In 2022, more people are looking for ways to unwind and create a resort-like experience at home. Bathroom remodeling projects have been on the rise since 2019 and show no signs of slowing down. Steam showers are one spa-inspired feature that is making their way into people’s homes. These specialized shower systems offer an enhanced bathing experience that is linked to improved health and better sleep. They are also appealing to home buyers and can increase your home’s resale value if you decide to sell. If you are considering a steam shower for your bathroom, here is everything you need to know.
What is a Steam Shower?
A steam shower supplies a continuous stream of relaxing, spa-like steam to elevate your morning or evening routine. It can be an added component of a standard shower or installed as a separate standalone unit in your bathroom.
A steam shower can elevate your shower experience by producing steam at a temperature of your choice
Built-in control settings for a custom experience
Helps with relaxation and stress relief
Soothes sore muscles
Improves resale value
A steam shower requires water and electricity to operate, as well as a sealed enclosure to maintain a constant temperature and humidity. While it is possible to retrofit an existing shower and bathtub into a steam shower, it will require a sealed door and enclosure plus connections to your home’s water supply and electrical system.
You will also need a backer board and vapor barrier to prevent moisture buildup behind the walls, in addition to tile or stone along the shower floor, walls, and ceiling. Because of the labor required, custom steam showers are often installed by a professional during a full bathroom remodel.
A prefabricated steam shower kit is another option. It is customarily sold as a DIY package and includes the enclosure or stall, generator, steam head, valve, and control panel. Your bathroom should be large enough to accommodate the stall’s dimensions and provide easy access to plumbing and electricity. Installing a steam shower kit can be a DIY weekend project. But if adding or moving piping and wiring is required, you may need to consult with an electrician and plumber for professional assistance.
How Does a Steam Shower Work?
The technology behind a home steam shower is simple. A file box-sized generator draws water from your home’s plumbing system and heats it to 212 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam. The generator then moves the steam to the showerhead that you control to release it into the stall according to your preferences.
You will need to have a dedicated space near the shower stall to keep the generator. A vanity cabinet, closet, or under a bench outside the stall are examples of good installation locations. Above the stall in an attic can also be an option, but only if the space is climate controlled and not susceptible to extreme temperatures.
Steam shower controls allow you to create your desired experience, depending on the unit you purchase. Steam shower settings and controls can be installed outside and inside the shower stall. Many steam shower owners prefer having controls in both locations to manage steam settings outside and inside the stall. Standard settings include:
- Temperature control
- Amount of steam
- Shower duration
You can make it a multi-sensory experience with aromatherapy diffusers, music, and lighting.
Steam Showers vs. Saunas
While both can be used for relaxation and stress relief, the main differences between a steam shower and a sauna are moisture and temperature. A steam shower is a high-humid environment that ranges from 110 to 115 degrees. A sauna provides a source of dry heat with temperatures from approximately 150 to 190 degrees.
Benefits of Steam Showers
A steam shower can be good for your health and the planet. Here are a few of the top steam shower benefits.
How Much Does a Steam Shower Cost?
The cost of a steam shower can vary depending on whether or not you choose a prefabricated unit or a custom design. If part of a larger renovation, adding a steam shower will increase your total bathroom remodeling costs.
|Custom steam shower||Prefab steam shower kit|
|Generator and parts||$1,500 to $5,000||$2,000 to $5,000|
|Materials and installation||$1,000 to $15,000||$600 to $1,000|
To build a custom steam shower, your bathroom may require demolition of an existing shower, plumbing and electrical labor, and installation of a shower enclosure, glass door, and tile work. Your desired shower size will be a big determining factor in your final cost, as it will affect the price you pay for the steam generator, parts, and materials.
A prefabricated steam shower kit comes in a complete kit and includes all materials and components. Your choice of design will be limited, and you will still need to budget for some electrical and plumbing work.
What to Look For in a Steam Shower
While understanding how a steam shower works is straightforward, shopping for one may be confusing. Here are a few important things to think about when comparing manufacturers, models, and features.
Your steam generator unit must have the power to heat the area of your shower stall. To determine how much power you will need, calculate your shower’s volume.
- Take and multiply your stall’s dimensions: Width x Length x Height.
- Your wall material will affect how much power you will need. For example, if using tile, multiply your stall’s volume from number one by 1.35 or 2.0 for marble.
- Exterior walls will also determine your power needs, since the generator will have to work harder to maintain a constant temperature inside the shower. Take your volume calculated from number two and multiply by 1.1 for one exterior wall or 1.2 for two.
Take your final adjusted cubic foot measurement and compare it to manufacturers’ recommendations. Generator sizes are measured in Kilowatts or KW — a larger shower requires a generator with more power. Generator sizes range from 7KW for a cubic foot range of 100 to 250, and up to 15KW for 550 to 675.
How a generator produces steam is another important consideration. Different manufacturers will have different methods, so it is important to know what your priorities are to make the best decision to meet your needs.
Some generators will use a single heating element to create steam. Others may include two or more. Multiple heating elements allow for a constant stream of steam and prevent heat fluctuations to maintain your comfort and relaxation.
A steam shower control pad will turn the generator on and off and will allow you to control the shower’s temperature. Most controls will also include the option to adjust the volume of steam released into the stall as well as a timer.
Beyond the basic controls, you can upgrade your shower experience with optional features like a touch screen, remote control, and other luxurious option to transport you to your favorite day spa:
- Wi-fi and/or Bluetooth capabilities for music
- Dimmable LED lights or chromotherapy lights for ambiance
- Aromatherapy pump that atomizes your favorite essential oils for relaxing or mood-boosting scents
You will have to manually flush out your generator regularly to remove calcium deposits every 50 uses or so. For added convenience, look for steam shower manufacturers that offer self-cleaning features, like automatic line flushing of both the waterline and generator.
Are There Any Downsides to Steam Showers?
A steam shower in your bathroom is the ultimate luxury, but it also comes with more items to add to your chore and household maintenance lists. It is important to be aware of the following potential drawbacks.
Installing a generator with self-cleaning features will help, but it is only half the battle. To keep your steam shower functioning optimally, squeegee the tile and open the door to dry out the stall after each use. Wipe down the tile and grout with an appropriate cleaning solution at least once a week, and plan to reseal tile grout at least twice a year.
Steam showers can make you feel amazing and increase your home’s resale value, but they may not be suitable for everyone. You should be in generally good health to withstand the heat and humidity of a steam shower. Pregnant people and those with underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart issues should consult their doctor before considering a steam shower for their home.