Walk in Tub or Accessible Shower?

For Bathers

Walk-in tubs work out really well for those who enjoy taking a bath for both personal hygiene and therapy. If you don’t want to give this up when it becomes increasing more difficult to lower yourself down and get back up using a standard bathtub. Then a walk in tub may be the solution, but they can limit the use to others in the same household.

Accessible showers provide an adaptable bathing solution by transforming the existing bathtub area into an open and functional shower space suitable for all users. Particularly valued by caregivers who assist with bathing, accessible showers allow individuals to maintain independence and remain in their current residence longer than a walk-in tub. Our firm’s skilled craftsmen specialize in custom tiled, safe shower designs and walk-in tub installations tailored to each client’s unique needs. Whether you require accessibility modifications or wish to upgrade your entire bathroom, we have the expertise to deliver high quality, compliant solutions.

Warehouse Viewing If Your Able

We are available for home consultations but we also stock a large supply of different size tubs with various jetting options. Knowing a person’s height and weight helps when deciding what type and size of walk in tub is best. Seeing them in person is even better. If your able we encourage those considering walk in tubs make an appointment to visit our warehouse storage facility on Annacis Island Delta.

Walk in Fill Time – Its easy to accurately find out how long it will take to fill a walk in tub.

So the first thing you need to figure out the flow rate per minute your getting from your tub spout. Begin by getting your hands on a stop watch. Then run the hot water from your tub spout with as much volume as possible. Then add cold water until your at bath water temperature. Slide the largest graduated measuring bucket you can under the tub spout and time how long it takes to fill.  Here’s an example using a 4 US gallon pale.  (4 divided by 47 seconds fill time = .085 gallons per second X 60 seconds = 5.10 gallons per minute). The most common sizes of walk in tubs hold  45 – 65 US gallons, but there are larger models. Using the example above. If you were to fill a 45 gallon tub at a flow rate of 5.10 gallons per minute it works out to (45 gallons divided by 5.10 gallons per minutes = 8.82 minutes).  The average household flow rate from a tub spout is usually between 4-7 gallons per minute.

Flow rate is dependent on a number of factors. Your home’s water regulator setting. The size, type and age of your home’s water lines. If you use a tank less hot water heater. All these can effect flow rate per minute and it will vary from home to home.

Drain time

The time it takes to drain will be about the same as the tub you have now. Usually three minutes or less.

Can you shower in a walk in tub?

It is standard for walk-in tubs to include a handheld showerhead for rinsing. However, these showers may not provide the most comfortable showering experience. The built-in seat of a walk-in tub can constrain movement and limit standing space while showering. Users with limited mobility may find it challenging to shower in this confined area. For the most comfortable shower, a easily accessible enclosure is preferable.

An Accessible Shower?

An accessible safety shower is preferable for individuals who choose showering over bathing. It is also advisable for those requiring caregiver assistance with daily hygiene routines. A care giver can more easily and quickly provide support using an accessible shower configuration. While aesthetically pleasing, glass shower doors can greatly hinder accessibility and assistance; a curtain is a wiser selection. Accessible tub replacement shower bases feature a spacious, level platform – allowing users significantly more freedom of movement and security when seated in shower chairs, versus the instability of balancing on a standard bathtub’s narrow corners with chair legs.

Plastic or Tile? 

 

Plastic shower retrofits.

Tub to shower conversion kits typically consist of four to five pieces. Installing a single-piece shower stall can be challenging due to size constraints for maneuvering through finished areas and fitting within the existing tub enclosure. These acrylic, solid surface, or fiberglass reinforced plastic conversion kits are a popular option for bathroom remodeling contractors given their ease and speed of installation compared to alternative methods. These kits require less specialized labor and building materials to complete. While upfront costs may be lower relative to other remodeling approaches, the final price can be almost the same as as a custom tiled shower that can provide an attractive, durable design while also allowing for personalized environmental considerations. When installed correctly, plastic conversion kits can offer an acceptable aesthetic. However, they remain susceptible to potential leakage issues over time due to material properties and workmanship quality as seen below.

