Page Reviewed / Updated – May 29, 2020

Measurements are important when choosing the right size walk-in tub, but each person and bathroom is different, so the dimensions of different tubs and a senior’s bathroom isn’t enough to make a proper decision. There are a few other factors to take into consideration. This quick guide will explain the reasons for buying small, average or large tubs and describe the pros and cons of various options.Continue reading to get a better idea of the size you need, and then find out more about the choices available in our list of the best walk-in tubs based on affordability and features.

Size and Configuration of Bathroom

Walk-in tubs come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common models are designed to fit in place of a regular home bathtub, which is a footprint of 30 inches wide and 60 inches long. The height of walk-in tubs is usually between 20 and 45 inches, with the longer models generally requiring less height.

Petite size walk-in tubs are available from many brands, as well as tubs with full-height shower enclosures as part of the frame. For example, the Sanctuary Petite from AmeriGlide is less than 40 inches in length and is enclosed on the front and both sides. The size and additional side enclosures make this an attractive option for small spaces and bathrooms with no corner space available.

There is very little variation in the width of walk-in tubs designed for a single user, with the exception of super size and specialty models. As such, any bathroom that can fit a regular bathtub should be large enough to allow plenty of choice when replacing it. However, it’s important to consider the user’s mobility and accessibility needs when assessing the amount of space required in front of the walk-in tub’s door.

Seated, Reclined and Companion Bathing

The decision between a walk-in tub with seating and one that allows the user to recline is mostly about their personal preference and ability. Some people prefer to recline, as in a regular bathtub, while many users of walk-in tubs no longer have enough mobility and prefer a stable, seated position. If a person isn’t comfortable using the walk-in tub, it could become an unnecessarily stressful experience, so it’s an important factor to keep in mind.

However, walk-in tubs with enough room to recline are also longer than the seated alternative. Tubs that allow the user to recline are often called a full bather. There are options available within the 60-inch standard allowance for length, but a seated option may be necessary for any bathroom with less than this.

Walk-in tubs with two seats are also fairly common and are often referred to as companion tubs — and there are models available that will fit the 60-inch length. Companion tubs are rarely any shorter than this, which may rule out the possibility in smaller bathrooms.

Wheelchair Accessibility Requirements

Wheelchair accessibility is available in many walk-in tubs from the most popular brands. These tubs are not necessarily larger, as there are options that can fit in the same space as the models without accessibility features, but it’s also important to consider the area around the tub.

Most walk-in tubs for wheelchair users have outward-swinging doors that make it easier for the user to enter and exit, and the doors don’t need much clearance. However, the area directly in front of the door must be large enough to allow the user to comfortably move to the tub’s seat. Any additional method of transfer, such as a lift, must also be able to fit safely in the area around the tub.

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Home Water Heater

Larger tubs generally have a higher fill capacity, and they may use more than the home’s water heater can provide. Most common walk-in tubs hold 42 to 60 gallons of water. The smallest tubs need about 38 gallons, and the largest can take over 100. In comparison, an average shower needs 10 gallons and a dishwasher only needs 6 gallons per use.

Most home water heaters use storage tanks, and these tanks usually hold 40 to 55 gallons. Hot water usage of over 84 gallons per day is considered heavy use. Walk-in tubs can easily push the total household usage over 100 gallons per day, and the tub itself needs to draw that water all at once. As such, it’s important to know the First Hour Rating (FHR), or the amount of hot water available over one hour, of the existing water heater and any potential replacement so that you can choose the right-size walk-in tub.