What is Dignifyed?
Dignifyed is an online publication devoted to reviewing technology and services aimed at preserving seniors' independence and quality of life. The website launched in October 2017 with in-depth, hands-on reviews of medical alert systems. Dignifyed's reviews of walk-in bathtubs make up the latest batch of product reviews and resources as of December 2017.
How many walk-in bathtubs are there?
There are hundreds of different walk-in bathtubs on the market. A search for walk-in tubs at U.S. retailers yields a staggering number of choices. For example, Lowe's boasts a reported 145 options on its website, Home Depot lists over 1,500 results (many likely duplicates or simply related accessories) and Amazon's listing of tub manufacturers includes more than 450 products. When you consider products from big national brands and specialized manufacturers, the choices are diverse and plentiful.
For the purposes of our reviews, we narrowed down our choices to brands and products that are readily available in the United States or online.
How many hours of research did you perform for this review?
Collectively, the Dignifyed team of editors and writers spent more than 50 hours researching walk-in bathtubs. Additionally, one of our writers consulted with a medical professional when researching a walk-in tub for her elderly father.
What did you test and evaluate?
While reviewing the top walk-in bathtubs, we considered the following elements: bathtub design and style, features of the bathtub models, and warranties or other contractual guarantees or offers from the manufacturers. It's important to note that Dignifyed's review of walk-in bathtubs did not include hands-on testing of the tubs. Rather, our review of these products entailed conducting thorough research of product information, consumer reviews, competing service reviews, and expert interviews and guidance. Rather than incur the cost of installing and testing numerous bathtubs in expensive testing facilities, we put our efforts into research, reporting and analysis.
FAQs About Walk-In Tubs' Design and Style
What types of walk-in tubs are there?
There are many types of walk-in bathtubs on the market. You can think of them in the following ways: soakers versus therapeutic, wheelchair accessible versus step-in, and standard bathtub versus bariatric (for individuals who weigh more than 300 pounds). Of the therapeutic styles of tubs, you often have choices of aerotherapy tubs, which use air jets; hydrotherapy tubs, which use water jets; aromatherapy tubs, which can incorporate essential oils to add various scents to bathing sessions; and chromotherapy tubs, which can use lighting features to enhance the mood and atmosphere. Many of the therapeutic features can be purchased as add-ons to a tub, regardless of whether it's wheelchair accessible, bariatric or standard size.
How do walk-in tubs help elderly people who are injured or disabled?
For those who have injuries or disabilities, or for those who, as they age, find standard-level bathtubs difficult to navigate, the benefits of walk-in tubs focus on safety and mobility. Walk-in bathtubs can help minimize slipping both in and outside of the tub in ways standard tubs cannot. Their height and benches can help keep bathers' heads above the water for safety.
What are the potential therapeutic benefits of walk-in tubs?
There are potential therapeutic benefits for bathers, including whirlpool features that, combined with the benefits of soaking in hot water, can help with therapy for injuries, joint soreness and other ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, sciatica, and sleep disorders, and have been shown to help reduce stress.
What are the potential drawbacks of walk-in tubs?
One thing to keep in mind is that, because of their large size and design, walk-in tubs take longer to fill and empty than standard tubs do. Because of the way the sealing doors typically work, a bather must be in the walk-in tub the entire time it's being filled and emptied, potentially leaving the bather exposed for longer than may be comfortable. Moreover, some homes and apartments may have difficulty supplying the water at the right temperature, and with the appropriate water pressure, to these larger tubs. And walk-in bathtubs, particularly those with whirlpool or air jets, also may be more difficult to clean than standard tubs, which is important to keep in mind for people with mobility challenges. Finally, the cost of the tub and installation can be a potential downside, especially for bathtubs with added features like hydrotherapy.
How much do walk-in tubs cost?
The cost of a walk-in tub depends on the model and features it includes. Base-level soaker models generally range from $1,500 to $2,500, and models with higher-end features, such as water jets or air jets, can cost from $5,000 to $9,000. Keep in mind that installation services often require additional costs.
How big are the tubs? Can a walk-in tub simply replace my current bathtub?
Generally, walk-in bathtubs are designed and manufactured to fit within the spaces built for standard-height bathtubs. Typical sizes are about 52 to 60 inches long by 30 to 32 inches wide by about 40 inches high. However, there are shorter and wider models available.
Do I need to have a walk-in tub professionally installed?
