Pros and Cons of Walk-In Tubs: Are They Worth It?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated August 9, 2022
A walk-in bathtub with elderly and handicapped accessibility
Photo: Jason / Adobe Stock

A walk-in tub can benefit a large group of people, but you need to weigh the pros and cons first

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Walk-in tubs are an excellent way to find comfort while bathing. These bathtubs utilize a sealed door that you enter before filling the tub and then leave shut while the bathtub drains. It makes for a safe and easy way to enter and exit the bath so that you don’t have to skip out on a great way to relax.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the walk-in tub is for everyone. Here are 10 pros and cons you should consider before purchasing a walk-in tub.

Cost of Walk-In Tub

The average cost of a walk-in tub is around $4,000 on average. This roughly aligns with the cost of a standard step-over bathtub, which is generally around $4,370.

Pros

Generally speaking, you’re not going to have to put out any extra money for a walk-in tub. In fact, because walk-in tubs are built around the idea of accessibility, they often come with built-in extra features. Features includes items, such as:

  • Tub seats

  • Handrails

  • Anti-scald valves

  • Non-slip flooring

Cons

While the cost of the tub may be around the same as a standard bathtub, the installation might cost you a little more. This comes down to the complexity of the tub itself and the quote you receive from a bathroom installer near you.

Walk-In Tub Safety

One of the main reasons to purchase a walk-in bathtub is the added safety features. But while the tub takes away some risks, it does add a few in the process.

Pros

Whether you’re looking to avoid falls, have an easier time entering and exiting, or simply enjoy sitting while bathing, a walk-in tub provides many of these benefits. Many models are based around the idea of aging-in-place so that tubs remain accessible at any age.

Cons

While it makes entering and exiting easier, a walk-in tub isn’t entirely off the hook for safety concerns. One of the biggest downsides of walk-in tubs is that you have to get in the tub first before testing the water. Walk-in tubs must have anti-scald valves, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be ice cold as soon as you turn the water on.

Walk-In Tub Water Usage

Most walk-in tubs sit anywhere from 40 to 50 gallons worth of water at the fill line. This falls in line with other standalone tubs, which range from 40 to 80 gallons, depending on size.

Pros

Because of the shape of walk-in tubs, they typically have the same amount of water in them at any given time as a step-over tub. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about a significant increase in water bills. However, if you buy a model that keeps the water flowing, then the water bill may be a little more money out of pocket.

Cons

You are going to be using more water than a shower, however. Showers only use around 12 to 40 gallons, depending on water pressure and how long you like your showers to be. So if you’re making the switch from a shower to a tub, expect to see an increase in water usage.

Comfort of a Walk-In Tub

Another reason many individuals buy a walk-in bathtub is the comfort that comes with it—no more trying to hope that the water covers all of your body.

Pros

Thanks to the design of these tubs, you’re often able to submerge much more of your body. On average, a walk-in tub can fill anywhere from 2 to 4 feet of water. Compare that to a step-over tub, where you’re lucky if you’re able to get a 1 foot of depth during a bath.

Cons

You’re going to have to schedule a larger time slot for bathtime, as you now have to wait inside the tub while it fills. You should expect to wait around 10 to 15 minutes for the bathtub to fill and then another 5 to 10 minutes for the tub to drain.

Walk-In Tub Maintenance

Walk-in tubs have more moving parts: the more moving parts, the more maintenance to expect.

Pros

Because walk-in tubs are designed for older adults (over the age of 65) and those with a disability, they have a lot more rules and regulations to follow. As part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), these tubs must meet a higher standard than a step-over tub—making the parts and systems involved in walk-in tubs some of the best around.

Cons

But more moving parts do mean there’s more of a chance for failure. For instance, you need to make sure the tub maintains its watertight seal, or you might create a pool in your bathroom. You should also check the handrail stability to ensure it doesn’t fail when you’re using it.

Is a Walk-In Tub Worth It?

Whether or not a walk-in tub is worth it is completely up to you and what you find important. These tubs are great for older adults and people with mobility issues, have built-in safety features, and they can hold more water than typical step-over tubs. That said, walk-ins require more maintenance.

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