For seniors who struggle with slippery surfaces and find it difficult to step over tub walls, walk-in tubs are a safe bathing alternative. With their grab bars, anti-slip surfaces, low steps, and secure seats, these tubs are far more physically accessible than traditional tubs. However, sometimes the pricing for walk-in tubs can be a barrier for seniors.
With walk-in tub project prices (including installation) ranging from about $3,000 to well over $20,000, the market for walk-in tubs is not always friendly to tight budgets. Making things even more challenging, some walk-in tub companies don’t freely share their prices except during in-home visits. If a company isn’t forthcoming with its prices, it can be difficult to comparison shop and find a deal closer to $3,000 than to $20,000.
With the challenges of walk-in tub shopping in mind, we’ve created this guide to help you find a brand that suits you. After extensive research, we’ve ranked the eight most affordable brands on the market. We’ve also included a buyers guide to help you ask the right questions as you shop.
Our rankings are based on the following core metrics, each of which made up a percentage of every company’s final score:
Seniors are eligible to receive free, non-binding quotes for bathroom safety modifications.
|Company||Overall Score||Overall Rank||Tub Shell Costs Score||Hydro- therapy System Cost Score||Cost of Add- Ons Score||Cost Trans- parency Score||Warranty Score||Extra Fees Score|
|Ariel||6.6||Tied for 1st||10.0||6.3||5.7||7.2||0.0||5.7|
|AmeriGlide- Basic Walk-In||6.6||Tied for 1st||8.8||8.8||4.3||10.0||1.4||4.3|
|AmeriGlide- Hydrotherapy Plus||6.1||2nd||3.8||10.0||10.0||10.0||5.7||4.3|
Ariel tied with Ameriglide for the overall most affordable walk-in tub. The company’s main appeal is that its basic soaker tubs are sold at a remarkably low price, many of them listing for about $2,000. Ariel also offers decent prices for upgrades like air and dual jet therapy. Though it doesn’t offer as many upgrade options as some of its competitors. Whether you buy an Ariel tub from Ariel’s own website or from one of its authorized retailers, you’ll find the prices consistently low. Ariel does not offer any payment plans. But customers looking for financial help can turn to a variety of government or private grants and loans if necessary.
In addition to receiving an exceptional score in actual tub cost, Ariel scores well in the cost transparency category. Seniors will appreciate that the company makes its tub prices easy to find and understand. Ariel does not have an installer network, so anyone who buys from this company will need to hire an installer of his or her own choosing. Installation costs vary significantly by area and circumstance but may run around $1,000-$2,000.
|Model 3054: 6.5/10|
|Average Base price||$2,002.00|
|Tub Description||Model 3054 is a rectangular acrylic tub with an inward swinging door, chrome faucet and handheld shower, and an ADA compliant 17” tall seat. This tub includes anti-slip flooring and a safety grab bar. It is designed for installation in an alcove that covers the back and sides of the tub.|
|Jet Therapy levels||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other possible upgrades||None|
|Warranty||1 year parts coverage, no labor included|
Note: Ariel walk-in tubs do tend to go out of stock frequently, but they are just as frequently restocked. If you need a specific tub size or level of therapy, you may be able to get on an email list that will notify you when that model is back in stock. Ariel prices are very similar at its different retailers.
Therapy Features and Upgrades
The base price of this tub is for a soaker, which is ideal for enjoying warm water but has no therapy jets. An Air tub from Ariel, on the other hand, includes 18 air jets that release streams of massaging bubbles. The next level of therapy, the Dual option, has 26 jets, some of which are “whirlpool” jets (also called hydrotherapy), and some of which are air jets. The jets in the Dual tub are adjustable. It is not possible to purchase a walk-in tub with just whirlpool jets from Ariel.
Other Models to Consider
The basic description of Model 3054 holds true for all Ariel walk-in tub models. The only thing that varies between Ariel tub models is the exact dimensions, door and drain orientation, and what style of therapy is offered.
The other tub models Ariel makes are 3060, 3052, 3048, and 2651. In every case, the first two digits are the width of the tub and the last two digits are the length. Tub height and seat width vary slightly and can be found listed in the tub’s downloadable schematics.
Ariel ranked first place in the affordability of its tub shell cost, with a tub that costs, on average, $2,002. Ariel’s nearest competitor’s tub costs $570.00 more, and most of the companies we reviewed had base prices at least $1,000 higher than this tub. Although Ariel offers one of the least expensive walk-in tubs on the market, it still includes faucets and handheld showers on its tubs at no extra charge.
Ariel lost points in this category because it does not offer hydrotherapy (whirlpool jets) as a standalone feature. Those who want to purchase an Ariel tub with hydrotherapy must get a “dual” model that includes hydrotherapy and air therapy for about $920 more than the cost of a soaker tub. Paying $920 just to be able to enjoy hydrotherapy is a high fee compared to other hydrotherapy systems. But it is decent compared to other combination systems.
Ariel’s loss of points in this category is largely due to the fact that it does not offer many add-ons that other companies do. Ariel does not manufacture tubs with lights, aromatherapy, or heated surfaces, for example. The add-ons that Ariel does offer are good deals, however. Ariel’s Air therapy average price of $373 ranked second most affordable of the tubs that we reviewed. Ariel’s Dual therapy system (also called “combo” therapy) cost an average of $920 and ranked third most affordable.
Ariel scored very well in most areas of cost transparency. The company’s prices are easy to find on the internet, both on the official Ariel website and at other retailers. The only reason the company lost any of the ten possible points is that warranty information was a bit difficult to find on the website and the cost of add-on therapies isn’t directly spelled out for the customer, but instead must be inferred by comparing basic and upgraded tub model listings.
Unfortunately, Ariel ranked the lowest in warranty. The one-year warranty this company offers does not include labor costs and usually only covers replacement of parts rather than replacement of the entire tub. Customers who are fine with potentially replacing walk-in tub parts at their own cost once the warranty has expired will still find this tub an affordable buy. Ariel warranties must be registered online.
Ariel lost some points in this area because they charge for return shipping and they levy a 15 percent of the purchase price fee for returns and cancellations. Shipping on Ariel tubs is almost always free, whether you purchase from Ariel or from a retailer. In the case of a retailer, the tub is usually shipped for free to your local store, where you can arrange to pick it up. If you order from Ariel, it will be delivered curbside by a carrier service. The tub should be inspected upon delivery in case of shipping damage. Ariel can help customers with damage claims if you notify the company promptly.
AmeriGlide was a unique case in our price research. With most brands, it was immediately clear which of their walk-in tubs would be the most affordable. However, with this brand, two tubs of near-identical size and style had slightly different pricing systems and feature packages. Because of the similarity of the tubs and the complexity of the add-on packages, we did a side-by-side comparison to find which was the better deal.
The more basic model, the Sanctuary Walk-In Tub, is the better overall deal, tying for first place on our list with a tub from the brand Ariel. The more deluxe version of this tub, which is called The Sanctuary Hydrotherapy Plus Walk-In Tub, ranked second overall. It was especially strong in the hydrotherapy, add-ons, and cost transparency categories, scoring 10/10 points in each. It also had a better warranty than the basic model. Ultimately, the basic tub is the best deal for those who don’t want more than one upgrade or who don’t worry much about warranties. And the “Plus” tub is a good deal for consumers who want a more “loaded” tub or who want a warranty with better coverage.
