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How to Install a Walk-in Tub

Many homeowners are looking for home improvements for the bathroom of their home, especially those that are disabled have mobility issues, or who are aging in place. One of the best ways to get optimal therapeutic relief is to install a walk-in tub in your home.

Walk-in tubs have a number of features including hydrotherapy massage, air massage, and independent foot massage that will treat a variety of ailments including arthritis, insomnia, headaches, body aches, joint pain, and symptoms from colds or flu, and even Covid-19.

There are many benefits these beautiful walk-in tubs have, and they are built for safety according to ADA guidelines (the Americans with Disability Act). Modern walk-in tubs are built with the best materials available in the marketplace today. Let's take a look at what a walk-in tub really is here:

What is a Walk in Tub Exactly?

Walk-in tubs have several sets of features that make them different from traditional bathtubs. First of all, walk-in tubs have a door on the side of the tub that is usually fitted with a watertight seal. This makes it possible to get in and out of the bathtub easily without having to step over a high wall.

This is great for those with mobility issues or who have wheelchairs to get in and out of the tub safely without slipping or falling. Walk-in tubs also differ from traditional tubs as they have high walls on the sides of the tub and usually have seats within the tub. These high walls contain water where the bather is fully submerged and immersed.

These tubs also usually offer hydro massage, air bubble massage, and independent foot massage so that the entire experience can be therapeutically beneficial. These walk in tubs are used as health spas by those who are aging in place. Not only do people feel better when they use these tubs, but the design is healthier for their bodies than the traditional bathtub.

Features of a Walk-in Tub

Walk-in bathtubs have a number of features that set them apart from traditional bathtubs. The tubs keep comfort in mind and there are safety features built into the tubs. Let's take a look at what some of the features that come standard in a walk-in tub and others that are optional here below:

Anti-slip Textured Flooring

The floors of a walk-in tub are typically made of a surface material that is textured and are designed to prevent slipping and falling while in the tub. This is a particularly useful feature for those with mobility issues or who are aging in place and have delicate bodies that easily slip and fall.

The anti-slip textured flooring is made of special materials and is designed to not disintegrate over time. You may also want to purchase a bath mat to place outside your tub door when exiting and entering the tub to make sure you don't slip and fall due to water getting on the floor.

Built-in Safety Grab Bars

Most walk-in tubss feature one or more safety grab bars placed in different positions around the tub. These grab bars are designed so that people can use them to get in and out and around the tub safely without accidents occurring. They make it easy to position your body at optimal places within the tub to receive therapeutic massage benefits.

They also are designed to help people safely move about the tub so they can find the most comfortable positions.

Shower Options

Many walk-in tubs also have shower options that are useful for to maintain a daily hygiene regimen. Sometimes people just want to take a shower around and then a long soaking bath, and that's how she makes it possible to just take a shower without having to fill a tub.

Outwardly and Inwardly Swinging Doors

There are many different types of walk-in tubs, however, they all either have an outwardly or inwardly swinging door placed on the side of the basic tub. Inwardly swinging doors make it possible to have the tub installed in smaller spaces as the door swings inward and doesn't bang against a wall.

Outwardly swinging doors are also useful for those who have wheelchairs, as they permit an easier entry into the tub from a wheelchair.  You will have to determine the needs that you have to decide which type of door you want in the model you select.

Door Placement

In some models of walk-in tubs, you can choose whether the door is placed on the right or the left side of the tub. This will be beneficial for you depending on how your bathroom is designed.

Massage Options

There are many different massage options in these tubs walk-in tubs, including hydrotherapy, air massage, independent foot massage, and infused microbubble therapy massage.

Hydrotherapy walk in tub massage involves the water jets being placed strategically around the tub that provides rushing water that massages the skin. Air massage works much the same way except air bubbles are injected into the stream of water so you have a whirlpool effect.

You can get a combination of hydrotherapy and air massage in many walk-in tub models. Independent foot massage is also one of the other options you can get. When you have independent foot massage, you often don't have to fill the whole tub out to get a foot massage, the footwell area can be filled independently, so that you just can sit in the tub and just have your feet massaged.

Infused microbubble therapy involves an air jet that infuses billions of air bubbles into the water so the water is filled with countless bubbles for a fully spa-like experience that is good for your skin.  Many walk-in tub models come in with an on-off push button control, or they also have a digital controller for combined option packages.

Why Choose a Walk-in Tub

There are a number of reasons why people may want to choose a walk-in tub over a traditional bath model. For those with mobility issues or who are aging in place, they are much safer to get in and out of the tub than a traditional model. The low step threshold on the side of the tub makes it easy for those who have difficulty moving to enter the tub.

A seat within the tub also makes it possible to sit down comfortably without having to raise your body up and down into the tub and bathe safely, which is better for those who have mobility issues. Those who are aging in place may have health issues that require therapy.

The massage options in tubs are not just something that makes you feel better, they will actually improve your health and help you live longer. A variety of conditions can be treated with the therapeutic benefits of massage options in walk in tubs including arthritis, body aches and pains, muscle issues, insomnia, headaches (including migraine headaches), and they can even treat the common cold or flu symptoms, as well as alleviate Covid-19. 

Getting a walk-in tub will make your bathing a safer experience and improve your health which is exactly why they were created. It may be a considerable expense to get a walk-in tub, but you can save with cost of installation if you do it yourself or have a friend or neighbor perform the installation.

