How to Choose a Walk-In Bathtub

How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all walk-in tub and that’s why we created 25+ walk-in tub models, with an average of 4 jetting package options and 2 door directions to choose from.
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all walk-in tub and that’s why we created 25+ walk-in tub models, with an average of 4 jetting package options and 2 door directions to choose from.

1. Bather’s Measurements


When choosing a walk-in bathtub with a seat and door, it’s crucial to select the appropriate size for both the bather and the tub. These tubs are specifically designed for comfortable sitting while bathing, making the right size even more important. You can find and download detailed drawings for each walk-in tub model on their respective product pages at

  • Measuring the hip & shoulder size
  • 3 main factors to determine soaking depth
  • Footwell – the step in floor space of the walk-in tub
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub

& Shoulders

To determine the right size for a bathtub seat, measure your hip and shoulder width. Sit relaxed and extend the measuring tape across your pelvis and shoulders, without bending the tape. Then, measure across your chest from the outside of your left shoulder to the outside of your right shoulder, still keeping the tape straight. The bathtub seat should be bigger than your hip and shoulder measurements.

3 Main Factors

To measure the ideal length for comfortable seating in a bathtub, position a chair facing a wall and place your feet against the wall, keeping your heels comfortably rested on the chair’s legs and your toes touching the wall. Measure the distance from the back of the chair straight to the wall using a straight measuring tape.

The seat length and height from the seat to the overflow top are essential in determining the bather’s ability to submerge their upper body. Detailed drawings of each tub can be found on

How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub
How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub

Walk-in tubs are specifically engineered for comfortable sitting while bathing. However, finding the perfect walk-in tub for full-body soaking requires extra bathroom space and an elongated tub. For example, Ella’s Bubbles offers longer walk-in tub models like the Lounger, Big4One, or ShaK that can comfortably accommodate bathers up to 7 feet tall.

In some circumstances, lay-down walk-in tubs without a seat and with a door may be a more suitable option. These types of tubs offer the bather the ability to lie down comfortably while still enjoying the convenience and safety features of a walk-in tub. It’s essential to consider individual needs and preferences when choosing between seated and lay-down walk-in tubs.


The footwell of a walk-in tub has multiple functions, such as serving as a step-in platform for entering and exiting the tub, accommodating the bather’s legs in a seated bathing position, and enabling standing showering. Additionally, Ella walk-in tubs provide a textured floor for increased slip resistance and safety.

How To Choose A Walk In Bathtub

2. Calculating Bather’s Soaking Depth

The walk-in tub is specifically engineered for seated bathing, rendering the option of lying down typically impractical. Furthermore, the soaking depth of a walk-in bathtub is assessed differently from a regular bathtub. It’s determined by three pivotal factors: the interior length of the tub, the length of the seat, and the distance from the seat to the overflow.

Ella’s Bubbles boasts a diverse range of over 25 walk-in tub models, each designed to cater to various body types, including models specifically crafted for taller individuals. The Ella Big4One walk-in tub can likely accommodate some of the tallest bathers, while the Ella ShaK model is specifically tailored for those who are close to or over 7 feet tall. These models are uniquely designed with the comfort and needs of taller individuals in mind.

For those desiring the option to lay down, Ella’s Bubbles has innovatively addressed this need. We offer two distinctive lay-down walk-in tubs, each equipped with glass doors. Moreover, an additional option of a glass shower screen is available to provide an enhanced bathing experience.

3. Door Style Options & Selection

*Always Consider the bather’s physical dimensions or impairments and bathroom layout when choosing a door type.

Our Inward swing U Shaped Door is best if your narrowest hip dimension is less than 16 ½ inches. Consider the door closing radius as the door needs to clear your knees as it pivots on the door hinge after you step in and sit down.
Inward swing doors are also ideal if objects or fixtures in the bathroom will prevent outward swing door movement. An inward swing door may be best for smaller bathrooms.

Outward swing doors are best if your narrowest hip dimension is less than 20 inches.
Outward swing doors are ideal if you have the space in your bathroom to accommodate the full arc of door opening and closing. Again, always keep in mind the location of cabinets, toilets or other fixtures in your bathroom.

L-shape outswing door tubs are ideal for bathers with oversized body types and bathers that require the use of a wheelchair or walker. The L-shape outswing door allows  bathers to effortlessly slide into the seat through the wide 36” L-shape door opening. The L-Shaped door  also can fit over a 21” toilet.