For either tub, this company is a great choice for anyone who wants his or her walk-in tub purchase to be easy and affordable. As an added perk, AmeriGlide can refer you to one of its approved installers if you don’t want to deal with the stress of finding your own installer. The installation will be an additional expense and may cost around $2,000, but costs vary. Ameriglide does offer two forms of financing to qualifying buyers: financing through Paypal and financing through FirstBank. For more information on payment plans, contact the company’s customer service representatives.
|Sanctuary Walk-In Tub: 6.5/10|
|Tub Description||Designed to fit most standard tub spaces and made of three-layer gel coat fiberglass, the Sanctuary Walk-In has an inward swinging door, a faucet with a handheld shower, an ADA compliant seat, two grab bars, a shower riser, and an included curtain. This tub’s capacity is between 38 and 40 gallons, depending on which size you select..|
|Jet Therapy Levels||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Warranty||Limited coverage: 25 years on the door seal, 2 years on the tub and its components, labor covered for one year|
Note: Unlike most of the companies we have reviewed, warranty coverage from Ameriglide is different for individual models. The coverage policy for any given model can be found on its product listing toward the top of the page on the Ameriglide website.
|Sanctuary Hydrotherapy Plus Walk-In Tub: 6.1/10|
|Tub Description||Similar in shape and appearance to the basic walk-in tub, this tub is also made of triple layer gel coat fiberglass with an inward swinging door, a faucet with handheld shower, and multiple safety features, but it is built in a slightly larger size. This tub’s base price also includes multiple therapy features. A shower riser bar and curtains are not included.|
|Jet Therapy Levels||Prices in addition to the base price: Combination Jets: $0.00 Aromatherapy: $0.00|
|Other Possible Upgrades||Price in addition to the base price: Auto Drain: $299.00|
|Warranty||Lifetime coverage on the door seal, 10-year coverage on the tub, 5-year coverage on pumps and motors, 1-year coverage on the faucet|
Other Models to Consider
Ameriglide offers a good range of other tub styles in both acrylic and gel coat fiberglass. The brand has extra large and extra small tubs, shower hybrid tubs, and wheelchair accessible tubs. The “front-loading tubs,” which are smaller than average, are among its most affordable options.
This basic version of Ameriglide’s walk-in tubs has a great base price of $2,570, ranking second for affordability among its competitors. Costing about $570 more than Ariel’s basic tub, this tub offers several more accessories in its base price, including an extension panel, an additional grab bar, a curtain, and a riser bar that the handheld shower can be hung on.
This walk-in tub did well in this category, ranking second most affordable after Ameriglide’s Hydrotherapy Plus tub. With the addition of hydrotherapy costing just $570, this is about half the cost of the most expensive hydrotherapy system on our list. If hydrotherapy is the only therapy that you care about getting in a tub, then this tub is the clear choice. The total price (pre-installation) will be $3,140.
This tub’s score was less impressive in the add-ons category, ranking in fifth place. The main reason for the lower score here was that the combination jet therapy option was quite expensive at $1,130, and the Auto Drain was also pricey at $570. Many companies offer their versions of fast drains for free. Since this one operates with a pump, however, it is one of the most effective on the market. Another factor that lowered the score here was that this tub doesn’t offer some features, like lights, heated seats, and aromatherapy. If you were to purchase this tub fully loaded, it would cost $4,270 and not include aromatherapy.
Ameriglide is one of the most transparent companies in the walk-in tub market. The company’s website is exceptionally easy to navigate and the entire catalog of walk-in tubs is clearly priced. To find the price of add-on features, one only needs to scroll to the bottom of the tub’s product listing page. Alternatively, you can click “add to cart”, and you will be shown a cost tally based on which upgrades you elect to add. This brand received full points in every sub-metric of cost transparency. And it certainly deserves the rank of most transparent.
Ameriglide’s warranties vary substantially from tub to tub. Unfortunately, this tub’s warranty did not compare well to most other walk-in tub warranties on our list. The only tub that this model scored better than in warranty was Ariel’s tub. The door seal is covered for 25 years, parts on the rest of the tub are covered for 2 years, and labor is covered for 1 year.
The fees that Ameriglide charges put the company in the middle of the ranking for this category. For both of the Ameriglide tubs that we reviewed, we found that shipping is an extra cost of about $385. We also found that the company does not allow returns and that if an order is canceled before it is shipped the company will charge a 10 percent restocking fee to the customer, returning the rest of the purchase price.
This hydrotherapy tub comes at a higher base price than many of the other tubs in our review, ranking at sixth place for affordability out of ten reviewed tubs. At $3,565, however, this tub is a good value for some consumers since it is by no means a basic tub. The base price includes combination air and water jet therapy, which is usually the most expensive form of therapy. Moreover, an aromatherapy system is also included in the base price. Even though this tub is more expensive than some of the most basic tubs on this list, it costs about $1,500 less than our most expensive ranking tub.
The Hydrotherapy Plus tub performs exceptionally well in this category, ranking most affordable with a perfect 10 points. A hydrotherapy system is not offered as an add-on for this tub because it is already included in the base price as part of the combination therapy system. Ultimately, since the base price is lower, the basic version of this tub (detailed on the left) is a better deal if hydrotherapy is the only therapy option that you care about. But if you’re looking for a tub with multiple therapies and add-ons, this is the best choice.
Although this tub doesn’t have the option of add-on lights or heated seats, it still scored the highest possible score and ranked first in this category. This success is due to the fact that combination therapy and aromatherapy are included in the base price of this walk-in tub. Moreover, the Auto Drain add on, which is the only extra feature you actually have to pay extra for, costs $299. $299 is competitive when compared to the other Ameriglide’s Auto Drain Cost of $570. Fully loaded, this tub comes to $3,864 (pre-installation and shipping), which is a very good final number.
Details of cost transparency are exactly the same for this model as they are for the more basic model on the left. Ameriglide performed outstandingly in this area, with a perfect transparency score. Customers will find this brand upfront and easy to work with.
The Hydrotherapy Plus walk-in tub model scored significantly better in warranty than that the basic version of this tub did. This tub ranked fourth most affordable in warranty, with lifetime coverage on the door seal, 10-year coverage on the tub, five-year coverage on pumps and motors, and 1 year on the faucet. One thing that’s unclear in the paperwork is under what circumstances labor is covered. Customers interested in this warranty may wish to discuss its details further with a company representative. Labor or not, this is a valuable warranty.
The fees associated with this tub are exactly the same as the Sanctuary Walk-In Model (above). A shipping fee of $385 and a cancellation fee of 10 percent put this company in fifth place for the fees category. Returns are never allowed once a tub from this brand has shipped.
American Standard ranked in third place for most affordable walk-in tub brand. The company scored very well in cost transparency and extra fees. American Standard also stands out by offering the fourth most affordable basic tub in our list, and the fifth most affordable hydrotherapy system.
American Standard sells through many online retailers. If you buy an American Standard walk-in tub from an authorized retailer, you’ll be responsible for finding your own installer at your own cost. Our scoring and ranking of these tubs are based on the cost of buying from an authorized retailer. The retail cost of American Standard walk-in tubs was usually about $2,500 less than the price that American Standard listed on its own website. We used the lower retail prices in our rankings since that is the cost that reflects the best deal available for these walk-in tubs.