 One common issue encountered with tub to shower conversion kits is the use of silicone sealant in the corners where components meet. This photograph depicts the faucet end of the shower installation where the end piece and back piece join at the corner. Even slight flexing of the plastic is sufficient to compromise the integrity of the silicone sealant in this area, resulting in leakage. The opposite end exhibited a similar vulnerability. Manufacturers would be well-served to reinforce these high-stress corners through more durable sealing methods to prevent potential water damage for customers.
These two photos are of a brand new five piece shower kit that replaced a standard size tub. The shower back has two pieces, there are two end pieces and then the base.

Plastic sheets over old tile:

Simply fastening thin sheets of plastic over old tile and wall board to avoid the expense of removing and properly disposing of the material is being seen more frequently. Concealed old plumbing fixtures are often left in place and easily repaired problems never fixed. There might be a savings but consider this. It can still cost close to $8,000.00 or more for just hundreds of dollars in material and a days labor!

Thousands was spent to have this done, glue and a few hundred dollars of material and a days labor!
Removing the old tile and doing a correct job would not cost much more.
Plastic slowly breaks down in landfills leaching chemicals into the soil. Where tile is 100% inert material. 

Barrier Free Base lowered into floor for wheelchair.
Standard four inch high threshold

Are walk in tubs Made In Canada?

NO

There are no factories making walk in tubs in Canada, never have been. CBSA has always given walk in tubs a favorable tariff classification and they are duty free to import. All walk in tubs sold in Canada are imported. There is some manufacturing of walk tubs in the UK and USA but most of the supply of sanitaryware like toilets, bathtubs, shower stalls, sinks, faucets, etc., including walk in tubs. Is made and imported from China.

Made in Canada claims can easily be fact checked. The country of origin of a product and can often be retrieved using Import Genuis. https://www.importgenius.com/ Simply type a brand name, company name, or product name into the search window correctly. Its surprising what you can learn. 

For those with older tubs looking for parts.

Walk in tubs were first manufactured in the UK by https://www.gainsboroughbaths.com/  and http://www.wibco.com/. Their products were sold for decades in Canada by the franchises Premier Care and Seabridge Bathing.  Seabridge Bathing closed their doors in 2013. Premier Care in 2016. Their manufacturers are still in business today. For those looking for parts. 

Delta Port, Delta BC Canada

My Walk-In Tub Purchase: By Howard Stearns

There comes a time when many senior citizens realize just how dangerous it is getting in and out of a standard bathtub, and we often hear about their accidents. That situation arose for me lately and I started to investigate the whole walk in tub business. It seems that every time you turn the television or radio on you see ads for them. I began a research program and found some vast differences in quality and price. Read more..

About Limited Lifetime Warranties on Walk-in tubs

What is the value of a lifetime warranty?


The standard manufacture warranty on a walk-in tub is two years. However, certain items like pumps, door seals or the tub structure may be extended past this period. To justify higher prices and remain competitive some brands are pushing Limited Lifetime Warranties. Something you didn’t see prior to 2013-14.

Accessible bathroom modifications and the purchase of items such as chair lifts, hand rails, etc., for the most are done late in life. Often much later. Take this into consideration when putting a value on a limited lifetime warranty. When is comes to the cost of walk in tubs, keep it reasonable. Look on Craigs List and you’ll see used tubs that once sold for $15-20,000 plus, selling for just a fraction on this.

Tile vs Plastic & Costs for Accessible Shower Applications

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Tile is a friendlier choice for the environment and has been used for thousands of years for good reason!

Thousands of people young and old visit public rec centres on a daily basis.  Tile is used throughout these buildings including the public showers.  Why?  We all know tile can be manufactured to be as slippery as ice when it’s wet, but it can also be made specifically for safety, totally non-skid and very durable for use in showers and wet conditions.

Covering up existing tile with thin glued on gel coat or acrylic sheets offered by one day bathroom renovation wonder companies is not a good plan. It will only cheapen and devalue your bathroom and may cover up an otherwise very simple repair.  It will also make future removal of the existing tile very difficult and time consuming.  Cutting out tile and existing wall board is very fast when cutting along the grout lines with a Sawzall removing the tile and gypsum in large pieces.  But when the tile is covered up with plastic these grout lines can’t be seen.  Since the saw blade can’t cut through tile, the plastic sheet has to be pulled off first. The strong adhesive used to attach the paneling makes it extremely difficult and time consuming to do this.

