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Bath Lifts And Tub Conversion Kits: Walk In Tub Alternatives

If walk in baths don't suit your budget, then explore bath lifts or converting your existing bathtub. These alternative handicap bathing aids may not have the sizzle and handsome looks of a shiny new walk in tub, but they are effective. Let's take a closer look at each.


Handicap Bath Lifts

Bath lifts are battery or water powered devices that help lift bathers into and out of traditional or any type of bathtub. The batteries are rechargeable and contain enough power to accomplish 12-15 lifts between charges.

The great thing about using a bath lift is that there’s no need to rip up the bathroom or even modify your traditional bathtub. However, you may have to widen the door or entrance to the bathroom.

Bathtub lifts can generally be split into two categories. The first category includes bath lifts that attach to or fit inside the tub. They look like chairs, benches, and slings and can be operated by the bather or caretaker using a remote control-like device. Many of these have seats that can be swiveled, raised, and lowered. Some also have backrests and headrests.


These type of bath lifts are more popular with people who have some mobility, but don’t feel comfortable stepping over the high edge of a traditional bathtub. With these lifts, the bather would first sit or slide onto the raised lift and then guide their legs over the edge of the tub. They can then use the controls to lower themselves into the tub for bathing and raise themselves up when finished.

The second category of bathtub lifts are used by caregivers who have patients that have very little or no mobility. These bath lifts have wheels and the caregiver would use a remote control device to hoist the person out of bed. The patient’s body would then be comfortably secured on the bathtub lift using back and headrests and lap and chest restraints. Essentially, the person would be in a seated position as they are wheeled over to bathtub.

At the tub, the caregiver would again use the controls to lower the patient into the bath. Only the lap and chest restraints are removed for bathing. The patient will still be sitting on the bath lift.

Convert Traditional Tub To A Walk In Tub

Many of the same companies that sell walk in bathtubs will also offer what is called an insert kit. You can get one with or with the watertight door. If you get it without the door, then you’d just be converting your bathtub to a walk in shower.

Anyway, converting a traditional tub into a walk in bathtub will first require a professional installer to cut out a U-shaped section from the side of the tub. The cut out could be a couple of feet wide or more, depending on your needs. A molded custom-fit plastic shell is then placed into the cut out area and sealed in. Afterwards, you’ll only have to lift your legs maybe 3-6 inches to get into the tub rather than 15-20 inches. The finished look is really clean and nice.

In addition to the door insert, the manufacturers can provide you with a custom polyurethene safety bench/seat that lays across the back of the tub. This way, you can sit comfortably on the bench rather than on the bottom of the tub, if that’s more desirable. The bench can be folded up and attached to the wall when not in use.

When you’re ready to take a bath, you would walk through the door panel, take a seat on the bench, and then secure the watertight door. Then turn on the water to fill the tub. The insert is designed so that it won’t allow water to leak. You can also use a bath lift with a converted tub.

Of course the beauty of this solution is that while you won’t get all the bells and whistles associated with a new walk in bathtub, you won’t have to tear up your bathroom either. It will only take about half a day for the installer to complete the job.

Depending on where you buy the door insert and bench, and using a qualified installer, you could be looking at spending a couple of thousand dollars (or maybe less) for the conversion.

The decision to buy a bath lift or tub conversion kit will depend on the person’s disability. Someone with decent mobility to go with either solution, but for severely disabled people bath lifts would definitely be best alernative.