Best Walk In Bathtub for the Disabled: What You Need to Know 
Do you know which walk in bathtub is best for your accessible bathroom? Here's what you should know in order to choose the right walkin tub for yourself or a family member.

One of the most frustrating things about being disabled is having to depend on others. A walk -in bathtub allows the disabled to bathe on their own and in privacy. This handicapped bathroom fixture also allows for a small measure of needed independence for the user. However, not all walk in bathtubs are designed the same. The type of walkin tub that you choose for yourself or loved one depends on many things, including:

  • the degree of a user's mobility

  • the size of the bathroom

  • budget constraints

Styles, Features and Materials of Walk In Bathtubs

The particular handicap bathtub you choose will also specifically be based on the styles, features and materials. The two main styles are primarily defined by the type of entrance door that each offers:

  • inward swinging door

  • outward swinging door

Inward swinging door

The inward swinging door meets ADA bathroom guidelines for accessible bathrooms. It is easy to step into, cannot be accidentally opened and water will not drip off the door onto the disabled bathroom floor increasing the possibility of an accidental fall. Some hydrotherapy tubs are designed with an inward swinging door for safety purposes. 

The two main issues relevant to an inward swinging door are:

1) They can be difficult for those using some home mobility aids to gain access without help.

2) The user must wait until the bathtub drains before opening the door. 

Outward swinging door

Outward swinging doors can be opened rapidly in an emergency, although the bathroom will flood. They are also easier to maneuver in and out of, if using a wheelchair.

Some features found in walk-in bathtubs include: 

  • soothing water jets for hydrotherapy

  • soap and shampoo holders

Construction materials

Walkin tubs are made of either fiberglass or acrylic. Fiberglass costs less than acrylic and is the most popular type of material used in production. Acrylic is more costly because it is non-porous, does not have to be treated and can be molded into one distinct unit. 

Benefits and Disadvantages 

The benefits to using a walk in bathtub generally outweigh the few disadvantages. 

Benefits include:

  • safer than traditional bathtubs because the user can walk in, sit down, and bathe or shower

  • requires no bending or stooping when draining the tub

Disadvantages include:

  • cost - Walk-in tubs for the disabled range in price from over $1,000 to $10,000 which can be cost prohibitive for some.

  • size - They are larger than traditional bathtubs and have more surface area that must be kept clean. In addition, installation usually requires the assistance of a licensed plumber. 

Installation Tips

The most important installation tip is to calculate the size of your bathroom before purchasing any walk in bathtub. These disabled bath fixtures come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and to cut both costs and installation hassles, buy one that can easily fit into your existing bathroom for the disabled

Know the location of all pipes, water lines, and electrical sources before purchase. If choosing an outward swinging door model, ensure there is room for the door to fully open. 

If the company you are purchasing from does not provide an installer, try to check with a licensed plumber or contractor before buying any product. He or she can give you the dimensions and measurements you need. Nothing is more frustrating than purchasing a tub that does not fit in your bathroom. Some building contractors or plumbers are knowledgeable about disability fixtures, so try to find someone who is well versed in this area.

Shopping Hints

There are many ways to purchase a walkin tub. They can be:

  • purchased in local stores that have showrooms where you can talk with an experienced salesperson. This is usually a little more expensive, but gives you the chance to examine the tub and ask questions. Installation is generally included in the purchase price.

  • bought off the Internet. This is usually less expensive, however, it will rarely include installation. You will need to secure your own builder and plumber for installation. 

  • by scheduling an in-home appointment. Generally the most expensive way to order is to meet with a representative of a company. However, full purchase price usually includes installation, warranties, and a policy for repairs or servicing. 

Providing a walk in bathtub for a disabled bathrooms can be a great way to promote good hygiene, independence and personal dignity for those who are physically challenged. 
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