Doing a proper job by removing the existing tile and gypsum and replacing it with a new surface of choice is not complicated nor will it take much longer or cost more to complete. The walls when stripped down to the framing gives the installers the opportunity for inspection, add additional framing for safety grips and folding shower seats. You’ll have the option to install new modern thermostatic, anti-scald pressure balanced faucets and inspect the plumbing. New mold proof shower backer board products are available to replace outdated products. Whether you decide on tile or go with a plastic shower surround don’t allow a company to cut corners.

When we renovate bathrooms and remove  an existing tub and replace it with a walk-in tub or shower the vast majority of the demolitions involve the removal of tiled tub surrounds.  Even after decades of use the tile is in good condition and in many cases except for the style being dated it looks like new.

We can’t say the same for many of the plastic showers we’ve removed, even though they haven’t been in use for near as long.  The majority of accessible plastic showers sold are constructed of gel coat fiberglass. After several years of regular use the gel coat can dull, begin to show signs of wear and because of the porous nature of gel coat, stains will start to show that are very difficult, or can’t be removed.  Unless you’ve been a fiberglass boat owner most people are unaware and are not properly informed by retailers on the maintenance schedule or specialty waxes and cleaning products required to maintain a gel coat finish found on accessible showers or safety tubs…read more.

Below is a three year old gel coat fiberglass walk in tub with green stains forming even after repeated attempts to remove them with recommended non abrasive bathroom cleaning products

The advantages and beauty of tile for accessible shower applications:

   

A really attractive professionally installed built in tiled shower offers far more value, it’s stronger, has safer footing and it will last many times longer, all the while retaining its beauty. It’s so much easier to clean than plastic because it’s not sensitive to cleaning products or prone to chemical reactions.. It is for these reasons, and more, why tiled showers are always used for commercial high use applications, never plastic!

There is more plastic showers sold by companies installing accessible showers because quite simply there far more profitable.  A plastic shower takes far less time and skill level to install and requires less material costs and site preparation.  This is their main selling feature, but you won’t likely see it reflected in the installed price with them costing thousands of dollars more than there really worth. Depending on the company price can range from $7,000.00 by one day glue on wonder companies up to over $12,000.00 or more for a complete tear out and an additional day’s labor.

The time and cost to construct a well-built, beautiful custom tiled shower will vary. Often people will use this time to change the flooring, replace the vanity, mirrors, lighting, and install a new comfort toilet completing the transformation. This work can take up to five days to complete, and the investment will be somewhere between the above two figures.  Built-in tiled accessible showers are unquestionably a better value, however there not sold through large corporations or distributors and commission sales people, there built by local skilled trade persons who enjoy the work and take pride in creating them.  Read more on our tiled showers.

Will the installation of a walk-in tub effect the re-sale of you’re home?

 

This question is asked occasionally but rarely is it asked by someone who really needs a walk-in tub!  Why?

Most of us wouldn’t wake up one morning, see an advertisement for a walk-in tub and go out and buy one, but it might get you thinking about it!  Have you ever taken a slight slip in the tub or tripped on a stair and kept yourself from falling and possibly being injured? Young or old we’ve all experienced this, but the older we get the risk of injury greatly increases because of slowing reflexes and weakening stabilization muscles.

Maybe a slight mishap happens during one’s daily bathing routine or the news of friend falling and being injured starts one to thinking about a safer bathing alternative as well as other changes that may be needed. Hopefully these early warning signs won’t be ignored and measures will be taken towards preventing avoidable unnecessary accidents that could permanently change a person’s lifestyle.

Walk-in tubs help people stay safe and offer them a higher level of independence and comfort. The question on whether a walk-in tub will affect the re-sale of a person’s home is largely a matter of opinion. It could be argued that because there is a growing aging population a walk-in tub could be seen to be a selling advantage but it very unlikely it would affect the value one’s property.  In Vancouver and the surrounding areas home prices are very high and continue to climb as they are in many places throughout the province and country.  If you were to look at your last tax assessment you’ll see the assessed value of the land in relation to the assessed value of the buildings are probably separated by a very wide margin. It’s doubtful a walk-in tub would make any measurable difference.

