Bathtub Cut Out or a Walk-in Tub
For those with limited mobility, a traditional bathtub can often be a challenge or even a safety hazard. There are solutions for those who want to be able to take a hot bath but cannot because a standard tub is no longer a safe option. These solutions include tub cut-outs and walk-in bathtubs. While these both achieve the basic goal of making a bathtub accessible, they differ greatly in features, cost, and functionality depending on the user’s mobility.
A tub-cut can be without a door if the user only intends to shower and not fill up the bathtub. A tub-cut out built with a door allows for baths to still be taken.
A tub cut-out is a quick and economical option for converting a standard bathtub into a “step-in” shower or bathtub. This process includes removing a portion of the sidewall of the existing bathtub and a watertight composite insert cap is placed over the cut-out. This reduces the height of the sidewall to approximately 6 to 6 ½ inches, allowing for easier access to the tub as it provides a lower height needed to lift your foot to get into the tub.
If you’d like to continue to use your tub to take a bath rather than a shower, you’ll need to choose a tub cut out with a watertight door or convertible door option. This will prevent water from leaking out of the tub once it is filled with water to the desired level. The user can shower using a standard shower curtain to contain water, regardless if you choose to add the door option or not.
A tub cut out is an affordable and quick option with a starting cost of around $1,500 for a convertible door model with the installation. It can typically be completed in one day and can be done on a fiberglass, steel, or cast-iron bathtub.
While this can be a good solution, there are several drawbacks.
While transfer from a wheelchair is possible, it is not ideal.
The user will need to lower themselves into standard tub depth to bathe, so grab bars or a mechanical bath lift are recommended. To avoid water from leaking out of the tub, the user will need to be in the tub before it fills with water, and until after it drains after you’re finished bathing. A tub cut out cannot be used with whirlpool jets or lined bathtubs.
Walk-in tubs are replacement tubs for your standard shower/bathtub combo. They have a watertight door that is available to swing either inward or outward and a seat built into the design. It is the safest solution for those who can no longer lift their foot high enough to step into a standard tub. The walk-in tub seat is much easier to stand up from than a traditional bathtub and because of the higher tub walls they allow for full emersion of the body up to your neck. Most Ella walk-in tubs come with therapeutic hydro jets and other features such as heated seats, handrails, an adjustable shower head for seated showering and more.
They are the safer bathing option since they have a sturdy design and a low threshold, and the user does not need to lower themselves to the standard tub depth. Jetted tubs also have great therapeutic advantages over non-jetted tubs for those with arthritis, circulation issues, or general aches and pains.
As with a tub cut out, there are also some drawbacks to a walk-in bathtub.
It is a significant modification that often requires an experienced installer. The project can take longer, especially if plumbing must be altered. Walk-in tubs can be expensive. Buyers can expect to spend $3,000 or more for a tub without installation depending on the make, model, and features you choose. The user must be seated in the tub during the filling and draining process because the door must be closed and secured to prevent water from leaking out. However, unlike tub cuts, there are fast fill and speedy dual draining options available in walk-in tubs from Ella’s Bubbles.
If you are on a limited budget or need a quick turnaround, a tub cut may be the right solution. Keep in mind that the ideal user should have ample balence, mobility and upper body strength to comfortably use this solution for bathing. The costlier option, walk-in bathtubs are safer and offer more therapeutic benefits than a tub cut. If you feel that a walk-in tub is the right solution, give us a call and we can help answer any additional questions you might have.