Seniors can also buy their tubs directly from American Standard and have an experienced installer from the company handle all phases of the project. Getting your tub installed by American Standard increases the tub’s warranty to lifetime length. You will most likely pay more if you buy a tub directly from the company than you would when buying through a retailer. But there is a monthly payment plan available for those who qualify.
|Gelcoat Value Series 30” x 52” Outward Opening Door Walk-In Bathtub (3052OD.709): 5.9/10|
|Average Base Price||$3,382.87|
|Tub Description||This is a rectangular gel coat tub with an included faucet and hand shower and outward swinging, stair-step shaped door. The bather has direct access to the seat with this door. Grab bars and anti-slip flooring are included in the base price.|
|Jet Therapy Levels||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades||LED Lights (sometimes included with other features)|
|Warranty||Lifetime on the door seal, 10 years on the tub, 5 years on other components, no labor included|
Note: Due to the low prices available on this tub, we chose to review the gel coat value series outward opening door walk-in tub. This model’s outward opening door makes it a good option for people with limited mobility, including those who use wheelchairs.
Therapy Features and Upgrades
We obtained prices for this model from several different retailers, then calculated an average price for each level of therapy that this tub is offered in. This tub ranked fifth most affordable in the cost of hydrotherapy (whirlpool) and sixth most affordable for add-ons.
This tub model can be purchased as a soaking tub with no jets, a whirlpool tub with heated water jets, an “Air Spa” with air jets, or a “combo” tub that includes both air and whirlpool jets. It can also be purchased with other upgrades like LED lights (chromatherapy) and fast-fill faucets. Sometimes lights and fast fill faucets come at no extra charge in the more luxurious models.
Other Models to Consider
American Standard lists hundreds of individual tubs to buy on its website, but in reality, it only offers three basic tub styles. The many listings reflect the fact that these shapes can be bought in different sizes and upgrade levels. Tub models from American Standard don’t have names but are instead listed by product line, material (acrylic or gel coat), dimension, the direction that the door swings (outward swinging or inward), the orientation of the drain or door, and the type of therapy included.
The wheelchair accessible model that we’ve reviewed comes in one other size: 32” x 52”. The other two models offered both have inward swinging doors. One model’s door is curved and one is straight.
The Straight Door Walk-In Tub
The Curved Door Walk-In Tub
This model’s tub base cost is $3,382.87. Compared to the lowest tub cost on our list of $2,002 and the highest of $5,000, this tub cost is competitive although it ranked in fourth place. There were three tubs on our list in the $2000-$3000 price range, and this was the lowest cost option in the $3000-$4000 price range. This model has the added value of being wheelchair accessible.
American Standard ranked in a respectable fifth place for the affordability of its hydrotherapy system. Selecting this tub model with a hydrotherapy system will, on average, cost you about $667.00 more than selecting a soaker version. This hydrotherapy system is usually called “whirlpool massage” and it comes with an inline heater to keep the water warm. For price context, the majority of hydrotherapy systems on our list cost $300-$600. This tub’s hydrotherapy system is a good mid-range option.
American Standard lost points in this category because its air ($895) and combo therapy ($1,250) systems fall in the middle to high range. The company also lost some points because it simply does not offer heated surfaces or an aromatherapy system. One positive part of the company’s add-on score was that it includes a “quick drain” in all its walk-in tubs at no extra charge.
American Standard tied for the second best company in cost transparency, scoring a 7.2/10 along with Ariel. American Standard tub prices are available both through the company’s website and through third parties. The company (and its retailers) lost some points because neither explicitly spell out exactly how much an add on increases the tub’s cost. It also lost some points because it lists its tub models in a way that’s difficult to search.
American Standard ranked fifth most affordable in warranty, beating the two overall most affordable companies in this category. Different parts of the tub are warrantied for different time periods. Lifetime for the door seal, 10 years for the tub, and 5 years for other components like pumps and motors. No labor costs are covered. This warranty applies to American Standards Gelcoat tubs. Acrylic tubs have a warranty that is five years longer in all categories.
Extra fees was American Standards best category. In this area, the company tied for first place. The reason that American Standard scores so well is that the large retailers that sell American Standard products have consumer-friendly shipping and return policies. Most large retailers can afford to provide free shipping to the store and free returns, too. Keep in mind that fees for shipping and returns may be different if you were to buy directly from American Standard.
Ella’s Bubbles ranked fourth for overall most affordable walk-in tub purchase. This company scored very well because the base prices of its most standard walk-in tubs are low. With a 7.5 out of 10 points in the tub cost category, this brand’s “Deluxe” model is our third most affordable option for basic tub costs. Adding therapy options to Ella’s Bubbles walk-in tubs can get pricey, but a soaker tub from this company is a great choice.
Ella’s Bubbles has a strong online presence and its products are available through a variety of national retailers. It’s easy to compare retailers until you find the right deal for you from the Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, or another site. If you buy through a large retailer, you’ll need to find your own installer at your own cost.
You may also buy directly from Ella’s Bubbles by calling the company or filling out the “Find a Dealer” or “Request a Price” forms on the website. A dealer can handle the installation in this case. Ella’s Bubbles may also be able to offer you financing for your project, dependent on approval. Financing information is available online and over the phone.
|Ella Deluxe: 7.5/10|
|Average Base Price||$2,779.25 (faucet is not always included)|
|Tub Description||This white acrylic tub is rectangular in shape with an inward swinging door and all the standard safety features like anti-slip surfaces and grab bars. The door is U-shaped and made from attractive tempered glass and stainless steel. A faucet and handheld shower may or may not be included in the base cost of this tub.|
|Jet Therapy Levels||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades||Prices in addition to the base price: *
*If the price is not listed that means the feature is typically not offered by large retailers
|Warranty||Limited Lifetime on tub and door seal, 5 years on other components, labor not included|
Therapy Features and Upgrades
It’s easy to find the whirlpool, air bath, and combination therapy options for Ella’s tub at many retailers. Finding many of the other extra features that the brand offers can be more challenging, however. Some options, like microbubbles and aromatherapy, are best found by ordering directly from Ella’s Bubbles. Ella’s Bubbles does not list prices on its own website.
Other Models to Consider
Ella’s Bubbles offers several different models, though the one we’ve reviewed is probably its most affordable option. Other offerings include multiple two-person, petite, and deep soaking tubs. Ella’s Bubbles also carries a line of Transfer walk-in tubs which are good for those in wheelchairs.
Nearly every model from Ella’s Bubbles features a similarly styled tempered glass and stainless steel door that stands apart from the aesthetic of other brands. Some models also include decorative patterns on the exterior tub walls. Most models are in acrylic, but the company also distributes some gel coat tubs. You can view Ella’s Bubbles complete collection on the official website. And once you’ve located the name or dimensions of a tub you like you can call the company or search other retailers to get a price.
Ella’s Bubbles Deluxe walk-in tub model is the third most affordable in this category at an average cost of $2,779.25. This is an attractive, well-built acrylic tub at a great base price. Ella’s Bubbles lost some points in this category because its soaker models are usually sold without a faucet and hand shower set included in the cost. This exclusion means that you’ll probably need to spend around $400 more for a faucet if you have bought a soaker model. Jetted models usually do include the faucet.
Ella’s Bubbles tubs do not rank well in the hydrotherapy category. Adding whirlpool jets to this model adds an average of $847 to the overall cost of the tub. This hydrotherapy system received a ranking of seventh most affordable on our list. It does include both an inline heater and an ozone sterilizer at no extra cost.
Ella’s Bubbles’ lowest score was in the add-on category. We found that adding heated seats to a tub increased its cost by about $1,167. Adding an air therapy system costs an average of $846. Adding combination jets costs an average of $1,578, which was the second highest cost of combination therapy that we found in our research. Ella’s Bubbles also lost points because although the company offers aromatherapy it was not readily available at large retailers.
Overall, with 4.3 points, Ella’s Bubbles ranked fifth in cost transparency. The company’s prices are easy to find at large retailers, but not on the company’s own website. The company lost points for that reason and also because its return policies are not available on the main website.
