Walk-In Bathtubs: The Top 5 Things to Consider
Walk-in bathtubs figured significantly in an episode of the ABC
Television program, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in which
an elaborate makeover was performed for "Freedom Hills
Therapeutic Riding Program", a Maryland non-profit academy
providing therapeutic riding programs for students with mental
and/or physical disabilities.
Recognizing that the student body of the Freedom Hills
program need maximum comfort, safety and accessibility, the
Extreme Makeover crew decided to install high-end walk-in
bathtubs in the ADA-accessible bathroom facilities.
As walk-in bathtubs and spas become more popular and the
selection of makes and models expands, the process of
choosing the right walk-in bathtub has become increasingly
more difficult.
The readership of SeniorResourcesandNews.com represents a prominent portion of the demographic interested
in walk-in bathtubs; we investigated this growing trend in bathroom remodeling and can offer you the Top 5
Things to Consider when choosing a walk-in bathtub:
#1: Physical Mobility
Every person has a unique height, weight and mobility factor. When evaluating walk-in
bathtubs, take into account seat height; leg room; available leverage points on the tub's rim
and other areas for secure self-moving adjustments and self-lifting purposes and how the
walk-in bathtub door interacts with the user's body space. (See "#5: Door Closure" for more on
this last consideration.)
#2: Financial Considerations
The price of a walk-in bathtub can range from $2000 - $10,000, before taking into account the
cost of installation. That is a pretty hefty price tag for a single household improvement. The
high cost of a walk-in bathtub puts many seniors in a double-bind: In many cases because of
reduced physical conditions, they have a real need for the ease-of-use, therapeutic value and
safety a walk-in bathtub can provide, but having one installed can put a senior (or any
consumer) in real financial peril. There are a few financial solutions to look into when
considering the addition of a walk-in bathtub:
  • Retail Store Financing Option
    Several of the larger U.S. retailers offer various financing and promotional terms to help
    consumers with a large home improvement purchase such as a walk-in bathtub. Lowe's,
    the large home improvement chain, offers a "Lowe's Project Card", which enables a
    consumer to buy a bigger-ticket home improvement item like a walk-in bathtub, make no
    payments for 6 months with zero accrued interest, and after the initial six months have
    very small monthly payments. Check out their website, lowes.com, for more information.

  • USDA Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Programs
    .The Single-Family Housing Program provides homeownership opportunities to low and
    moderate-income rural Americans through several loan, grant and guarantee programs.
    The program also makes funding available to individuals in order to finance vital
    improvements necessary to make their homes decent, safe and sanitary. Check out
    their website, rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html, for availability and eligibility information.

  • Capital Expenditure Deductibility: The IRS allows tax deductions against certain capital
    expenses involving special equipment installed in the home if their primary purpose is
    medical care for the user(s). Check out the IRS website, irs.gov/publications/p502/ar02.
    html#en_US_publink100014798, and consult your CPA, accountant or attorney for more
    information on whether you are eligible for this tax deduction.
#3: Walk-In Bathtub Size and Available Space
Walk-in bathtubs come in many sizes, shapes and form factors. Make
certain you understand the available space in the bathroom or other
area intended for walk-in bathtub installation. If you believe a wall can
be removed or simply moved to make more room for the walk-in tub,
make certain by consulting a reliable contractor before committing to a
purchase.  Remember, the more modifications you require to
accommodate a walk-in tub, the more it will cost to install it.
#4: Step-In Threshold Height
Walk-in bathtubs feature various step-in threshold heights. Some walk-in tubs feature a
step-in height of over 7 inches, which somewhat negates the main purpose of installing one.
Other walk-in tub models offer step-in height thresholds of a little over 2 inches. Take into
account the mobility factors and safety needs of all users before choosing a walk-in bathtub.
#5: Door Closure Form Factor
Walk-in bathtubs offer several door movement and latch
form factor features -
  • Inward Swinging
  • Outward Swinging
  • Long-Handled Lever Closures
  • Small-Lever with Button-Action Closures

Safety Risk
An inward-swinging walk-in bathtub door can be clumsy and
hard to maneuver around for users with mobility or size
Additionally, many inward-closing walk-in
bathtubs provide no true emergency entrance access
Outward-swinging walk-in bathtubs offer the user a much
easier entrance and exit, but the outward swing path of the  
door may be impractical for a smaller installation space.
Note: Outward-swinging walk-in tub doors do not leak.
Outward-swinging walk-in tub
doors provide easy entrances
and exits but may not fit as easily
in smaller spaces.
Outward-swinging doors do not
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Converting your existing bathtub to a step-through form-factor can save you time and money. But there can be some drawbacks. Read below about converting your existing bathtub to a walk-in bathtub and determine whether a bathtub conversion could be the right solution for you!
Converting Your Existing Bathtub to a Walk-In Bathtub

Is a new walk-in bathtub too much for your budget? A possible compromise is having your existing bathtub
converted into a step-through bathtub. (You have a finished-panel edged step-through "notch" option and an
insert with a door option.) For a
fraction of the cost of a tear-out and replace procedure with a brand new walk-in
bathtub, a
qualified bathtub conversion specialist can come to your home, make a cut-out in your existing
bathtub, install a doored insert or custom-fit finish panels, seal and re-glaze your tub so that it
looks factory-new!
Amazingly, this entire process can be done in one day! (In many cases, this process is reversible: The cut-out
portion can be re-installed in the notch, sealed and re-glazed to
restore the bathtub to its original form - also
looking factory-fresh after the reversal process!)
Typically, the step-in height of a converted bathtub is a little higher than low-step thresholds featured in many new
walk-in bathtubs, but with grab bars and non-slip surfaces installed in the proper locations the step-in height of a
converted tub
may be a non-issue. A bathtub conversion can save you a lot of money, time and aggravation
that the cost of a new walk-in bathtub along with the required tear-out and re-installation effort will give you!
Buying a brand-new walk-in bathtub offers a lot of advantages. But there are some drawbacks to putting in a brand-new walk-in bathtub! Perhaps converting your existing bathtub is a better option. Read more below and determine which solution is best for you: a new-bathtub or converted bathtub?

Buy or Convert?
What are the advantages
and disadvantages to
your existing bathtub?
learn more

Buy New?
Bathtub Conversions
can be done with just
a finished
step-through "notch"
or an insert with a
door feature
See Our New Walk-In Bathtub Comparison Page!
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