It’s your home, the one you want to remain safe in for as long as possible, and ultimately it’s your decision!

Bath fill time

Will 3/4″ bath fill taps fill up a bath any faster?  Absolutely, as long as the water lines in your home are 3/4,” which is likely not the case. Almost all homes will have 1/2″ water lines in residential construction. You may find 3/4 ” water lines in multi housing like apartment buildings but it  is reduced to 1/2″ and 3/8″ before the faucets. Claims made by walk in tub companies that their tubs will fill faster are very misleading.  Walk-in tubs with similar dimensions will take the same amount of time to fill. In the average home a tub’s flow rate will be 4 – 7 gallons per minute.

What determines the fill time more than taps, is a home’s water pressure and bather size.

Water pressure is controlled by a regulator and can be set to raise or lower a homes pressure, but other variables can effect water pressure like the type of water lines used. Copper fittings are soldered to the outside diameter of copper piping maintaining better water flow where plastic fittings are connected using the inside diameter of pipe reducing flow.

It is important when buying a walk-in tub to get the right size for your body.  A very small person in a bath too big, will wait longer for the tub to fill, compared to a much larger person using the same size tub.  This is due to the amount of water a bather’s body displaces.

Depending on the tub and bather size and a homes water pressure, fill time will vary.  To know how long it will take to fill a tub.  Take a pail, place it under your tub’s spout and record the time it takes to fill.  Divide the gallons by the seconds it took to fill the bucket then times 60. This will give you the flow rate per minute.  Example: Using a four US gallon pale. It took 45 seconds running bath water temperature to fill up. Four divided by 45 gallons is .088 gallons per second. Times .088 by 60 = is 5.28 gallons per minute flow rate.

For an approximation of the amount of water your body will displace and the amount of water you will need, use one gallon of water for every ten pounds of body weight. For instance if the tub you are  considering has the capacity to hold 60 gallons of water and you weigh 150 pounds, then your body will displace approximately 15 gallons of water and you’ll need about 45 gallons to fill the tub to its limit.

Walk-in Tub Drain Time

Walk-in tubs faucet selection

 

Walk-in tub Faucet Selection

 

5pc three-valve faucet on a walk-in tub(really easy to use)

Really look at faucet design and quality when buying your walk-in tub. Right selection in faucets can make a huge difference. Most difficulty is attributed to divert-er valves. This valve transfers water from the faucet spout over to a shower wand. The shower wand may be built into a walk-in tub or attached to a adjustable shower riser.While there may seem to be a wide variety of shower divert-er valves, there are only 3 main types:

Three-Valve Divert-er

This type of divert-er, is located between taps on a two-tap faucet and can bring water to both the shower and tub. The hot and cold water taps are turned on to mix the water to the correct temperature. Usually, turning the divert-er clockwise 180 degrees allows the properly mixed water to flow out through the shower head. Turning the divert-er counter-clockwise will return the water flow to the tub.

Two-Valve Divert-er

As in a 3-valve divert-er, a bather runs water through the tub spout until it is blended to the desired temperature. The divert-er, with 2 valves each in the shape of an L, pushes the water upward to a shower arm and out the shower head. This 2-valve divert-er can be located in the center of a faucet that adjusts temperature with a single dial turned to the left for hot water and to the right for cold, or it can be set between the taps of a two-tap faucet.

Tee Divert-er

The tee divert-er is a single-valve located behind the faucet spout. The bather runs the water to the temperature he or she prefers, and then pulls up the pull arm behind the spout. The water then comes out the shower head.

Which to Choose

A 5pc three-valve divert-er faucet set, and the 4pc tee divert-er faucet set are ones most found on walk-in tubs. The 5pc three-valve is more user friendly of the two. The advantage of a 5pc three-valve is ease of use, particularly when the bather is older and has weaker finger strength.

