Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries and death for most senior adults, and it can be difficult to predict when one will happen.
Traditionally, these injuries have a higher risk of occurring in bathrooms, especially from entering or leaving bathtubs. That’s why it is important to ensure bathrooms are safer for use — and this is where walk-in shower tubs come in handy.
There are many types and models of walk-in tubs, with the average cost ranging from $2,500 to $6,000. Because a lot of factors contribute to the overall price of your tub, it pays to be thorough when considering your options.
Ordinary tubs are difficult to get out of if you have limited mobility, and can also be incredibly slippery. Walk-in tubs address this issue by utilizing watertight doors that seniors can easily open and close shut, as well as features like anti-slip flooring to maximize safety.
Walk-in shower tubs can cost a lot, especially if you go for a model with extensive features and customizable accessories. It’s also worth noting that you’ll have to consider installation costs, which may or may not be part of the package.
The first thing you’ll notice when shopping for walk-in tubs is they come in different sizes. You might not discern between the unique features at first, but you’ll definitely understand that sizable tubs come with a steeper price tag.
Opt for smaller tubs if you have a tight budget. However, homeowners looking to splurge a bit can spend an extra $1,000 to $2,000 on larger tubs for extra leg space.
Bathtubs that consist of quality porcelain, glass, and ceramic finishing often cost more than those made of gel coat and acrylic. Don’t worry — all these options have non-slip surfaces. However, you might want to check out first the latter materials we mentioned to minimize your overhead.
Should you hire a professional to install your walk-in bathtub? Unless you have relevant handyman and DIY experience, yes. Installing bathtubs requires some elbow grease. Screwing the nuts too loose or attaching sections incorrectly will make the fixture weak and flimsy. For your safety, invest in professional installation.
Walk-in tubs loaded with various safety features like hand railings, non-slip mats, and shower benches cost more. However, they play a crucial role in your safety and convenience. Ideally, look for units that address the specific mobility issues you or your households face.
Soaker tubs are entry-level walk-in tubs. They come with a generic lever door that lets bathers enter and exit the shell easily.
Standard tubs generally get the job done. However, if you want to take your overall bathing experience to the next level, invest in tubs that showcase the following therapeutic and luxury features:
Don’t focus solely on the price tag of your new walk-in tub. Although most of your investment will go straight to purchasing the actual fixture, you’ll also have to set aside a few hundred or thousand dollars for other installation and maintenance costs. Otherwise, you might end up short on your budget.
Installing a tub isn’t exactly complicated. Most models come with pre-fabricated sections that you only need to assemble. You wouldn’t spend more than a day on the project. Also, ask your relatives to help finish the assembly much quicker and avoid wasting time.
Of course, you’ll save a lot of money by setting up your walk-in tub yourself. However, you need at least some handyman experience to install the fixture, or else it won’t come together correctly. Don’t risk installing your tub yourself if you have no prior experience. A haphazardly assembled tub only puts you and your household at risk, so hire a professional instead.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires at least 60 x 48 inches of free space in your bathroom before installing bathtubs. Alternatively, you only need 36 x 36 for shower installations. ADA emphasizes that having this much free space lets seniors and mobility-impaired individuals move easily.
If you don’t have enough space in your bathroom, you’ll have to pay for an extension or room addition. Unfortunately, construction costs will drive up your expenses. Prepare upward of $4,000 depending on how your bathing space currently looks.
Does your walk-in tub match the rest of your bathroom? You can improve the room’s overall aesthetic by tiling the bathroom’s flooring and tub’s surroundings if they look out of place. Porcelain and ceramic tiles will cost you at least $15 per square foot.
Of course, tiled tub surrounds aren’t a must. However, paying an extra grand to create a more elegant, refined bathing space doesn’t seem unfair. Consider different tiling options.
Take this time to renovate your bathroom for accessibility. Walk-in tubs help mobility-impaired seniors bathe independently, but you’ll need several other fixtures to create a more accessible, functional bathing space. Ensure that your entire household can utilize your bathroom.
Some fixtures you can look into include hand railings, non-slip mats, lower floor ledges, and wider door openings. Also, check whether your bathroom can accommodate mobility tools. It would help to have enough room for equipment like crutches and wheelchairs.
Ask your plumber and electrician to reassess your bathroom post-renovation. Moving around fixtures and installing new fixtures will require new plumbing and electrical systems. You can’t just use your old setup. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of overloading electrical apparatuses or bursting water plumbing pipes, compromising the overall safety of your bathroom.
Converting showers into bathtubs requires more work than most homeowners assume. Since shower installations take up half as much space as a bathtub, you’ll have to renovate the entire area.
Unfortunately, renovation might involve tearing down walls or working around other fixtures. Overhauling your bathing space to accommodate bathtubs might cost upward of $5,000, depending on what your contractors need to do.
Also, don’t forget about the finishings. As we mentioned above, installing an extra layer of porcelain or ceramic tiles adds $1,000 to $2,000 to your costs.
If a standard soaker tub doesn’t suit your preferences, you can look into more walk-in tubs that offer various other features. For instance, most hydrotherapy tubs come with water and air jets. Apart from the pleasure these jets deliver, installing modern-looking tubs decked out with the latest hydrotherapy tools makes your bathing space look more premium.
However, prepare to pay a premium price tag as well. Standard soaker tubs often cost $2,000 to $3,000, but pricier, fully loaded models sell for at least $7,000 to $8,000.
Walk-in tubs feature a unique, accessible fixture that allows bathers to enter and exit the tub through a lever door. You won’t have to lift your legs across any rim or edge. This feature makes it possible for mobility-impaired seniors and even patients using wheelchairs to use tubs independently.
