Walk-In Tub Designs

If you're concerned about aging in place and universal design in the bathroom, consider installing a walk-in bathtub, which offers a door for easy entry and exit.
By: Kirsten Efird
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Walk-in tub designs can be found in many senior and baby boomer homes. They feature access doors for safe, easy entry and exit, and come with built-in seats. They can be either freestanding or recessed, and their safety and ease-of-use features fit in with aging-in-place and universal design concepts.

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Most walk-in bathtub vendors offer a variety of models and styles. Even the size and shape of the door can be personalized to your taste. These walk-in tubs can include a wide variety of bonus features including adjustable bubble jets, handrails, adjustable shower heads and inside-the-tub seating.

Before making a decision on a style, take into account the size of the bathroom. Be sure your bathroom can accommodate such a large fixture. A small room might need a bathtub door that swings inward, for example.

Consider the pros and cons of this style of bathtub. The most obvious advantage is that a walk-in bathtub makes bathing safer. These bathtubs are designed to prevent slipping and falls with handrails and textured surfaces. Installing a walk-in bath could also increase the value of your home, especially if you live in a retirement community.

Owners of these tubs say that they enjoy the therapeutic aspect of the water jets to help with arthritis pain and other muscle aches. Be sure the jet speed is adjustable so you can personalize the massage to your needs. These walk-in tubs also are good for those with physical disabilities that make stepping in and out of a regular tub hazardous.

One disadvantage to a walk-in tub is that you have to enter the bathtub before beginning to fill it with water, and of course it must be fully drained before you exit. Have your towel and robe nearby to avoid getting chilled after your bath while the tub is draining.

Also, you might have to buy a new and more powerful hot water heater in order to use the tub to its full potential. In this case, add the expense of a new water heater and its installation to the cost of the walk-in bathtub. Or perhaps you would like to consider installing a tankless water heater, which means you have endless hot water all the time. Be aware that this would increase your total cost considerably.

Don't be worried that the walk-in tub door could leak; they are well-designed and usually do not present any problems. Manufacturers recommend leaving the door slightly ajar after bathing so that the seals can relax and dry thoroughly. It is also a good idea to wipe down the seal regularly to remove any dirt that might cause it to not seal properly.

Walk-in bathtubs should be installed by a professional. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,500 up to $10,000 for a model with all the features you want.

Walk-in bathtubs are a significant financial investment, but many homeowners consider them to be worth the cost for the peace of mind that comes with their safety features.

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