All of our walk-in tubs, regardless of door style, have an extra low threshold for easy entry and exit. Ella Walk-in tubs are easy-in and easy-out.If you’re not constrained by bathroom size, bathroom fixtures, or physical impairments, you can choose the door that fits your needs or simply looks the best to you.

U-shape Doors

  • Inward Swing: Made from a custom brushed stainless steel and a frosted tempered glass window to give a sleek, contemporary look.
  • Outward Swing: Made with industrial grade durable plastic composite material with a decorative tempered glass front screen to conceal the mechanical door lock system.

L-shape Doors

  • The aluminum door’s distinct L-shape design allows the door to clear a 21” tall toilet and create a wide entry for an easy transition from wheelchair into a smooth acrylic seat. The sleek rubber handle mounted on the inside panel of the door also aids in closing the door.

Door Handles

  • Bathers who have limited ability in their arms, or suffer from reduced upper body strength, will find the U-shape outward swing door easier to operate. The handle allows bathers to simply lift the lever on the outside of the door when opening and closing the door.
  • U-shaped inward swinging door handles are more convenient as they are located next to the hips for easier access. The extended handle allows bathers to effortlessly lift the lever, bypassing bathers legs when opening and closing the door.

4. Understanding the Drain Positioning

When choosing a walk-in tub drain position, consider the following:

Floor drain position will be up to you as most of our walk-in tubs come standard with a left or right 4-port dual drain system that can be directed to drain water towards the front or rear of the tub.

Ella walk-in tubs come with either a left hand drain, or a right hand drain on all models except Front Entry, and our Two Seat Tubs models. All models are equipped with a Dual 2” Drain except the Mobile and the Front Entry walk-in tub models which come with a single 2” Drain with an emergency pull chain.

If you choose a tub with the door on the right side, the drain will be on the right side and connect to the house drain on the left. If you choose a tub with a door on the left side, the drain will be on the left side and connect to the house drain on the right. However, our flexible design system will accommodate whatever is most convenient for you and your home. We do also recommend a two inch house drain for maximum efficiency.

It basically comes down to an aesthetic choice. It’s up to you where you think it’s best to have the doors and the drains. Think about factors such as if you’d like to face a window or perhaps you have a TV you’d like to view while bathing. Keep all of this in mind as you make your selection. Your comfort and relaxation is an important consideration.

5. Access to & Layout of the Bathroom

Before purchasing a walk-in tub, measure the door and hallway widths from the front door all the way to the bathroom, including turning angles leading to and into the bathroom. These dimensions will help you choose the right tub length and width that meets your space constraints. We want to make sure you don’t order a walk-in tub that will not fit into your home. Installing a tub that is larger than the door width is possible, but it will probably require door frame removal or possible door opening modification. Measure carefully!Also, keep in mind any fixtures in your bathroom where the tub will be located, such as cabinets, drawers, toilets or sinks may prohibit the opening and/or operation of an outswing door. Read all specifications carefully, and as always, feel free to call our customer service should you have any questions.

6. Understanding the Function of the Extension L Panel, Front Apron and Access End Panels for Ella Walk-in Tubs

Ella Walk-in Tub Reversible Extension Panel

The purpose of the extension panel is to fill a 60″ wide alcove opening for tubs shorter than 60″ in length. All of Ella’s acrylic walk-in tubs measuring less than 60″ in length come with reversible extension panels, except for the Mobile and Front Entry models. The Front Entry walk-in tub includes two side panels, which cover both sides of the tub due to the unique design featuring the door and seat facing each other. Walk-in baths 60″ and longer do not have extension panels. Moreover, each Ella walk-in tub comes with one reversible end panel. All panels include mounting hardware.

Ella Walk-in Tub Reversible End Panels

The reversible end panel is installed on one end of the walk-in tub when opting for a corner installation. For instance, if the walk-in tub is situated in the right-side corner of the bathroom, the reversible end panel will be installed on the opposite left side end of the tub, covering the plumbing and frame. A second end panel can be purchased at an additional cost to cover the other end of the tub, in case the walk-in tub is installed against the back wall with both ends open. The end panel includes mounting hardware.
These end panels can be removed or reattached to provide after-service access to the plumbing and components.

Ella Walk-in Tub Removable Front Apron and Access Panels.

Ella walk-in tubs come with a removable apron affixed to the tub’s front. Typically, there are two easily removable access panels to facilitate after-service access to the plumbing and components. The method of attaching the front apron – clips, screws, Velcro tape, or magnets – varies depending on the model of the walk-in tub. However, if the apron design does not include access panels, the apron must be removed to facilitate after-service access to the parts and components.


