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Accessible Showers: Tub Cut vs Barrier-free Shower

Posted on by John Burfield

If you have difficulty stepping into your traditional bathtub/shower, it may be time to consider converting your tub into a walk-in shower. While remodeling your bathroom to include a zero-threshold shower (also known as barrier-free, curbless, or roll-in shower) may be out of your budget, there is a lower cost option that can help make your existing tub accessible again. This option is known as a tub cut or tub cut-out and might be the right solution for you. However, depending on the extent of your mobility issues, a fully accessible, barrier-free shower may be the better option.

Let’s take a closer look at these two solutions.

Tub Cut

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A tub cut is a cut-out in the sidewall of your existing bathtub. This reduces the height that a user must step over to enter the tub. After the section of tub wall is removed, a composite insert cap is placed over the cut-out creating quick and easy access to the bathtub. An approximate 6 to 6 1/2 inch curb will remain to keep water inside the tub when used with a standard shower curtain.

A tub cut is ideal for users who can step over the remaining curb, however many wheelchair users with upper body strength can also transfer from a wheelchair to shower bench through the cut-out. It is important to keep in mind that this may be a tempoorray solutiion if your mobility issues progress.

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Optional doors are also available to allow users to fill the tub with water if they wish to bathe. Tub cuts are an economical option with a typical starting price of $995 installed and $1,495 for a cut out with a watertight door. Tub cuts are also a quick process with most cut-outs completed in one-day. This solution can be beneficial for those who are on a budget or need their project completed as soon as possible.

Zero-Threshold or Barrier-free Shower

For those with a larger budget or who qualify for a third-party funding source, a zero-threshold shower may be a better option. This type of shower will require a significant modification duirng which your current bathtub will be removed and replaced either with a prefabricated fiberglass shower unit or a zero-threshold shower pan with tiled floor and walls. Your options will depend on your budget and the layout of your bathroom—most manufacturers have various sizes of shower available.

5065-Best-Bath-Barrier-Free-07-15-2015-400x400.jpgThe primary advantage to this option is that the shower threshold can be eliminated completely so that the user does not need to step over a curb to enter the shower. Wheelchair users can be rolled into the shower and transfer to a shower bench or utilize a waterproof shower chair. Basically, this style of walk-in shower can be used by any type of user with varying physical abilities.

As mentioned earlier, this a significant modiciaction that will typically require permits and more time to complete (1 week) than a tub cut. The longer timeframe is needed for the removal of the old tub and installation of the new walk-in shower. Occasionally, tradespeople such as a plumber will need to be utilized which contributes to the longer timeline. This option is also more expensive. You can expect to spend between $6,500 to $9,500 depending on the style and size of the barrier-free shower that you choose.

Key Takeaways

  • Tub cuts are an economical solution for those having difficulty accessing their standard bathtub/shower. They typically start at around $995 with installation
  • With a tub cut, there will still be a 6 to 6 1/2 inch curb that the user will need to step over to access the shower
  • Tub cuts with optional doors are available for those who prefer to bathe
  • Tub cuts can typically be completed in one day
  • Zero-threshold or barrier-free showers eliminate the shower curb completely so they can be used by people of all physical abilities
  • Barrier-free means that a wheelchair user can roll into the shower without any type of threshold ramp
  • Zero-threshold showers require a significant modification that can take up to a week to complete and will cost between $6,500 and $9,500
  • A zero-threshold shower is a more complete solution than a tub cut out that will meet your needs as they progress

To schedule a free consultation, contact Lifeway Mobility today.




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