Falls are a leading cause of death and injury among the elderly. Traditional bathtubs are particularly dangerous for seniors with weakened muscle strength, mobility, or balance. The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention reports that one in four Americans over 65 fall each year.
One way to improve safety and independence in the bathroom is to install a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs have a door that allows you to walk into it without climbing over a steep edge. When the door closes, it seals to retain the bath water, and remains closed until the water fully drains. Walk-in tub doors open outward into the bathroom but can be designed to open inward to accommodate a wheelchair or save space in smaller rooms.
Safety features like these prevent water spills and slip hazards while also providing therapeutic relief to physically impaired or overweight persons who might benefit from hydrotherapy or regular soaking sessions. The only downside? Installing a walk-in tub can be expensive.
Walk-In Tub Costs Vary by Type
The cost of a walk-in tub ranges from about $2,300 for a basic soaker to $25,000 for a two-person tub offering a spa-like experience. Most seniors can find and install an ADA-approved walk-in tub between $5,000 and $10,000. Costs depend, and vary widely, on features like size, number of jets, seat type, and therapeutic and design options. Larger tubs cost more and drive up the utility bills used to run and heat the water.
- Standard walk-in tub: $2,500 to $5,000
- Air bath or hydrotherapy tub: $5,000 to $10,000
- Bariatric bathtub: $7,000 to $10,000
- Combination bath (air and hydrotherapy) tub: $7,000 to $15,000
|Walk-In Tub Prices|
|Kohler||– Soaker tub with grab bars
– Hydrotherapy and air jets
|$2,000 – $15,000|
|American Standard||– Lifetime warranty on bath and installation
– Quick drain– Self-cleaning system
|$4,000 – $11, 000|
|Safe Step||– Hydrotherapy
– Chromotherapy for arthritis
|Starting at $10,000|
|Boca||– Lowest step (two inches)
– Heated seats
– Auto-dry features
|Starting at $7,000|
|Universal Tubs||– Wheelchair-accessible
– Stream jets
|$2,000 – $8,000|
|Ella||– Two-seater tubs
– Petite and tall sizes
|$4,000 – $10,000|
Walk-In Tub Installation Costs
The average cost to install a walk-in tub is between $2,500 and $8,000. Though the task of installing a standard walk-in tub isn’t overly costly or complex, it will take some time to remove the old tub and the tub surround. Account for around six to eight hours of labor. Most brands include installation fees with purchase.
Installation costs will increase if you buy a walk-in tub with more features beyond what’s included in a standard model. For example, the installation might require additional plumbing, tile, and electrical work if you choose a deeper tub with a higher water capacity or one with heated seats. If the tub is equipped with hydrotherapy or air jets, the installation expense increases substantially—around $1,500 to $5,000.
A tub can hold 50 or more gallons, so you might need to upgrade your water heater or plumbing to match. Talk with the brand and installation team to determine whether these updates are included in your walk-in tub and installation estimate.
Walk-in Tub Maintenance and Warranties Cost
Maintenance costs are usually low for walk-in tubs, though higher-end models with mechanical elements require regular upkeep. You can clean jetted tubs every few months with a specialty cleaner and have a plumber or electrician inspect the motors every few years.
Reputable manufacturers like the brands above offer long-term warranties and customer service plans. When comparing walk-in tub companies, look for lifetime guarantee warranties and other service protections that will ensure you can use your tub for years to come.
Walk-In Tub Cost Factors
The features of a walk-in tub influence the price and range from basic to luxurious. When shopping for a tub, prioritize safety features followed by health-related functions.
Easy-to-reach controls and anti-slip surfaces: Walk-in tubs usually come with a hand-held shower head for sit-down bathing.
Low step-in threshold: The standard threshold is four- to seven-inches high, but some manufacturers offer even lower entries to reduce trip hazards.
Safety-tested features: Tubs with CSL/UL approvals meet safety and sustainability standards. Health associations that have reviewed the product, like the Arthritis Foundation, may help you decide on one brand over another.
Fast draining: Choose a walk-in tub with drain technology that allows water to drain or fill quickly. Tubs furnished with fast drains can empty in about two to three minutes. Remember, walk-in tubs can hold 50 to 80 gallons of water, so this upgraded feature eliminates the waiting process.
A backrest: True comfort soaking requires a backrest to ease sore muscles and joints—especially if the backrest is heated.
Air and hydrotherapy: An air bath provides relief to those with diabetes or circulation issues by pushing millions of tiny air bubbles through small air jets. A hydrotherapy or whirlpool bath provides deep tissue massage and can soothe muscle aches. A bariatric bath works well for larger individuals or those with mobility problems. Combination tubs offer air and water jets with the option of switching between the two settings.
Getting Help with Paying for a Walk-In Tub
Medicare does not cover the costs of a walk-in bath, but Medicaid might cover a portion. Medicaid coverage varies from state to state, so research your state’s policies, or contact your Medicaid provider to determine the financial assistance available to you. In most cases, you’ll need a doctor to confirm that a walk-in tub is a medical necessity to get a waiver.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program provides grants and loans to low-income, rural homeowners to make home modifications such as remodeling a bathroom to allow for a walk-in tub. This program also oversees the Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants program, which offers loans with a 1% interest rate to assist low-income seniors with improving homes for safety.
Are Walk-In Tubs Tax Deductible?
The IRS allows you to deduct certain medical expenses from your taxes, including a walk-in tub. But again, you’ll need to have a prescription from your healthcare provider deeming it necessary for health reasons. With this letter, you can deduct part of the tub expense for the year the doctor advised you to install it.
If your walk-in tub is not tax-deductible or covered by insurance, talk to the tub dealer or manufacturer about financing options. Most companies offer coupons and low-interest payment plans for qualified customers.