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Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Walk-in Tub

Walk-in tubs and showers are great investments, especially for senior homeowners, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed when researching the different styles and accessories that are available. 

We’ve broken down the tub selection process into three categories – tub type, door type, and tub material – to help demystify the tub shopping process and remove the confusion that comes with it.

Here is your ultimate guide to walk-tub shopping:

What Type of Tub Should I Buy?

Walk-in tubs come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to know what you will need before making a purchase. Here are the most popular types of walk-in tubs:

Soaker Tubs

These tubs are built to be sat in, so the user can submerge more of their body in the water without having to lie down. Soakers are among the most popular and affordable kinds of walk-in tubs because they allow for a seamless transition from the bathroom to the tub, and they don’t require any maneuvering to lie down or get up from a lying-down position. 

The downside to soaker tubs is that they prevent the user from lying down at all.

Lay-down Tubs

If you prefer the look and feel of a traditional bathtub, the lay-down tub is for you. The only difference between a normal tub and a lay-down walk-in tub is the presence of a walk-in door on the side to allow for safe entry and exit.

The obvious downside to this tub is that it requires the user to get up and down from a lying position, which can cause problems for less-mobile homeowners.

Shower tub

Shower-tub

Tired of spending so much time in the tub? Then you should consider combining your walk-in tub with a shower. It’s a simple thing to do during tub installation (although it will cost a bit extra) and it provides a quicker alternative to a bath if you are ever in need of a more efficient bathing option. 

What Kind of Door?

All walk-in tubs are outfitted with a door on the side to allow for safe entry and exit, but which kind of door should you put on your tub? Here are some of the most common options:

Inward swinging door

The name of the door gives it away – it’s a door that opens inward, toward the tub. This is a good option if you have a smaller bathroom, but it can cramp your tub space when you’re trying to enter and exit.

Inward swinging door

Outward swinging door

Obviously, this would be the opposite of an inward swinging door. This is generally the more popular option because it allows for a more spacious entry and exit, but it can be problematic if you have a very small bathroom; walls, doors, and ledges can impede the door when you try to open it.

U-shaped door

This is the most common shape for a walk-in tub door because it is easier to install, and generally allows for easier entries and exits.

L-shaped door

This is the most common option for wheelchair users because they allow for an easier transition from wheelchair to tub seat. These tend to be a little more expensive than U-shaped doors, but if you are confined to a wheelchair they are a worthwhile (and probably necessary) investment.

What Material?

The tub material will have some slight variations from person to person depending on what you need. Here are a few of the most common options:

Acrylic

This is the most common material choice for a walk-in tub, although it tends to be more expensive than some other options. The reason most people consider acrylic a worthwhile investment is its lifespan; acrylic is extremely durable. If you intend on having a walk-in tub for several years (which most people do), this is most likely the right choice for you.

Soaker Tubs

Fiberglass

This is the most affordable option for tub material, but it has a shorter lifespan. However, this could be a good option for you if you have a smaller budget, or if you don’t plan on using your walk-in tub for multiple years.


Choosing a safe-step walk-in tub can be an overwhelming process, but you can simplify it by categorizing your search based on tub type, material, and door type. If all else fails, contact an installation expert to help evaluate your needs and get an accurate quote.

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