Commonly known as whirlpool tubs, walk-in tubs are being added to many homes for a luxurious spa-like bath every day. There are, however, both pros and cons to these luxurious tubs which should be considered before making a purchase.
What’s So Good About a Walk-In Tub?
Traditional, step-in bathtubs present a rather risky situation for seniors and people with limited mobility. Luckily, walk-in bathtubs are a simple solution to the problem.
If you’re worried about bathroom safety, consider installing a walk-in tub during your next bathroom remodeling project. In addition to the door, these bathtubs are designed to prevent slips and falls. Installing a walk-in bath could also raise the value of your home…especially if you live in a retirement community!
Pros and Cons
There are some disadvantages to walk-in bathtubs.
Before deciding on a walk-in bathtub, consider the installation issues that might arise. Because this is an expensive purchase, here are 10 pros and cons of walk-in tubs you should consider:
Con: You cannot install a walk-in tub yourself.
Manufacturers recommend you don’t install your new walk-in tub yourself, and for obvious reasons. You will be better off getting a licensed general contractor or electrician – someone who knows what they’re doing!
Pro: Proper installation means no future issues.
Walk-in tubs are designed for easy installation. Installation can usually be completed in just one day and is usually included in your overall price. The best part about using a professional?
All expert installers are fully insured!
Con: They’re not romantic as some of the marketing material would make it seem.
A long soak in the tub with your significant other may sound like a great idea, except walk-in tubs are generally quite loud…
Pro: They are extremely functional and offers easy access
So while a walk-in tub may not be all that charming, they are, however, functional. If a bit of jetting noise doesn’t bother you, additional features like chromotherapy and aromatherapy can actually be quite romantic.
Con: Models differ and although a lot quieter than before, some tub models are still quite noisy
The sound of the running motor and pump is not only a mood killer, but it can also be quite annoying to those simply looking for a little relaxation after a long day.
Pro: Although noisy the jets and other moving parts come with great benefits.
Walk-in tubs with which come with massage jets provide the pinnacle of luxury, allowing you to enjoy a spa-like experience every time you bathe. Air and hydro jets can also be combined to form a dual combo massager.
Water jets are used to massage the bather’s joints and muscles, improving comfort and mobility.
Con: They take a long time to fill and drain
A walk-in bathtub seems like the perfect bathing solution until you realize drainage may take some time.
Because walk-in tubs are quite deep, you need to remain seated while the tub fills, and wait until it empties to exit. No one wants to be cold and wet while waiting for the water to drain.
Pro: Thankfully, the latest in drainage technology can put an end to this with fast filling and draining times.
Naturally, with walk-in tubs, you need to sit in the tub while it fills and also remain seated when it drains. However, the latest drain technology can help to drain an average tub in about 90 seconds.
That is 3 times faster than typical drains!
Con: No one wants to sit in a tub full of cold water.
Unless your tub has a built-in heater, cold baths will be a daily reality. An in-line heater is essential.
Pro: In-line water heaters extend bathing times
As with any walk-in tub, once the door is closed the tub begins to fill. Designed for the jetted systems, the in-line water heater is automatically activated to maintain the water temperature for longer.
The beauty of the in-line heater is that it should maintain the water temperature within 2 degrees of the original heat, allowing you to enjoy your bath for longer, with no need to top up!
Con: Some tubs may not even fit in your bathroom, let alone through your doorways.
Walk-in tubs are larger and deeper than conventional tubs, allowing for a deeper soak. When considering a purchase, be sure that you have enough available space in your bathroom. More importantly, confirm that your home is big enough to even facilitate the delivery of such a tub.
Pro: There are models of every size and shape.
Outward swinging doors are easier for the user while entering or exiting the tub, and allow the door to be opened in a true emergency. An outward-swinging door is also much easier if the bather is transferring from wheelchair to tub. However, your bathroom needs to be large enough for the swing path of the door, and the majority of walk-in tubs have doors that swing inwards.
When space is an issue, there are smaller models which are perfect for a retrofit.
These tubs are also usually ideal for those who have narrow bathroom doors.
Con: Walk-in tubs come are pricey. Sure, there are cheap models on the market, but it’s highly recommended you opt for an American-made tub.
Pro: They offer a safe and luxurious bathing experience while those suffering from limited mobility can experience independent, unassisted bathing.
Bathroom safety is important, especially as the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house…
If you or someone you love has limited mobility, balance issues or generalized weakness, the pain of arthritis, or other issues that make movement difficult, you have probably already discovered that getting in and out of a traditional bathtub is a problem. A walk-in bathtub eliminates the need for stepping over a high bathtub side, since they have a door that opens into the tub, allowing the bather to simply walk inside, then shut the door to use the bath. The threshold of a walk-in tub can be as low as 2 inches, though many models have a threshold that is between 4 and 6 inches high.
Walking into the tub instead of stepping over the high threshold decreases risk of falling. Slip-resistant flooring and high sides also decrease the risk of falling.
Con: Walk-in tubs are made of either fiberglass or acrylic.
Fiberglass is less expensive, strong, lightweight, and easy to install. However, it is far more prone to mildew; it scratches, has a matte finish, and does not generally last as long as acrylic.
Acrylic is more expensive and heavier but has a shiny, easily cleaned surface that resists mildew and is easily repaired if scratched.
If bathing has become difficult due to impaired mobility, a walk-in tub can make life easier, and help maintain the independence of the bather. Before shopping for a walk-in bathtub, arm yourself with as much information as possible so you can make the right choice for your home.
Pro: The options and styles are off the chart.
Choose from a soaker, air massage, hydro jetted, or dual combo massager.
Con: Your water heater may not be big enough.
Walk-in tubs are usually larger than conventional tubs and hold considerably more water. Be sure your water heater is large enough to handle the demand of your tub. If it is not, options include a separate heated pump for the tub or a second water heater.
Pro: Walk-in bathtubs have a place in today’s aging-in-place society, but be sure to do your homework before having a walk-in tub installed.
And remember, sit in the tub before you pay for it. Visit a showroom if you can. It may change your perception altogether and help you decide.