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Best walk-in tubs 2021

Best walk-in tubs 2021
(Image credit: Ella's Bubbles)

The best walk-in tubs for your home are designed for people with mobility or other health needs. There are many options on offer, so the main things to consider are your budget, your health requirements, and whether you need a walk-in tub company that will remove your old one before installing your new tub.

The best walk-in tubs comply with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) act, and feature wide doors for easy entry. They should have easily accessible grips on the sides, plus textured flooring to minimize the chance of you slipping or falling. Bathrooms are hotspots for falls, so this is important. For extra peace of mind, also consider whether one of the best fall detection devices could be of use to you.

The best walk-in tubs come with a range of health-focused features, such as hydrotherapy jets to ease muscle pain and provide a gentle massaging effect. There are practical features to consider too, such as heated seats for extra comfort when you’re immersed in water. More walk-in tub brands are designing new models with electric wheelchair users in mind, so you have options if you have specific mobility requirements at home. We’ve also featured different walk-in tub types, including bariatric soakers and reclined tubs, so you can truly enjoy a spot of soothing water therapy for your entire body. 

If you don’t have the budget for one of the best walk-in tubs right now, you could use a conversion kit instead, which is cheaper. AmeriGlide, for example, has a kit that converts a standard bathtub into a walk-in tub. For other ways to stay safe in the home and outdoors, take a look at our guide to the best medical alert bracelets. For greater mobility, read our guide to mobility scooters.

5 best walk-in tub companies and ranges to consider now

1. Ella's Bubbles: Best walk-in tub overall

Best walk-in tubs: The Ella's Bubbles logo in black

(Image credit: Ella's Bubbles)

A great selection at great prices, and with plenty of accessories available

Reasons to buy
+Large selection of walk-in tubs+Companion tubs available+Plenty of comfort upgrades
Reasons to avoid
-Standard seats are hard and cold

Every walk-in tub sold by Ella Bubbles is built with high-quality materials, including stainless steel beams and acrylic coatings, and comes with two-inch dual drains for quick emptying. Ella's walk-in tubs come in a variety of sizes ranging from slim to bariatric models, and hold from 35 to 85 gallons of water. These walk-in tubs also have a range of door styles, including L-shaped doors for wheelchair entry.

The Ella Bubbles base range of tubs are soakers, but you can add water jets or air jets to any model, making it effective for hydrotherapy. Other walk-in tub accessories include heated seating, which several users recommend upgrading to as the non-heated seats can feel hard and cold. There are also various styles of faucets, plus doors with multiple latch types.

On top of traditional and wheelchair accessible walk-in tubs, Ella Bubbles is the only manufacturer to offer companion tubs that hold more than one person at the same time. Ella Bubbles walk-in tubs also features combination walk-in and shower models that are helpful in homes where you may need a walk-in tub but your family doesn't.


2. Safe Step: Best walk-in tub for value

Best walk-in tubs: The Safe Step logo in blue

(Image credit: Safe Step)

Enjoy an impressive, lifetime warranty on your walk-in tub

Reasons to buy
+Lifetime warranty with every tub+Military discounts available
Reasons to avoid
-No wheelchair accessible tubs

Safe Step only has three walk-in tubs to choose from, but each comes in different sizes, so you’re likely to find one that suits you and your bathroom. There are low-step or no step options for an easier time getting in and out of the walk-in tub and to help prevent potential falls, and the floors are also textured to minimize trips and slips. 

For additional safety features, each Safe Step walk-in tub is equipped with a series of temperature sensors that automatically shut off the water and heaters if it gets too hot. This is brilliant for extra peace of mind.

If you're seeking hydrotherapy, we're pleased to report that you can add either water jets or air jets, or a combination of both, to the Safe Step walk-in tubs. All jet and faucet controls are located by your shoulder, making them easier to reach. 

Safe Step's walk-in tubs come with a single drain, but you can upgrade to include a second one, which would make the overall drainage process much speedier. Safe Step works with dealers and installers in your area that measure your bathroom space, and then install your chosen walk-in tub. The service includes removing your old tub, ensuring everything is taken care of for you.


