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Bathing is one of life’s simple pleasures, but can get difficult for a multitude of reasons. Whether due to a long term injury or some other reason, people with lower mobility can find it hard to get in and out of a tub.
These walk in tubs aim to fix that, and there’s a big market for these kinds of products out there.
But what kind should you get?
And how can I make it something I WANT to have rather than just need?
Those are questions I’m here to answer today.
If you want my best recommendation, just look below. But if you want some more detail, read on to the next section.
In A Rush?
My Top Pick:Ella OA3052-R Malibu Acrylic Hydro
What Do I Look For In The Perfect One?
There are three main things we’re on the lookout for here in addition to the price: ADA compliance, construction, and extras.
- ADA Compliance
For the most part, everything without proper ADA compliance (with one notable exception) was cut from this list. Aside the mitigating circumstance of that one I mentioned, compliance is something that is easy to achieve and anything without it should be dismissed.
So what does this mean?
Easy: it needs an easily accessible hand bar, the height of the door needs to be easy to get over, and the bottom of the tub needs to be slip resistant. That’s it.
Bonus points to products that go above and beyond, being wheelchair accessible or having multiple hand bars.
All right, that out of the way: let’s talk products!
Construction needs to be sturdy and long lasting. The most common materials are acrylic and fiberglass, both usually coated over with a gel coat.
Anti microbial finishes are bonus features, and ones to be sought after. Ease of cleaning is a big deal for these kinds of tubs.
Frames are generally stainless steel with no notable exceptions I can think of, and the doors are reinforced as a matter of course. Those are the basics I’m looking for.
This covers everything not listed above, which can be things as minor as a handheld shower head to large scale modifications like turning the tub into a whirlpool tub.
This is the section that most takes into account the cost to value ratio, I cut A LOT of products that had a bunch of (or even just a few) extras and charged exorbitant prices for them.
I especially like nonstandard quality of life extras, like one of the models below (which sports a convenient swivel out side table). These add a lot of convenience, and little price.
Speaking of, here we have the big deal breaker for some of these, as I mentioned. I put a cutoff around $5000; none of the ones above that (some as much as nearly $7000) were appreciably better than the average price of these products, which is around $3500 (only two products are really outliers to that average, one far below and one far above).
1. Ella OA3052-R Malibu Acrylic Hydro
This one has literally everything we look for in a walk in tub, and then some.
The only real complaint is the size, a full 8 inches shorter than what I expect to see from one of these (most are in the ballpark of 60 inches in length), but the width (29.5) and depth (43) are still good, so that can be forgiven.
Everything else? Superb.
The basic construction is a non porous, highly bacteria resistant (and easy to clean) acrylic with a high glossy shine.
The grab bar is ADA compliant, as is the door opening size and height and the non-slip floor. The faucets being on the front is standard, and less annoying than usual due to the shorter length of the tub, and it comes with a nice handheld shower head for any rinsing or washing of hard to reach spots.
Finally, of course, are the massage jets. Much like the temperature of the water, the intensity and vigorousness of the massage jets can be adjusted however you like, though the angles sadly remain static (they’re good for most people though).
This is hands down the best model you’re likely to find, especially for under $4500. Unless you need more leg room, or just don’t really value the massage jets and the price increase that comes with them, grab this one.
2. Spa World Venzi Vz3060wcalws Rectangular Soaking Ada
Here’s a great tub for those with more severe mobility issues. The primary feature on this one is a lower set, wider door that is full wheelchair (or mobility scooter, etc.) accessible. It’s a good, comfortable size (60 x 30 x 42), leaving enough room to sit without squeezing too tightly, and not so long as to make reaching the faucet too cumbersome (it’s actually quite well placed; I never really liked the more standard design of being on the far end of the tub).
While it doesn’t have a ton of extra features, making its price (over $4000) seem a bit steep, it’s an unfortunate reality that most products made with accessibility in mind are more expensive than the average product.
At least for the price you get a great, compact but comfortable design, made of sturdy gel coated fiberglass that can accommodate anyone (it was specifically designed for people that can’t bend their knees).
3. Ella AH3167-HB Petite Air Massage+Heated Seat
Here we have a very nice, more luxury minded walk in tub. This one has pretty much every luxury item you could want, and some you might not even have thought of.
But first, the basics: it’s a relatively compact 28 x 52 x 38 tub with a fast fill faucet and drain that is designed to fully drain within 80 seconds of the plug being pulled (it has a 2” opening, so be careful with your rings and such when getting in and out) and a 5-year warranty on most parts (limited lifetime warranty on the frame, shell, and door!).
