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Walk-in bathtubs or safety tubs are bath tubs with a door built into the side or front of the tub. The user opens the door and walks into the tub or transfers from a wheelchair through the door into the tub. The lip of the tub beneath the door is usually only about 4-6 inches high, making access easier than a conventional tub.
These specialty tubs are manufactured to allow the user to enter the tub without having to lift his/her legs over the side of the tub. Some called step-in tubs, many are also designed for wheelchair users or people who must be moved with a lift.
The biggest disadvantage of a walk-in bathtub is that the user must enter the tub before it's filled, and wait to exit before it's emptied.
Tip: Many tubs have special features that prevent the water from getting too hot as it fills. In addition, some tubs are designed with a drain system that works much faster than a conventional tubs. Research tub companies that provide an extendable shower head as a standard option.
Walk-in safety tubs, or handicapped tubs, are commonly used by people suffering from arthritis, wheelchair users, people with disabilities, elderly people or anyone who can't step over the side of a conventional tub.
Walk-in safety bathtubs come in a large variety of sizes ranging from small units about the size of a shower stall, to sizes larger than a conventional bathtub. Some tub sizes are designed especially for handicapped users.
Tip: Some walk-in tubs are specifically designed for wheelchair or lift use and some a specifically designed for people weighing over 250 pounds.
Before you begin shopping for a walk-in tub, measure the space you have available for the tub. Many tub models are designed to fit into the space where you have a conventional bathtub. Models that are shorter than a conventional tub often come with extension shelves that match the tub and fill in the remaining space.
Also, some walk-in, or step-in, bathtubs are sealed to the floor like conventional tubs, while others are virtually 'portable' or free-standing and can be placed in a bathroom and then removed later.
Tip: Tip: Be sure to look for walk-in tubs that contain an extension shelf or panel. This will assist in minimizing the installation costs.
The door for a walk-in safety bathtub is designed to seal shut so that no water escapes. You walk into the tub, sit down, then close and latch the door.
Tip: Most manufacturers warranty the door seal. Be sure to ask about this before you buy. Lifetime warranty is recommended.
Here's what you should ask yourself about the door before you shop:
On most models, the door is located on the side of the tub. On some models, usually smaller models, the door is in the front.
Walk-in tubs, sometimes called step-in tubs, come in two basic styles; tubs with doors that swing in and tubs with doors that swing out.
In general, bathtubs with doors that swing in are larger to accommodate the door. Also, they do not take up as much room in the bathroom. These inward swinging doors have a downside, however. In an emergency, you must wait until the water is completely drained to exit a bathtub with an inward swinging door.
Although tubs with doors that swing outward tend to be smaller and take up more room in the bathroom, they do offer the advantage of an emergency exit. Inward doors can not be opened because of water pressure against the door, but you can simply open an outward swinging door and let the water rush out.
Almost every model of walk-in tub we carry offer a swinging door. Most manufacturers designed their doors so that they can be attached to swing either left or right. Be sure to ask for right or left door.
If you are handicapped or lack muscle strength, a few models are designed so that the door is particularly easy to latch.
Tip: Be sure to look on the individual model page of our website for a more detailed description of each tub, including side and easy latch doors.
Unlike conventional tubs, most walk-in safety bathtubs have seats, so that sitting in the tub is like sitting in a chair or spa. The majority of the seats are contoured, or molded into the tub.
The height of the seats varies, and you will often find this listed in the product description of individual model pages on our site.
A few walk-in, or step-in tubs have no seats, but do have a sloped back, usually with arm rests.
Powered seats are also available. These lower and raise the bather into the tub. Some powered seats are solid, others are made from a belt that raises and lowers the user. These are specially-designed handicap tubs.
Many tubs have jets built into the seat that are part of the whirlpool option. Also, many models come with seat cushions.