending on the manufacturer. We think a walk-in tub should have a warranty of at least five years on its parts and a lifetime warranty on the door and seals. We found that some manufacturers don't honor warranties unless the tub is installed by a certified installer, so it's important to know how each warranty is maintained and applied. We made every attempt to note these issues in our reviews, but it's always a good idea to get the details straight from the manufacturer.