Once you have decided that a walk-in tub is right for you, then it is time to evaluate which walk-in tub might fit and what features to consider.
How much space do you have?
Showers will fit into very small spaces as little as 38″ wide, but a walk in tub requires at least 51″ space for a standard unit. Door and hallway widths are also a consideration: Walk-in tubs need at least a 26″ doorway for the Liberty model, but slide-in bathtubs will fit through a 24″ doorway. Some walk-in tub models require 32″ or bigger doorways.
Aquassure’s ADL Spa fits through a 24″ doorway because the cabinet base and tub are separate pieces, other tubs like the Kohler Rising Wall tub or Best Bath’s Big E require much more doorway and hallway clearance as they are one very large piece.
Showers come in many different sizes and Best Bath Shower Systems come in 4-5 piece systems to fit through doorways.
Left vs. Right Door:
Look at where the tub will be installed. What is in front of the tub? If there is a toilet or counter in front of the tub, then the door needs to be on the other side for ease of access.
If you plan to use the walk-in tub to shower, then you will need some type of shower surround on the walls and a wall-mount glide bar for the shower head. The surround can be the original tile, a new tiled surround, a fiberglass 3-wall shower surround system, or an acrylic 3-wall surround system. You will also need a shower curtain or glass doors.
If you will not be showering in the walk-in tub, then you do not need a 3-wall shower surround, curtain, or doors. If there is room, whether you are showering or not, you may be able to add a deck extension on the end, or build a deck around the tub. An example of a deck extension can be seen on the Left Hand Door Opening tub photo on the right.
Walk-in tubs may use substantially more water than a regular bathtub. This is due to the large footwell that fills first. Often 50-100 gallons. You need to know this because there is no point in having a tub that you don’t have enough water to fill. Make sure you know how much water the tub takes to fill and be prepared to upsize your hot water tank, if needed.
Walk-in tubs can take several minutes to fill, depending on the water pressure, water supply line size and fixture choice. If you can, run 3/4″ lines to the walk-in tub and choose 3/4″ fixtures. This will make the most out of your flow rate.
If you decide on a walk-in or slide-in bathtub, you will have the option of water or air hydrotherapy jets, and heated seats (standard on Best Bath Walk-in Tubs). These require electrical service in the tub area. Typically the electrical service needed is one or two 15 amp GFI circuits. It is difficult to provide this in some older houses with limited circuits available or if the electrical box is far from the bathroom. Most walk-in tubs have the option of getting them without these features if electrical supply is not practical. Aquassure’s ADL Spa does not require power to operate the door, but some tubs do, so this should be a consideration for safety.
The Active Living Spa Slide-in tubs have clearance for the drain in the cabinet base. The drain can be anywhere under the bathtub. It is preferred that walk-in tubs have the drain on the same side as the door opening, but most can be installed with the drain location anywhere under the tub.
Showers have drain locations dictated by code. The drain location (left, right, center, etc.) will need to be matched to the shower pan and moved to match the pan, if needed. This may be difficult if the shower is on a concrete pad.