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Walk-In Showers vs Tubs: Which Are Better for Accessibility?

For those with reduced mobility, accessible bathing options can be quite limited. Standard tubs have a high wall you have to climb over and require you to sit in a low, reclined position that can be difficult to rise from. Standard shower stalls are easier to get into, but they don’t offer stable seating for those that don’t have the strength to stand for a prolonged period or enough balance to wash while standing. For these people, walk-in showers and walk-in tubs are both excellent options. But which will fit your needs best? Keep reading for comparison.

The Entry Step

The low entry step is the key accessibility feature of these bathing options. A walk-in tub has a door that allows you to step inside the tub rather than climbing into it. This is much more user-friendly, and the high sides of the tub provide ample support for moving into the tub and sitting down.

Walk-in showers also have a low step, but as they don’t fill up with water, there’s no need for a door. This can make getting into and out of the shower easier, as you have more maneuverable space to work with, rather than having to slide into the small opening in the tub’s wall. In terms of entering and exiting, the walk-in shower is a bit more accessible.

The Seat

Walk-in tubs have a built-in, upright seat that’s much more accessible than sitting on the floor of the tub. They’re a sturdy part of the tub’s structure and can often be heated and jetted for added comfort and luxury.

Walk-in showers typically have a seat mounted to the wall. It can be stationary or made so that it can fold up against the wall when not in use. While this latter option is great if you share a shower with an ambulatory person, it does provide a small obstacle in getting properly seated in your shower. If you get a shower with a stationary seat, it’s just as accessible as a walk-in tub’s seat; but if you have to worry about folding it down first, it’s slightly less so.

The Storage

Obviously, bathing requires certain tools—primarily shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Because walk-in tubs have walls all around, there are plenty of places within easy reach where you can store your bathing items. 

Walk-in showers have fewer surfaces on which to set things but often have built-in storage. It’s important to consider the location of these storage spaces. Will you have to stand up to get what you need? If so, it’s somewhat less accessible than if your items are within easy reach.

It’s important to consider your personal mobility level when choosing between a walk-in shower and a walk-in tub, as there is no single answer that’s best for everyone. However, be sure to keep all of the above issues in mind when making your choice.

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