A walk-in tub is a wonderful product for seniors who enjoy taking a bath but the product and the remodeling cost can be expensive. Don’t despair, there may be an alternative solution available that can give you a similar product for much less.
What is an alternative to a walk-in tub? – A tub cut out which converts your existing bathtub into a walk-in tub can be a low cost solution to making your tub more senior friendly.
The one main advantage that a walk-in tub would have over a tub cutout is that it gives you a higher platform to sit on so if you have limited mobility issues or trouble getting up and down from a standard bathtub then I would recommend that you either add a bathtub lift or use grab bars or go with the option of purchasing and installing a walk-in tub.
Tub Cut Out – Converting Your Bathtub To A Walk-In Tub
A wonderful alternative to the costly walk-in tub is a “tub cut out” which basically means that a portion of your bathtub is cut out and replaced with a sealed door.
Now, there are tub cut outs that do not include a door so I would recommend to make sure that you ask for that feature unless of course you do not want it.
Why Get A Tub Cut Out Without The Door?
If your shower is a combo bathtub and shower unit and you are a shower person vs a bath person then getting the tub cut out will make it easier for you to step over the lower ledge to get into your bathtub and take your shower.
There are multiple companies that provide this service like CleanCutBath.com. I recommend you contact several and of course, check their references as you would with any home remodeling project.
The starting installation costs for a tub cut out is about $1500.00. That may or may not include the sliding door and the project is usually completed in one day.
But also know that there are “tub cut kits” available as well so if you are handy or know someone who is, purchasing a kit can make the project even less expensive.
How Much Do Walk-In Tubs Really Cost?
Depending on the features of the tub you choose, a walk-in tub could run anywhere from $2000 – $9000 if you buy one from a home store.
The installation will cost another $700 – $1500 (as of 2017), depending on prices in your area. Any required electrical or plumbing upgrades could boost that price another $3,000 – $5,000.
So the purchase and installation costs could run you anywhere from $2700 to $10,500 plus the additional cost of any electrical panel upgrades or water heater or plumbing upgrades and of course any construction that may have to be done to get the tub into the bathroom.
All of these issues can certainly bring the total cost well above $11,000.
Those additional construction costs may come into play if your plumbing is old and needs to be upgraded, if the door to your bathroom is not wide enough to accommodate the tub and if there are any other problems that crop up during the installation process.
You may think that you can get Medicare or Medicaid to pay for all or part of these costs but unfortunately, that may not be true.
Medicare.com says the nationally funded Medicare programs (Part A and Part B) do not consider walk-in tubs to be Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and do not cover their cost or installation. BUT – your state funded Medicaid program may cover it – contact your local Medicaid office for more information.
Other Accessories To Make Bathing Safer For Seniors
Other products that we recommend to make your bathing experience safer are…
- Handheld shower heads – these are flexible shower heads that can be mounted anywhere in the bathtub / shower area so that it’s an easy reach for you.
- Organizer – to safely hold your soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc.
- Grab bar – to help you if you need assistance to stand up and/or get down into the bathtub and also for something to hold onto as you step out of the tub.
- Bathtub lift – this can be added to the bathtub (it’s portable) and can be used if you have trouble getting in and out of the tub.
As Senior Home Safety Specialists, we ask you to consider the following before you make your decision as to whether to choose a walk-in tub or the tub cut out option.
- If you plan to age in place in your home then the investment into a walk in bathtub may be worth it.
- The tub cut out option is good and you may have no trouble getting into and out of the bathtub now but a few years from now that may not be the case any longer.
- Discuss the decision with a realtor for their expert opinion on which option would be better for resale value of your home when and if the time comes to sell it.
All in all – a walk-in tub of some kind can be a wonderful home improvement project for older adults who plan on aging in place in their home.
There are several more good and bad points to consider before a senior commits to getting one. You can read about the pros and cons of these tubs in our article, “Are Walk In Tubs Safe For Seniors?”.