Walk / Step-in Shower Conversion FAQ’s

Clients have raised the following (or similar) FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) over the course of time to enable their decision-making process. If a concern you have about converting your existing bathtub into a step in shower is not addressed, please feel free to call or email us (via our Contact Page) to discuss your question in depth.

(Please click on a subject below.)

What is a Step-thru Insert … Will it Cover My Entire Tub?

Walk-in/thru Blank Insert
Walk- in/thru blank insert

Our step-thru is a u-shape molded acrylic step insert which fits over an opening that we cut out from the side of your existing tub. And unlike some tub cut outs on metal tubs, our insert guards against potential chipping and rusting. Our standard finished walk-in shower opening is 24“ wide yielding an outside step height of 5-7 inches and an inside step of 3”-4”. For some clients, this inside depth is great for soaking feet, bathing grandchildren or serving as a doggy bath. See also: Tub to Walk-in Shower Specifications.

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How High Will My Step-in Be?

Our standard inserts are designed to reduce the step in by 8 inches. To illustrate how high the step will be on your bathtub, measure 8 inches down from the top of your tub rail (the wall that you currently step over) and mark the spot with either a Sharpie or a piece of masking tape. This represents the step height; will this be low enough? If not, a custom insert can be made to extend down further. For these situations, it is best to contact us and discuss your tub.

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How Long will my Bathtub to Walk in Shower Conversion Take?

Temporarily Closed for Construction

Depending on your tub’s composition (fiberglass, steel or cast iron) and other factors (e.g. removal of shower doors, caulk, fixtures, etc.), bathtub conversions usually take anywhere from 4-6 hrs. You’ll be showering (step-in models) in 24 hours and bathing (door models) in 48 hrs.

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Does It Leak?

No, your tub will not leak if used properly. Because we do not cut down to the floor of your tub, a small lip is left on the inside. With the shower curtain or liner inside and extending below this lip, the shower spray will be retained to the confines of your tub.

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Can We Still Have Shower Doors With Our Installation?

We don’t install shower doors on our converted units nor do we advise seniors having them. If you decide that you want them, there are area glass specialists who would be willing to oblige. But be advised, I’ve had clients install them only to have them removed years later because their caregiver could not bathe them easily.

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Does the Step-in Insert Have to be Centered on the Tub?

Insert offset to front of tub
Insert offset to front of tub

No. If the existing tub is accessible from both ends, we advise the client to let us place their step opening towards the faucet end of the tub. Offsetting it here allows room in the rear of the tub should they eventually need a bath chair (or bench). On cast iron tubs where the tub rail “bumps” out however, we may opt to keep the cut on the wider, bumped-out section.

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Are Bath Step in Inserts ADA Approved?

Currently there is no ADA classification/category for tub to shower modifications. All we can say is that seniors have been using our products safely for years.

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Can You Convert Cast Iron Bathtubs?

Except for garden and old fashioned claw-foot tubs, most bathtubs (within a 3-wall alcove/ niche) can be converted into walk-in showers or tubs. We’ve also converted cast iron tubs with a liner (i.e. the bathtub had been Re-Bath®, Bath Fitter®, lined etc.). All of these required an extra skill level and time and therefore were priced much higher.

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How Can I Determine Whether My Bathtub is Cast Iron?

If your tub was installed prior to the mid-1960’s, it is more than likely cast iron. Beginning around the mid-1960’s, steel tubs had about a twenty year run until fiberglass tubs came out in the late 70’s. Original cast iron and steel tubs usually have porcelain coatings. Generally, I visually determine whether your tub is steel or cast:

  1. On most steel tubs, both the outside and inside walls run parallel to curved walls at both the front and back ends of the tub.
  2. On original flooring, steel tubs are generally 2-3” shallower on the inside than the outside.
  3. Some steel tubs have stamped embossing on the outside front apron, whereas many cast iron tubs can have one or more “horizontal ripples” on the outside wall.
  4. Due to the casting process, the outside wall of a cast iron tub can never recess inward.
  5. Colored tubs (blue, green, etc.) are generally cast iron.
  6. Bump-outs & ripples characterize cast iron tubs
    Bump-outs & ripples characterize cast iron tubs
    Tubs with front walls that start out straight for about 12” and then “bump out” to a thicker 30” long wall before bumping back in are always cast iron.

