In our Universal Tubs walk-in bath evaluation of the brand’s walk-in tub models, we examine the brand’s exclusive partnership with Home Depot and why this represents a double-edge sword of pros and cons.
We also look at the many options available, how they are each designed to fit into a standard bathtub alcove, and we evaluate the best selling model, the 53-inch HD series walk-in tub, which features 13 hydrotherapy jets. Finally, we take a look at the 10-year warranty and the pricing to see how this walk-in bathtub for seniors compares to other brands.
About Universal Tubs
The most notable characteristic of Universal Tubs is the brand’s exclusive partnership with Home Depot, as there is nothing about the company’s history on its website. Still, an exclusive partnership with Home Depot should not be overlooked. With Home Depot the largest home improvement store in the U.S., you can expect competitive pricing and lots of options. That said, it also has its pros and cons.
The advantage of partnering with Home Depot means that you can view every model they make and the exact price. You can also see reviews of each walk-in bath left by verified users, allowing you to get a clear idea of what to expect. Another advantage is scalability. With such a partnership, Universal Tubs lowers its overall overhead, which allows it to sell high-end models for cheaper than a smaller company.
The disadvantage is the lack of customized service. Home Depot doesn’t do much to help you install the walk-in tub or provide expert advice specific to your home. You either have to choose your own installer (which likely voids the warranty) or reach out to Universal Tubs for installation help. Either way, the installation isn’t included as with other manufacturers.
The best walk-in tub for affordable luxury features
Universal Tubs gets its name because every tub is designed to fit within the standard dimensions of bathtub alcove. Namely between 50- and 60-inches long and 30- to 34-inches wide. As such, it provides a nearly “universal” fit. To achieve this, the walk-in tubs have a retro-fit extension kit so it can fit into your existing space even if it’s shorter. And while the tubs are marketed towards the DIYer, we recommend hiring professionals. Even the most simple walk-in tubs require expert plumbing and carpentry work. If you install the tub incorrectly, it voids the warranty and may result in a seal that isn’t water tight.
If you want a walk-in tub with premium hydrotherapy comforts, you can expect to pay around $5,000 or more, but Universal Tub’s best selling walk-in bath costs $2,556 and provides the same features. The 53-inch HD series walk-in tub features 13 fully adjustable whirlpool water jets and a powered fast-drain system that promises to pump water out of the tub in less than a minute, though the caveat is that the draining time also depends on your home’s plumbing quality. It also features a quick fill faucet with handshower for those who prefer showers over baths. It includes chromatherapy lights if you want to enhance the mood for added relaxation.
The HD 53-inch tub only has a 60 gallon capacity. This is not much better than a standard bathtub. The best walk-in soaker tubs have between 80 and 100 gallon capacity, providing a deep luxurious soaking experience. However, while 60 gallons may not provide as deep a soak as you’d like, at this capacity, you don’t have to worry about using all the hot water in your water heater. You also don’t have to wait as long for the water to fill up or drain.
The tub is constructed of a fiberglass surface stretched over a steel frame. It’s not as durable or insulative as an acrylic tub, but makes for a much more affordable bathtub. The fiberglass features three layers of a glossy gelcoating that is durable and scratch resistant, yet includes non-slip surfaces in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, a grip bar is built into the tub for added stability.
The warranty of Universal Tubs is not as impressive as most manufacturers, like Kohler and Independent Home, which have lifetime warranties on all parts. Instead, the warranty is 10 years on the structure and parts and one year on the motor, pump, and electrical work. And like most walk-in bath warranties, it only applies to the first owner and the first location.
Universal Tubs start at about $1,880 and top out at around $6,500. This makes Universal Tubs one of the most affordable options on the market. By comparison, some brands, like Independent Home, start at $6,000 and run as high as $12,000. Of course, you don’t get the same level of customer support, consultation, customizable features or installation.
That said, the HD series costs $2,556, which is only slightly above what a basic soaker walk-in tub costs. A comparable bathtub with Kohler costs thousands more, though the quality is undoubtedly much better with Kohler based on materials alone. Still, if you’re looking for all the features of a hydrotherapy walk-in bathtub with water jets, air jets, and chromotherapy lights, but at a fraction of the cost, Universal Tubs is the way to go. Just don’t be surprised if the motors don’t last very long or the tub starts to leak.
With 13 hydrotherapy water jets, the 53-inch HD series tub is an excellent option for the price. Many walk-in tubs with only 10 jets cost two to three times as much. This alone makes the Universal Tubs walk-in baths worth considering if you’re on a tight budget. And with a fast draining pump and quick fill faucet, you can get in and out of the tub quickly. The 60 gallon capacity isn’t as big as some of the luxury brands, but it’s enough to provide you with a good bath without taking all of the water from your water heater.
Universal Tubs’ partnership with Home Depot means that the tubs are very affordable. They also make a lot more models than most brands with around 30. However, because installation is not included and Home Depot just drops the tub off at your house, getting the tub installed properly is up to you to figure out, which might be too much of a headache for many seniors.