We’ve chosen Universal Tubs’ standard model as the Best Economical Option in walk-in tubs for 2022: like the similar tubs sold by Meditub, Universal Tubs—sold exclusively by Home Depot—offers consumers one of the widest selections in the industry, and this makes it highly likely that you’ll be able to find a quality, affordable walk-in tub that meets your needs.
Universal Tubs Walk-In Tubs
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Universal Tubs Walk-In Tubs
SERVICES & ORGANIZATION
Universal Tubs is a leader in the walk-in tub market and with their partnership with HomeDepot they have made themselves easily accessible to the public. With the many different models of tubs to choose from, Universal Tubs has one perfect for all your walk-in tubs needs.
Starting Around $2,000-$3,400
Most walk-in tubs feature a built-in seat, but the step-in tub from Universal Tubs forgoes this feature to offer a stripped down and economical option for those who simply want a lower threshold to make bathing easier. At the same time, the step-in model offers some great features, including most of the packages of Universal Tubs’ other models (the step-in tub does not offer the combination option, however). It’s also constructed out of highly durable acrylic, and offers a variation on the standard grab bar by molding a handhold into the side of the tub. It’s a highly economical option, but remember—it omits a built-in seat, so it may not be the ideal choice for someone who has trouble lowering themselves or rising out of a traditional tub.
Standard Walk-In Tub
Starting Around $3,000-$6,000
We’ve chosen Universal Tubs’ “Standard” model as the Best Economical Option in walk-in tubs for 2022, but “Standard” is our name, not Home Depot’s. Still, it’s the best way to categorize the line of Universal Tubs that offers all the standard features of a walk-in tub—inward-swinging doors, built-in seats, built-in grab bars, and low thresholds. There are six sizes in this category, ranging from compact (around 2 feet by 4.5 feet) to extra large (3 feet by 5 feet) in order to fit any bathroom space—and to fit any bather. All the tubs in this category are made of gelcoated fiberglass on a steel frame, and they also feature fast-fill fixtures that prevent the bather from having to wait a long time to get fully immersed. By offering a range of sizes at relatively economical prices, Universal Tubs are an especially strong choice for those who hope to retrofit a new walk-in tub into the space left by an existing tub or shower enclosure.
Knee Cut-Out Walk-In Tub
Starting Around $2,800-$5,200
The standard walk-in tub features an inward-swinging door, but this presents a problem for taller people and for those with more limited mobility. Many consumers complain about the risk of banging their knees on the door as it swings to open or close, and the possibility can seriously interfere with people’s enjoyment of their tubs. One solution to this is an outward-swinging door, but Universal Tubs offers another option: a door specifically designed to avoid the bather’s knees (“Knee Cut-Out” is our term for this, not Home Depot’s). This special door does cost a little extra, but again, for larger bathers, or for those who might have difficulty navigating a standard tub door, the extra space will add an enormous amount of value to their bathing experience. What’s more, the inward swinging door cuts down on the amount of space needed for the tub. This line is available with all the packages offered in the standard models.
Wheelchair Access Walk-In Tub
Starting Around $4,400-$5,600
For true accessibility—that is, for a tub that’s accessible to everyone with any type of mobility problem—a walk-in tub needs to have an outward-swinging door, or some other means of allowing direct access to the built-in seat. This allows the user to transfer directly from a wheelchair to the tub, or allows someone using a walker or crutches to reach the seat from the side and swing themselves in. Many manufacturers offer outward-swinging-door models, and Universal Tubs is no exception, offering two sizes of wheelchair accessible tubs. The two sizes vary, too, in the access they provide to the seat: one allows partial access from the side, but the other exposes the entire side of the tub, making the transfer particularly easy, especially for those who require another person’s assistance to make the trip from wheelchair to bathtub. Like Universal Tubs’ other lines, the wheelchair accessible tubs are highly affordable compared to the competition, and they also offer all four packages in both sizes.
This is just what we needed for the back and knees. Easy to clean. Drains quickly. Both overweight but we fit for the jets. Nice product.”
