If you struggle to get in and out of the tub, you may require assistance while bathing, which can feel embarrassing and like an invasion of your privacy. But a walk-in tub can change that and allow you to bathe independently again. Walk-in tubs can be a vital home upgrade that would enable senior citizens to stay in their homes, even when mobility declines. But what if your bathroom is smaller than most? Can you still fit a walk-in tub in it? Here’s what you need to know, as well as a few design tips that might help make it more feasible.
It Fits in a Standard Tub Space
If your bathroom is small, but it already has a tub in it, then you likely don’t have to worry. Walk-in tubs are designed to fit in the same sized spaces as standard tubs. It’s simply a matter of removing the old one and setting the new one in place.
For bathrooms that might only have a shower stall (sometimes referred to as three-quarter bathrooms), you may have to do a bit more renovation work. There will be more on that later on in this article.
Don’t Forget the Door
Yes, the walk-in tub will fit where your current tub is. But there’s one important factor you still need to consider: the swing of the door. That door is what makes your walk-in tub more accessible with your limited mobility, providing a low entry step to enter and exit the tub easily. If you have a small bathroom, it’s imperative that you select a walk-in tub that has an inward swinging door. This will ensure that your door has a full range of movement, no matter how small your bathroom may be.
If your purchase a tub with an outward swinging door, you’ll need to account for the space that the door needs to fully open for you to enter and exit. This means you’ll have to have a clear, open space beside your tub, and that can be more difficult to achieve in bathrooms that are tight on space.
Consider the Installation
It’s also important to consider the installation process for your walk-in tub. You might have space in the bathroom for the new tub, but do you have the space to get it inside? Tight spaces can make it hard to navigate the tub into place. Some fixtures may need to be temporarily removed to get the walk-in tub installed.
If your bathroom is small, it’s a good idea to talk with your contractor and have them check out your bathroom before purchasing your tub. They can let you know what changes need to be made to install the tub and how much those changes will cost you for the installation.
Whether it’s because you don’t currently have a tub in your bathroom or it’s just too difficult to get the tub into place without major changes, sometimes renovations will be necessary to install a walk-in tub. If that is the case, it’s important to consider all of your options as well as your priorities. Do you want to keep the cost to an absolute minimum and only make the essential changes to get your new tub installed? Or do you want to take this opportunity to really upgrade your bathroom and make it a relaxing retreat?
Once you determine your priorities, work with a general contractor to create a new design for your bathroom. It’s a good idea to know the exact tub you want when you start on your design so that the contractor can work the tub’s specific measurements into your bathroom layout.
If your bathroom itself needs to be bigger, assess where that space can be taken from. Can your walk-in closet be smaller? Will you expand the bathroom into your bedroom by a couple of feet? Moving walls will cost quite a bit, but a larger bathroom is inherently more accessible, especially if you rely on a mobility device like a walker or wheelchair.
Declutter Your Bathroom
Now that the key elements of fitting a walk-in tub into a small bathroom have been addressed, it’s time to consider what you can personally do to help fit your new tub into your space. A good start is to declutter your bathroom.
If you have a shelving unit full of towels in your bathroom, see if you can find closet space for those towels instead and remove the shelves. Decluttering your bathroom will not only make it easier to get your tub installed, but it will make your bathroom more accessible as a whole by removing unnecessary obstructions.
Fitting a walk-in tub into a bathroom is generally pretty simple and straightforward. All you need to do is put it into the cutout of your existing tub. But you still want to ensure you work with a reliable contractor to get the job done right.