Logo for: Lifeway Mobility menu Shape

Walk-In Tub or Walk-In Shower? What Are the Options?

Posted on by Dan Martin

The bathroom can present challenges for people who are aging, wheelchair-bound, or have limited mobility. More than 2/3 of emergency room visits are due to falls in the bathroom.

A loss of balance, wet floors, tight spaces, and/or bending and lifting required to access the tub and shower, are things that can lead to a fall in the bathroom. With that being said you may be wondering, is it possible to enjoy bathing or showering independently at home for those with balance issues or limited mobility?

In the rest of this post, we will provide information about some of the options that can make showering and bathing safe again.


Safety Step or “Tub Cut Out”

tub cut-out solution for safe bathingAn increasingly popular option is to convert your existing tub to a walk-in shower with the installation of a Safety Step, also known as a tub cut-out. This will give you safer access to your existing tub by not having to step over the tub wall but rather step through the tub.

You can also install grab bars, a bath board, and a handheld shower to create a safe bathing environment for relatively little cost. These types of solutions in combination with a tub cut-out is the most affordable and quickest way to make bathtub accessible. It can be installed in your home with these accessories for around $1500.00 in less than one day.


  • Least expensive option
  • Installed quickly – in less than 1 day
  • Least intrusive; uses existing tub – no remodeling


  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Still leaves a 6.5-inch threshold to step over to enter the tub
  • If mobility is declining this may only be a short-term solution
  • An access point is limited in width to approximately 22 inches
  • Cannot be installed in a whirlpool tub or tub with a liner

Walk-In Shower

Best Bath accessible shower kit with grab barsA walk-in shower is designed to provide safe, barrier-free, and convenient access to showering. The danger of stepping over a bathtub or a threshold of any height is eliminated with a zero-entry shower floor. The shower is fully accessible including wheelchair-bound people.

A walk-in shower can be installed and completed in about one week and can cost anywhere between $6,500- $8,500 for a good quality unit with all the accessories or more than that for a custom ceramic tiled shower.


  • Fully accessible including wheelchairs
  • Considered a bathroom upgrade
  • Can be incorporated beautifully in the design of bathroom
  • Moderately priced
  • Easy access for a caregiver to help with showering


  • Beware of inferior products available in the market
  • If balance issues exist a walk-in shower can be unsafe due to falls
  • Larger scale project; permitting required
  • Higher price-point

Walk-In Tub

walk-in-tubWalk-in tubs are a bathtub that comes equipped with a swinging door that opens and closes on the front or side of the tub. The door should open out and give the user access to the tub without stepping over a threshold. The door seals tight so the water stays in the tub. Fast fill and fast-draining capabilities exist to limit the time required to sit in the bathtub while it fills or drains.

The tubs often include other features such as handrails, adjustable showerheads and inside the tub seating. A walk-in tub involves a remodeling project and can cost in excess of $10,000.


  • Excellent therapeutic benefits that help with blood circulation, arthritis, fibromyalgia, aches, pains, and insomnia
  • Safest alternative for safe bathing
  • A safer solution for people with balance/dizziness
  • Offers both bathing and seated showering options


  • Most expensive option
  • Many non-approved inferior products on the market
  • Larger scale project; permitting required

The homeowner should use a company that's interested in meeting the user's needs and concerns for safe bathing. A company that prioritizes the needs of the user based on his or her mobility issues will provide guidance in choosing the most appropriate product.

It's also important to make sure that the company you select to make your bathroom accessible provides, installs, services, and warranties all the options listed above. A full-service company is not pushing the sale of a particular product but more thoroughly assessing the requirements of the user and guiding the homeowner to make the choice that best serves his/her long term needs.

Contact Lifeway Mobility to learn more about the accessible bathroom options covered in this post or to schedule a free consultation.

Improve your mobility. Request a quote today!

Request a Quote
Request an Evaluation