Ella’s Bubbles tied for fifth place in warranty. It scored 4.3 of 10 points. As a limited lifetime warranty, it does measure up well with many warranties on the market. The main reason the brand lost points in this category is that labor is not included in the warranty and that the pumps and motors on the tub are only covered by warranty for 5 years. The tub’s shell and door seal are covered for the lifetime of the buyer.
Ella’s Bubbles scored very well in this area mostly because we evaluated it based on the policies of large retailers. With major retailers like the Home Depot and Lowes, customers are usually able to get free shipping to a local store and free returns. If you make your Ella’s Bubbles purchase through one of the brand’s official dealers, you may find that policies on shipping and return or cancellation fees vary according to where you live.
Spirit Walk-In Tubs is a full-service walk-in tub company that sells and installs walk-in tubs in many regions of the USA. This small business scored 5.2 out of 10 possible points and ranked as the 5th most affordable of the companies that we reviewed. Spirit has locations in St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL. It also has a network of about seven installers located throughout the USA who travel to customers (with some restrictions). All of the quality seven-layer gel coat fiberglass tub styles that Spirit makes are manufactured in the USA by a company called BOCA.
Spirit received the best score on our list for warranty value – a perfect 10/10. This company also scored very well in hydrotherapy and add-on costs. Customers who are looking for a company to take care of every facet of their walk-in tub needs (from product selection, to installation, to warranty care) will find Spirit an affordable and easy to work with option. Spirit does not offer payment plans. But seniors can look into Medicaid and VA programs or contact Area Agencies on Aging to explore possible forms of reimbursement.
|Diamond Elite- Standard Size Walk-In Tub: 5.2/10|
|Estimated Base Price||About $4,000 before installation|
|Tub Description||This is a white marine gel coat fiberglass walk-in tub with a rectangular shape, anti-slip floor, an inward swinging door, and an extra low step. This model has such a low step because it has no internal frame, unlike all the other walk-in tubs on our list. It sits directly on the floor.|
|Jet Therapy Levels (prices are estimates)||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades (prices are estimates)||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Warranty||Full Lifetime Warranty, includes labor|
Note: Spirit itself does not list its available tub models online. But by looking at the manufacturer’s website, we can get an idea of what Spirit offers. Looking at the manufacturer website is how we decided which tub model to review.
Be aware that Spirit does not share much pricing information until it creates an official project quote. We’ve had to estimate what we think the base price of this tub would be, and we’ve estimated it is $4,000. The bottom end of the entire brand’s price range is $6,000, which includes shipping, installation, and actual tub cost. Therefore, $4,000 is a fair adjusted price for a tub with no add-on features.
Therapy Features and Upgrades
All of the therapy and upgrade costs that we used in our ranking were, like the tub price itself, derived from our own calculations. We based upgrade prices on the assumption that the most one consumer would spend on walk-in tub add-ons and hydrotherapy for a $4,000 tub is $2,500. $2,500 was divided up among the known amount of extra features available, and features that are more complex were assigned a higher value.
Actual add on prices that the company quotes to the consumer will almost certainly be different. But these prices can give you an idea of what you might expect to be quoted. We concluded that the costs of add-ons from this company are generally reasonable.
Other Models to Consider
Spirit Walk-in Tubs offers at least six different tub models from BOCA. And it also gives its customers the option to have a tub built in a custom size or color. A glance at the manufacturer’s website suggests that Spirit sells standard, petite, two-seater, extra wide, and extra deep options.
Spirit tubs got a score of 2.5/10 for their tub cost, ranking it’s tub cost score seventh out of ten reviewed tubs. While it is an estimate, we concluded that the most basic walk-in tub from this company probably costs about $4,000. This allows for $2,000 in installation, freight, and travel costs for the expert installers since installation is always included in the cost of Spirit tubs. Actual tub cost may differ from our estimates.
Our calculations lead us to believe that adding a hydrotherapy system to a Spirit walk-in tub would cost roughly $312. And adding an ozone-generating sanitizer would add an extra $208. These are very competitive costs for the market. Spirit received third place in this category. An inline water heater is included in this system.
Spirit scored especially well in the add-ons category, ranking second in affordability. Spirit scored well because its (estimated) prices are reasonable and because it offers a wide array of features: air therapy for $312, combination jet therapy for $624, heated surfaces for $312, aromatherapy for $208, lights for $208, a bidet for $104, and more.
Spirit has an excellent warranty on all of its tubs, and it ranked first in this category, getting the maximum amount of possible points. The warranty covers labor as well as parts for the lifetime of the tub (for the original owner). And the company prides itself on making the warranty claims process as easy as possible. Very few affordable companies offer such comprehensive coverage in their warranties.
Spirit lost points in cost transparency because so few of its prices are available online. The company ranked sixth out of nine companies in this metric. The only price that Spirit provides online is a range of $6,000-$10,500 for most projects. This number includes installation, and it’s difficult to tell how much any single feature of the tub costs, or how price differs from model to model. Consumers will have better success in getting price details on the phone or in person than they will on the company’s website.
The reason Spirit scored only 2.9/10 in this area is that it may charge up to a 20 percent return fee in some cases. For context, many companies do not charge a return fee for the simple reason that they never allow returns. Many other companies charge a 10 percent fee, and some charge up to 75 percent. A 20 percent fee is neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad. The owner of this company did inform us that none of his customers have ever asked to return a walk-in tub. With Spirit, shipping costs are included in all project quotes, which means that shipping won’t be a surprise fee late in the buying process.
With reasonable base prices on its tubs and a clear pricing structure, Freedom Bathtubs by Accessibility Professionals ranks as our fifth most affordable brand. The company’s simple website and clearly listed base and add-on prices make it easy to make an informed walk-in tub choice. While there are only two basic models offered, one with an inward swinging door and one with an outward swinging door, the models are offered at favorable costs, with the brand tying for third most affordable in the tub cost category.
Freedom Bathtubs itself does not install tubs, and its prices do not reflect the cost of installation. If you do not want to go to the trouble of looking for your own walk-in tub installer, you can call the company’s customer service line. Freedom Bathtubs keeps a list of experienced installers whom its employees can refer you to at your request. This brand does not have a financing option for its customers. But seniors with financial needs should consider looking into options such as Medicaid grants that may be available to them.
|Aurora Walk-In Tub: 4.9/10|
|Tub Description||This functional ABS composite acrylic tub features an inward swinging door, a faucet and handheld shower, an ADA compliant seat height, and standard safety features like grab bars and anti-slip flooring. It has ¾” entry pipes for a fast fill time.|
|Jet Therapy Levels||
|Other Possible Upgrades||Heated Tub Shell (Soaker model only): $300|
|Warranty||10 years on the tub, lifetime on the door seal, 5 years on pumps and motors, no labor included|
Note: some tubs with ¾” pipes can have compatibility issues with home plumbing. In some cases, the unusual pipe size may require you to hire a plumber to update your home’s existing plumbing. You’ll want to avoid excessive plumbing overhaul if possible. So before purchasing speak with the company and assess your home to determine compatibility.
Therapy Features and Upgrades
Like most walk-in tub brands, Freedom Bathtubs offers whirlpool, air, and combination jets. The brand is also one of four companies on our affordable list that offers heated seats. A somewhat unusual feature of the heated seats is that they can only be added to the brand’s soaker tubs. However, at $300, these heated seats have the best price of the companies on our list. This upgrade option can be a very practical choice since it will keep you warm while the water in your tub fills or drains and the door remains closed.