As with many home improvements, the installation of walk-in tubs may best be handled by professional plumbers or contractors, but self-installation is possible. Be sure to research your options and read any available documentation for the bathtub models you are considering before committing to a purchase. It's worth noting that some tub manufacturers only honor warranties on tubs installed by certified professionals.
How much water do walk-in tubs require?
Most walk-in tubs hold between 40 and 80 gallons of water. A standard bathtub, by contrast, averages 25 to 45 gallons of water. When considering which bathtub model to purchase, be sure to understand your hot water heater's capacity as well. For example, if your water heater holds 45 gallons but your walk-in bathtub holds 50 gallons, you may run out of hot water before you fill your tub.
How long do walk-in tubs take to fill? How quickly do they drain?
In most cases, it will depend primarily on the plumbing in your home or apartment. Some manufacturers offer quick-fill faucet features with their tubs and tout the ability to fill a 70-gallon (on average) tub within a few minutes. However, your home plumbing will determine whether that's possible. We have seen user reviews and reports online of tubs taking up to 15 minutes to fill. One customer even reported that it took 45 minutes for the tub to drain.
Are there any alternatives to walk-in bathtubs?
If soaking in a bath is important to you or a loved one but the cost or any other drawback of a walk-in tub seems prohibitive, alternatives do exist. For the soaking-tub experience, you can consider a bath chairlift, which is basically a chair that can lift you in and out of the bathtub. There are both manual and automatic bath chairlifts, as well as inflatable models. Another option is a bathtub bench, which allows you to sit down and then slide over into your bath without needing to step over the tub.
FAQs About Walk-In-Tub Features
What safety features come standard?
A walk-in bathtub is supposed to be a safer alternative to a standard bathtub. As such, standard safety features typically include things like handrails and/or grip bars, nonslip surfaces, a low threshold to step into the tub, easily accessed controls, and adjustable and/or retractable shower heads.
What features can be added?
Typically, add-on features for walk-in tubs include massage jets (air jets, water jets or a combination of the two); heated seats or other heating extras to keep you warm while the tub fills and drains; and lighting options, which might be touted as "chromotherapy." In addition, some tubs include drain options, including multiple drains placed around the tub or quick drains that allow you to get out of the tub more quickly. Additionally, you should be able to choose your door placement (left or right side of the tub) and whether the door should open inward or outward, although these last two features should not cost extra.
Can I shower in the bathtub as well?
Yes. Most, if not all, walk-in bathtubs come with a shower fixture. Ideally, it will be within easy reach of the tub bench, retractable and have an adjustable head to allow you to choose your water jet and bring the shower closer to you.
What does "ADA compliant" mean?
For a walk-in tub to be ADA compliant, its design, manufacture and installation must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act code. These standards specify details such as the clearance around the tub, the placement and function of the bathtub controls, and the design and function of the grab bars and seats. You can review these standards on the ADA.gov website maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice, specifically Section 607.
What is hydrotherapy?
When it comes to bathing, hydrotherapy typically refers to the use of water to help relieve pain and discomfort, provide massage benefits, and provide heat therapy. Hydrotherapy benefits usually arise from the use of water jets or whirlpool jets in a walk-in bathtub.
What is chromotherapy?
Some walk-in tubs use colored lights, aka chromotherapy, to help soothe the body, promote relaxation and stimulate different moods using changing or different colors of light.
FAQs About Walk-In-Tub Warranties
Do walk-in bathtubs come with warranties?
Yes. Any walk-in bathtub you consider should have a warranty. Walk-in tubs have more parts and features than standard tubs do, so make sure you know what the manufacturer will guarantee and cover toward your investment. In our reviews, we considered each company's warranty as a part of its rating, so be sure to check those sections for more information.
What do the warranties cover?
In general, most companies offer a warranty ranging from one year to a limited lifetime warranty on their tubs, but the warranty terms may vary for different parts of the tubs. Given that you'll be using the door most often, be sure you're aware of and are happy with what the door seal warranty covers before you make your purchase. Warranties may also offer some level of coverage for faucets, water pumps, heaters and jets, where applicable. Keep in mind that most warranties for the tubs we reviewed only cover first-time purchases and original installations, and some manufacturers also stipulate that you must use certified installers.
What support do companies offer?
Support for walk-in tubs varies widely. Our survey of walk-in-tub companies showed that most offer telephone support at minimum. In addition, most have resources such as Frequently Asked Questions pages, documents, manuals and instructions, and some offer support via online forums.