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Kohler Walk-in Tubs Review12 minute read
12 minute read|
Updated for June, 2019
Kohler is known for bringing a strong design sense as well as innovative technology to everything related to baths and bathing. This is still the case when it comes to bathroom accessibility, with its innovative and widely praised Elevance rising wall bath offering a unique and uniquely attractive solution to those who need help entering and exiting the bathtub. Its other models of walk-in tubs also deserve attention for their attractive design and high quality, and we’ll walk you through them in this article.
At a Glance
A checklist of standard walk-in tub features.
|Models||Elevance rising wall bath||Kohler Walk-in tub||Belay Hydrotherapy Bath||Lux Stone Walk-in Shower|
|Price*||Starting around $9,500||Starting around $4000||Starting around $9000||Starting around $7000|
|Low Entry Threshhold||standard||standard||standard|
|Push Button Controls||standard||standard||standard|
|Built-In Safety Bars||standard||standard||standard||standard|
|Textured Bath Surfaces||standard||standard||standard||standard|
Elevance Rising Wall Bath
Starting at $9,500
Kohler has clearly put a lot of thought into the design and features of their innovative rising wall bath. Made of gelcoated fiberglass, the Elevance combines functionality, accessibility, and luxury, making it an ideal choice for those shopping for a higher-end solution to bathing more accessibly. More than anything, its rising wall makes the Elevance stand out: requiring less than five pounds of force to lift, this counterweighted barrier slides down to allow those with mobility issues or who need to transfer from a wheelchair or bath bench to slide into the tub, pull in their legs, raise the wall, recline, and enjoy a hot bath. Kohler provides a fast-fill faucet (in an attractive waterfall design) and a fast drain function, and offers some attractive luxury features as well. These include heated surfaces for the back, shoulders, and neck, and an airjet massage system with dozens of nozzles and a variable speed blower that allows the user to fine-tune the intensity of their massage. Equipped with an integrated ledge to hold bathing supplies and a pre-installed grab bar, the Elevance is an innovative approach to walk-in tubs, and although it is expensive, it offers priceless access to the benefits of a hot bath for those with significant significant mobility issues.
“Changed our lives. Allows an overweight diabetic with significant peripheral neuropathy to bathe easily … and safely. Can’t get into and out of a regular bath tub and in danger of falling in a shower (not to mention foot washing!) . . . The bubble massage is soothing. Use hand-held shower to rinse as water rapidly drains. Able to reach, inspect, and wash feet easily due to chaise longue configuration.”
Kohler Walk-In Tub
Starting around $4,000
If you’re in the market for a more conventional walk-in tub, Kohler’s basic model stands out for its thoughtful design. Manufactured from high-quality, durable gelcoated fiberglass, the Kohler Walk-in Tub features an extra-wide door and ultra-low step-in threshold for easy access, an extra-wide seat that Kohler claims makes their tub 30% deeper than other baths on the market, and other key details like easy-grip handrails and textured bath surfaces. The tub also features a fast drain feature which can empty the tub in under two minutes, a faucet system that Kohler claims fills the tub with water faster than any comparable tub, and a handheld shower wand with three spray settings. All these features come in an attractive, streamlined tub that’s avaiable in two colors and with polished chrome or brushed nickel fittings. Kohler’s entry-level tub is a little pricier than some of the basic models on the market, but those looking for more features or a stronger design sense may find the extra cost worth it.
“The walk-in tub is AWESOME and so easy to get in and out of. The quality is great!”
Belay Hydrotherapy Tub
Starting around $9,000
Kohler’s Belay hydrotherapy tub offers all the attractive design features of its walk-in tub model, including the wide door, the low entry threshold, the deep, wide contoured seat, the handheld showerhead with variable settings, and fast fill faucets coupled with a fast drain system. What sets it apart from its sister model is its water and bubble jets—10 jets arranged to massage and stimulate the back, the calves, and the front of the leg, driven by an adjustable speed system that forces air or water through adjustable nozzles. In addition, the Belay includes Kohler’s Bask system—a proprietary feature that heats the tub surface where it meets the back, neck, and shoulders—for a complete spa experience. With the same attractive gelcoated fiberglass and chrome aesthetic as the basic walk-in model, the Belay is definitely a tub worth looking into—and even at the standard list price, it’s competitive with other luxury or therapeutic walk-in tubs on the market.
“I was most satisfied with how comfortable it is once you’re in it with the jets on. It also puts out heat and relaxes you.”