All removable panels, including the front apron with access panels, end panel, and extension panels, must be removed before moving the walk-in tub into the house and bathroom. These panels are not designed to bear the weight of the tub during transportation and may break if not removed.
Replacement or additional acrylic panels can be purchased at an additional cost; however, please note that the white matching color tones may slightly vary.



7. Electrical Requirements

The house wiring for the bathtub will be determined by your professional electrician working within State and Local electrical codes. They will calculate total amperage for each electrical pump or component. For example, if you only have one 5AMP hydro pump with a 7 AMP in-line water heater, it’s a total of 12 AMP. Since breakers are available in increments of 5 Amperage, the breaker size must be rounded up. Therefore for a 12 AMP load, a 15 AMP GFCI protected breaker is required. Walk-in bathtubs, the same as any other bathtubs with electrical parts, will require a dedicated GFCI protected electrical line. Always consult with your local licensed electrician.

8. Water Supply Requirements

When comparing 1/2″ and 3/4″ water supply lines, differences in flow rate and water pressure impact user experience:

  1. Flow Rate: 3/4″ lines offer higher flow rates than 1/2″ lines, allowing faster tub filling and reducing wait time for bathers in walk-in tubs.
  2. Water Pressure: 3/4″ lines handle higher water pressure, ensuring steady flow when multiple fixtures are in use.

We strongly suggest installing 3/4″ supply lines with shut-off valves that are easily accessible for emergency access. Ella 2-piece and 5-piece fast fill faucets include five-foot-long supply lines. Upgrading to 3/4″ lines is highly recommended, as it significantly reduces the wait time for bathers in walk-in tubs.

9. Water Heater Selection

When comparing instant electric and gas water heaters, the primary focus is on the flow rate measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Flow rate is crucial for delivering hot water on demand, and it varies depending on the type of heater.

  1. Flow Rate: Gas water heaters typically have a higher flow rate compared to electric heaters. They can heat water more quickly, making them suitable for larger households or simultaneous hot water demands. Electric water heaters may struggle to maintain the desired temperature at high flow rates, particularly in colder climates.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Although electric heaters are more energy-efficient, the higher flow rate advantage of gas heaters is a crucial factor when considering performance.
  3. Operating Cost: Gas heaters usually have lower operating costs due to the lower cost of natural gas, despite their lower energy efficiency.
  4. Installation Cost: Electric water heaters are easier and cheaper to install but may require an electrical service upgrade to handle the high flow rates.
  5. Recovery Rate: The faster flow rate of gas water heaters translates to a quicker recovery rate, providing more hot water per hour.
  6. Space Requirements: Gas water heaters require more space for venting and gas line installations, while electric heaters are more compact.
  7. Availability of Energy Source: The availability of natural gas in your area will determine whether a gas heater is a viable option for you.

We strongly suggest choosing a water heater with a capacity of 75 gallons or higher for tank-style heaters, or a minimum flow rate of 11 GPM for instant heaters, to ensure sufficient hot water supply for your household needs.

In summary, gas water heaters typically offer a faster flow rate (GPM) than electric water heaters, making them more suitable for households with high hot water demands. However, factors such as energy costs, available space, and environmental concerns should also be considered when choosing between the two types of heaters.

Before making a decision on the best water heater for your home, it’s essential to consult with a licensed and experienced contractor. They can assess your specific needs, recommend the most suitable option, and ensure proper installation and compliance with local regulations.

10. Who Can Install a Walk-in Tub

We recommend using only licensed and experienced contractors who are familiar with and work within the local building construction requirements. Experienced electricians and plumbers will be able to install the bathtub by following our installation manuals and directions by Ella’s technical support team. Live video chat with our technical support is available upon request. Our technical support agent can show you your bathtub live and lead you in the right direction. 

11. Understanding Therapeutic Options

Ella’s Bubbles offers a wide variety of therapeutic jetting packages. The configuration of a particular package depends largely on the size and type of tub you order. Basically the larger the tub is, the more components it can house within its stainless steel frame. A smaller tub will naturally have fewer components due to size constraints. The maximum number of therapeutic options that can fit into a tub is 4. Please visit our detailed product pages to see the combination options available for the tub you’d like to purchase.

