Getting in and out of the bath can be challenging for seniors. As well as the physical effort required to get over the side and into the tub, there’s always the risk of slips and falls. This is especially true for seniors who have mobility issues, arthritis, visual impairment, or a tendency to get dizzy. Walk-in tubs provide an easier alternative to standard bathtubs. They feature a seat and an airtight door, so seniors can walk in, sit down, and then turn on the faucets to fill the bath.
When it’s time to get out of the bath, seniors can simply drain the tub, then open the door and get out comfortably. Many tubs also have safety features such as non-slip surfaces and handles to grip to make getting in and out easy and safe.
In this review, I’ll be taking a closer look at Kohler, one of the most popular walk-in tub manufacturers in the country.
Who Is Kohler?
Kohler was founded in 1873, in Wisconsin, by an Austrian immigrant named John Michael Kohler. The company had humble beginnings as a foundry producing steel and cast iron products. Ten years later they entered the plumbing business, and, these days, they manufacture and sell bathroom and kitchen fittings worldwide. Kohler’s ethos is all about gracious living, adding safety and comfort features to ensure their products fit comfortably into any existing space.
With walk-in tubs, seniors can bathe more comfortably. The added safety features are reassuring for carers too, especially if the senior in their life is still independent enough to bathe unaided. Kohler’s range includes walk-in bathtubs designed to make senior life easier and facilitate aging in place. Let’s take a closer look at their offerings.
Just So You Know: Don’t worry about removing your existing tub before installation. The experts at Kohler will get rid of it for you, and all of this will be included in their cost estimate.
How To Purchase a Kohler Walk-In Tub
Since Kohler Belay Walk-In Baths are not available for sale at traditional home improvement retailers, I’d recommend purchasing a unit directly from Kohler themselves, as dealing straight with the manufacturer is a lot of times easier if there are problems down the road. Through either their website or customer service line, you can request a free quote from Kohler. From there, they will send out one of their installation specialists who will assess the limitations of your bathroom, discuss what you’d like from your tub, and recommend a few different options.
Once you decide on the specific model, your specialist will quote you a price. This price will cover not only the tub itself but also the complete cost of installation, from removing your current bathtub to fitting the new one with your current plumbing and electrical fixtures.
FYI: Although many brick and mortar retailers will quote you at a price lower than that of Kohler, only Kohler’s pricing is guaranteed to include installation and any other related expenses, which could end up costing hundreds of additional dollars.
Features of Kohler Walk-In Tubs
Keeping things simple, all of Kohler’s walk-in tubs are based upon the same basic model, the main differences being the size, bathing features, and additional accessories.
To give you a sense of all that a Kohler walk-in tub can do, I figured I’d take a closer look at one of their Belay Soaker models that comes with just about every feature you could want from a tub, walk-in or otherwise.
Here’s an overview of its features:
- Ultra-Low Step-In: At only three inches in height, entering your Kohler walk-in tub is not only a breeze but also safe. With 80% of falls occurring in the bathroom, this low height helps mitigate any possible risk.
- Multifunctional Handshower: Always within reach, this handy showerhead helps to simplify the actual bathing experience, giving you the precision of a shower with the comfort of a tub.
- Easy Grip Handrails: Kohler tubs all include handrails on both the tub’s interior and exterior, allowing you a firm grip as you get up and sit down.
- Extra-Wide Entry Door: 20% wider than other walk-in tubs, Kohler’s extra-wide doors allow for a greater range of mobility. Additionally, this door provides an airtight seal on your tub, ensuring that no water trickles out onto the floor.
- Accessible Control Panel: A Kohler tub packs in a whole lot of adjustable features like the whirlpool jets, bubble jets, and heated surfaces. Luckily, all of these can be controlled from the simple ergonomic control panel. Even for shorter folks, the buttons can be reached from any position in the tub.
- Hydrotherapy Whirlpool Jets: Much like a traditional hot tub, this Kohler walk-in tub features hydrotherapy jets that can deliver a powerful massage to the back, legs, and feet. Massaging jets such as these have a demonstrable positive effect on pain and muscle strength, so let those jets fly!
- BubbleMassage Air Jets: A bit less forceful than the whirlpool jets, the BubbleMassage jets create thousands of air bubbles that surround your body in the water and leave you feeling invigorated.
- Fast-Drain Technology: Unlike a conventional tub, a walk-in tub must drain completely before you can get out, that is, unless you want a flooded bathroom. Thankfully, Kohler’s fast-drain technology actively pumps the water from your tub, clearing out all the water in a matter of minutes.
- Heated Surfaces: Using no more energy than a standard light bulb, your Kohler tub can provide additional heat in the neck, back, and seat areas. It’s almost like having a waterproof heating pad. Any shoulder tension just melts away.