Other Models to Consider
The only other walk-in tub model that this company sells is called the Windsor Walk-in Tub (listed on the sales page as Walk in Bathtub, 51″ x 29½” Swing Out Door with an option of left or right drain). This tub, with its L-shaped door, is best for those in wheelchairs who need direct access to the seat. Its base price is $520 more than the Aurora model, and like the Aurora, it can have heated seats, or air, whirlpool, or combination jets.
Freedom Bathtubs also offers other tub lines that are not walk-in but are designed to be more accessible than traditional bathtubs.
With a base price of $2,878, this brand performed well in this metric. Freedom Bathtubs ranked in third place in affordability of the tub shell along with Ella’s Bubbles. With a tub like this that has a low base price but higher add-on costs, this tub will best serve those who want a soaking tub.
Freedom Bathtubs had the highest hydrotherapy cost on our list, charging $1,000. This kind of cost is not unheard of in the industry, but it’s high compared to the more affordable tubs that we reviewed. In spite of this high cost, the tub’s base price is still fairly low, so this is still an affordable option for many consumers.
Add-on prices for Freedom Bathtubs were a mix of high, medium, and low. And the company lost some points simply because it does not offer all possible add-ons. Heated seats from this brand are a great deal at $300, but combination jets are costly at $1,370 and air therapy costs a higher than average $720. End panels cost a fairly typical $125. Overall, this brand ranked fifth place for add-on costs.
Freedom did very well in cost transparency, ranking as second in this area. The website is well-designed and simple to navigate. This company really is one of the easiest to evaluate with regard to price. And its transparency is refreshing when compared to companies that withhold all or most of their prices. The only reason Freedom Bathtubs lost any points was that not all of its return information is posted online.
Freedom Bathtubs’ warranty is actually better than some of our overall most affordable brands like Ariel and Ameriglide. But with 10 years of coverage on the tub and less coverage on some other parts, it doesn’t compare well next to full lifetime warranties. The brand also lost points because it does not include the labor involved with replacing parts in its warranty. Ultimately, the brand ranked in sixth place for warranty.
This brand charges a modest fee of $99 for shipping its tubs, which cost it some points in this category. What hurt this company the most here, though, was its unusually high restocking fee of up to 75 percent. This is what percentage of the overall purchase price might be required of the customer if the customer wants to cancel an order. Returns are not allowed, only cancellations. The company did indicate that 75 percent was the maximum fee, meaning the fee could be lower in many cases.
Bathing Solutions’ Model 28 ranks on our list as the seventh overall most affordable walk-in tub. The company’s best categories were the base price of its tubs and cost of therapeutic add-ons. Though it did not score as highly as most other companies in cost transparency and extra fees. Bathing Solutions does offer a valuable limited lifetime warranty.
When you buy a walk-in tub from Bathing Solutions, you may choose to arrange for your own installer or to have it installed by a contractor that the company recommends. Either way, you should plan on spending $2,000 or more for the installation. Bathing Solutions provides a detailed guide on its website to help customers select the right tub for their personal situation.
Bathing Solutions does not offer a payment plan to buyers. But seniors may benefit by looking into government or private grants, or even by considering using their home’s equity to fund their improvement project.
|Model 28: 4.6/10 overall|
|Dimensions||Exterior: 52” long, 28″ wide, 41” high Seat: about 20” wide Step: 4.5”|
|Tub Description||This gel coat fiberglass walk-in tub is a rectangular size that will fit most tub spaces. It has an inward swinging door, included faucet and handheld shower set, a comfortable seat, and standard safety features like grab bars and an anti-slip floor. With a step height of 4.5,” this tub has one of the safest steps on our list.|
|Jet Therapy Levels (Prices are estimates)||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades (Prices are estimates)||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Warranty||Lifetime length with limits on electronic coverage and some labor included|
Note: Rather than sharing exact costs with us, this company shared a range that they say the cost of this tub falls in. The range Bathing Solutions gave us was $3,500-$5,500.
Therapy Features and Upgrades
Like Spirit Walk-In Tubs and Hydro Dimensions, this brand gave us a price range rather than itemized add-on prices. Based on the given range, we calculated that $2,000 was the maximum amount a customer could spend on add-ons for this tub. With optional lights and aromatherapy, Bathing Solutions offers a more complete range of possible upgrades than some of the overall most affordable brands on our list.
Other Models to Consider
Bathing Solutions offers nine tub models to suit different needs.
Other than Model 28, the company’s catalog includes:
Although by no means the cheapest walk-in tub price on our list, Bathing Solutions Model 28 represents a good mid-range option. At $3,500, it costs about $1,500 more than the list’s least expensive option, but also $1,500 less than the most expensive option.
Ranking in eighth place in affordability for its hydrotherapy system, this tub becomes considerably more expensive when upgraded. The main cost of adding the system is an estimated $570, but it becomes more expensive if an ozone generator for sanitation is added. An ozone generator costs an estimated $286. Ozone generator aside, this hydrotherapy system is the same price as that offered by Ameriglide.
In this category, Bathing Solutions ranks fifth in affordability along with Ella’s Bubbles. The company offers air therapy, combination therapy, aromatherapy, and chromatherapy (lights). Heated seats are not offered. All of the costs we’ve ranked these features with are estimates, and the estimated costs of them fall for the most part in the middle of competitors’ prices. Combination therapy is estimated at $1,143, air therapy at $570, and aromatherapy and chromatherapy at $285 each.
Bathing Solutions performs poorly in the cost transparency category because the company does not list their base prices or add-on costs anywhere online. The company did share price ranges for tubs over the phone, so even though the company isn’t transparent about costs online it is willing to discuss them over the phone. The company gained a point for listing return information online.
Bathing Solutions warranty is a great value, ranking in second place along with Hydro Dimensions. While this warranty does have some restrictions on labor costs and on its electronic components, the overall warranty is lifetime length. This is a good option for those who don’t want to have to worry about the cost of replacement parts down the road.
Bathing Solutions received a low score in this category, ranking in seventh place because the company charges a 25 percent restocking fee and the full cost of shipping if you choose to return a walk-in tub to them. You can, however, get a full refund if the tub has not shipped yet and you are just canceling the order. For context, many companies charge 10 percent for restocking, and many companies also do not allow returns at all.
Ranking eighth for overall affordability, Hydro Dimensions isn’t as inexpensive as most of its competitors on this list. Hydro Dimensions does have a great product line and a multitude of upgrade options. And it performs well in warranty and in the costs of add-ons and hydrotherapy.
Hydro Dimensions is one of three companies on our list that does not share prices online and that only shared price ranges for tub models with us. Part of Hydro Dimensions reluctance to share price details comes from the fact that it sells to dealers rather than directly to seniors and other customers. If you call Hydro Dimensions, customer service representatives can walk you through tub options and connect you with the dealer nearest you.
Although Hydro Dimensions does not offer a financing plan for its walk-in tubs, seniors who have financial need may be able to receive help through the Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants, VA grants, Medicaid grants, and other public and private forms of assistance or lending.
|Model 3052: 4.4/10|
|Tub Description (prices are estimates)||Hydro Dimensions advertises this walk-in tub as one of its most popular models. This gel coat fiberglass tub has an inward swinging door, two drains, standard safety features like grab bars and anti-slip floor, and a five-piece faucet set with a handheld shower. It fits most standard tub spaces.|
|Jet Therapy Levels (prices are estimates)||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Other Possible Upgrades||Prices in addition to the base price:
|Warranty||Lifetime coverage on tub shell, door seal, and other components, limited labor costs coverage|
Note: Hydro Dimensions shared some price ranges of its tubs with us, stating that a typical pre-installation cost is between $5,000 and $8,000. We used this range to make our estimates, assuming that the lower end of the range reflected the tub’s base price (soaker model price).