Larger tubs like TransferXXXL, Transfer60, ShaK, Ultimate and Elite and the 2 seat models can fit all of the below therapy options:

  • Hydro + air + hydro/independent foot massage
  • Hydro + air + microbubble + hydro/independent foot massage

3 of the most popular therapy combinations are:

  • Hydro + Air
  • Hydro + Hydro/ Independent Foot Massage. 
  • Hydro + Microbubble Therapy

 Below is a description of the benefits of air, hydro, and microbubble therapy. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Seek the medical advice of a doctor before purchasing a microbubbles system to relieve any skin conditions.

Soaking only option (no pumps, no jets)
For anyone looking for a more economic and simple walk-in bathing experience to soak away the stress, this soaking option is an excellent choice. Taking a warm bath may calm nerves, clear sinuses, and reduce inflammation in muscles and joints.

Air Massage Therapy
Bathers who are bariatric or have mobility challenges may enjoy the air massage feature with bidet jets to help keep the bather clean in hard-to-reach places. Air massage is easily activated with the touch of a button and has three speeds, low, medium and high. Our air massage system also comes with auto purge. Auto purge clears the moisture from your tub’s air system after bathing to prevent mold and mildew. 20 minutes after your bath, auto purge turns on and runs for two minutes, clearing the air lines so there’s no standing water in the system.

How To Choose A Walk-in Tub Brand – Best Choice

Infusion™  Microbubble Therapy
Bathers who have skin conditions may benefit from a microbubble jetting feature. The microbubble system generates literally billions of microbubbles that are less than 50 microns in size. The water in your tub will turn from clear to completely cloudy as these tiny bubbles fill the water in the tub. Microbubbles penetrate the initial layer of the bather’s skin thereby creating an exfoliating, hydrating and invigorating bathing experience.  Some of our customers have told us that the microbubble therapy has helped them with their psoriasis and eczema, as well as leaving their skin feeling healthier and cleaner.

Elite Walk-in Tub – 30″ X 52″ (76cm X 132cm)

Hydrotherapy Massage
Bathers who have circulatory challenges like diabetes, hypertension, or amputation may benefit from a hydrotherapy jetted walk-in tub. An intensity control dial allows the bather to control the intensity of the hydrotherapy jets to suit their personal comfort level. Turning the control dial up introduces more air into the jet stream and turning it down reduces the amount of air. An inline water heater keeps the temperature of the bath consistent and comfortable, allowing you to bathe as long as you like.  And eco-friendly ozone sterilization automatically engages when the hydro massage is activated to help keep your tub clean and fresh.

Hydrotherapy + Independent Foot Massage
This is one of Ella’s most popular features and only we offer it! Now you can enjoy a luxurious hydro foot massage without having to fill the entire tub. Just fill the foot well in your tub and turn on the foot and calf jets to experience a soothing, relaxing hydro foot massage. This also comes with its own separate pump and intensity control dial so you can adjust the level of hydro massage. In just minutes, you can enjoy an independent hydro foot and calf massage with 4 strategically placed jets.

Bathers may benefit from air and hydrotherapy jetted walk-in tubs if they suffer from these health concerns:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or Osteoarthritis arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Adema 
  • Knee replacements
  • Amputees
  • Users of canes, walkers, wheelchairs
  • Discectomy or Laminectomy
  • Lupus
  • Parkinsons
  • Hip pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Strokes
  • Injury from falling
  • Hypertension
  • Slow circulation

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Always consult your doctor before buying/using a walk-in tub.

12. Cleaning & Maintenance

All Ella brand Walk-in Bathtubs with air or hydro massage packages are equipped with self-cleansing features to help maintain a clean, long lasting walk-in tub.

Hydro massage systems are equipped with Ozone Sterilization. Ozone is a proven water disinfectant. It can eliminate a wide variety of inorganic, organic, microbiological bacteria, and odor. It is the most eco-friendly, chemical-free, and green technology for disinfectants.

Ella air massage systems are equipped with Auto-purge.  Auto-Purge automatically activates shortly after completing your bath in order to blow out any excess water and bacteria from the air system.  When you shut off the air massage pumps, excess moisture can collect in the air jet tubes. The Auto Purge System prevents your walk-in bathtub from getting moldy or clogged by automatically turning on the air pump and blowing air through the tube system effectively drying out the air jet system.

13. Must Ask Questions Before Purchase

We believe in providing you with the best information so you, the customer, can make the most informed decision about which of our walk-in tubs to purchase. The following questions are the most frequently asked about walk-in tubs, and we have provided the answers in clear, easy to understand terms. Find out More

14. Financing Options

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15. Frequently Asked Questions about Walk-in Tubs