When shopping for walk-in tubs, you’ll notice that different models offer varying features. Some tubs have luxurious hydrotherapy air and water jets, while others have a compact tub-shower combination.
However, get the standard soaker tub if you don’t want anything fancy. It features a shower bench and a walk-in door. The lack of features might feel limiting, but it also brings down the fixture’s installation and maintenance costs.
Avoid making hasty decisions. Instead, carefully assess how getting a walk-in tub will impact your lifestyle. Otherwise, you might end up wasting several grand on a bathroom fixture no one in your household wants.
Don’t worry if you still have doubts about whether to install a walk-in tub or not. Although every family has different bathing needs, accessible tubs typically yield the following benefits:
Nowadays, dozens of brands manufacture walk-in showers and tubs. We’ve come a long way from having nothing but Safe Step walk-in tubs on the market.
The freedom to choose whatever tub you want feels liberating. However, first-timers might find the multiple brands, manufacturers, and walk-in tub features confusing.
Fortunately, we can help narrow down your options. Before deciding whether you want a Kohler or Safe Step tub, familiarize yourself with the following tub types:
The standard walk-in tub is an entry-level model that offers the most basic features. Its most noticeable attribute is its watertight door helping users get in and out of the fixture quickly and easily.
This tub model suits most patients with limited mobility. Eliminating the need to bend and lift the knees just to get into the tub’s shell creates an overall safer, more enjoyable bathing experience.
As its name suggests, a two-seater walk-in tub features a shell sizable enough to accommodate two adults. It often has two knee-high seats — either perpendicular or parallel to each other.
Bathers generally use two-seater tubs to share intimate moments with their significant others, but older adults can use them for assisted bathing. The caregiver can use the other seat for better mobility.
A bathtub-shower combo is an excellent option for homeowners who want both fixtures without compromising bathroom space. They have varying designs. However, in most cases, walk-in tub-shower combos often install their rainfall shower head directly above their built-in bench. That way, users won’t have to spend their entire shower standing.
Whirlpool tubs consist of built-in jets shooting powerful streams of water. You’ll find these jets lined across the tub’s shell, and you can rely on them for your hydrotherapy sessions. Simply lie in the tub and press your body against the jets. Afterward, adjust the water jets’ pressure based on your preferences — treat it like an underwater massage chair.
Look into hydrotherapy air jet tubs if you feel that whirlpool tubs are too vigorous. Instead of shooting streams of water, they blow bursts of air that cut through the water and target your entire body. They deliver an overall less intense massage that covers a broader surface area.
A typical alcove bathtub measures around 60 x 32 inches in length and width. This size typically accommodates most adults, but you can opt for a long tub if you want to add a few extra inches to the fixture. However, note that this tub takes 15 to 20 minutes to fill. If you’re using a walk-in tub, you’ll have to spend the entire time inside the shell.
Accessible tubs are generic terms for any bathtub that includes extra features designed for ease and mobility. They might come with a shower bench, hand railings, non-slip mats, and a walk-in tub.
Between installation, maintenance, and the cost of the actual tub, owning a walk-in tub-shower combination will set you back by several grand. Most homeowners shell out at least $2,000 for an affordable, low-cost tub. Meanwhile, shoppers who want a more luxurious bathtub-shower combo would have to drop more than $8,000.
However, don’t worry if you feel uncomfortable spending that much money. We listed some straightforward, efficient tips to keep the installation costs of your step walk-in tub-and-shower combination to a minimum.
1. Choose Cheaper Tub Materials: A walk-in tub made of high-quality porcelain looks stunning in person. However, it also costs two to three times more than tubs made of acrylic or gel coat.
2. Exhaust Your Options: Don’t stop after just one or two tubs. To get the best rates, look into all the brands and manufacturers that sell walk-in bathtubs and showers in your area.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Features: Modern walk-in showers and tubs featuring advanced whirlpool jets and massagers might sound nice, but they also come with a steep price tag. You’ll save thousands if you don’t need all the bells and whistles.
4. Get Smaller Tubs: Smaller walk-in bathtubs typically cost less. You might not need the extra space anyway if you’re an average-sized individual who often bathes independently.
5. Reimburse Through Medicare: Double-check your Medicare plan if it covers medically necessary services. If so, you can try reimbursing the installation cost of your new step walk-in tub-shower combo.
6. File As Tax Deduction: If Medicare reimburses the installation cost of your walk-in shower or tub, it is likely classified as a medical necessity. As such, you can file it as a tax deduction.
7. Go Straight to the Source: You’ll save a lot by going straight to the brand or manufacturer. Distributors and agents typically add a 10% to 20% markup on the walk-in tub-shower combos they sell.
Are you still struggling to find the right tub-shower combo? Check out some of the questions first-time shoppers typically ask when buying walk-in showers and tubs for their senior loved ones.
The cost of a walk-in shower-tub combo typically ranges between $2,000 to $8,000. Smaller models often cost less but expect to shell out a few extra grand for sizable models from widely known brands.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) dictates that homeowners should allocate a minimum of 60 x 48 inches for their bathtubs’ length and width, respectively. Meanwhile, showers need to be at least 36 x 36 inches.
A shower-tub combo gives you and your household the freedom to bathe however you want. You don’t have to use the tub if you don’t find it comfortable, plus the railings will support you while taking lengthy showers.
If you want to know more about the best walk-in shower tubs, check out our comprehensive guide on the best models available today. For more senior care tips and tricks, browse through SeniorStrong.org today!