At its most basic, the bathtub is an appliance used to perform a necessary function of self-care, but it is often much more than that. Ideally, it should also be a respite from the world, providing comfort and relaxation. However, for many elderly Americans and people with mobility issues, the bathtub is a potential hazard. Muscle weakness, joint problems, and balance issues can contribute to a fall when getting in and out of the tub, which can result in broken bones and other serious injuries.
Many seniors have turned to low-entry, walk-in bathtubs to lower their risk of bathroom injury while continuing to reside within their own homes. Walk-in tubs are high-walled tubs that fit into the same space as a standard bathtub. Rather than climbing in over the edge of the tub, there is a door on the side that you open to access the tub, and then there is a minimal step-in height of only a few inches at most to enter. Once you are inside and situated upon the seat that is provided, you close the door behind you. The door of a walk-in tub is specially sealed to prevent leaking. When you are finished with your bath, you drain the water, open the door and exit the same way you came in.
Safe Step is an American-owned and -operated company based in Tennessee that has become one of the most prominent brands offering walk-in bathing products. The company has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau, and its average satisfaction rating from Consumer Affairs is four out of five stars.
Products and Equipment
Safe Step's bathing products include walk-in tubs and walk-in showers. Most recently, it started selling a hybrid tub product that is a combination of both a shower and a bathtub in a walk-in configuration, allowing you multiple options while still affording you the safety of the low-entry feature.
The frame of the Safe Step walk-in tub is made of aluminum, while the shell is constructed from gel-coated fiberglass. The door on the Safe Step tub opens inward, which requires you to remain in the tub until it has drained entirely but provides better protection against leaking. You have the option to choose either a left-handed or right-handed walk-in tub door.
The Safe Step walk-in tub is designed for people who still have some mobility. It is not wheelchair accessible and is not intended for people who have no use of their legs.
Since safety is one of the primary reasons homeowners consider the purchase of a walk-in tub, the Safe Step includes many standard safety features, which include the following:
- A wider door for easy access
- Arthritis-friendly secure locking handle and quick drain release
- Built-in grab bars
- Anti-slip seat and tub floor
- Temperature regulation system with anti-scald technology
- Accessible push-button controls
People with mobility issues may also have difficulty cleaning the tub. Safe Step makes this chore less troublesome with an easy-to-clean composite surface treated with a mold-resistant gel coating.
In addition to safety elements, the Safe Step walk-in tub includes many features designed specifically for your comfort and convenience. What sets the company apart from its competitors is that Safe Step includes many of these as part of its standard tub design, while other companies may offer the same options only as add-ons. Standard comfort features include hydrotherapy jets with adjustable pressure, as well as heated seat and back surfaces with a protective heat-sensing function. Other standard comfort elements include aromatherapy and chromotherapy, the latter of which consists of underwater colored lights intended to create a relaxing atmosphere.
In addition to the standard comfort features, Safe Step offers others as add-ons for which you will pay extra. The Safe Step website does not always clearly delineate which features are standard and which are add-ons, but extras may include the following:
- Adjustable headrest
- Handheld shower wand (this is standard on a hybrid tub)
- Built-in towel bar
Another available option is personal hygiene therapy. People with mobility issues may have trouble with self-cleansing after using the toilet. The personal hygiene feature functions similarly to a bidet to address that concern. Safe Step also offers a proprietary MicroSoothe Air Therapy System that affords benefits to the circulatory system, as well as the skin, through the release of microscopic heated bubbles.
Pricing and Costs
It is very difficult to obtain specific information about the pricing of Safe Step tub and shower products. The reason is each job is custom and requires an estimate after an in-home evaluation, which the company will perform for free. For that reason, the following pricing information should be regarded as only an approximation of what you can expect to pay for a Safe Step walk-in tub:
|Price of a walk-in tub||$2,500 to $8,000|
|Price of a tub/shower combo||$2,500 to $10,000|
|Cost of installation||$5,000|
|Total estimated cost||$7,500 to $13,000|
These estimates apply to a standard unit with no extras. The size of your tub and customization required to fit it within your bathroom space will affect the overall price.
It is almost impossible to find pricing information for add-on features, but equipping your walk-in tub with all available extra features could conceivably push your purchase into the neighborhood of $15,000 or more.
When you receive your estimate for the purchase and installation of your Safe Step walk-in tub, the quoted price will include costs for removal of your existing tub or shower (a required step), delivery, and installation, including plumbing and electrical work.
Unfortunately, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover the purchase of a walk-in tub. However, Safe Step does offer financing options for individuals who qualify, as well as discounts, rebates, and a lowest price guarantee. Even with financing, however, you may be required to make an upfront payment on your purchase.
Safe Step offers a lifetime warranty on its products that covers the following:
- Parts and labor
- Heaters, blowers, and water pumps
- Door seal
- Manufacturing defects on the tub itself
All products are manufactured in the United States at the company facilities in Tennessee. According to the company website, American-based operation allows the manufacturer to maintain an affordable price, provide responsive service, and ensure superior quality control.
Safe Step ranks consistently high on third-party review sites for customer service. Even in situations where customers have experienced issues, the Safe Step company has been active and responsive in trying to resolve the issue as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Make Your Own Comparison
Despite its prominence, Safe Step is only one of many companies that sells walk-in bathtubs. To find out how Safe Step compares with its competitors, see our list of the best walk-in tubs for seniors. You can also read our full Safe Step review here to learn more about the company.