How Much a Walk-in Tub Costs Depends on You
There is nothing quite like sitting back in a hot bubbling bath. The therapeutic benefits of warm water for aging joints and muscles can be regularly enjoyed in your own bathtub – a walk in one. As “boomers” age and look to age in place and stay safe, walk in tubs are a wonderful amenity offering ease of access and safety considerations. However, walk-in tub costs and considerations beyond the hardware and features are best obtained from a professional like a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.
What to Know About a Walk-In Tub Before You Ask “How Much”
Most commonly, a walk-in tub is recommended for the individual who cannot safely or easily stand in a shower or climb into a tub unassisted. Desirable features in a walk-in tub include heated seats, water jets or bubbles, fast-fill/drain hardware.
A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) is trained in the safety aspects of home modifications to help one make the practical and personal decisions on what best suits individual needs. They are professionals certified in safety protocols who stay abreast of the best solutions – and their costs.
Materials and Features
The most affordable walk-in tubs are constructed with acrylic. Fiberglass and composite materials, plus stainless steel and leveling frames, are found in better tubs. Cost range: $3,500 to $5,500 plus installation
Inswing or Outswing Opening Walk-in Tub Door
The inswing walk-in tub door (inward opening) is more convenient to install in a smaller bathroom.
· Easy for bathers to close the door once sitting inside
· Self-seal created once the door shuts and tub is filled is extra tight
The outswing walk-in tub door (outward opening) typically needs more room for the door to swing open and clear a nearby toilet.
· Excellent transfer tub for bathers to transfer from wheelchair, walker or cane to the walk-in tub
· Innovative locking system seals when the door is closed and tub is filled
Walk-in to Safety & Spa-like Comfort
Walk-in tub jets offer a hydrotherapeutic massage to soothe sore joints and muscles, while air jets surround your body in a cushion of bubbles. A heated seat and overhead lamp can keep you warm while the tub fills and drains. In fact, a fast-fill and -drain system nudge you closer to instant gratification. Cost range: depends on the features selected
Walk-in Tub Plumbing & Electrical
Do you have enough hot water? Walk in tubs hold 50-75 gallons. A good therapeutic water temperature is 100-104 degrees. Your old 40 gallon water heater may not have the ability to provide sufficient hot water. Typically a 50 gallon heater is needed. A replacement water heater will add $1,000-1,500 to your cost.
Walk-in tubs with an in-line heater option will help maintain a constant temperature and prolong your bath (and add to the cost of your tub).
If you want hydrotherapy jets and a fast drain feature you will need a dedicated electrical circuit for your walk-in tub. The cost depends on where your electrical panel is in relation to your bathroom and how easy it is to run the wiring from the panel to the tub. In most case count on having an electrician spend the better part of a day to get it done. Figure on paying the electrician $75-$95/hour, depending on where you live.
Can your floor structure accommodate the weight of a bather and a tub full of water? Each gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs and some tubs hold 70 gallons or more. Five-hundred-eighty-one pounds is just the water!
Fast fill and drain features are great so long as your existing plumbing system can handle it. Most tubs have a 1 1/2” drain line designed for gravity drainage. The walk-in tub adds a pump forcing water into that drain line. Many walk-in tub manufacturers ( e.g. American Standard) warn end users about this very thing and will assume no responsibility for line failure.
Re-piping your water supply line can be complicated and expensive. The most common 1/2” water supply lines can only provide so much volume. Water pressure is also a consideration. Upgrading to 3/4” lines may be necessary to get the most from an investment in a walk-in tub. This is not a DIY project. Hire a licensed, professional with insurance.
How Much Does a Walk-in Tub Cost?
A walk-in tub is not a widget to buy off the shelf and shove into place. It’s a practical investment in daily safety and independent living for those with mobility concerns. The cost of injury is incalculable.
The most accurate estimate for walk-in tub costs is obtained by asking for professional help. Ideally, a CAPS professional has the experience and resources to be a single point contact. Or, you can ask your favorite plumber, electrician and contractor for help. You can research walk-in tubs online or at local plumbing supply stores.
Now you know other costs associated with installing a walk-in tub that the manufacturers may not mention up-front.