It has its own separate faucet to divert the water from the spout to the shower wand and is very user friendly, requiring no effort at all to use. A tee divert-er, found on a 4pc faucet set can be very difficult to use, especially for older woman who have developed arthritis in the hands and fingers. When the valveis under water pressure, the pulling up action on a Tee Divert-er can be so difficult, ladies can resort to using some kind of utensil, like a wooden spoon, to try and pry the valve up so they can use the shower wand. Men, who are more likely to haves stronger hands and fingers, fair better.

Surprisingly, some very well recognized walk-in tub companies continue using Tee Diverter type faucets, despite customer complaints!

Affordable Walk-in Tubs 

 

 

 

Walk-in tub jets

Walk-in tubs come as soaker models, air jet therapy models, or hydrotherapy jet (water jets.) models they also come with a combination of air and water jets.

Soakers are just like a regular tub that doesn’t have jets, you simply fill the tub to the desired depth and bathe.

Walk-in tubs with air jets are tubs equipped with a small electric motor that blows air drawing only about 3.6 amp. This blower delivers air through small air hoses to as many as 16 small jets placed throughout the tub.  When the air passes through the jet it is broken up into smaller air streams creating smaller bubbles.  The air is released into the tub and agitates the water assisting in cleaning.  It’s like being in a washing machine for the body and can lend a helping hand to a person who is mobility challenged and perhaps has difficulty reaching hard to get body parts. This blower motor can be heated but contrary to what some companies will lead you to believe, it will not maintain water temperature. It doesn’t enough power for this.  That being said, the benefits of air jets make them worth having.  Air jets are also offered in combination with Hydrotherapy jets and in-line heaters.

Water jets or Hydrotherapy Jets, as they are referred to, take bathing to the next level! Powered by a whisper quiet electric water pump drawing about 8 to 9 amp. The bath water is drawn from the bottom of the tub, circulated through the water pump and out through the massage jets. The tub can also be equipped with a stainless steel in-Line. These heaters draw about 13.5 amp and they are will maintain bath water temperature.

A separate stainless steel in-line heater is the only way to maintain bath water temperature for as long as required! Heated water is directed out massage jets located in areas of the tub where they offer the most benefit, focusing on the lower back, legs and feet. Each jet’s water flow is adjustable from 0 – 100% flow and can be directed to pinpoint just the right spot.  These jets also have an aerator (mixing air with the water) which gives a soothing relaxing sensation and helps increase circulation.

The health benefits of hydrotherapy are undisputed and is used regularly by physiotherapists.  When a individual becomes less mobile, circulation becomes an issue. Being able to relax, stretch, and have your muscles massaged in a warm heated bath offers many health benefits. Air jet therapy, was the first jet option offered on walk-in tubs, but today almost all manufactures have reinvested and retooled so they can they meet the growing demand for the optional hydrotherapy whirlpool water massage  jets.  Whirlpool baths have a long history having been on the market since the late 1950′s. They continue to be very popular and sold worldwide by leading bath and sanitary manufacturers, with excellent credentials.  By following a simple maintenance schedule, hydrotherapy water jets are very easy to clean.…read more.

If a walk-in tub has electrical components, you will require GFI’s (ground fault interrupters) to be installed. If the tub only has a small blower motor used for air jet therapy it can be plugged into a GFI receptacle, and because the blower motor doesn’t draw much power, this circuit can usually be borrowed from an existing circuit in the bathroom. If the tub has a water pump or in addition has a separate in-line heater, then one or two 15 amp GFI’s will need to be installed into your electrical panel. You’re not saving labor costs to install one GFI as opposed to installing two GFI’s because the time it takes to fish one or two lengths of wire to the electrical panel is the same.  The additional costs would only be the second GFI and the wire. Most existing electrical panels will have room for a couple more breakers, but if they are all used up then a small sub panel will need to be installed for them.

Always consult and employ a licensed electrician when installing a jetted walk-in bathtub.

Choosing The Right Size Walk-In Tub

If you are considering getting a walk-in safety tub for either yourself or a family member it is a good idea to have an in home consultation. This is generally a free service offered by companies that sell and install walk-in tubs offering expert advice. However, if this is not possible you may find the information below helpful.