If all else fails, I find that tapping on the side with my knuckles generally yields a deeper sound for cast iron than that for steel. Of course this comes with experience. But there’s no need to worry. If I quote you cast iron, only to find that it’s steel, you’ll be refunded the difference. And how will you know? Well, it will take us about an hour or more just to cut and clean up before we start forming your insert to the tub. Or just ask to lift the cut out piece; a cast iron section will weigh about 25 pounds (or more).

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How Much Does a Tub to Shower Conversion Cost?

Cost of tub to step-in shower conversion

Unlike most bathtub renovation projects (tear out and replace), our walk-in installations are generally 80-90% LESS than the cost for a typical bathtub to shower remodel. And because there are many variables that make up our cost algorithm, please go to our Cost page.

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Is There Government Assistance for Tub to Shower Conversions?

Because tub to shower conversions fall into the category of remodeling (vs. that of durable medical equipment), Medicare will not reimburse you for a step insert. From here, the avenues of assistance money are limited. First seniors should check with their local department on aging and/or United Way. In Erie County, an endowment given to a local church has been established for helping seniors. Also, veterans (and their spouses) who served during* WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. conflicts should contact the VA for funding; *during, not necessarily in combat.

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Where’s the Tub Door?

Our core business is that of tub to shower conversions. Occasionally we incur multi-generational families (and some May-December marriages) with only one bathroom where someone prefers a bath. For these clients we offer a door model that offers easy access for the senior and bathing for the more agile family member. Whereas the high-end door models that you see on TV and in print run about $12K-$15K, our model is priced at almost 1/10 their cost. Moreover, you don’t need to be inside the tub as it fills and empties. For more see: Walk-in Tubs.

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Will a Walk/Step-in Shower Conversion Affect my Home Resale Value?

Home for sale

Without sounding crass, let me say that if the resale of your house is more important that remaining in your current house, then perhaps it’s time to move. But since we can generally make bathing safer in their current homes, most seniors opt for a conversion and let the “chips fall where they may land.” When it comes time to sell the home, they have their realtor put into the sales agreement “Owner Willing to Restore Tub to Bathing.” This can be done for $500-$3,000. In most cases, an interested buyer is not so much concerned about having the tub restored, as they are to know that you are willing to give up some money so that they can do whatever they prefer to do with the room.

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Is the Conversion Process Reversible?

Most steel and cast iron tub installations can be restored back to better than original bathtub condition. This can be achieved via the installation of either a tub liner or a new product which is to be released in the fall of 2015.

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Can I Purchase a Tub to Shower Conversion Kit?

The short answer is yes. But before rushing off to order one, consider that I have invested over $500 in tools just to be equipped to make these tub conversions. I know how to measure your tub so that the proper sized insert is ordered for your tub. Next, consider that once you make the tubcut, you are committed to completing the job, even if it means replacing the bathtub with a shower unit (which in turn could require re-plumbing and relocating the drain). Last, if you cut the insert incorrectly, you’ll have to order another conversion kit, at which point you could probably have had the job done and for less money. So the long answer is yes, but that your DIY tub to shower conversion project could end up being an expensive PIA project.

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Mobile and Manufactured Home Considerations

We have converted hundreds of tubs in mobile and manufactured homes. In both types of structures, we find that the inside tub floor is raised up from the outside floor to keep the plumbing inside the unit. Because of this, the steel and fiberglass tubs found in most mobile and manufactured homes are ideal for our 8” reducing inserts (see: How High Will my Step-in Be?).

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What is Your Experience?

First of all, we are a family business that has been doing bathtub to shower conversions since 2005. My father completed training that year and has performed hundreds of tub conversions since. I started assisting him in 2010, and he’s now assisting me. We treat every job and client as though we are doing the work for our parents. For more background, go to our About Us Page.

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Are Your Services Available Outside the NE Ohio Area?

Northeast Ohio area

While our core service area is generally within a 60-mile radius of Cleveland, we also have satisfied clients in the Sandusky, Warren, Wooster, Youngstown, and Erie, PA communities. If you live outside these areas, please complete our Contact Us page and we can put you in touch with an installer in your area.

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What Other Services Does Do You Offer?

Complementing our tub conversion service, we also install grab bars, railings (see: Grab Bars) and can expand most existing doorways by 1½ - 2 inches without remodeling. We also can perform a safety check of your bathing area and offer recommendations when we come to your house to measure.

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Have ??? Not Covered Here?

Please feel free to call us (440-667-8827) or to complete our Contact Page should you have additional questions or require further clarification of the subjects covered here.

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