For mobility, it has the usual low set door you’d expect and sturdy, well spaced hand rails for leverage in and out of the tub.
On to the fun stuff, you’re looking at a normal faucet as well as a built in handheld shower head (great for rinsing your hair and back, and something a surprising few of these tubs lack) and a convenient swivel out tray, perfect for sitting everything from a book to a cup of tea if you like to relax in your tub.
The piece de resistance here is the heated seat, so you don’t have to worry about being cold and uncomfortable until the water fills up enough.
All in all for the a bit over $4000 package you’re getting a lot; this is one of the best products out there.
4. Spa World Venzi Vz3060sirwh Rectangular Whirlpool
Venzi comes to us again with a hard to find products: one designed to let you lay down instead of sit. Obviously not for everyone; if you have trouble getting up from supine this isn’t a great tub to buy.
But for someone that wants the bit of extra safety without sacrificing their nice comfortable soak, this is perfect.
As a bonus, it’s a whirlpool tub, meaning it doubles as a very good relaxing massage chamber to loosen your stiff muscles after a long day. On top of that, it’s just a well constructed tub, being a comfortable 60 inches (5 feet) in length and made of a solid, easy to clean acrylic.
The water stays warm for long periods due to the friction heater (runs at the same time as the jets, so draws little to no extra power), so you don’t have to worry about suddenly needing to cut a relaxing time too short due to the water cooling to uncomfortable levels.
All in all, a great offering.
5. Ariel EZWT-3060-DUAL-R 6 Whirlpool and 18 Air Jet Series
While this one has less frills than some, it has one claim to fame: great massage jets.
The basic package isn’t too shabby either, with sturdy triple gel coated fiberglass (a stainless steel frame holds it up) and a reinforced door. The hand bar (singular) is well placed, though with the 60 inch length a second hand bar would likely have been helpful. Still, not too big of a detraction, and it is ADA compliant with a textured bottom, so you’re unlikely to slip.
The massage jets are the real draw here over other, similar models. They’re able to swivel in any direction, and can give a great lower body massage while you soak in the nice warm water.
Everything on this one is good, but the addition of the adjustable massage jets pushes it over the top, especially for the a little under $3500 package.
6. Ariel EZWT-3048-SOAKER-R Soaker Gel Coat
Here we have the smaller (much smaller) plain Jane cousin of the Ariel 3060 we covered above. While that one has a good luxury option (the massage jets), this one is all utilitarian.
This is great news if you don’t value the massage jets for any number of reasons, because the price drop is huge (it’s under $2000), and the basic quality of the tub is pretty much untouched. This one is free standing, with a sturdy stainless steel frame and a reinforced fiberglass body (resin and gel coated) so you don’t have to worry about breaking it.
Everything is, of course, ADA compliant with a slightly longer than usual hand bar (whether this makes things easier or harder for you is a matter of personal adjustment
My one real complaint here is the size: a 48 inch length is the smallest we’ve covered today, and can leave people with longer legs feeling cramped. Great for people with short legs, but I’d avoid if you need more room for sure.
7. Ellas Bubbles 60" x 30" Companion Massage
Here’s a very nice, unique tub. The main draw of this is it’s designed to seat two people, with one seat on each side. The length being only 60 inches makes this a bit of a tight squeeze, but not uncomfortably so, just cozy.
It gets docked a few points for only having one hand bar, but other than that the construction is sound, with gel coated reinforced fiberglass being the primary material. All the other small extras you’ve come to expect are here as well, with easy to reach faucets and a built in handheld shower head.
The massage jets here though are one of the big draws, making this more of a luxury tub. It sits somewhere between a bathtub and a hot tub in this regard, being a whirlpool tub with massage jets and a heater to keep the water hot for extended periods. Rounding things out is a chromotherapy (aka mood lighting) system to set the tone for an evening.
ELLA OA3052-R MALIBU ACRYLIC HYDRO
Most of these are great, for different reasons, though I find the Companion tub a bit too expensive for my tastes.
The Ella Malibu is far and away the best here though, not only having the most features, but a very reasonable price compared to some that cost more and do less. If you can find it (these products tend to sell out often, so you may have to wait a bit for Amazon to restock) it is my biggest recommendation here, though some of the cheap, low frills options are great if you feel you don’t need all that extra stuff in a bathtub.