FAQ's - Converting an Existing Tub into a Walk-/ Step in Shower
The following FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) have been raised by former clients in order to help them in their decision-making process regarding our tub shower conversions. If a concern you have about converting your existing bathtub into a step in shower is not addressed (or helped) here, please feel free to call or email us (via Contact Page) to discuss your question in depth.
What is the Safeway Step?
Where's the Tub's Door?
Can We Have Shower Doors With Our Installation?
Does the Step-in Insert Have to be Centered on the Tub?
How High will My Step-in be?
How Long will my Bathtub to Step in Shower / Walk-in Tub Conversion Take?
Will a Walk- Step-in Shower Conversion Affect the Resale Value of My Home?
Is a Tub to Shower Conversion Process Reversible?
What is the Cost of Tub to Shower Conversion?
Can You Convert Cast Iron Bathtubs?
How Can I Determine Whether My Bathtub is Cast Iron?
Does It Leak?
Are Bath Step in Inserts ADA Approved?
Is There Government Assistance for a Tub to Shower Conversion?
Can I Purchase a Tub to Shower Conversion Kit?
What is Your Experience?
What Other Services Does Affordable Step in Showers Offer?
Are Your Services Available Outside the NE Ohio Area?
The step is a u-shape molded acrylic liner that is custom fitted into an opening that is cut & removed from the side of an existing tub for the conversion of a bathtub into a walk-/ step in shower. The walk-in finished opening is 24 inches (wide), while the door model is 19 inches wide. The resulting step height for both is reduced to about 5-7 inches. Our tubcut conversion process is an affordable process, for converting an existing bathtub into either a step-in or walk-in shower. For more information on our walk-in shower specifications, see: Tub to Walk-in Shower Conversion Specifications.
Upon seeing the photo of our walk-in shower for the first time, some clients ask, "where's the door?" We normally feature the step in shower photo because it is our most popular service. If you visited Bathtub to Walk-in Tub Conversions, you know that we do offer a door model that allows a bathtub to be filled for bathing. We call this our walk-in / thru bathtub and it generally appeals to multi-generational families. As with any walk-in tub, unless you can step over the bathtub wall, you need to be inside the bathtub with the door closed during both the fill & drain cycles. Once seniors realize this "restriction" about 99% opt for our bathtub to shower conversion insert.
We don't install shower doors on our units nor do we advise having them for any bathroom used by a senior. If you're a senior & currently have shower doors, we strongly recommend that you consider replacing them with a shower curtain & adding grab bars. Why? First of all, as we age, our sense of balance slowly deteriorates. To compensate, the inside towel bars on shower doors sometimes give seniors a false sense of safety. These towel bars are designed to hold towels, not people! (And if I had to fall in a bathtub, I'd prefer reaching for the grab bar first and possibly falling through a shower curtain - rather than crashing through a glass & metal door holding the towel bar.) Secondly should the senior's health ever deteriorate to the point where he/she would need a caregiver's assistance while bathing, shower doors will impede the aide's ability to help. If so, you may then end up having to pay someone to remove them. On the other hand, there are many independent shower door installers who will be glad to install doors for you.
If the existing bathtub is accessible from both ends, we advise the client to let us place their step opening towards the faucet end of the tub. Doing this allows entry room should they eventually need a bath chair in the rear of the tub and it will provide more wall area around the chair for controlling overspray if they choose to use a hand shower when sitting in that area of the tub. Finally by placing the opening towards the front wall allows the placement & use of a transition grab bar (for getting in & out). On some cast iron tubs where the tub "bumps" out, a front tub cut can be quite a challenge. Go to our Photo Page to view a cantilevered step on a bumped out cast iron tub. But if you need (or prefer) to have the insert centered in the tub, a clamp on grab bar as shown on our Photo Page must just do the “trick”.
Our standard inserts are designed to reduce the step in by 8 inches. On some deep cast iron tubs with thicker (wider) rails, the cut can be as deep as 10"; for some of the newer fiberglass & acrylic tubs, an insert can be custom made to go down 10 or more inches. To determine where the step will be on your existing tub, measure 8 inches down from the top rail and mark the spot. Using a 24" strip of masking (or blue painter's tape), place the top edge on your mark and apply the tape horizontally onto the outside of the tub's apron. Is this deep enough? If not, we can have an insert custom made to go deeper for you. We once had a 12" deep insert custom made for a client who had a 16.5" high Bathfitter liner over a cast iron tub. (We had to cut out both the liner & tub to do the installation.) The client's step in was reduced to 4.5" (outside) with about a 3" lip on the inside (to restrain the shower water inside). See: Photo Page.
Normal bathtub conversions take 5-7 hrs to complete and you can shower (step-in model) in 24 hours; bathe (door model) in 48 hrs.
Since no one can predict the bathing needs of the next homeowner, this is a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, you can spend thousands of dollars remodeling your bathroom and achieve an elegant walk-in shower or bathtub only to have a potential home buyer say that they prefer a Jacuzzi, soaking tub etc. And according to the Remodeling Magazine website, NE Ohio homeowners should expect to recoup only 56% of their 2011-12 bathroom remodel costs. What I encourage my clients to consider is the importance of the installation to them;i.e. how likely would an installation give them the assurance that they'd reduce the chance of a fall and increase their chances of living independently at home longer? On the other hand, if the client still wants "both worlds", they can spend an extra $600 and have the walk-in tub door model installed.
