The Best Walk-In Tubs of 2021

The bathroom is one of the most important and distinctive spaces in any home, and the right fixtures can help elevate a bathroom to make it a comfortable, relaxing space and add value to the home. One increasingly popular feature for many bathroom updates is the walk-in tub, which allows users to step into and out of a bath with less risk of falling. Ideally suited for older bathers or people with mobility issues, walk-in tubs are available through many different manufacturers and retailers. This guide will walk you through the most important information you need to know about walk-in tubs, how to choose the right one, and some of the best walk-in tub companies on the market, including these three:

Ella Walk-In Tubs

Ella

American Standard Walk-In Tubs

American Standard

Safe Step Walk-In Tubs

Safe Step

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Understanding Walk-In Tubs

What Are Walk-In Tubs? 

A walk-in tub is exactly what it sounds like: a bathtub designed for users to be able to walk directly into. Unlike a standard bathtub, which requires users to climb over the side to enter, walk-in tubs have a low entry threshold and a door on the side with a waterproof seal to prevent leaks when the tub is full.

Walk-in entry is the defining feature of the category, but walk-in tubs usually have several other design elements that set them apart from a standard tub. For example, walk-in tubs frequently have a built-in seat, greater water depth, and safety features like handrails or an anti-slip surface. Some of the specific key features to look for will be discussed later in this guide.

One of the main benefits of walk-in tubs is that they are more comfortable, accessible, and safe for seniors, the disabled, and other individuals with mobility issues. However, a walk-in tub can be desirable for anyone seeking a safer, more comfortable bathtub experience.

Ella Deluxe Air+Hydro Walk In Tub

When to Consider Buying a Walk-In Tub

For many people, a walk-in tub is more luxury than necessity, which makes the decision whether to buy a walk-in tub more difficult. These tubs have unique appeal compared to standard tubs and showers, but they also come with some downsides that can make them a little harder to justify. And even for those who could benefit from a walk-in tub for accessibility and mobility reasons, there may ultimately be other reasons why they choose not to purchase one.

Here are three of the most common cases where people opt to purchase a walk-in tub:

  • Disability: Sometimes the decision to buy a walk-in tub is thrust on a homeowner if they or a loved one use a wheelchair and need a tub that will more easily accommodate their needs. In these cases, many manufacturers offer walk-in tub models that are compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and designed to promote accessibility and mobility.
  • Aging in place: One of the most common use cases for walk-in tubs is for older homeowners or those who wish to age in place. Walk-in tubs are safer for older people who face greater risks of harm from a fall. The safety features of walk-in tubs make it possible for seniors to live independently and self-sufficiently for longer.
  • Adding home value: Even if you are not a senior, walk-in tubs can also be a good investment, especially if you own a home in a community popular with older residents. Whenever you choose to sell your home, having a unique bathroom feature like a walk-in tub—along with the functionality it provides for older and disabled individuals—can add to the home’s value.

Lastly, one of the key factors to consider when deciding whether to buy a walk-in tub is whether and how you can pay for it. Costs associated with buying and installing a walk-in tub will be discussed more later in the guide, but even simple installations can cost a few thousand dollars. If a walk-in tub is not in your budget, it may not be the right decision for you.

The Pros & Cons of Walk-In Tubs

If you are thinking about purchasing and installing a walk-in tub, you should be fully aware of the benefits and drawbacks. Below are some of the top arguments for and against choosing a walk-in tub.

Pros: Benefits of Walk-In Tubs

  • Accessibility: One of the main reasons people elect to install a walk-in tub is because they are easier to get into and out of, especially for older or disabled individuals. The lower threshold to enter and features like built-in seats or wheelchair access help improve accessibility for people who might have more difficulty with a standard tub design.
  • Safety: Walk-in tubs are also designed to make slips and falls more infrequent. These tubs usually have built-in handrails or grippy, non-slip surfaces that keep users safer when getting in and out. With built-in seats in many models, users are kept in a more vertical position, which also reduces the risk that they might slip or fall when trying to stand up as they might in a lay-down tub.
  • Comfort: Some walk-in tub features also make the bathing experience more comfortable for any user. One of the more comfortable features in many walk-in tubs is their elevated seats, which are easier on users’ knees. Walk-in tubs may also have other add-ons like water jets similar to a whirlpool tub.
  • Value for the home: A walk-in tub is often a unique, distinguishing feature for a bathroom, which can help boost the value of one’s home when selling compared to similar homes with standard bath fixtures. A walk-in tub will be particularly valuable in markets with older buyers who wish to age in place.

Cons: Drawbacks of Walk-In Tubs

  • Fill and drain time: Because users must be in the tub with the door sealed for the full time that a walk-in tub is filling and draining, bathers spend more time sitting and waiting at the beginning and end of their baths. Further, walk-in tubs that have a taller height to accommodate greater water depth may also take longer to fill and drain.
  • Temperature control: Similarly, because users must sit in the tub as it fills and drains, they may be uncomfortable if water runs too hot or too cold when filling or if the temperature cools too quickly while draining. Some tubs do have features for temperature control when filling, especially to avoid scalding water.
  • Leaks and flooding: While doors are designed to minimize any leaks, an improperly installed tub or a door that is not latched and secured appropriately could lead to gallons of water spilling into the bathroom. This is especially a risk with tubs that have outward-facing doors, which can fail against the weight of water in the tub.
  • Cost: Walk-in units and the associated expenses of installation can be very pricey compared to a regular tub, with thousands of dollars in costs even at the low end. This expense may be prohibitive for some individuals who might otherwise prefer to install a walk-in tub.