Let's take a look at how to install a walk-in tub yourself and what you to expect if you have a professional do the installation for you here below:

How to Install a Walk-in Tub

If you're going to get a walk-in tub installed, you can choose to do it yourself if you have some minor carpentry and electrical skills, or you can hire a professional to do the whole job or parts of the job. Even if you hire professional to do parts of the job for you, there's still plenty of the work you could do yourself to save money.

Let's take a look at some of the things you can do to install a walk-in tub yourself, save money, and make sure that the job is done the way you want it.

Prepare the Work Area

You will want to clean the work area and remove all debris from the surfaces of floors and walls that you will be installing the tub into. Installing a walk-in tub takes a considerable amount of work and effort, so you will want to make sure that your area is free of obstructions and any objects that don't need to be in the work area as well.

Remove the Existing Bathtub

Before you install your new walk-in tub, you will have to remove the existing bathtub from the area so you can install your new tub. This can be challenging for an inexperienced installer and you will want to take apart the existing tub in sections. Before you start to take your old tub apart, you will want to disconnect plumbing lines and faucets from your tub.

You will then want to clean the area after you have removed the tub from all the dust and debris that may have collected.

Putting in the New Tub

You may choose to have friends help you move the tub physically into the area. You will want to use your plumbing skills to connect the new plumbing lines and set up the new electrical system. If you don't know how to do plumbing and electrical work, you're going to have to get a professional to perform these duties.

Having a professional installer may actually be necessary for most jobs, or at least for this part of the job. If you do have plumbing and electrical skills, you will have to read the specification sheets and understand exactly what the job entails before you get started.

Install the Faucet

You may want to install the faucets yourself as this is an easier job, and you may want to have a plumber or contractor hook up the lines to the faucets. Most walk-in tubs contain directions for faucet installation, so if you have some mechanical ability you could perform this for yourself.

Leveling the Tub

You may want to spend some time leveling the tub in the space where it is being installed in. You can use a standard level and place it on top of the tub, checking between the guidelines that the bubble is between the lines. Having a professional do this is recommended if you are not sure how to use a level properly or don't have plumbing and carpentry skills.

Install End Panels

Installing end panels to retrofit into existing spaces is one of the last things to do when installing a tub. With some mechanical ability, you should be able to accomplish this yourself and save a few bucks from having the professional perform this task. 

Installing Trim and Edges

You can consult with people who know what they're doing if you have never done this before, or if you have experience, you can probably accomplish this quite easily. You may need to get some materials such as caulking and other supplies in order to properly install the trim and edges on your tub.

Clean Up

When everything is said and done you will want to clean up the entire area of your tub to get it ready for use. You will want to remove all of the equipment you use to install your tub from the area and disconnect all the electrical cords. When the area is clean and suitable for use you may want to invest in some new supplies such as bath towels and bathroom accessories to make your new tub as nice as possible for its new future use.

Learn How to Use the Tub

If a contractor has helped you in parts of this installation, you may want to consult them about how to use the tub properly. You could experiment with different features yourself and see how they work, or you can read the owner's manual that comes with the table to find out how to use them properly. 

Getting a Professional to Install your Tub

Many times some homeowners feel that they can install a tub and figure it out, but they run into too much difficulty in understanding what to do. Some people with minor carpentry and electrical skills find the whole thing too difficult.

The learning curve is kind of steep when it comes to walk in tub installation. You may want to hire a professional to consult you at the very least, and if you cannot manage to figure things out well enough to install your tubs yourself, you could just end up leaving or to the professionals to do the entire job.

You really have to have some solid skills in order to be able to install a tub yourself properly, and for those with questionable skills or gaps in knowledge, you should really just get a professional to do the majority of the work so it is done safely and efficiently.

How to Prepare to Install a Walk in Tub

If you are seriously considering getting a walk-in tub, you will need to do a sufficient amount of preparation in order to do so. 

First of all, you will need to select the specific model that is going to be sufficient for your needs. The first thing to do is to make a list of the features you would like in your walk-in tub and write them down on paper.

When you have your list of things that you want in your walk-in tub, take a look at the available models that you are interested in, and compare them to see which models fit your list of needs.

Once you have a short list of one to three different models that you are interested in, it's time to consider how you are going to install your walk in tub.

If you know enough about electrical work and carpentry to be able to install the walk-in tub completely by yourself, of course you can use this guide to install your new tub.

If you're like most people, however, you will at least need the assistance of a professional contractor, or you will need to let them do it entirely by themselves.

If you are going to need the assistance of a professional, contact them to discuss the needs that you have. You will have to find out how much they charge, and you may have to get a written estimate made up before you order your tub.

If they are just going to assist you partially, find out their hourly rate and calculate an estimate of how much it's going to cost to have them help you install your walk-in tub.

Once you have an idea of how much it's going to be for the walk in tubs cost, installed with the help of a professional, take that amount and combine it with the actual cost of a walk-in tub itself, including taxes.

At this point, you will know how much it's going to cost you to install your walk-in tub, and then you can decide how much you can afford and when. If you have to spend some time saving up the money for everything, begin planning when you are going to get your tub installed.

Once you can afford your walk-in tub, and your contractor is on board to do the work, it's time to order your tub and schedule the installation with whatever professional is going to assist you, if any.

When you are ready, go ahead and order your tub and make arrangements to have your professional schedule you in for the installation assistance. 

Once your tub has arrived and your contractor or other helpers are ready, you can install your tub in whatever time frame is going to be necessary. It should probably not take too long to actually install the tub, perhaps a few days.

When your tub is installed and everything is in order, have the instructions on how to operate your tub explained to you by the professional, and then you can begin using your tub.

Click here to learn more about walk-in tubs.