Starting Around $4,600-$5,200
One issue that sometimes arises with walk-in tubs is that they’re not as friendly as they could be to other bathers in the household—and not as convenient as some would like for taking an ordinary shower. To address these issues, Universal Tubs manufactures a shower-ready model (that’s our term for it, not Home Depot’s) that can be purchased with a separate shower enclosure that’s manufactured specifically for Universal Tubs (in contrast to the tile rampart package mentioned above). This is a useful approach, and could be a boon to anyone who wants a walk-in tub that’s also convenient and usable for other people in their household.
Starting Around $3,700-$5,400
We’ve used the term “compact” for this tub because while no everyone who want a more accessible bathing experience has room for a full-sized walk-in tub, Universal Tubs offers a model specially tailored to such situations. This tub has a much smaller footprint than some walk-in tubs, and to compensate, it comes with an outward-swinging door that allows more room in the actual tub enclosure (though this does not allow for wheelchair access) and a headrest to compensate for the slightly shorter seat. Once again, Universal Tubs solves a problem that some bathers may have in getting a tub into their home, and this unique solution makes this tub a great value.
Starting Around $3,700-$5,500
Another solution for those with limited space is a front-entrance tub: Universal Tubs’ front-entrance model has an outward swinging door and a side deck for the faucets and showerhead in order to minimize the tub’s footprint in the bathroom. Constructed of highly durable acrylic and offered at a relatively low price point for such a unique offering, this front-entrance model is another great solution for those with space issues in installation.
“Taking a shower used to be such a chore that I put it off, and stayed home. Now I can take a whirlpool bath in my oasis, or a quick, easy shower with the 6′ handheld shower while I sit in comfort.”
At A Glance
A checklist of standard walk-in tub features.
|Step In||Standard||Knee Cut-out||wheelchair Accessible||Shower-Ready||Compact||Front Entry|
|Price*||$2,000-$3,400||$3,000- $6,000||$2,800- $5,200||$4,400- $5,600||$4,600- $5,200||$3,700- 5,400||$3,700- $5,500|
|Low Entry Threshold||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Push Button Controls||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Built-In Safety Bar||❌||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Textured Bath Surfaces||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard||Standard|
|Our Rating||Step In||3.8||Standard||3.9||Knee Cut-out||3.9||wheelchair Accessible||4.0||Shower-Ready||3.9||Compact||3.9||Front Entry||3.9|
|Price*||Step In||$2,000-$3,400||Standard||$3,000- $6,000||Knee Cut-out||$2,800- $5,200||wheelchair Accessible||$4,400- $5,600||Shower-Ready||$4,600- $5,200||Compact||$3,700- 5,400||Front Entry||$3,700- $5,500|
|Low Entry Threshold||Step In||Standard||Standard||Standard||Knee Cut-out||Standard||wheelchair Accessible||Standard||Shower-Ready||Standard||Compact||Standard||Front Entry||Standard|
|Push Button Controls||Step In||Standard||Standard||Standard||Knee Cut-out||Standard||wheelchair Accessible||Standard||Shower-Ready||Standard||Compact||Standard||Front Entry||Standard|
|Built-In Safety Bar||Step In||❌||Standard||Standard||Knee Cut-out||Standard||wheelchair Accessible||Standard||Shower-Ready||Standard||Compact||Standard||Front Entry||Standard|
|Textured Bath Surfaces||Step In||Standard||Standard||Standard||Knee Cut-out||Standard||wheelchair Accessible||Standard||Shower-Ready||Standard||Compact||Standard||Front Entry||Standard|
|Wheelchair Accessible||Step In||❌||Standard||❌||Knee Cut-out||❌||wheelchair Accessible||Standard||Shower-Ready||❌||Compact||❌||Front Entry||❌|
|Spa||Step In||Optional||Standard||Optional||Knee Cut-out||Optional||wheelchair Accessible||Optional||Shower-Ready||Optional||Compact||Optional||Front Entry||Optional|
|Whirlpool/Hydrotherapy||Step In||Optional||Standard||Optional||Knee Cut-out||Optional||wheelchair Accessible||Optional||Shower-Ready||Optional||Compact||Optional||Front Entry||Optional|
|Chromatherapy||Step In||Optional||Standard||Optional||Knee Cut-out||Optional||wheelchair Accessible||Optional||Shower-Ready||Optional||Compact||Optional||Front Entry||Optional|
|Aromatherapy||Step In||Optional||Standard||Optional||Knee Cut-out||Optional||wheelchair Accessible||Optional||Shower-Ready||Optional||Compact||Optional||Front Entry||Optional|
*Price can vary by supplier, and special deals are often available. Contact a supplier or installer for a personalized quote.