What to Look for When Comparing Walk-In Tubs

Most companies that sell walk-in tubs offer a variety of types with different features, designs, and price points to accommodate various desires within the market. It can be difficult to sort through all the different configurations and features—even before considering additional challenges you might face when installing the tub in your unique home setting or factors like the reputation of the company you purchase from.

This section of the guide will define many of the key terms and concepts you might encounter when comparing walk-in tubs, allowing you to make the best possible purchase for your needs.

Tub Type & Size

Like standard tubs, walk-in tubs come in different shapes, sizes, and designs to enable users’ comfort and meet homeowners’ personal preferences. For walk-in tubs, these differences can be especially important given that many people choose walk-in tubs as a way to manage certain health concerns or the challenges that come with aging.

Here are some of the key walk-in tub types that you might encounter in the market:

  • Soaker: Many walk-in tubs are soaker style, which have higher vertical walls to allow users to submerge more of their body while sitting upright.
  • Lay-down: In contrast to soaker tubs, lay-down walk-in tubs frequently have the same design as a standard bathtub (apart from the door), allowing the user to stretch out their legs and recline a little bit while sitting in the tub.
  • Bariatric: One downside of some walk-in tub designs is that they run relatively narrow, which makes them less desirable for larger users. A bariatric tub serves larger bathers by having a wider frame, door entrance, and seat. These tubs are typically targeted at users with weights of 300 lbs. or greater.
  • Shower-tub combinations: Choosing a walk-in tub does not mean having to sacrifice the occasional shower. In fact, having showers built into a walk-in tub can help address concerns about the length of time it takes to bathe in a walk-in by offering a quicker, more convenient alternative. A walk-in shower-tub combination simply includes an overhead shower component along with the side door and occasionally higher walls that come with a walk-in tub.
  • 2-person tubs: For those who want to bathe with a companion, some manufacturers provide walk-in tubs designed for multiple users. Typically, these configurations come in one of two styles: either the tub itself is wider and two seats are positioned next to one another, or two built-in seats face each other with the walk-in door in the middle.
Soaker Walk-In Tub
Soaker tub
Lay-Down Walk-In Tub
Lay-down tub

Door Style & Accessibility

One of the distinguishing design features of the walk-in tub is the side door, but doors can be configured in multiple different ways with associated pros and cons. Here are key details about the walk-in tub door to consider when evaluating your options:

Walk-in tub with a U-shaped door
Walk-in tub with an inward-swinging U-shaped door
  • Seal: One of the concerns that many users have about walk-in tubs in general is the possibility that they might leak or lead to flooding. Tub designs can address this in several ways. One is by using rubber or another impermeable material around the door, hinges, and other potential leak points to hold water in the tub, similar to what one might see around the door of a refrigerator or a car. This can be reinforced by latches or other reinforcements that hold the door in place against the weight of the bathwater.
  • Inward vs. outward-swinging doors: Most walk-in tub doors are hinged, which means that they must either swing inward or outward as users open the tub to enter. The benefit of an outward-swinging door is that they take up less room in the tub, which means that there is more room for users to enter and get situated, but the downside is that this requires more space in the bathroom. An inward-swinging door offers the inverse: they are more compact when it comes to bathroom space, but offer less space in the tub itself. Walk-in tubs with inward-swinging doors may also fare slightly better at preventing leaks or flooding, as the weight of the water reinforces the security of the door.
  • Door shape: Swinging walk-in tub doors frequently come in either a “U” or “L” shape. U-shaped doors are most common, suitable for most bathers, and can be configured to swing inward or outward or inserted. L-shaped doors look like an upside-down letter “L” and are designed so that wheelchair users can more easily slide to and from the tub seat.
  • Wheelchair accessibility: One major benefit of walk-in tubs is their accessibility for those with mobility issues, including wheelchair users. Most wheelchair-friendly walk-in tubs have an L-shaped, outward-swinging door and a grab bar that allow the user to transfer from their wheelchair to the tub seat.
  • Threshold height: If the threshold on a walk-in tub is too high for a user, some of the tub’s benefits for mobility and accessibility will be reduced. The lowest entry threshold for most walk-in tubs is around 3 inches, but they can frequently be higher, so users should check to see what they can step over comfortably to maximize the walk-in design.
Walk in tub with an L-shaped outward door
Walk-in tub with an L-shaped outward-swinging door

Safety Features

High on the list of reasons why someone might choose to install a walk-in tub is safety. Walk-in tubs are typically designed with safety in mind, with features that are well-suited to the needs of older or disabled users and that address the common risks associated with baths and showers.