- Deep Tub: 30% wider than most walk-in tubs, Kohler tubs can accommodate a wide range of body types. Additionally, the textured surfaces on both the tub’s seat and floor prevent the risk of falls.
- Decorative LuxStone Bath Wall: Kohler walk-in tubs are already designed to fit in the space of your existing tub; however, with the help of a LuxStone bath wall, your tub can also be the perfect complement to your bathroom’s decor. Made of engineered stone material, these surfaces cover the walls surrounding your tub, and they come in a variety of colors, from traditional white to patterns that resemble marble.
- Faucet Finishes: Much like the tub itself, its faucet comes in a variety of finishes tailored to suit any taste. My personal favorite is the brushed nickel, which brings a bit of warmth and softness to the walk-in bath.
Kohler Pricing Overview
At this point in the review, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the price. Unfortunately, I’m unable to give you an exact number on pricing, as each unit is different based on the desired features and the nature of the installation process. Regardless, their prices are competitive when compared to the likes of SafeStep, another walk-in tub manufacturer.
Get an Estimate: The only way to know for sure the cost of your walk-in tub is to get an estimate from Kohler. So what are you waiting for? It’s free!
Kohler Walk-In Tub Pros and Cons
Here is an overview of my experience with Kohler walk-in tubs, what I liked and what I didn’t so much.
What I Loved About Kohler
- Streamlined Installation: If installing a new bathtub sounds to you like a lot of work, you’d be correct! Luckily, Kohler will handle every step of the process, from assessing the aptness of your bathroom to the actual installation, which is usually completed in only one day.
- All-Inclusive Pricing: While other companies often advertise one price and then add additional costs for installation and warranty, Kohler promises that the quoted price includes everything, preventing any headaches on installation day.
- Safety Features: From their ultra-low step-in thresholds to textured flooring and seating, Kohler walk-in tubs are designed to prevent falls and accidents, ensuring that you can focus on a relaxing bathing experience.
- Comfort Features: Although Kohler walk-in tubs excel when it comes to safety, they take no shortcuts when it comes to comfort. Their tubs are fitted with hydrotherapy jets, heated backrests, and fast drain technology, turning your bath into a spa-like experience.
What Gave Me Pause
- No Ozone Cleaning: Ozone systems help keep baths sanitized by killing bacteria, contaminants, and other waste. Unfortunately, Kohler tubs don’t include this feature. If this type of self-cleaning is important to you, then I’d recommend checking out a tub from American Standard.
- No Wheelchair Accessibility: Although a Kohler tub is a great option for those with mobility issues, they do not currently offer any models that are fully wheelchair accessible. A bariatric tub could be a great option for those seeking wider doors.
Every Kohler tub is backed by their limited lifetime warranty. Since each of Kohler’s walk-in baths is installed by a Kohler professional, you can rest assured that everything will work properly; however, in the event of a defect, their warranty will cover a free repair of just about anything. The door seal, hydrotherapy systems, faucet, and handshower are all covered by this warranty, ensuring your Kohler tub is there to stay.
From the time you receive your in-home estimate to the moment you finally use your walk-in tub, Kohler has you in good hands. Their sales representatives are knowledgeable without being too pushy, and their installation technicians will take the time to figure out exactly what you need and then clearly explain the options.
The low-entry threshold and comfortable seating ensure you safety, and the combination of jets and quick-drain technology will exceed your expectations when it comes to comfort. To anyone who either has mobility issues or works with someone who does, I can wholeheartedly say that a Kohler walk-in tub is a great way to guard your wellbeing without sacrificing comfort.
Kohler Frequently Asked Questions
- Are walk-in baths the same thing as walk-in showers?
While both walk-in baths and walk-in showers share a low step threshold for easy entry, walk-in baths offer a seated bathing experience. Additionally, they usually offer additional comfort features.
- How do I know if a Kohler walk-in bath will fit in my bathroom?
Kohler designs each of their walk-in baths to fit the area taken up by a traditional bathtub. If you currently have a bathtub in your home, then it is likely that a Kohler model will fit in your space. Speaking with a Kohler authorized dealer can help you determine if this is the case.
- Why is low step-in for a walk-in tub so important?
For people with mobility challenges, ease of access is of the utmost importance. Traditional bathtubs can have heights as high as two feet, which can present a potentially dangerous obstacle, especially on wet bathroom floors. Kohler walk-in baths have a three-inch high threshold, making it safer to step into the tub.
- Is a Kohler walk-in tub right for me?
While specifically designed to suit people with mobility issues, Kohler walk-in baths can be a great option for anyone looking for a luxurious bathing experience.
- How do I care for my Kohler walk-in bath?
Cleaning your Kohler walk-in bath is a simple process. All you need is a nonabrasive multipurpose cleaner, faucet cleaning fluid, and a soft cloth. From there, you spray the cleaners on the appropriate surfaces and wipe them off with the cloth.