Universal Tub Models
Someone visiting the Home Depot website might think they have an endless selection of models: the company breaks its walk-in tubs out first by whether or not they offer heated seats, and then by the dozens of different sizes. But the truth is that Universal Tub models can be classified into seven main types, and each of these types offers four standard packages:
An ordinary bathtub model for those who just the relaxation therapy that comes from a hot bath. If you suffer from limited mobility and hope to make bathing easier, but don’t want the fancier therapeutic options, this is the best choice. (Note that some soaking models are referred to as “non-whirlpool” tubs in Home Depot’s search results.)
LIke its competitors, Universal Tubs offers a whirlpool option in which a dozen or so pressurized water jets provide a strong and relaxing massage targeted at strategic areas of the body like the legs and lower back. The whirlpool package also includes an in-line water heater that allows for a longer soak—and can make the water in your household water heater go farther. In addition, this package offers chromatherapy through an LED light in the side of the tub that tints the water with alternating colors. This package will add about $500-$700 onto the price of the tub.
Most walk-in tub manufacturers offer a therapeutic option that produces the effect of a sitz bath by forcing tiny bubbles into the bathwater. Universal Tubs’ jetted air models provide this, and come with a heater to make sure that the bubbles don’t lower the temperature of the water. Jetted air models also come with chromatherapy and an aromatherapy system that infuses the water with scents (though the scent packets used by the system are sold separately). This package adds about $800-$1100 onto the price of the tub, depending on the model and size.
Combined Whirlpool And Jetted Air
Universal Tubs’ highest end models offer both jetted air and whirlpool therapies along with the chromatherapy, aromatherapy, and inline heater options that come with each respective package. Getting both packages at once is actually a pretty good value: depending on the model, you can sometimes buy a combined package tub for only a little more than a jetted air model.
Navigating The Models At The Home Depot Website
If you search for Universal Tubs models at the Home Depot website, the different models are most prominently classified by size. But that means it can be difficult to get a read on the most salient differences between the listings that come up. We’ve divided the dozen or so different sizes of Universal Tubs into seven categories to help make the differences between models clearer, and we’ve laid out how tubs in each of those categories are likely to appear in a search listing. Here are a few other terms that are likely to show up in a listing as well.
HD Series vs. Nova
If you’re also hoping to get heated bath surfaces (another common luxury offering among walk-in tub manufacturers), you’ll want to choose Universal Tubs’ Nova Heated line, which offers almost all the same models and sizes as the non-heated HD Series. Note, however, that for the Nova Heated tubs, customers will need to buy much of the hardware—faucets and a handheld showerhead—separately, while these come standard with the HD Series.
As if to add an additional wrinkle to their bewildering array of choices, Home Depot also offers a “Builders’ Choice” line of tubs—but this only means that they’re packaging select models with tile flanges, extension kits, and other items to make retrofitting or new installation easier.
Home Depot offers rampart sheets of tiles along with corner caddies, silicone tubes, double sided adhesive strips, and caulk. These kits, designed to make it easy to fully tile the enclosures in which the tub is installed, are sold with tubs as a single unit, and tend to raise the price of a model by $500.
Left vs. Right Drain
Finally, when it comes to installing your tub, one of the most important considerations is whether your bathroom will accommodate a left- or right-drain bathtub. This is such an important wrinkle that most Home Depot listings lead with this fact, and you’ll want to speak to whoever is going to install your tub to decide which configuration you’ll need. As it happens, however, there’s very little difference in price (and almost no difference in the features available) between the two configurations, so we haven’t touched on this issue in our reviews.
“We have only had the tub for 2 months, but it is working great and we are very happy with our purchase.”