LuxStone Walk-In Shower
Starting around $6,000
Not everyone with mobility issues who’s hoping to age in place needs or wants a walk-in tub. Many prefer the convenience of a shower, and many people also have to be conscious of the needs and desires of those they’re living with, who may not want or need a specialized bath. For those in this position, a walk-in shower can be the ideal solution, and Kohler’s offering in this category stands out. First, it features a high-quality acrylic basin, providing durable, scratch-and-stain-resistant reliability. It also features textured surfaces, a grab bar, an easy-to-reach bath product shelf, and an ultra-low 3-inch threshold that makes the shower much more accessible for those with mobility issues or at risk of falling. When combined with the optional secure shower seat, this ease of entry also makes transferring from a wheelchair much more convenient, especially since the optional seat can be adjusted—moved to the perfect place for someone who must sit while showering to get the full benefit of the shower. The shower itself comes in a variety of attractive configurations, with ordinary shower heads available as well as adjustable-height showers for a perfectly aimed stream of water. Finally, for the design-conscious, Kohler includes LuxStone walls in their shower packages, allowing the consumer to select from a dozen possible combinations of bath surfaces and walls to get the design that suits their bathroom best. A more economical and flexible option, the LuxStone walk-in shower is also attractive and feature-rich, and could be the most economical and aesthetic choice for those in the market.
Kohler’s accessible bath selections are fairly straightforward, but here’s another look at the features they offer.
|Features||Walk-In Tub||Belay Hydrotherapy Tub||Elevance||LuxStone Walk-In Shower|
|Lever faucet controls|
|Multi-functional Shower Head|
|Extra wide and deep seat|
|Bask heated surfaces|
|Adjustable strength bubble massage|
|Construction||Gelcoated fiberglass||Gelcoated fiberglass||Gelcoated fiberglass||Acrylic basin|
Word on the Street
Regardless of the model, online reviews of Kohler’s walk-in bath and shower lines are scarce, but judging by the reviews on the company’s website, purchasers found Kohler’s products highly satisfactory, with many appreciating the tubs’ functionality and their positive impact on their quality of life. Reviewers also cite the company’s sales and installation process as being especially effortless, and praise the staff for being courteous and easy to work with.
Customers also mentioned that the tubs’ design and construction made the bathing experience safer or more pleasant for anyone with limited mobility or who is getting older. Many people also mentioned specifically that Kohler tubs and showers allowed them to stay in their homes for longer than they would otherwise.
“It looks wonderful and never gets cold. The handheld shower part has changed so much for me because I was able to take care of myself! Even my friends were so impressed with how it looked when they came over to look at it.”
Price and Warranty
Most suppliers and manufacturers of walk-in tubs want you to contact them for a personalized price quote, and with good reason: they’re going to want to know some details about your needs, your expectations, and any issues they might face in installation before they give you a final estimate. So if you’re in the market for a walk-in tub, you should take the time to contact suppliers and compare estimates, approaches, and, hopefully, a few references as well before you sign a contract.
That said, it also pays to do a little research on the range of possible prices before you contact a supplier. That’s how we came up with our figures in the table below, and as we researched, we noticed that some reviewers expressed reservations about the cost of Kohler’s accessible bath options. The Elevance tub can, for example, cost from between $9500 and $12,000 (in addition to installation costs), with the walk-in tub models coming in slightly less than that and the walk-in shower unit costing even less.
Many would consider these prices on the high end, but any discussion of price should spend a little time on the value offered. First, among feature-rich luxury tubs, the Belay isn’t significantly more expensive than its competition. Second, given the unique solution the Elevance offers, and given its wheelchair friendly design and luxury features, the proper comparison is probably also with the other luxury accessible tubs on the market, putting it, again, in line with its higher-end competitors.
What’s more, Kohler gets high marks for its warranties, offering limited lifetime warranties on all the important parts of the tub, including—crucially—the door seal (and on both door seals in the Elevance, which has two). Door seal warranties are actually standard in the walk-in tub market, but Kohler stands out even further for offering the same warranty for the tub, the tub hardware, and the complex hydrotherapy systems offered in its higher-end models. In this way, Kohler adds even more value to their tubs, making them worth a look despite their higher price points.
|Product||Elevance Rising Wall bath||Walk-In Tub||Belay Hydrotherapy Tub||LuxStone Shower|
|Price*||Starting around $9500||Starting around $4000||Starting around $9000||Starting around $7000|
|Door Seal(s)||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime|
|Tub and hydrotherapy systems||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime|
|Hardware||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime||Limited lifetime|
“I was most satisfied with the guarantee. Being a single, elderly woman it is nice to know that if something is wrong with this tub, it will be fixed.”
Overall, Kohler’s tubs and showers stand out for their quality and for the number of features that they offer. But they stand out especially for their accessibility, with a walk-in tub that offers a larger door and seat than most competitors, a rising wall bath that works great for those with mobility issues, and an impressive walk-in shower offering. Moreover, Kohler’s attention to design and variety of color and finish options allow even those with mobility issues to find a bathing solution that will dovetail with their bathroom decor. While pricing might be a barrier to some consumers, Kohler’s products nevertheless stand out for functionality, accessibility, and design.