Therapy Features and Upgrades
Of the companies that we have reviewed, Hydro Dimensions offers one of the broadest feature “menus” that we have seen. Most companies only list about three jet options, but Hydro Dimensions offers five option for many of its tub models. Customers who want a specialized tub will enjoy this company because it gives you the freedom to pick exactly the add-ons that you want, including aromatherapy, lights, and more.
Other Models to Consider
This brand offers about sixteen different models, so chances are good that they will have something for you even if your needs are unique. Some of the models may have a higher base price than the one we have reviewed, but most will probably be similarly priced.
The brand’s Specialty Series is diverse with wheelchair accessible models, two models designed for bathers who are 6’ or taller, and a “bariatric” model perfect for large bathers. The HD series product line contains different sizes of standard tubs, including a few that have unusual features such as bi-fold doors or extra soaking depth.
With a starting cost of $5,000, HD Model 3052 is the most expensive walk-in tub on our affordable list, ranking eighth in affordability. For context, this model is almost $3,000 more than the least expensive model. While this tub comes at a high price, it is still a good choice for those interested in its warranty or other more positively ranked features.
Despite its high base price, Hydro Dimension’s tub ranked surprisingly well for its cost of hydrotherapy. Since the company only gave us a range for the cost of this tub, we did have to estimate its price. We estimated hydrotherapy to cost $400. We also estimated the UV sanitizer, which is optional for the hydrotherapy systems, to cost $200. The cost of the sanitizer did cause the company to lose some points here. Overall, Hydro Dimensions ranked third for affordability in this metric.
This is another area that the company ranked well in, somewhat making up for its high base price. Hydro Dimensions came in at third place for the affordability of its add-ons, offering many options at decent prices. Our estimates for these add on prices were as follows: the most basic air therapy at $400, the most basic combination system at $800, lights, aromatherapy, and quick drain at $200 each, and heated surfaces at $400. The company also offers more advanced jet systems, but these were not part of our rankings.
Hydro Dimensions unfortunately ranked in the last place for cost transparency. Its business model is designed to make customers depend on dealers and sales representatives for all pricing information. It’s not a brand that can be comparison shopped very easily, and its website offers no pricing information. Its return information was also not available online, probably because dealers would be the ones handling returns.
Warranty is an area that Hydro Dimensions shines in. The company’s warranty tied for second most affordable with Bathing Solutions. With this lifetime warranty, owners of these tubs do not need to worry that their tub will break after the warranty expires because the warranty won’t expire. This warranty did lose about one and a half points due to the fact that labor costs associated with parts removal and replacement are only covered for a year.
Hydro Dimension had a good score in this category, charting at third most affordable. Since these tubs are sold through authorized dealers, actual charges for shipping and return policies can vary, though. The company does not own its dealers and is not directly responsible for their policies. Hydro Dimensions is known for its quality customer service and you can expect there to be few if any extra fees that come from the company itself.
Jacuzzi did not rank as an affordable option. Although the brand scored decently in warranty and extra fees, we found it performed very poorly in the most important categories of tub cost, hydrotherapy cost, and add-on costs, and only average in the category of cost transparency.
Jacuzzi was the only brand in our review with a tub base price averaged over $6,500. It was also the only model that was almost always sold separately from its faucet in retail settings. Selling without a faucet lowers the apparent cost of the tub without actually saving the consumer any money. Finally, Jacuzzi’s combination therapy system was nowhere close to the rest of the prices, costing on average about $600 more than the second most expensive combination system on our list. Although it sells a high-quality tub, this brand will not prove affordable for most consumers.
|Jacuzzi Finestra: 3.5/10|
|Average Base Price||$6,867.00|
|Tub Description||This high-gloss acrylic tub has an inward swinging door, the standard safety features of grab bars and anti-slip floor, and comes in three white and off-white colors.|
|Jet Therapy Levels||
|Other Possible Upgrades||
|Warranty||Limited Lifetime coverage on:
Our initial list of walk-in tubs to evaluate for affordability was compiled in a simple manner. First, we made a list of well-known walk-in tub companies. Next, we eliminated from the list companies who refused to share any pricing information outside of an in-home visit. Such companies are impossible to evaluate for affordability. Brands that did not have pricing information online but who were willing to discuss at least some of their pricing over the phone were left on the list.
Since there’s a huge amount of variety of how businesses are run in the walk-in tub industry, our evaluations of these companies’ affordability required a fair amount of math and research. Not all companies offered us the same amount of information, so we had to dig to find or estimate prices in some cases.
Ultimately we evaluated each company according to six different metrics. You’ll find a complete explanation of each metric below.
In this metric, each tub got a score from one to ten for its relative affordability. This metric assesses which brands offer the lowest cost on a walk-in tub that has no upgrade features. Tubs without extra features are often called “soaker tubs.” You can also call the no upgrades price of a tub its “base price.” Tub price made up 40 percent of the overall affordability score of each brand.
To have a fair review, we needed to make sure that the base prices we compared from different companies were for fairly similar walk-in tub styles. We asked three basic questions in order to accurately complete the tub costs metric.
1. Which tub model from this brand is the most standard?
To determine which brand had the most affordable tub cost, we chose one tub from each company that was the most “standard” style at the most reasonable price. We looked for tubs that were designed to fit in the space that a traditional tub occupies (around 30” wide by 60” long). We avoided specialty shapes and sizes as much as possible.
For the most part, we selected tubs with inward swinging doors. But in the case of American Standard, we selected a model with an outward swinging door since it listed for a good value and was a standard size and shape. In the case of Ameriglide, we also compared two models from the same company since it was unclear at the beginning which model would prove to be the better deal overall. The data from these models were kept separate and each model received its own score.
2. Is the faucet set included in the base price?
In our rankings, we took into account whether the tub came with a faucet. Not including a faucet set in a tub’s base price is a way for the retailer to make the tub look like it sells at a better price than it actually does.
Sometimes the special faucet and handheld shower sets (often called a “five-piece faucet with sprayer”) that walk-in tubs use are costly, ranging from about $200 to $600 dollars. They can be particularly expensive if they include a “thermostatic control valve,” which is a useful device that regulates water temperature to prevent scalding injuries. A faucet set could potentially represent about a third or fourth of the base cost of some tubs. So not including it in the price of the tub is somewhat disingenuous. Companies who did not include faucet sets in some or all of their tubs lost points.
3. How can we determine the base price when the company doesn’t list it online?
As mentioned earlier, three of the companies we reviewed do not list their base prices online. The process for determining base price varied.
When we called customer service representatives for Bathing Solutions and Hydro Dimensions, we asked about prices for particular models. At Bathing Solutions, a representative informed us that the model in question sells for between $3,500-$5,500. $3,500 is the base price and the remaining $2,000 represents the costs of upgrades. Hydro Dimensions was much the same, with a range of $5,000- $8,000. $5,000 is the base price and the remaining $3,000 is the cost of add-ons. Both companies stipulated that these ranges did not include installation.
In the case of Spirit Walk-In Tubs, determining the base price was more challenging. The company gave us the price range of $6,000-$10,500 for the entire collection of walk-in tubs rather than for a model. This number includes expenses like shipping and installation. Based on what we know of costs associated with walk-in tubs, we determined that $4,000 would be the lowest that the base price of the most basic Spirit Walk-In Tub could be.