Here’s a deeper dive into the features available in Universal Tubs walk-in tubs.
|Features||Step in||Standard||Knee Cut-out||Wheelcahir Accessible||Shower-Ready||Compact||Front Entry|
|Tub Body||Acrylic||Acrylic or fiberglass|
|Colors Available||white||white, biscuit||white, biscuit||white, biscuit||white||white||white|
|Built-In Grab Bar||❌||standard||standard||standard||standard||standard||standard|
|Hydrotherapy With Adjustable Jets (+ Inline Water Heater)||optional||optional||optional||optional||optional||optional||optional|
|Magnetic Access Panels||standard||standard||standard||standard||standard||standard||standard|
|Sizes Available (Wxl)||30”x60”||26”x53” 30”x53” 30”x54” 30”x60” 32”x60” 36”x60”||26”x46 29”x52”||29”x53” 30”x60”||27”x47” 31”x40”||27”x39”||32”x38”|
|Tub Body||Step in||Acrylic||Standard||Acrylic or fiberglass||Knee Cut-out||Wheelcahir Accessible||Shower-Ready||Compact||Front Entry|
|Tub Frame||Step in||steel||Standard||steel||Knee Cut-out||steel||Wheelcahir Accessible||steel||Shower-Ready||steel||Compact||steel||Front Entry||steel|
|Colors Available||Step in||white||Standard||white, biscuit||Knee Cut-out||white, biscuit||Wheelcahir Accessible||white, biscuit||Shower-Ready||white||Compact||white||Front Entry||white|
|Built-In Grab Bar||Step in||❌||Standard||standard||Knee Cut-out||standard||Wheelcahir Accessible||standard||Shower-Ready||standard||Compact||standard||Front Entry||standard|
|Roman Faucets||Step in||optional||Standard||optional||Knee Cut-out||optional||Wheelcahir Accessible||optional||Shower-Ready||optional||Compact||optional||Front Entry||optional|
|Handheld Showerhead||Step in||optional||Standard||optional||Knee Cut-out||optional||Wheelcahir Accessible||optional||Shower-Ready||optional||Compact||optional||Front Entry||optional|
|Spa/Air Massage||Step in||optional||Standard||optional||Knee Cut-out||optional||Wheelcahir Accessible||optional||Shower-Ready||optional||Compact||optional||Front Entry||optional|
|Hydrotherapy With Adjustable Jets (+ Inline Water Heater)||Step in||optional||Standard||optional||Knee Cut-out||optional||Wheelcahir Accessible||optional||Shower-Ready||optional||Compact||optional||Front Entry||optional|
|Heated Seats||Step in||optional||Standard||optional||Knee Cut-out||optional||Wheelcahir Accessible||optional||Shower-Ready||optional||Compact||optional||Front Entry||optional|
|Magnetic Access Panels||Step in||standard||Standard||standard||Knee Cut-out||standard||Wheelcahir Accessible||standard||Shower-Ready||standard||Compact||standard||Front Entry||standard|
|Sizes Available (Wxl)||Step in||30”x60”||Standard||26”x53” 30”x53” 30”x54” 30”x60” 32”x60” 36”x60”||Knee Cut-out||26”x46 29”x52”||Wheelcahir Accessible||29”x53” 30”x60”||Shower-Ready||27”x47” 31”x40”||Compact||27”x39”||Front Entry||32”x38”|
Word on the Street
One of the great things about Universal Tubs’ exclusive relationship with Home Depot is that online reviewers have left their feedback for almost every model, making it much easier to get a read on consumer experiences. Home Depot’s website also allows prospective buyers to post questions, which can help customers avoid product pitfalls and avoid confusion over which model they should buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most walk-in tubs can hold between 40 and 80 gallons of water so it is good to know how much water your water heater holds before you buy a walk-in tub. If you buy one too large for your water heater, you may run out of hot water before you fill up your bath.
Universals’ walk-in tubs come in a variety of sizes to fit the needs of your bathroom ranging between 26 to 36 inches wide and 38 to 60 inches long. Each tub is customizable between two different color choices and four different therapy options.
Universal Tubs’ guarantees fall in the mid-range of the walk-in tub industry. They offer the standard lifetime warranty on the door seal, (which, given the importance of this part, really is Essential). The body of the tub comes with a 12-year warranty, but this is limited to such an extent it’s hard to imagine the situation that would activate it. There is a 7-year warranty on all other parts, but this is also limited to simple replacement of the part: the cost of labor for any repairs is on the customer. A standard warranty, but potential customers will want to read the fine print before putting their money down.
