A walk-in tub is a wonderful addition to any home – especially one where residents want to age in place and hold onto their independence for as long as they can. A walk-in shower can be just as advantageous for the same reasons. As an added bonus, both the walk-in tub and the walk-in shower can provide other family members with a fantastic bathing or showering experience. So why not combine the two and enjoy a walk-in tub shower combo?
What is a Walk-in Tub Shower Combo?
A walk-in tub is similar to a typical bathtub in size, but that’s where the comparisons end. Walk-in tubs provide a different set of benefits to aging or mobility-challenged homeowners compared to a standard bathtub.
A standard walk-in tub has a water-tight door that allows a person to step into the tub instead of stepping over a lip, thus significantly reducing the fall risk. The walk-in tub has a seat for comfort and safety. It also may have jets, aromatherapy, and other additions that make it a more spa-like experience. A walk-in shower is much the same, with a very low threshold to step over to enter the shower area.
These two can be combined efficiently. A walk-in tub with a shower is simply a ADA-compliant tub that has been specially configured to allow for shower use as well. Think of it as a two-for-one kind of deal.
Besides the convenience and ability to stay more independent with personal hygiene, a walk-in tub shower combo can provide enhanced safety for users and the opportunity to have both a tub and shower in a smaller space. This can be fantastic for those who want to use their existing bathroom footprint and not worry about expanding the room. There is also the added bonus of the walk-in tub shower combo being much easier to clean than having to worry about two separate areas.
Features and Dimensions
The features of your new walk-in tub shower combo give you the best of both bathing worlds. Here’s what you can expect.
- An emphasis on safety. Grab bars and a textured seat keep you from slipping in the tub. There will be non-slip flooring as well. The handheld shower head works well for those who want to stand but also suits those who need to sit. Water regulators can prevent the water from becoming too hot, thus mitigating any scald risk.
- Little extras for comfort. Some tubs feature jets, much like you would find in a spa or whirlpool, that can soothe aching muscles. The tubs are deeper than a typical bathtub, so those jets can reach up to the shoulders. Other options, like hydrotherapy or aromatherapy, are also possible additions.
- Traditional shower experience. A shower screen that swivels out of the way is a good option. You can also opt for a shower curtain to keep water contained. These are often available with two shower heads; one is fixed at the top of the shower, and the other is a bit lower and can be removed from the bracket to turn into a handheld wand.
The dimensions of a walk-in tub shower combo often fit in a typical bathroom. In fact, combining the two might mean that you can have both a shower and a tub in a bathroom that does not have room to house them separately.
The dimensions of a typical bathtub are 30 inches wide by 60 inches long. Those are the same dimensions of most walk-in tubs. Of course, there are variations. A bariatric tub, for instance, could be 32 inches wide or more. On the other hand, there are smaller varieties of walk-in tubs that are only 40 inches in length. These require the user to sit up, with no space to recline. No matter the size of the walk-in tub, a shower combo can fit those same dimensions.
Walk-in Tub Shower Combo Showerhead Options
Most walk-in tub shower combos have a typical showerhead at the top. This way, those who want to stand in the shower can do so and have the traditional experience of water pouring down from above.
But they also tend to have a handheld wand that serves as a movable shower. This will allow those who are seated to use it on their shoulders, arms, or even to wash their hair. The handheld wand is an ideal option that provides convenience while also helping ensure safety for those who need to stay seated. Most of these comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
When it comes to making that showerhead fit into your bathroom décor, that part is easy. Most reputable walk-in tub brands offer a wide range of options. Some are installed along with the tub, and some which you can purchase on your own as an after-market piece and install yourself.
Before installation, explore different showerhead options. Ask your walk-in tub professional if your preferred shower head option can be installed.
How Much Does a Walk-in Tub Shower Combo Cost?
Keep in mind that this cost might change based on additional features or accessories. For instance, a custom glass shower enclosure might cost less than more standard options, or the addition of extra shower heads might drive up the price. Those who go with a larger bariatric tub might be looking at an additional $1,000 or more on the initial cost.
Installation and labor costs add onto the bottom line. This might run between $2,000 and $10,000. It depends on the complexity of the job and what changes need to be made in the bathroom and surrounding area to make the tub and shower combo work. For instance, a deep tub might need a larger water heater, or an on-demand water heater, to ensure the proper experience. The addition of a new water heater, or any other plumbing changes, will add to the overall cost of installation.
Is a Walk-in Tub and Shower the Right Choice for Me?
For those who have mobility issues, or for those who want to gracefully age in place and stay in their own home as long as possible, a walk-in tub makes a lot of sense. A walk-in shower, or even a roll-in shower for those in a wheelchair, also make sense. Combine the two and suddenly, all members of the family can enjoy the benefits of the walk-in tub and shower combo in the home.
There are some times when you will want to separate the two. For instance, someone who needs a roll-in shower might not be able to use a walk-in tub, or might not feel safe and comfortable in one. In that case, a roll-in shower could be paired with a separate tub to provide appropriate hygiene options for the whole family. On the other hand, someone who needs the intense warmth and hydrotherapy of a walk-in tub might choose to not bother with a shower at all.
To decide if a walk-in tub and combined shower is right for you, look at what you really need. For example:
- Is it just you, or perhaps you and a spouse, living in your home?
- Do you prefer baths or showers?
- What do your physical needs dictate?
- Will others be living in the home, such as family members who might serve as caretakers in your later years? What would they prefer?
After thinking through these questions, then look at the costs. Consider what you can afford, and the space you have to install a combination set or a shower and walk-in tub individually. Make a list of questions and speak to a contractor about them.
Hiring a Professional Installer
Though it might be tempting to try to install a walk-in tub and shower combo on your own, it is always best to call in a professional. They will make sure the set is installed in such a way that meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They can also help you determine if you need to upgrade your water heater, or if you need more structural support underneath the walk-in tub. This assessment is especially important if it is a deeper model that holds much more water than the average bathtub.
While you work to make your bathroom more accessible and safe, talk to that contractor about the potential for other home accessibility modifications, such as a stairlift to help those who are in a home with more than one story, or even those who need help getting down a small flight of stairs outside. From customized cabinets to medical alert systems, those who are pros at installing a walk-in tub and shower combo can probably also guide you when it comes to choosing other modifications.
Modernize can help you find the right contractor for the job. We will help you develop a list of questions to ask, and see the work through from start to finish. Let us connect you with the right installation expert today so you can have a safer, more accessible bathing experience tomorrow.