3. AmeriGlide: Best walk-in tub for wheelchair use

Best walk-in tubs: The AmeriGlide logo

(Image credit: AmeriGlide)

Wheelchair accessible walk-in tubs and conversion kits

Reasons to buy
+Big selection of wheelchair accessible tubs+Transparent pricing
Reasons to avoid
-Installation isn’t included-Higher step up compared to others

AmeriGlide has an extensive selection of wheelchair accessible walk-in tubs in a variety of sizes to fit just about every user need and size of bathroom. One model even has a longer door and is designed to enable users to recline further back, almost laying down like you would in a traditional bathtub. 

Every fiberglass walk-in tub is clearly priced on AmeriGlide's website, with additional pricing shown for add-ons like water jets or air jets, or extra safety bars on the tub. All of the brand's walk-in tubs come with a textured, non-slip floor to boost your safety when getting in and out of the tub.

AmeriGlide walk-in tubs are purchased directly from the manufacturer. The company may help you locate a reputable installer near you, but there are no partnerships and most of the work of securing labor rests with you. If you choose to install the walk-in tub yourself, you can find guidance on the AmeriGlide site.

If you can’t afford to upgrade your existing bathtub to a walk-in tub, AmeriGlide also makes conversion kits to transform standard showers and tubs into wheelchair accessible units.


4. Universal Tubs: ADA Compliant

Best walk-in tubs: Universal Tubs

(Image credit: Universal Tubs)

Voluntarily meets ADA standards for walk-in tubs

Reasons to buy
+ADA compliant+Wheelchair accessible tubs available
Reasons to avoid
-Installation not included-Not high quality

Universal Tubs are available only available to purchase from your local Home Depot, but you can view the current range, and see pictures and full descriptions for each individual walk-in tub on the Universal Tubs website. 

Even though these walk-in tubs aren’t as high quality as others featured in our guide, they do follow the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) guidelines. These guidelines have been set by the Department of Justice (DOJ), and include features such as textured floors to reduce slipping, and wider doors for easier access.

Each walk-in tub has options to add water jets or air jets, and a few have heated seating too. A handheld showerhead comes as standard with each walk-in tub from Universal Tubs, but you do get to choose from a few types of faucet. 

Universal Tubs doesn’t include installation of any of its walk-in tubs, but they are covered by a 10-year warranty on the shell, plus a one-year warranty on all parts. 


5. Kohler: Best walk-in tub for a spa finish

Best walk-in tubs: The Kohler logo in black

(Image credit: Kohler)

If you want a stylish walk-in tub, look no further than Kohler

Reasons to buy
+Beautiful custom finishes+Low step-in
Reasons to avoid
-No wheelchair accessible models-Showerheads don’t automatically retract

Kohler doesn’t stop at just installing a walk-in tub, but also includes its LuxStone marble bath walls to create a very stylish spa look. You can add either water jets or air jets, plus heated seating, all to boost your comfort and to give you the option of enjoying soothing hydrotherapy at home.

Kohler walk-in tubs are designed with slip-resistant seating and flooring, and have multiple handrails to aid your mobility when using the tub. They also have wider doors for better accessibility, plus wider seats for comfort, and a lower step-in to help prevent slips and falls. 

Arguably the best safety feature of Kohler walk-in tubs is the outside rim grip, which is something we rarely see with other walk-in tubs but will assist you once you're out of the tub. You don't need to worry about installation either, as Kohler will take care of that, and it offers its walk-in tubs with a lifetime warranty.

Best walk-in tubs FAQ

Best walk-in tubs: What to look for

There are several types of walk-in tubs available, plus a lot of upgraded features and safety options to consider. Here’s a quick look at what is important to know before you buy.

Standard soakers simply hold water and include a ledge for sitting. These seats are pretty firm and upright. Standard tubs hold up to 78 gallons of water and take, on average, between 10 and 25 minutes both to fill and drain. Adding two drains can help empty your tub faster.

Reclined come in the most wide range of designs. Some are simply soaker walk-in tubs with a more inclined seat. There are some models that are known as laydown tubs. These are more shallow and look more like a traditional bathtub but have the advantages of walk-in tubs including safety bars and non-skid floors.

Very large tubs, both standard soakers and laydown models, are known as bariatric tubs. These are made to accommodate bigger people that need more room to get in and out, and to be comfortable bathing while inside.