Medicare and health insurance usually only covers items that deemed “medically required” so it is best to think of a walk-in tub as an out of pocket expense. There are some rare occasions where medicare and health insurances will provide financial assistance. Check with your insurance agent to see what your specific policy covers. Most walk-in tub providers also have a specialist you can contact for more information.
When cleaning your walk-in tub, do not use wire brushes, steel wool or other abrasives. After you are finished taking your bath, be sure to rinse off all surfaces using the shower head wand and warm water. Depending on the type of finish you have on your tub you will want to get a mild solution for a deeper clean. It is recommended to do a deep clean on your walk-in tubs every one or two months depending on how often you use it. Check with your brand to see recommended products.
Overall, customers seemed to appreciate their Universal Tubs, and felt that they really did help them address the challenges they faced as illness or limited mobility made it harder to bathe. For the most part, people also felt that the tubs were relatively easy to install, with very few customers reporting problems with getting the tubs working—and this was true both for those who used contractors and for those who did their own installation. It should be noted that there were a few customers who felt that customer service could have been more responsive to the issues that did arrive, and a few customers who felt that they would have preferred stronger jets in the whirlpool models. But otherwise Universal Tubs enjoyed a strong track record of customer satisfaction.
“This tub is EXCELLENT if you’re ready to relax and chill . . . Beacuse it has a water pump, water drains from tub when you’re done in 1 or 2 mins. Beautiful changing color LED light gives a true spa experience.Lots of room. Easy to clean. Faucet and hand shower head comes with tub but I also had an overhead shower installed so I can still jump in the shower and use it as a standing shower too.
Price and Warranty
Universal Tubs’ own website does not provide pricing, but Home Depot, their exclusive retailer, does. This means that in an industry known for being cagey about prices—with many companies insisting that potential buyers contact salespeople for a personal quote—Universal Tubs stands out for its transparency. And the posted prices are highly economical: while these walk-in tubs are still more expensive than standard tubs, they do come in at the low end of the walk-in tub market. What’s more, Home Depot frequently offers special discounts which further reduce prices—and they also sometimes offer specials in which the tubs are sold as a package with other items.
Installation, however, is always a wild card, and since Home Depot doesn’t offer to install tubs (though it does refer buyers to recommended local contractors if needed), the customer will be on their own to make sure that the price of installation doesn’t unreasonably drive up the price of the tub. Note, too, that installation of the tub by anyone other than a licensed plumber or electrician voids the warranty, which has the potential to drive up costs for those who had planned to install the tub themselves.
On the subject of the warranty, Universal Tubs’ guarantees fall in about the mid-range of the walk-in tub industry. They offer the standard lifetime warranty on the door seal, (which, given the importance of this part, really is essential). The shell, frame and finish—the body of the tub, in other words—comes with a 12-year warranty, but this is limited to such an extent it’s hard to imagine the situation that would activate it. Finally, there’s a 7-year warranty on all other parts, but this is also limited to simple replacement of the part: the cost of labor for any repairs is on the customer (though a few reviewers said that they did get reimbursed for labor for problems arising within a few months of purchase). Again, a standard warranty, but potential customers will want to read the fine print before putting their money down.
|Door Seal Warranty||Lifetime|
|Warranty On Shell, Frame And Finish||12 years|
|Warranty On All Other Parts||7 years|
|Door Seal Warranty||All Models||Lifetime|
|Warranty On Shell, Frame And Finish||All Models||12 years|
|Warranty On All Other Parts||All Models||7 years|
*Price can vary by supplier, and special deals are often available. Contact a supplier or installer for a personalized quote.
“This is an excellent tub for the money. You can pay more for a lot less.”
Universal Tubs’ line of walk-in tubs is a solid contender in the low end of the bathing accessibility market. With a wider range of models and sizes than almost any competitor and some very attractive packages and options, this Home Depot exclusive offers good value while at the same time offering consumer-approved quality. If you’re looking for a more accessible bathing experience, Universal Tubs is absolutely worth considering
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