Most installations can be restored back to a better than original bathtub condition via the installation of a tub liner. To do this, the Safeway step would be removed and a tub liner (e.g. ReBath) would be placed over the entire tub. The liner would not only conceal the original tub cut out but also any subsequent "dings" or discoloration the bathtub may have incurred during its "life" as a shower. Surround tub units however are generally not candidates for bathtub liners. Also there are 3rd party adaptation kits available for retrofitting the bathtub to shower conversion kit back to a bathing-only tub.
Unlike many bathtub renovation projects (tear out & replace), our walk thru installations are generally 80-90% LESS than the cost for a typical bathtub to shower remodel. Variables to our cost algorithm include tub's make up (i.e. cast iron, steel or fiberglass) and other factors such work/tool accessibly. Given the proper information over the phone, we usually come in at our estimated cost. Of course an accurate estimate can only be given after a visit to your home (or using photos for long distance jobs.) For more information, go to our Cost page.
Except for old fashioned claw-foot tubs most built-in bathtubs can be converted into step-in / walk-in bathtubs or showers. Other exceptions would include garden and Jacuzzi style tubs. However we've converted the bathtubs in several mobile home communities. And tubs that have a liner, i.e. has the bathtub been re-lined by Bathfitter, Re-Bath®, Nu Bath®, etc.? require an extra step.
First of all, if your tub is pre 1960's, it is more than likely cast iron. Steel tubs (circa 1960-80) had a short run until the fiberglass & acrylic tubs came out in the 70's. Unless they have been refinished, both steel & cast iron have porcelain coatings; to tell the difference use a magnet. Since a magnet won't adhere to either a fiberglass bathtub or a tub with a liner (i.e. Bathfitter, Rebath, etc.), it will demonstrate its strongest propensity to stick to a steel tub more so than to a cast iron tub. (To get the feel for a magnet's attraction to steel, test a magnet on a non stainless steel refrigerator door then your bathtub).
I've been doing bathtub to shower conversions since 2005, so I'll answer this question with a question: In this sue for whatever reason you can get world, do you think that I'd still be in business if my clients were taking me to court for water damage and/or mold? Both products when used according to our directions do not leak. And to date I have never had a call back on an installation.
Unfortunately there is currently isn't an ADA classification / category for tub to shower modifications.
Since the insert used in a tub to shower conversion falls more into the category of a bathtub remodel and not a piece of durable medical equipment, Medicare will not reimburse the expense. From here, the avenues of assistance monies are minimal. First, seniors should check with their local department on aging and/or United Way. Locally only one out of four of our surrounding counties have a gifting program for seniors. In another county, an endowment given to a church was earmarked for helping seniors. Also the VA (Veterans Association) has stepped up on occasion with funds for those who served in combat and are in need of monetary assistance.
The short answer is yes. But before you rush off to order a kit, please consider that I have invested over $400 in tools just to be equipped to do bathtub to shower & walk-in bathtub conversions. Also I know how to measure your tub in order to procure the proper size insert that will compliment the rail. Next consider that once you make the tubcut, you're committed to completing the job - even if it means replacing the bathtub with a shower unit (which in turn could require relocating & re-plumbing the drain). Lastly if you cut the insert incorrectly, you'll have to order another shower conversion kit, at which point you could probably have had the job done professionally for less money.
The long answer is that your DIY tub to shower conversion project could end up being an expensive one-time project. Starting in 2011, Safeway Step began partnering with Home Depot for tub to shower installations (similar to the agreement they have with Re-Bath). While the Safeway Step roll-out will first occur in larger markets, somewhere "down the road" you will be able to purchase a Safeway Step installation thru NE Ohio Home Depot stores. When this service becomes available in NE Ohio, I hope that local residents will contact me first for a free estimate. We can discuss your situation and if you're comfortable working with me - great! If not, you can always contact Home Depot, and for a nominal estimate fee, they'll send out "whomever" (installer) that they have available in your area.
First of all, we are a family business that has been doing bathtub to shower conversions since 2005. We do not subcontract any of our bathtub conversions. The person you meet / speak to is the person who will do your installation; i.e. no "he said/she said" conflicts. Moreover we are insured & bonded (where necessary) and are members of Concord/Leroy Chamber of Commerce. References are available on request. To learn more about us, visit About Affordable Tub to Step In Showers.
In addition to converting existing bathtubs into step / walk-in showers, we also install grab bars and can expand most existing door ways by 1.5 inches using offset door hinges. We also will perform a safety check of your bathing area and offer recommendations when we come to your house to measure. As for grab bars, we prefer Moen ADA 1.25" diameter bar grab bars which our clients find more comfortable to grip. In addition to being easier to grip, Moen grab bars have collars which hide the mounting screws, plus they offer a complimenting secure mounting system for mounting their grab bar in the newer one piece tub & shower surrounds.
While our market niche of homeowners & institutions extends from Toledo, east to Lorain/Elyria & Cleveland, south to Akron-Mansfield-Parma-Warren and eastward to Erie, PA, you can go to SafewayStep.com to have a local installer contact you. Here you can also learn more about the bathtub to walk-in shower or tub conversion process.