4. How can we determine the base price when the company sells through multiple retailers?
Some companies on our list sell through multiple online retailers. Prices for the same tub can differ between different retailers. To make this review as fair as possible, we collected prices for each tub model from multiple retailers (often between three and six retailers), and then averaged those prices.
Hydrotherapy costs was a simple category that evaluated only the costs of the water jet systems (no air or combination jets in this category) and the costs of sanitizers (UV or Ozone) that are sometimes included in those systems. This metric made up 10 percent of the tub’s overall score.
The costs of each hydrotherapy system were entered in the charts, with the lowest cost getting ten points and the highest cost getting zero points. If hydrotherapy was included in the base price of the tub model, the brand got a very good score in this category. If hydrotherapy was not an option for this tub, then the brand lost some points. Brands also lost some points if their sanitizers cost extra.
Each company was evaluated by the availability and cost of a set of common add-ons. Each company received a score for this metric between zero and ten points. This metric comprised 10 percent of each company’s overall score.
The most important of the add-ons we evaluated were air therapy systems and combination therapy systems. Heated Seats were also a fairly important add-on. The cost and availability of aromatherapy, chromatherapy (lights), quick drains, and end panels were also considered in our scoring, but at a lesser weight.
For every add on, the brand with the lowest price received the highest score. If a brand did not offer the add-on, it lost some points in that category. Hydrotherapy is technically an add-on as well, but it was ranked as its own metric due to the popularity of it and the importance consumers place on it.
Determining the actual cost of the hydrotherapy or any add-on in different circumstances:
Warranties impact the long term cost of owning a walk-in tub, so the value of the warranty made up 20 percent of each brand’s overall score. Often, we found that the brands with the least expensive tub costs had the most limited warranties. Some brands clearly are able to offer low prices because they save themselves money by limiting their liability.
For every warranty, we asked the following questions:
For most of these questions, if the answer was a lifetime, the number entered in the charts was 60. We used this high number so that it could be compared to other warranties that have actual limits such as 10 years. If the answer was limited lifetime, we entered the number as 50 – still high but lower than an actual lifetime warranty.
If a company said that a part of its warranty coverage was lifetime but we found it had major restrictions or exceptions that were likely to cost the consumer money down the road, we scored that part of the warranty as if it were limited lifetime. Every other number was simply entered as found in the warranty (15, 10, 5, 2, and 1 were commonly found time limits for warranties).
For the question of whether labor was covered under the warranty, the answer was either yes, some, or no. An answer of yes received full points, answer of some received half points, and an answer of no received no points.
Cost transparency is an ongoing concern for consumers in the walk-in tub industry. It is difficult to know how to find a good deal on a walk-in tub if companies refuse to openly share their pricing information. Because price transparency is such a concern for seniors who may be living on a small income, we used this metric to reward companies that make their prices available and easy to understand online. Cost transparency makes up 10 percent of a company’s overall affordability score.
Each question in this metric was scored with a yes/some/no system. Yes scored full points, some scored half points, and no scored zero points. The last question, however, was scored on an excellent/good/poor system with excellent getting full points, good getting half points and poor getting no points.
For cost transparency, we asked the following questions about each company:
No one likes to get stuck with an unexpected fee. Extra or hidden fees are common in many industries, but they aren’t terribly common or high in this one, at least for most companies. The main types of extra fees that we discovered in our research were shipping fees, cancellation or restocking fees, and return shipping fees. We scored companies based on whether they had these fees. If a company did have a fee, we took into account how high it was compared to the fees of its competitors on our list. This metric made up 10 percent of each company’s overall affordability score.
Keep in mind that in this review we did not evaluate installation practices. The person you choose to install your tub, whether you find them on your own or through the company you purchased from, may or may not charge extra fees that are not covered here.
Along with using our rankings and scores, we recommend you use this guide to help you pick the most affordable walk-in tub for your needs and preferences.
Walk-in tubs come in a variety of styles and sizes, and which specific one is best for you will depend on your personal needs. One of the top reasons many people install a walk-in tub is to prevent falls in the bathroom and make getting in and out of the bathtub easier. But, others simply want the convenience of a step-in tub and the high-end features that are available with some walk-in tubs.
Like with any big purchase, it’s important to consider your “why” for purchasing a walk-in tub. To ensure you find an affordable option that meets all of your needs, consider what you’re hoping to get out of your tub. You’ll want to think about the following things:
Identifying whether you need a tub for safety and mobility purposes or for the convenience and luxury of extra features can help you hone in on the right style of tubs for you from the start of your search. If you’re unsure about if or how a walk-in tub can help you, consider conducting a Home Safety Assessment that focuses on the bathroom. The assessment can help you identify potential safety issues and the modifications you can make that will reduce your risk of injury.
In the walk-in tub industry, there are two basic kinds of companies. Those that disclose their base prices, add-on prices, and fees openly and early in the buying process, and those that will not discuss pricing until late in the buying process, usually during an in-home visit when they give you a free project quote.
There are multiple prominent companies that fall into the latter category. But, these companies are difficult to evaluate, and most of them tend to charge high prices. They may also use fairly high-pressure sales pitches once they visit you in your home. The advantage of these companies, however, is that they usually handle installation, which can make the buying process easy for you.
Of the companies that are willing to share prices more openly, there is some variety. Some companies list all or some of their pricing information online. Some are simply willing to talk over the phone about pricing. Some offer installation services, and some do not.
When you start looking for a walk-in tub, you can look for a company whose level of price transparency and service style matches your comfort level.
Seniors are eligible to receive free, non-binding quotes for bathroom safety modifications.
In our review, we have deliberately excluded installation costs from our comparisons. We did this because installation costs differ too much to be ranked and are not always controlled by the walk-in tub company. Even if you and your neighbor were to install the exact same tub, for instance, your installation costs could be different depending on who you hire and the state of your home’s plumbing and electrical systems. The hourly cost for skilled labor also varies geographically. So installation in one city can cost more than a similar installation in another city.
Companies that can take care of the installation for you may indicate the installation will cost about $2,000 or more. Costs can be lower than this in some cases, especially if you purchase a soaker tub that is simple to install. Costs can also be higher.
Feel free to get more than one quote if one contractor’s fees seem higher than is reasonable. Whether you choose to find your own contractor or whether you select a contractor recommended by the walk-in tub company, you should consider the following risk factors that could lead to high installation costs.
The base price is how much the tub costs before you select any upgrades. Rarely will you find a walk-in tub with a base price lower than $2,000. It is actually quite common to find base prices as high as $8,000 or even more. But the most affordable walk-in tubs will generally fall in the $2,000-$5,000 range for the base price. Make sure to account for faucet costs if the faucet is not included.
Consider the material of the walk-in tub when looking at base prices. Acrylic is less porous and therefore less prone to staining and mold damage than gel coat fiberglass. But gel coat tubs can be molded in a greater variety of shapes than acrylic tubs. If you purchase a gel coat tub, consider purchasing one that has seven layers of coating, which is called marine grade gel coat. A marine grade gel coat tub will always be of higher quality than those with a three-layer coating.
The final consideration for tub base prices is whether the dimensions of the tub actually meet your needs. While small tubs tend to cost less than large tubs, some are quite narrow and are not a comfortable fit for every body type. An inexpensive tub in the wrong size or shape is a worse deal than a more expensive tub that you feel comfortable using.
The number of add-ons available for walk-in tubs can be dizzying. It can be hard to know what you do and do not need. Thankfully, most add-ons can be broken down into four simple categories.
