The Four Styles of Walk-In Tub Installation

May 03, 2016

The Four Styles of Walk-In Tub Installation

There are four styles of installation applicable to walk-in tubs and low-threshold showers. Each style is more appropriate for some models than others. In general, however, the type of installation will depend on the bathroom size, the breadth of the remodel project, and who will be using the final product.

Some seniors prefer not having a door at all and will pick low-threshold showers for smoother wheelchair access. 

In this article:

  • Apron front installation.
  • Tile-in installation.
  • Freestanding installation.
  • Top mount installation.
Apron Front  Walk in Tubs Installation

Apron Front Installation

An apron front installation is for walk-in tubs that sink into an alcove area of the bathroom where the door of the tub sits adjacent to the wall. This type of installation is sometimes referred to as a side-to-wall installation. Side installations are typically suited for walk-in tubs that have three sides exposing the leveling legs of the tub. The gap between the tub and bathroom walls is glued shut with a sealant. This prevents water splashes from leaking through the cracks and forming breeding grounds for bacteria and mold formation.

Another variation of the apron front setup is where the tub is surrounded by two perpendicular walls and one separator, as shown in the picture on the right.

Apron front style installations are perfect for projects that involve replacing a current bathtub situated within recessing walls.

The advantages of apron front installation:

  • Enables the walk-in tub to fit in traditional bathtub space with or without extension panels (up to 60 inches).
  • Beautiful wall surrounds of different styles, colors, and patterns can be used for this alcove setup to spice up your bathroom's appearance.
Tile-In Walk in Tubs Installation

Tile-In Installation

Tile-in walk-in tubs' style of installation is a corner-to-wall setup that's similar to the apron front style of installation, only two sides - not three - that expose the leveling legs of the tub.

Smaller bathrooms have the most to benefit from a tile-in setup due to the fact that a corner installation saves space and optimizes it to the fullest. This is especially beneficial to you if you want to make the best out of a small situation since smaller models are usually more affordable. Coupled with the drastic increase of your bathroom's utility, you will see the asking price of your home increase at a very low cost.

The advantages of tile-in installation:

  • Space optimization: Vacant bathroom corners fitted with a walk-in tub are transformed from what is normally a useless space into a highly versatile area for bathing and hydrotherapy.
Freestanding Walk in Tubs Installation

Freestanding Installation

A freestanding walk-in bathtub is exactly what it sounds like, it can be installed anywhere in the bathroom as long as the water lines can reach it. Freestanding models can theoretically be installed anywhere but in practice are installed with their backs against the wall.

Walk-in tubs installed in a back-to-wall fashion are usually minimal in size when compared to other models. This is to save space in a situation where there is another bathtub or shower stall inside the same bathroom.

A family home with many occupants such as grandchildren, parents, and grandparents with limited options typically go with a freestanding walk-in tub because it doesn't require replacing the family's bathtub. 

An interesting pick with this style of installation is the portable walk-in bathtub, which is manufactured by companies like Heavenly Tubs. Their portable model can be moved around and used virtually anywhere in your house as long as a water hookup is present. For more information on portable walk-in tubs, click here.

Advantages of freestanding walk-in tubs:

  • Flexible: Can be moved to and from different bathrooms as long as the water lines can reach it.
  • Minimal: Small does not mean fewer features. Many freestanding walk-in tubs are on the market loaded with hydrotherapy and a host of other features.
  • Out-of-the-box ready: Freestanding walk-in tubs do not require any bathroom remodeling.
  • Very affordable: Cheap to install as they only require a water line connection.
Top Mount Walk in Tubs Installation

Top Mount Installation

Exclusive to roll-in showers and low-threshold showers, top mount installations involve the simple fixing of a 1-piece seat-and-floor shower set in place of an unused shower stall or a shallow hole fashioned by the installer. This will require removing a few of the bathroom's floor tiles for the shower stall to sink in for a perfect fit. Finally, the gap between the shower, floor, and walls are sealed shut.

A senior can step into these low-threshold showers without having to lift their leg and can slide on the shower seat from a wheelchair. Another method for wheelchair-bound seniors is to add a ramp used to roll in the shower even easier. With most of the safety features in place, a senior will never have to depend on a caregiver to take a shower ever again.

The advantages of top-mount style walk-in tubs:

  • Easy to install: Can fit into traditional shower space with ease.
  • Supports wheelchair access: Roll-in showers allow wheelchair-bound users to shower independently with the use of small ramps for entry/exit. If no ramps are present, many top mount showers with a low step-in height have their seats located at the mouth, allowing wheelchair users to slide on using conveniently placed grab bars.

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