Wheelchair accessible bathtubs are any of the above-mentioned tub types, but with an L-shaped, outward swinging door and a higher seat to make it easier to slide from a wheelchair directly onto the tub seat.

Walk-in tub jets: What you need to know

Jets are essential for any therapeutic benefits beyond simply relaxing. You can choose to have jets point towards your feet, back, shoulders and neck, or legs. There are two types of jets available - water and air. 

Air jets use their pumps to push surrounding air into your tub to create bubbles that gently massage targeted areas of your body. Water jets draw water from the tub, heat it then push it back into the tub to create a firm jet stream. 

Most people can’t feel the difference between water and air jets and both are great for relieving stress and pain associated with arthritis, stiff joints, and other ailments. However, if you want to use any type of aromatherapy in your baths, such as bath bombs or oils, choose water jets. Using these products with air jets will cause build-up and the jets to stop working. However, water jets keep the residue from calcifying and extend the life of your jets.

What walk-in tub accessories can you buy?

The most popular add-ons for walk-in tubs are heated seats, dual drains and extra safety bars. Some manufacturers, like Ella, include dual drains with all tub models, but most have this feature as an add-on. Adding a second drain will allow your tub to empty faster when you’re done, and heated seats make bathing just a little bit more comfortable.

Other accessories listed by manufacturers are faucet designs. Like traditional bathtubs, walk-in tub faucets come ins brass, silver and nickel finishes with various handle styles and showerheads.

What is the average walk-in tub warranty?

We chatted with a couple of dealers and regional sales representatives to learn a little bit about how to spot a quality tub. Everyone mentioned looking at the warranty included with your tub. Most of the bulk manufactured tubs sold in home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, come with a single year warranty. 

This is because these tubs typically aren’t built to last and therefore are cheaper to replace rather than fix if anything breaks down. But tubs that have a minimum five-year warranty typically, though more expensive, last a lot longer because they are built with better materials such as acrylic as opposed to fiber glass.

Do you have to pay for walk-in tub installation?

On top of purchasing a tub, you need to figure out how to get it into your bathroom. Some people like the idea of installing the tub themselves in order to save money. But because there is usually plumbing and electrical work involved, we would recommended hiring a professional. If something goes wrong during install, professional installers have insurance that will pay for any rework or replacement of the tub. DIY installation tends to void any warranties.

If you go through a local dealer, they usually partner with a reputable installation company to help you. The easiest way to find a local dealer is to find one on the manufacturer's website.

Are all walk-in tubs ADA compliant?

The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 require certain products, including bathtubs, to be accessible to individuals with physical limitations. The Department of Justice has published a list of ADA standards that should be followed by manufacturers, though generally, when it comes to walk-in tubs, following these standards is voluntary. All of the companies included in our guide to the best walk-in tubs are ADA compliant.

How much do the best walk-in tubs cost?

It is possible to find a walk-in tub for under $1,500, but these generally are built with low-grade materials and not designed to last very long. For a quality and feature-rich tub with a decent warranty, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000. 

Most walk-in tub manufacturers don't offer financing, but they do offer rebates, discounts to veterans, and help finding grants to cover the cost. You should expect to pay an additional cost, up to $3,000, for the installation of your walk-in tub.

Will Medicare pay for your walk-in tub?

Medicare doesn’t recognize walk-in tubs as a medical necessity, so you can't find coverage for them under Medicare Part B, and Medicare Part D is for medicine only. However, it may be possible to deduct a portion of the cost of a walk-in tub from your income tax. You should also look at your health insurance plan to see if there's any coverage options there.

The IRS allows some deductions for medical expenses, including the purchase of medical equipment, when prescribed by a physician. To be sure, we'd recommend checking out the requirements on the IRS website or speaking with a certified accountant before filing your taxes. It is important to keep your receipts for any tax deductions you claim.

Nicole Johnston

Nicole writes for multiple Future Publishing brands covering topics from antivirus to kitchen appliances to SAS. She has over 15 years of research and writing experience, including eight years of testing and reviewing consumer products. Nicole earned bachelor’s degrees in both English and Political Science with a focus on empirical research. In her spare time, Nicole serves as a member of several school councils and volunteers for a local arts board.