Note:

Walk-in tubs are not stand up showers! A walk-in tub is a freestanding unit and not meant to be built-in like a standard tub. The reason they are placed into existing tub cavities is because in almost every case, it’s the only practical place for them.  Tub/shower conventional tubs are the most common in homes and can be used for both.  They have a flange which is attached directly to the wall studs covered with the shower board & tile which makes them practical for bathing and showering, but they become very difficult for people with mobility challenges to use. Walk-in tubs have limited space when standing because of the molded in seat, but are perfect for people who enjoy primarily bathing and don’t mind rinsing off while they remain in a seated position.  People who prefer stand up showering or require care giver assistance may want to look into accessible shower options.

Tub Measurements:

Width (measuring end to end)

Depth (measuring side to side)

Height (measuring floor to top of tub)

There is a number of things to keep in mind when choosing the size of a walk-in tub. The most popular sizes in walk-in tubs do not hold any more water than a standard tub, but unlike a standard tub a walk-in tub fills while you are inside of it.  This is an important factor in choosing the appropriate size tub.  Walk in tubs generally are shorter in width than a standard size tub, but higher to allow the bather to sit down as if in a chair but still get a deep soak.  If a tub is too wide, not only will it take longer to fill using more water than is necessary, but drain time will be longer.   This has to do with the amount of water the bather’s body will displace.  A tub too large can also put a strain on a hot water tank and an upgrade may be required.  For a close approximation of water displacement use one gallon for every ten pounds of body weight. For instance, let’s say a walk-in tub has the capacity to hold 45 gallons of water.  If the bather weighs 150 lbs. then he or she will displace approximately 15 gallons of water, therefore it would take about 30 gallons of water to fill this tub to have a full soak bath.

Size is also very important during installation.  Most walk-in tubs are installed into existing bathrooms. This requires the existing tub, generally installed during construction before most of the finishing and possibly some interior framing was completed, to be removed and the walk-in tub to take its place.  Walk-in tubs have always been offered in different sizes but some manufactures are starting to increase the width to near standard tub size measurements and they are not practical for retrofitting an existing bathroom. Here is some things to consider concerning the installation of walk-in tubs.

Industry standard size tubs are 30”X 60” but are lighter than walk-in tubs, and easier to maneuver.  The height of a standard tub is around 15-16 inches, so although a standard tub is just under 60” in width and 30” in depth it can easily slip through a bathroom door on its end and sideways.  Walk-in tubs are much heavier and are more difficult to move around. They come in depths starting from 26 inches up to 35 inches, heights starting at 37 inches up to 45 inches, and widths from 47 inches to 60 inches.

Let’s consider the depth measurement first.  Unless wider doors were installed in a home, the standard interior door is rough framed to a 32” width but can be narrower. Then the door jams, or a pre-hung door is installed and the width is reduced to about 29.5 inches or less.  Removing the casings and door jams or a pre-hung door, then replacing them is a simple procedure.  However, if removing 2X4′s or steel framing is necessary to allow a tub to pass through, it could mean dry wall repair and painting, or wall paper could be damaged. The moving of electrical switch boxes may be necessary. The bathroom vanity might be in the way and be required to be temporarily removed.  The width of a tub can also add to the difficulty of installation.  A tub too wide is harder to get through hallways, turn into a door openings, and much more difficult to fit into place and plumb into the existing drain due to lack of work space, particularly when a bathroom is the same or only  slightly wider than the tub being installed!  Important: If you have to turn a tub end to end inside the bathroom to fit into the tub cavity, your bathroom must be wider that the diagonal measurement of the tub or opening up walls will be required.  Attempting to install too large of a walk-in tub into an existing bathroom can be very challenging.

Walk-in tubs are designed to offer more bathing room and are like older style standard steel or cast iron tubs in this regard. For instance, an older standard bathtub with an exterior depth measurement of 3o inches will be a full 23 inches inside, and this measurement would continue down to the bottom of the tub giving the bather plenty of room.  Newer standard tub designs tend to be narrower and taper in towards the bottom of the tub.

There will be bathers who will require walk-in tubs 32 – 35 inches in depth and 55 – 60 inches in width, but walk-in tubs up to 30 inches or less in depth and 52 inches or less in width will be more than adequate 90% of the time, and if you feel you require more space think about adding height first.