These features include: 

  • Handrails: Installing grab bars in the tub or shower is one of the top recommendations from the National Institute on Aging for making homes safe and accessible for older residents. Likewise, the ADA recommends a number of features that help ensure a design’s safety and accessibility. For walk-in tubs, one important ADA component are handrails and grab bars. To be ADA compliant, these bars must be placed and installed in certain positions within the tub and be able to hold up to a certain weight load to provide users with adequate support. Some manufacturers will alternatively (or additionally) include ridges along the edges of the tub that allow users to have a secure grip when lowering or raising themselves.
  • Floor: Anyone who has ever taken a bath knows the feeling of losing traction on the tub’s wet, smooth surface. To help maximize safety, manufacturers of both walk-in and traditional tubs have come up with different ways to make sure bathers don’t lose their footing while moving around in the tub. Some have a non-slip, textured surface on the floor of the tub, while others mold grooves or treads into the tub itself to create more traction.
  • Seat height: A built-in seat is one of the features that helps promote safety in a walk-in tub. Because users do not have to lower themselves or climb out of the tub in the same way they would with a traditional lay-down tub, they are less likely to slip and fall with their bodies remaining upright and elevated. The Americans with Disabilities Act suggests a 17 inch seat height, and most manufacturers advertise seat heights between 17 and 20 inches.

Tub & Hardware Materials

The materials used in the construction of a walk-in tub will affect the cost of the tub and its long-term upkeep and durability. The most common materials for walk-in tubs are acrylic, fiberglass, and enameled steel, each of which is explained in detail below:

  • Acrylic: Acrylic is one of the most common materials used for walk-in tubs. Acrylic tubs are made by heating acrylic sheets and shaping them into a tub mold. The advantages of acrylic are that it is nonporous, durable, and retains color for longer than other materials. All of these advantages mean that the lifespan of an acrylic tub is much longer than most other materials used in walk-in tubs. The downside, however, is that these benefits usually come at a greater price.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass tubs are made of interwoven glass strings that are heated and shaped, then covered with a gelcoat or other treatment. The greatest advantage of fiberglass tubs is affordability, as it is one of the cheapest tub materials available on the market. However, fiberglass tubs tend to have a shorter useful life and may be easier to damage. They also tend to be more porous, which means they are harder to clean and more likely to grow mold and mildew from absorbing water.
  • Enameled steel: Enameled steel is a material common in older, traditional bathtubs, which is rare—but still findable—for walk-in tubs. The main cons of enameled steel tubs are that they are much heavier and (perhaps counterintuitively) more prone to damage. Cracks to the enamel surface can lead water to interact with the steel and potentially cause rust and discoloring. That said, one advantage is that the enameled surface is easy to clean, especially in comparison to more porous materials like fiberglass.

The material of the tub itself is only one element worth paying attention to. The hardware within a walk-in tub will also be made with different materials, each offering its own pros and cons. Below are some of the materials to consider when looking at walk-in tub hardware:

  • Brass: Brass is a popular choice for bathroom hardware because it resists moisture and stands up well to brushing and scratching, which means it can stand the test of time. Brass is sometimes thought of in its reddish or yellowish brown metallic color, but fixtures can additionally be coated with another material to provide more aesthetic options. Of common bathroom materials, brass tends to be on the more expensive side.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel is one of the most common materials found in bathroom fixtures, including walk-in tubs. Stainless steel hardware usually costs less than brass equivalents, but may be more likely to corrode or stain than a solid brass fixture.
  • Zinc and zinc alloys: Zinc and zinc alloys are frequently chosen as an alternative to brass and stainless steel because they come at a lower cost. However, they also tend to be less durable and a little more susceptible to corrosion from water.
  • Plastic: Walk-in tubs may have plastic hardware like showerheads or faucet handles. The appeal of plastic is usually its lower price compared to any metal options, but it is also much less durable over time.

Fill & Drain System

Fast filling and draining systems in a walk-in tub are not only a matter of convenience for the bather—they can also be an important safety feature to reduce the risk of scalding or chills and allow users to exit the tub quickly in the event of an emergency. Some other key fill and drain features include:

  • Temperature controls: One of the main risks associated with a walk-in tub is having water that runs too hot or cold at the beginning of the bath and cools quickly at the end of the bath. Scald prevention valves or thermostatic control valves mix cooler water with hot water entering the tub to ensure that the tub doesn’t run too hot when filling.
  • Dual drain: To speed up the process of draining a walk-in tub, some models include two separate, independent drains that effectively double how much water can drain out of the tub at one time compared to a single-drain configuration. These features can significantly speed up the amount of time it takes to drain a walk-in tub in full.
  • Drain pump: Most drains rely on simple gravity to empty a tub, but manufacturers are increasingly incorporating pumps that can drain water at faster rates. Unlike dual drains, which are a standard design feature for some walk-in tub manufacturers, pump systems usually come with an extra cost.

It’s worth noting that some of the factors that affect your walk-in tub’s ability to fill and drain quickly and at safe, comfortable temperatures have less to do with the tub itself than with your plumbing system. For instance, if your home has pipes with a greater width, that might allow you to fill and drain faster. Another significant factor is the capacity of your home’s hot water heater. Most walk-in tub manufacturers recommend that your water heater have a tank size of at least 50 gallons to ensure that you have enough hot water to fill your tub at a comfortable temperature.

How Long Does it Take to Fill and Drain a Walk-In Tub? 

While a standard bathtub takes about 5–10 minutes to fill and slightly less time to drain, certain walk-in tub models can take up to 15 minutes due to their larger volume. A standard tub holds 42 gallons of water; whereas, most walk-in tubs hold 50 gallons or more. In addition to tub size, the time it takes to fill a walk-in tub is dependent on the home’s water pressure as well as the fixtures—some of which allow for a higher flow rate. Regarding drain time, most high-end walk-in tubs feature dual drains, and some even incorporate drain pumps that can reduce the time to 2 minutes or less.

Jets & Other Therapeutic Options

For users who want a full spa-like experience with their walk-in tub, many manufacturers have developed extra features that both make baths more comfortable and relaxing and enhance many of the holistic health benefits of bathing. Key features in this category include:

  • Water jets: For targeted massages to certain parts of the body, walk-in tubs with water jets are a good option. These models usually place jets along where the user’s back or legs will sit in the tub and shoot warm water to deliver deep massages that release tension, stimulate blood flow, and reduce soreness in the muscles. Some models have adjustable jets, allowing an even more directed massage experience.
  • Air jets: Walk-in tubs with air jets shoot warm air into the bath to create small bubbles that surround the body and stimulate muscle relaxation. Air jets provide a different type of massage experience than water jets, with a generally gentler sensation from the movement of bubbles in the water.
  • Aromatherapy: One way to take your relaxation to a new level in the tub is aromatherapy. While some people try to make pleasing, relaxing scents like lavender or jasmine part of their bathing experience with candles, flowers, and other scented items, some walk-in tubs make it even easier by including aromatherapy systems. These systems often have built-in diffusers that release aromas from essential oils or aromatherapy beads directly into the tub.
  • Chromatherapy: Another phenomenon that can affect people’s moods and ability to relax is color. Some colors are perceived to be more serene or calming, while others are stimulating or energizing. Walk-in tubs with chromatherapy features include lights under the water that can be adjusted to different colors—sometimes with a half dozen options or more—to suit whatever mood or energy you wish to encourage in your bath.

Installation

When choosing a walk-in tub, installation is a major factor to consider. You will want a model that not only meets your desired specifications but also fits the space you have available and the plumbing and electrical systems in your home. Even if you’re not planning a full bathroom remodel, walk-in tub installations can quickly become a complicated process involving multiple contractors upgrading different parts of your bathroom to accommodate the tub.

The first step is to consult with an expert who can help you evaluate your bathroom space and plumbing and electrical systems to find a tub that will meet your needs. Some walk-in tub manufacturers have trained specialists who are able to help with this, but many contractors with background in bathroom installations can also be of assistance. Tub companies’ specialists are also frequently trained for installations as well and can assist with simple, straightforward jobs. For more complicated installations or remodels, you will likely also need to seek out the services of a carpenter, electrician, and/or plumber who can help prepare your home for the installation of a new walk-in tub.

Warranty

Warranties are important for giving you peace of mind when it comes to your walk-in tub. With such a potentially costly and specialized bathroom fixture, the last thing you want is to find out that your product is faulty or defective in some way and be on the hook for the full cost of repairing or replacing it.

Warranties for a walk-in tub may cover the tub itself, the tub’s component parts, and/or the door seal for varying periods of time, from a few years to a lifetime warranty. Warranties often involve a great deal of fine print, so you should review the warranty carefully to understand what exactly is covered and what is excluded.

Company Reputation

When you look for a walk-in tub, you want the reassurance that you are purchasing a high-quality, reliable product that delivers the features you want and that will be installed properly. If a tub is cheaply made or poorly installed, you could find yourself dealing with damage to your bathroom and plenty of other headaches. In contrast, companies that deliver high-quality fixtures will give you years of satisfaction and add value to your home.

One good way to get information about walk-in tub companies’ reputation is to check with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB evaluates companies on their trustworthiness, based on their truthfulness, fairness, and integrity in advertising products and addressing customer complaints.


Walk-In Tub Costs

It’s hard to avoid the fact that compared to a standard tub, walk-in tubs can be very expensive to purchase and install. For many walk-in tub buyers, the overall benefits of a walk-in setup outweigh what they have to pay, but any customer should have their eyes open to the potential costs associated before choosing a tub for their home.

How Much Do Walk-In Tubs Cost?

Specific prices for a walk-in tub will depend on the exact model and features included, along with a few other factors. However, you can generally expect to pay between $2,000 on the lower end and well over $10,000 on the higher end for a walk-in tub unit.

Pricing information for many walk-in tubs is usually fairly easy to find. Most major home improvement stores carry walk-in tubs for purchase in stores or online, and manufacturers also sell models directly to consumers with product information available online. This makes it easy to compare specific models, features, and accompanying prices when shopping for a new tub.

Average Walk-In Tub Costs by Brand

BrandBest ForAverage Cost
EllaBest Overall$3,500–$10,000
American StandardBudget$2,000–$7,000
Safe StepTherapeutic$2,500–$8,500
KohlerLuxury$4,000–$12,000

How Much Do Walk-In Tubs Cost to Install?

If you are considering a walk-in tub, it is important to remember that the unit itself will not be the only major expense associated with the process. Installation is an important consideration in your budget as well, and you may find that the cost of taking out an old tub and putting in a new walk-in easily exceeds the cost of the tub.

One of the reasons why this is the case is that installing a walk-in tub may require costly renovations to your bathroom or upgrades to your plumbing system. For instance, a walk-in tub may not have the same dimensions as a standard tub, or you may want to reconfigure your bathroom layout to ensure that the unit is accessible. Perhaps you have older, smaller pipes or water heaters that are less than ideal—or altogether incompatible—for use with a walk-in tub. All of these situations could require much more extensive work from a plumber or other contractor and drive the installation costs higher.

Experts recommend setting aside another $1,000 minimum for a standard installation of a walk-in tub, but that number can easily exceed $10,000 when the installation involves a larger bathroom remodel, new plumbing, electrical work, or tiling.

Factors That Affect the Price of Walk-In Tubs

Cost is one of the main factors people have in mind when shopping for walk-in tubs. With total costs that can run in the thousands of dollars, it’s worth asking what contributes to those figures. This will allow you to understand where you can make trade-offs to find tubs that have features you want while staying within your budget.

Some ongoing costs associated with walk-in tubs, like water usage or ongoing maintenance and upkeep, could look different over time depending on which tub model you choose. In general, however, the drivers of walk-in tub costs break down into two categories: factors related to the walk-in tub itself, and factors related to the installation process.

Walk-in Tub Cost Factors

There are hundreds of walk-in tub options on the market, each offering different designs, features, and materials. It makes sense that with all this variety, each tub option also has a different price tag, with simpler models costing less and models with more features or special design attributes costing more. Here are some of the main factors that contribute to the cost of different walk-in tub models:

  • Tub type and size: Tub type and size are probably the most important factors affecting the cost of your chosen tub. Walk-in tubs with greater length and width, multiple seats, or other design features that increase the size often cost more because they use more material and may be more difficult to manufacture.
  • Tub material: The most common materials for walk-in tubs are acrylic and fiberglass. As a rule, acrylic tends to be slightly more expensive upfront, but may be more durable and require less maintenance over time.
  • Air and water jets: Walk-in tubs with hydrotherapy and whirlpool features tend to cost more because of the built-in systems that power the jets. These systems can also require additional maintenance costs over the life of the tub.
  • Wheelchair accessibility: Some of the most expensive walk-in tubs on the market are those specifically designed to be accessible to handicapped users. A major reason for this is that wheelchair-accessible tubs require a larger size.
  • Safety features: Tubs may not always include features like grab bars, non-slip surfaces, temperature controls, and other safety features. These sorts of features usually only increase costs incrementally, but if you opt for a cheaper tub, some protections like grab bars and non-slip surfaces can be installed as a DIY project or by a handyman.

Installation Cost Factors

Many walk-in tub purchasers quickly learn that the real expense comes from installation. To accommodate walk-in tubs’ size and features, you may need extensive work done to your bathroom, up to a full remodel. This can take costs from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Here are some of the factors that contribute to installation expenses:

  • Bathroom space: Walk-in tubs often have unusual shapes or sizes different from a typical bathtub’s dimensions, so they can require some work to fit into a bathroom while also making sure that other bathroom fixtures remain functional and accessible. This may involve a full remodel of the bathroom, with adjustments to your floor plan to fit in the tub. Even if you can squeeze the tub into your existing layout, you may still need to have cabinets, toilets, or other fixtures removed temporarily to get the old tub out and new tub in, which can add to labor costs for the project.
  • Pipes and water heater: Installation of a walk-in tub may also require you to install a new water heater and pipes. Experts recommend hot water heaters with a capacity of at least 50 gallons, and water supply lines with three-quarter inch pipes rather than half-inch pipes.
  • Electrical system: Electrical work in your bathroom might be required for your walk-in tub, especially if you have air or water jets or a pump system powered by an electric motor. You may end up paying an electrician to run a new line and hook up the tub to your electrical system.
  • Flooring and tiling: After the work of installing the tub has been done, you may need to pay someone to repair or replace your bathroom’s flooring or tile to help protect against water damage and have your bathroom looking its best.

A Cheaper Alternative: Walk-In Tub Conversion Kits

For those who want a walk-in tub at a lower cost, one potential option is to convert an existing bathtub into a walk-in.

Companies offer walk-in tub conversion kits that allow you to cut out a portion of the side of a tub to lower the threshold for getting in and out and placing a frame over the cut area. Conversion kits frequently come in several different configurations, allowing users to simply leave their converted tub as a walk-in shower with an open entry, add a water-tight door, or install an insert to transition from walk-in shower to a full bath with ease.

Modifying an existing tub is much less expensive than installing a new unit for several reasons. For one, the kits themselves typically cost less than a walk-in unit—hundreds of dollars for a conversion versus thousands for a new walk-in tub. Further, installation is much simpler and straightforward because it is unlikely to require any related plumbing, electrical, or tiling work to install the kit. In fact, some conversions are simple enough that they can be done as a DIY project if you’re handy and have the right tools and supplies available.

One downside of this route is that many of the additional design features available in a walk-in unit will not be available in a standard tub configuration. If features like an elevated seat or taller walls are important to you for comfort or mobility reasons, converting a traditional tub will likely not address those needs.


The Best Walk-In Tub Companies

Ella (Best Overall)

Best Overall

Overview

Ella is a strong provider of walk-in tubs, with more tub types and sizes than its competitors, high-quality features in several categories, and an excellent warranty.

Tub Type and Size

Ella distinguishes itself from its competitors in the walk-in tub market with a large variety of tub configurations, styles, and sizes—more than two dozen different tub types in total. Ella’s product offerings include both soaker and lay-down style, shower-tub combinations, two-person tubs, wheelchair-friendly tubs, and many more. All told, the variety of sizes and styles of walk-in tubs offered by Ella is nearly unmatched.

Ella U-Shaped Walk-In Tub

Door Style and Accessibility

Given Ella’s variety of tub options, it should be unsurprising to learn that Ella also has varied door styles available in its product offerings. Ella offers tubs with both U-shaped doors with both inward and outward swinging options. Ella also has more handicap-accessible, ADA-compliant tub designs than many of its competitors, all of which include an outward-swinging L-shaped door that allows for easy wheelchair transfers.

Safety Features

Ella’s safety features include support handrails that can be mounted in a variety of shapes and positioned on both the interior and exterior surfaces of the tub, which allows users good support when moving in or out of the tub or repositioning. Ella tubs also include a thermostatic control valve as a standard feature to minimize the risk that the user will be scalded by hot water.

Tub and Hardware Materials

Ella offers both acrylic and gelcoat tub options, which means that users have a choice between the more durable acrylic and the more affordable fiberglass material. However, one downside is that Ella’s acrylic tubs are not available for every size and configuration due to the manufacturing process, so you should check to be sure that Ella offers your preferred design in acrylic. In terms of hardware, Ella provides several different options including brass and both brushed and polished stainless steel.

Fill and Drain System

One of Ella’s best attributes is its rapid fill and drain systems. The quick fill faucet technology has a maximum fill rate of 16 gallons per minute, which fills a standard tub in under 4 minutes. On the drain side, Ella tubs come with a gravity-based dual drain system that they claim reduces the wait time of a traditional drain to under 2 minutes. However, both the fill and drain features may take longer depending on your home’s existing plumbing.

Jets and Other Therapeutic Options

Ella’s tubs include an impressive array of therapeutic features. Ella’s hydro massage system uses 24 water jets placed throughout the tub to target different parts of the body, an air massage system with adjustable speed controls, and a unique infusion microbubble therapy feature which infuses the bath with billions of microbubbles to stimulate the skin. Ella tubs also come with chromatherapy options as well.

Cost

Pricing information about Ella tubs is fairly easy to find online. Most options fall between $3,000 and $6,000 just for the cost of the tub, with some options—particularly the handicap-accessible and larger models—tending to come in at a higher cost.

Installation

If you choose an Ella tub, professional installers can conduct a consultation to make sure that you have the right type, size, and features for your space. Ella has a trained network of professional installers who can then install the tub in your home in as little as one day.

Warranty

Ella’s warranty is one of the strongest on the market, with a limited lifetime warranty on all parts of the tub. This is in contrast to other competitors who offer different warranty lengths on components of the tub and usually only guarantee the tub’s seal for life.

Company Reputation

Compared to other brands, Ella is a newer entrant to the walk-in tub market, having around 15 years of experience designing and installing walk-in tubs. However, in that short span, Ella has developed a strong company reputation thanks to its quality product array. One indication of this is Ella’s A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Ella has additionally been accredited by the BBB since 2015, which means that Ella meets the BBB’s highest standards for fairness and integrity in its business practices.

Recommendation

With its unmatched array of tub types and features, excellent warranty, and reasonable pricing, Ella is one of the strongest, most well-rounded companies on the walk-in tub market. These qualities make Ella our choice for the Overall Best Walk-In Tub Company.

American Standard (Best for Budget)

Best for Budget

Overview

American Standard is an industry leader in bathroom fixtures and offers solid options for walk-in tubs at a variety of price points.

Tub Type and Size

American Standard’s walk-in tubs are mostly provided in a typical soaker style with a built-in seat. These offerings are less varied than you can find with some other providers on the market, which is a slight downside to American Standard. Tubs come in varying lengths between 4 and 5 feet, with extenders available to fit certain spaces, and widths usually between 28 and 32 inches.

Door Style and Accessibility

American Standard’s tubs provide a number of walk-in door options to promote easy accessibility and fit each bathroom space. Most American Standard walk-in tubs have a low 4 inch threshold and wide, U-shaped doors that can open inward or outward and be set up to swing to the left or the right as needed. American Standard does also offer handicap-accessible door entries with extra-wide widths and a shape that facilitates wheelchair transfers.

Safety Features

American Standard delivers many of the most common safety features in walk-in tubs. In particular, American Standard’s walk-in tubs have durable built-in grab bars, and customers can add an additional grab bar when customizing their tubs. American Standard’s tubs also have a textured floor surface to prevent any slips. One additional feature on some American Standard tub models is a timer that helps bathers keep track of how long they have been in the tub. This feature helps reduce the chance that a bather might soak for too long and allow the water to cool to an uncomfortable or unsafe temperature.

Tub and Hardware Materials

American Standard offers its tubs in both acrylic and gelcoat fiberglass material. Additionally, American Standard goes further than many of its competitors in providing “Entry,” “Value,” and “Premium” lines of gelcoat tubs, which allows customers more choice in evaluating the tradeoffs between material quality and price. Fixtures on American Standard tubs come in multiple materials and finishes, including solid brass, stainless steel, and chrome.

American Standard Walk-In Tub

Fill and Drain System

American Standard is an industry leader in the use of its fast-filling faucets and Quick Drain pump system to support walk-in tubs that fill and drain quickly. These features are not included on all American Standard tub models, but they can be included for an additional charge, and for higher-end American Standard tubs, they come as a built-in feature.

Jets and Other Therapeutic Options

American Standard’s therapeutic features are among the best available on the market for walk-in tubs. Certain American Standard tubs include targeted back, leg, wrist, and foot massaging jets using both air and water, chromatherapy lighting with seven colors, and built-in aromatherapy systems.

Cost

Most American Standard walk-in tubs cost between $3,000 and $7,000 for the tub unit, with more luxurious, feature-heavy models running higher. Pricing information about American Standard tubs is fairly easy to find online, though the most accurate estimates will come from an American Standard representative. American Standard frequently offers discounts and promotions to ensure that you get the best possible price for your tub.

Installation

Some American Standard tubs can be purchased through regular retail stores, which requires customers to use that retailer’s home services team or else find another qualified contractor to install the tub. For tubs purchased through American Standard, a trained and certified professional can provide a free consultation to choose the right model for your bathroom and then quickly install your chosen walk-in tub.

Warranty

American Standard’s warranty varies by the walk-in tub line. Some models have a lifetime warranty that covers fixtures, parts, labor, and installation for life. However, other models may have a more limited warranty, providing a lifetime warranty only on the door seal and a shorter warranty on the tub itself and other components. When compared to Ella, this is certainly a downside. Because of this, customers who go with American Standard should check carefully to understand what exactly is covered under the warranty for their specific model.

Company Reputation

American Standard is one of the country’s leading manufacturers and sellers of bathroom fixtures, and it is a leader in walk-in tubs as well. The company holds an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau, which trails some other competitors reviewed in this guide but still generally indicates a business that is fair and respectful of customers.

Recommendation

With multiple walk-in tub product lines that offer quality features at several different price points, American Standard is our choice as Best for Buyers on a Budget.

Safe Step (Best Therapeutic Walk-In Tubs)

Best for Therapeutic Options

Overview

Safe Step runs a little more expensive than competitors and the tubs’ design features do not have the same variety that other companies provide, but Safe Step distinguishes itself with an impressive array of therapeutic options.

Tub Type and Size

Safe Step offers a soaker style walk-in tub plus a hybrid shower-tub combination as their core products. Safe Step’s walk-in tubs are highly customizable in size, with the ability to manufacture tubs to the exact specifications required for a customer’s space. Safe Step can accordingly be manufactured to a length of between 4 and 5 feet long. While this customizability is a positive, one downside of Safe Step’s offerings is that they have fewer standard options available when compared to other tub manufacturers.

Door Style and Accessibility

Safe Step has wide, U-shaped doors that can be configured to swing to either the right or left depending on what makes most sense in the bathroom space. Notably, Safe Step’s doors only open inward, which is a benefit for saving space in the bathroom and preventing leaks, but also provides less room for users to maneuver when getting in and out of the tub.

Safety Features

Safe Step delivers on the promise made in its name with a variety of features that help protect bathers. Safe Step tubs have a low threshold height of 4 inches, built-in grab bars, anti-slip flooring, and anti-scald technology among their positive safety features.

Tub and Hardware Materials

Like many walk-in tub competitors, Safe Step offers its products in both acrylic and gelcoat materials. Safe Step notes that these materials are finished in a way that minimizes bacterial growth and keeps shine and luster over time with good care.

Fill and Drain System

Safe Step advertises quick fill and drain components on par with many of the features found in comparable offerings from other companies. Safe Step uses a single gravity-based system for the drain, which may make the draining process longer than in tubs with a pump or multiple drains, while Safe Step claims that its fast-fill system fills the tub up to 20% faster than a standard faucet.

Jets and Other Therapeutic Options

Safe Step boasts arguably the best, most comprehensive set of therapeutic options of walk-in tub companies. Hydrotherapy comes in the form of 10 adjustable jets that can be repositioned to target certain areas or adjusted for speed, while the MicroSoothe Air Therapy system circulates tiny bubbles into the tub to stimulate the skin. Safe Step tubs additionally have heated seats and surfaces to keep users warm. But Safe Step sets itself apart in making aromatherapy and chromotherapy features standard to its offerings, creating a more holistic therapeutic experience in its tubs than competitors do.

Cost

As with other walk-in tub companies, the prices of Safe Step’s products vary by style, size, and features included. Unfortunately, Safe step does not list specific prices on its website, which means that accurate pricing information is only available by obtaining a quote. That said, Safe Step’s tubs generally range from about $2,500 to $8,500. Safe Step’s estimates are free, and the company also provides discounts and upgrades for certain customers and product types.

Installation

Professional installation is included in the price of every Safe Step walk-in tub. Safe Step’s network of dealers and installers can help identify the size needed, and design each tub to fit your bathroom’s existing space. Once the tub has been manufactured, installers remove the existing tub and install the new walk-in. The process typically takes one or two days.

Warranty

Safe Step has one of the stronger warranties in the industry, covering manufacturing defects on the tub, door seal, faucets, water pumps, heaters, parts, and labor on a lifetime basis. This means that Safe Step customers can have the assurance that major issues with the tub can easily be resolved under the terms of the warranty.

Company Reputation

Safe Step has a good reputation within the industry based on its customizability and strong warranty. Safe Step has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2009 as an A+ rated business, which means that Safe Step customers can be assured that they will be dealing with a fair, honest, and responsive business.

Recommendation

Safe Step makes standard many of the therapeutic options that require costly add-ons for other tub companies. For that focus on providing a relaxing, comfortable, restorative bath experience, Safe Step is our top choice for Therapeutic Options.

Kohler (Best Luxury Walk-In Tub)

Best Luxury Walk-In Tub

Overview

Kohler provides a variety of high-quality walk-in tubs with features designed to maximize comfort and experience.

Tub Type and Size

Kohler has a limited number of tub styles compared to its competitors, with no options for types like bariatric, wheelchair-accessible, or two-person tubs. Most of Kohler’s options are instead a familiar soaker style with a built-in seat. However, Kohler can customize tub sizes to accommodate the size of nearly any space, with tubs that can be manufactured from 4 to 5 feet long and 28 to 32 inches wide.

Door Style and Accessibility

One of Kohler’s distinguishing walk-in tub features is its tub doors. Kohler’s walk-in baths have wider bath doors than are standard for many other companies, which helps people navigate in and out of the tub more easily. The doors can be configured to swing to either the right or the left, depending on the layout of your bathroom. Kohler also boasts a threshold height of 3 inches, which is one of the lowest heights in the industry, decreasing the likelihood that a bather might trip while entering or exiting the tub. One limitation of Kohler’s tubs, however, is that they do not offer any options that are easily accessible by wheelchair. While the wider doors do help with mobility generally, they are not sufficient for a wheelchair user to transfer into the tub.

Safety Features

Kohler has an excellent array of safety features in its tubs. In addition to the extra-wide door and low threshold described above, Kohler tubs come standard with a handrail located inside the tub for support. Kohler’s thoughtful design also includes an indentation running along the outside edge of the tub door that allows bathers to steady themselves while lifting or lowering themselves. Kohler tubs also have slip-resistant, textured flooring and anti-scald valves to improve safety as well.

Tub and Hardware Materials

Kohler’s tubs are available in both acrylic and gelcoat materials, offered in two customized colors of white and biscuit (a creamy off-white color). Kohler’s hardware materials are available in brushed nickel or polished chrome. While Kohler offers fewer hardware combinations to customize the look of your tub compared to other companies, Kohler’s materials are generally high-quality and durable.

Fill and Drain System

Kohler walk-in baths come equipped with fast fill and drain technology that can fill and drain the tub within a couple minutes. Kohler claims that their most up-to-date drain designs are now 4 times faster than older models. However, like many other competitors, the true fill and drain rates on a Kohler tub will depend on the quality of your existing plumbing system, including your water pipe capacity. One additional nice feature of Kohler’s tubs is that they include heated surfaces that keep the bather warm while the tub is draining.

Jets and Other Therapeutic Options

Kohler has excellent therapeutic options that provide comfortable, targeted massages and sensation to bathers. Tubs come with hydrotherapy whirlpool jets to massage the back, legs, and feet and BubbleMassage air jets that pump tiny bubbles into the tub, and each jet in the tub can be moved to target the flow according to the bather’s needs. Kohler also has Bask heated rests that warm the back and neck to help bathers relax in the tub.

Cost

Kohler’s pricing information is not readily available online. Instead, Kohler will quote homeowners a price for their tubs after conducting a free in-home appointment and evaluating the type and design of the tub to be installed. While this lack of information can be frustrating, Kohler does offer a price guarantee when they quote the cost of a tub, which locks in the cost, including installation. This means that customers receive information about the full price they will pay for the entire process of selecting and installing a new tub. With that said, the price of Kohler walk-in tubs start around $4,000, slightly higher than other brands, and go up from there. 

Installation

Kohler works with a network of trained dealers and technicians who can help homeowners custom design a tub for their space. The cost of installation is included in the quote for a Kohler walk-in tub. Kohler’s technicians work quickly to install the new tub and take away any debris and the old tub from the bathroom.

Warranty

Kohler tubs come with a limited lifetime warranty for walk-in tubs installed by an authorized Kohler dealer. The warranty extends to material and workmanship on all bath components including the seal, the jet systems, and the faucet and handshower in the tubs. This is a stronger warranty than many companies offer because it covers all components of the tub with a lifetime warranty.

Company Reputation

Kohler is a familiar, leading name in bathroom fixtures, including walk-in tubs. However, Kohler receives a rating of B from the Better Business Bureau, which trails behind many other competitors in the walk-in tub market. This suggests that Kohler may not be as strong as other companies in dealing with customer complaints and issues fairly.

Recommendation

Though Kohler offers less in the way of variety and customization than some other competitors, the options it does provide are high-quality and built for comfort, which makes Kohler our pick for Best Luxury Walk-In Tubs.


References

Each company featured in our guides has been independently selected and reviewed by our research team. If you select one of these companies and click on a link, we may earn a commission.