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The Pros and Cons of Installing a Walk-In Bathtub

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

When it comes to enhancing the comfort and safety of your bathroom space, a walk-in bathtub is a popular option that has gained traction over the years. Designed with accessibility and relaxation in mind, these specialized tubs offer a range of benefits, but like any home improvement, they also come with their fair share of drawbacks. In this article, we'll delve into the advantages and disadvantages of installing a walk-in bathtub to help you make an informed decision.

A walk-in tub in bathroom
Walk-in tub


Accessibility and Safety

One of the primary reasons individuals opt for a walk-in bathtub is its enhanced accessibility. These tubs have a low threshold, making it easier for people with limited mobility or disabilities to enter and exit without the risk of slipping and falling. Built-in handrails and non-slip surfaces further contribute to a safer bathing experience.

Hydrotherapy and Relaxation

Many walk-in bathtubs offer hydrotherapy features such as jets that release massaging water streams. These jets can help alleviate muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and provide a soothing spa-like experience. An air massage option is available on most walk-in tubs as well, which offers an infusion of warmed air into the tub. For those seeking relaxation and relief from aching muscles, these tubs can be a valuable addition.

Additional Features

  1. One of the main advantages over the standard bathtub is the water depth. A standard bathtub can have as little as 12 inches and as much as 17 inches of bathing water, while many walk-in tubs will average over 36 inches of water when filled. With the seat at around a 17 inch height this will allow the water to be somewhere up to the chest level.

  2. Additionally, add-on grab bars can be added where needed.

  3. It is highly recommended that an anti-scalding valve be added to help prevent any unfortunate accidents from occurring.

  4. Non-slip surfaces on the tub floor are available as well.

  5. Bariatric walk-in tubs are available also. Bariatric Vs. Standard Tubs: Bariatric tubs are different from most other walk-in tubs because they can hold people weighing up to 600+ pounds. Regular walk-in tubs can only hold people who weigh no more than 300 pounds.

  6. For very unique circumstances oversized double-seat walk-in tubs are available.

A two seat walk-in tub
Two seat walk-in tub

  1. Handheld shower heads are available which make for easier bathing.

  2. Heated seats and backrests are available in many units.

  3. Common materials for the construction of walk-in tubs are acrylic, fiberglass and polypropylene with acrylic being the choice for longevity and ease of care.

  4. In-line heaters can be ordered which help to maintain the water temperature while using the jetted tub feature.

  5. Finally, among features that are available on some walk-in tubs is the foot hydromassage.

  6. Compact or mini walk-in tubs are available which may help in smaller bathrooms.

Independence and Dignity

The independence gained from being able to bathe oneself can significantly improve one's sense of dignity and self-esteem. Walk-in bathtubs empower individuals who might otherwise require assistance, giving them the freedom to maintain their personal hygiene routine without relying on others.

Home Value

If you're targeting an audience that values accessible living features, installing a walk-in bathtub can potentially increase the value of your home. It can be an attractive selling point for older adults or those with mobility challenges. Retirement communities would be ideal for walk-in tubs.



One of the most significant drawbacks of walk-in bathtubs is their cost. These specialized tubs are more expensive than traditional bathtubs due to their design and additional features. Installation costs can also be higher if you need to modify your bathroom to accommodate the new tub. We recommend getting several quotes from qualified installers remembering to ask for referrals from their previous clients. The cost totals on walk-in tubs, installation materials and labor can run up to $10,000, so it is well worth your time to shop wisely.

Water Consumption

Walk-in bathtubs typically require more water to fill compared to standard bathtubs. This increased water consumption can lead to higher utility bills over time. It's essential to consider the environmental impact and the potential increase in costs when using these tubs frequently. Since the walk-in tubs can at times require a 50-80 gallon fill (twice as much as standard tubs) a larger water heater might be needed.

In lieu of a new water heater, another option would be a tankless water heater system which provides a constant supply of hot water. Both electric and gas tankless water heaters are available.

Limited Showering Option

While walk-in bathtubs are excellent for bathing, they might not offer the same convenience when it comes to regular showering. If you prefer the option to take quick showers, you might find the design of these tubs less accommodating.

Installation and Space Requirements

Installing a walk-in bathtub often requires significant bathroom modifications. This can include enlarging the bathroom doorway, creating a larger space to accommodate the tub, and potentially reinforcing the bathroom floor to support the tub's weight. These modifications can be time-consuming and costly and need to be considered. Plumbing lines, drain and electrical line locations may have to be modified. And because of the footprint of the new tub, new flooring or modifications to the existing floor may be necessary.

Tub Fill Time

The tub cannot be filled until the door is closed and locked, so a standard faucet will take longer to fill the tub. A Roman tub faucet with a high flow rate would be a great help.

Drainage Time

Walk-in bathtubs can take longer to drain compared to traditional tubs due to their design and additional features. This extended drainage time might be a minor inconvenience for some users. To properly use a walk-in tub, you have to enter before the water fills and wait to exit until it’s fully drained. For older adults, who have thinner skin and slower circulation, this can be uncomfortable, especially during the draining process when their skin is wet. It is recommend to dry off with a towel as the tub drains to reduce the risk of chilling. You can also purchase fast-draining tubs to avoid this risk. There are some higher end models with a more accelerated drain function that can complete the function in around 8 minutes.

A walking bathtub with window
Walk-in Bathtub


A walk-in bathtub can be a fantastic addition to a home, providing accessibility, safety, and relaxation benefits. However, it's crucial to weigh these advantages against the potential drawbacks such as the cost, water consumption, and installation requirements. Before making a decision, carefully assess your needs, budget, and the available space in your bathroom. If the benefits align with your requirements and you're prepared for the associated costs and modifications, a walk-in bathtub could be a valuable investment in enhancing your bathing experience and overall quality of life.

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