Jets Systems and Their Accessories:
Hydrotherapy and air therapy provide a massaging experience and are said to help with the management of various health problems such as stress, muscle and joint tension or pain, and poor circulation. Consider these options to aid relaxation and healing.
*Note: With some brands’ combination systems, the air and water massage features cannot be used at the same time without overloading the system. Before purchasing a combination system you may want to ask if such a restriction exists.
These are two more add-on therapies that are commonly used to naturally improve moods and health. Aromatherapy, in particular, has lately been gaining popularity and is beginning to be studied scientifically.
*Note: An oil diffuser will be a better, more natural option than scent beads. Enquire which kind of aromatherapy is offered before purchasing.
Comfort features are things that make the bathing experience better by keeping you warm, softening surfaces, or reducing wait times. Companies differ greatly both in what they offer and how much they charge for these options.
Hardware Add-Ons and Upgrades:
Some of these options may come free with your tub, depending on the model and brand. The first three items on this list will likely only be available from the maker of the walk-in tub. But with the rest of the options, you may sometimes find a better deal elsewhere. It is wise to look into finding a more affordable option before committing to buying these from the walk-in tub vendor. Your installer may be able to help you find your best options.
Some small tubs may not have enough room beneath the tub for all upgrade pumps and motors to be installed. If you’re thinking about a tub with multiple extra features, you may want to consult with the manufacturer or a contractor to determine if your chosen model has enough space to accommodate the features you desire.
Aside from the costs and fees associated with installation, you may have to deal with incidental costs such as shipping fees (which range from no fee to about $400).
If you receive a tub and realize that it isn’t going to work for you, you may or may not be able to return it. Some return policies are strict. If you do return it, be aware that you can be charged a fee. The majority of return and cancellation fees are between 10-20 percent of the original purchase price. We have also heard of fees as high as 75 percent.
To avoid the headache and potential costs of a return, use any purchasing guides the company provides to determine the correct size and door/drain orientation of your tub before ordering. Consider involving a local contractor in the decision if you need more help. Other options include calling a customer service line or having one of the company’s specialists visit you to measure your bathroom and give you a free quote (not every company will offer this option). You should never have to pay for a quote.
We found some trends for extra fees as we researched:
Lifetime or Limited
Reading for Hidden Restrictions
As you look into different tub brands, keep in mind that a tub is only a good deal for you if it truly addresses your safety, comfort, and financial needs. What someone else considers a good deal may not suit you.
Consider these three categories as you make your choice:
Tub Size and Style
The tubs we have reviewed have mostly been of a basic walk-in style suited to a standard sized bather and bathroom space. These are only a starting point. If you are a bather with specific needs, there’s probably a better option out there for you.
Never feel pressured to agree to an add-on. Instead, choose the add-ons that you believe you can get the most daily use out of. Companies offer many interesting options, but adding all available options to a tub is not practical for most seniors.
As you review the list of add-ons that we provided earlier in the article, think about which ones you would get the most benefit from. If you only want a soaker tub, there’s nothing wrong with just looking for the soaker that best meets your needs. Virtually every add-on will cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,000.
It may be that you find the way the company interacts with you to be much more important than the extra features that the company offers.
As you shop, ask yourself these questions:
Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare sometimes supplies full or partial coverage for what’s called durable medical equipment (DME), such as canes, special beds, crutches, lifts, and more. For a purchase to even qualify for that coverage, the doctor and supplier you are using need to be enrolled in Medicare. Moreover, anything that’s a DME needs to meet strict standards of medical necessity. Walk-in tubs do not currently meet these standards and will probably not be covered by Medicare.
Medicaid coverage, on the other hand, varies by state. Sometimes individual states and regions will have grants and other programs that help seniors make their homes safer. This list of resources can help you determine whether your state has an applicable Medicaid reimbursement or coverage option.
Area Agencies on Aging
You may also find it helpful to get in touch with one of your local Area Agencies on Aging to see if they have any regional knowledge of government or private assistance programs. By following this government link for the Eldercare Service Locator and entering your ZIP code in its search bar, you can discover who your Area Agencies on Aging are.
The various forms of insurance offered for Veterans typically follow the same guidelines that Medicare does for DME, and are not likely to cover the cost of a walk-in tub. However, there are some Veterans Affairs (VA) grants for accessibility-focused home improvement that are worth looking into.
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant has fairly strict guidelines and does exclude “Jacuzzi hot tubs.” But it’s unclear if it includes actual walk-in tubs. If a Veteran were able to explain that the tub was strictly for bathing accessibility and that it lacks jet features that hot tubs usually have, then the grant might be awarded to the Veteran. If the VA will not approve a walk-in tub in your case, they may be more likely to approve a roll-in shower, which is another safe bathing option that some of these walk-in tub companies also offer.
If you have a non-service related disability that calls for special equipment or home modifications, you may receive up to $2,000 from the HISA grant. If your disability is service related you may be eligible for even more. Visiting the VA online can be a good place to start exploring whether the HISA or another VA program will assist you with your purchase.
Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants
Seniors with low incomes who live in rural areas may qualify for this loan and grant option that is offered through the United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (USDA). These grant and loan options are needs-based. And the grant only covers the removal of hazards, but the loan is more inclusive of improvement projects.
For seniors who want to finance their home improvements but who don’t meet the income requirements of some other loans, this can be a good choice. For more information visit this USDA Website.
Financing though a walk-in tub company is another common consumer choice. This option will likely require a credit check, a minimum income level, and an agreement to make set monthly payments. Similar to how car loans work, these loans will often be facilitated by a bank. Interest rates may be high.
Of the companies on our list, these are the ones that do offer financing:
To be eligible for financing, you’ll need to make your purchase directly through the company, not through another retailer.
FHA Title 1 Loans
FHA Title 1 Loans are offered through private lenders but insured by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These loans can be obtained in both large and small amounts and are specifically for home improvements. There are many kinds of personal loans to choose from in the finance world, but this specific type can be a good choice. The fixed interest rate is generally based on common market rates at the time the loan is created.
According to HUD, to qualify for these loans you must prove that improvements will “substantially protect or improve the basic livability or utility of the property.” A walk-in tub should qualify in most cases. If you want a loan over $7,500, you will need to offer your home as security.
Home Equity Options
If you’re a homeowner, you can use your home’s equity to make your home more accessible. Reverse Mortgages and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) are two common uses of home equity.
Reverse Mortgages, which are specifically designed for seniors, require the most home equity. Some seniors use these to supplement an income that is otherwise lacking. Many Reverse Mortgages are high risk, and only one kind, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is insured by the US Government through FHA-Approved Lenders. Because there is a significant risk of loss associated with this kind of loan, you must speak with a reverse mortgage counselor before being approved.
Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) don’t necessarily require as much home equity as Reverse Mortgages do. And they are available to people under 62, so you don’t need to be a senior to get one. The amount of money you are eligible to borrow against your home will be determined by your credit history and current ability to make monthly payments.
For both reverse mortgages and HELOCs, you will probably face significant fees. And you do put your home at risk of being eventually taken over by the bank. These options make the most sense only if you also need money for a broader project like paying for in-home assistance or remodeling a significant portion of your home.
Purchases like walk-in tubs that are made for medical and disability-related reasons may qualify for tax deductions in some circumstances. IRS rules can change, so it’s always good to check on eligibility before filing your taxes.
If you are a senior who is not anyone’s dependent, you will probably be able to write off your tub installation as a medical expense. If you’re a caregiver who claims a parent or other senior relative as a dependent, you may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit.