A steam generator for your shower is a straightforward install and can be done by an experienced DIY person. Before you install a steam generator there are several things to consider about the procedure.
Installing a steam generator in an existing shower will cause mold and wood rot most of the time. Few showers are constructed to be steam vapor tight and will result in damage to your bathroom. This will start showing in a few months. It is best to do your shower right before adding a steam generator.
It is highly recommended that the shower be upgraded to meet the unique needs of a steam shower before adding a steam generator.
Steam showers come in many forms, from the stand alone to the fully enclosed tiled shower. The stand alone shower will be the quickest way to get a steam shower. This is usually a fully enclosed glass shower with an external steam generator.
A stand alone steam shower is available in many sizes and shapes. A corner shower could be a shape that fits your needs.
A stand alone steam shower can be assembled in your bathroom and be vapor tight when installed correctly. These are not a cheap solution but cost less than a custom built steam shower. The starting price for a stand alone shower is $3,000 and up in 2023 dollars. Installation is not included.
Installation could exceed $3,000 when the electrical and plumbing upgrades are counted.
This could be a good choice for the DIY person as it is not as labor intensive as a custom shower. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed to ensure there are no steam vapor leaks.
Any steam shower will require an electrical upgrade to supply the power requirements of the steam generator. A few steam generators will operate on 120V AC power, but will be slow making steam. Most require 240V power and a good heavy amperage circuit. (30 - 60amps) The 240V AC powered ones will make steam much more quickly.
Install a Steam Shower
If your space is limited and no room to add a steam shower you can remove your existing tub or shower and replace it with a stand alone steam shower. This is a doable solution and requires some demolition and repair of the walls where the old tub or shower was. In some cases the floor may need some additional upgrades.
If your bathroom has gotten old and needs a renovation, a steam shower could well be a solution for that part of the remodel.
A custom built shower will start around $10,000 and escalate from there to $50,000, or more, depending on your choices of accessories and the size of the shower.
A steam shower must be fully vapor sealed to prevent mold and wood rot in the bathroom from the steam condensing inside the walls.
If you plan is for a custom steam shower there are many construction techniques to consider. To properly seal a steam shower to prevent the steam escaping into the bathroom and causing extensive damage, it must be sealed following the respective manufacturer’s instructions.
Sealing a shower to prevent steam leakage will involve many steps and much work.
To be done properly for a long lasting install, it would be best to demolish your existing shower back to the stud wall and start from that perspective.
Constructing the Steam Shower
When you have stripped your shower back to the wall studs, you will need to redo the plumbing and install wiring for the steam generator controls, along with any lighting, and optional speakers.
The ceiling of the shower area will need modified to have a slope of at least 2” per foot to drain off any condensation.
When the ceiling, plumbing, and wiring modifications have been done, it is then time to cover the walls with your chosen backer board. The choices here are numerous and your research of the many types of wall cover can help you decide the type of wall to construct.
I will mention a few of them here. There are the Schluter Systems products that offer a moisture and steam proof shower enclosure materials. Some examples are Kerdi membranes for covering over a waterproof wallboard or a Kerdiboard to use in constructing the shower walls.
Kerdiboard is a foam board with the Kerdi waterproof cover applied and comes in different thicknesses. Although Kerdiboard is lightweight it can be used for walls, and seating benches can be constructed from the Kerdiboard. All seams will require additional sealing to make the install vaporproof.
The instructions supplied with the Schluter Systems should be followed to make the install the best possible. Following the instructions exactly will result in a several year waterproof warranty from the manufacturer.
Schluter Systems offers a training program to ensure you understand the importance of how to use their products in constructing your shower.
There are many other systems for sale. Do your research and be informed before you commit to a purchase.
Roll on membranes such as Redguard can be very effective at sealing a shower for both moisture and steam vapor. There are other brands out there for sale that will be just as effective.
Redguard is applied to a waterproof board after it is installed in the shower. All seams should be caulked with an approved sealant before applying the Redguard membrane. Several coats of this roll on membrane will seal very well and last a long time.
The additional coats can be applied in quick succession as the material dries very quickly. It changes color as it dries and this is an indicator that the next coat can be applied.
When the Redguard has dried it is time to tile. The tile will be applied directly to the Redguard covered backer board. Usually tiles are attached using thinset, but some will call for an adhesive to secure the tiles to walls and ceilings..
An experienced DIY person can do a steam shower renovation, but it will take some time and quite a few dollars. It is done in steps and as each step is completed, you will need to move on to the next step.
The final step is placing the tile and this is not beyond the abilities of experienced DIY persons. Tiling tools such as tile cutters and tile saws can be easily rented and most rentals are not too expensive. Some people will want to hire a professional tile installer to do this.
Tiling and then grouting the tile will finish the steam shower. The remaining controllers, lights, thermostats, speakers, and any other accessories will do the finishing touches.
This is the time to install the shower door. Be sure to install it so that no steam escapes when it is closed.
Taking care to follow proven techniques in constructing your steam shower will pay off in the shower’s longevity. Careless construction will result in steam vapor leaks that will get in the bathroom walls causing mold and rot. This will require expensive repairs and the bathroom being un-usable during renovation.
Another possibility is to construct your steam shower outdoors in the backyard. If your governmental agencies that control construction will approve a permit for an outdoor steam shower that would be worth considering.
It would present a new set of construction challenges, but is definitely doable. A stand alone shower could be installed in an outdoor storage shed and no one would know you had a steam shower.
New Home Construction
If a new home is in your future, a steam shower might be on your “must have” list. This is a good time to build a steam shower in such a way that it can do double duty, both as a conventional shower and a steam shower. Planning a steam shower for new construction is the least expensive time to construct one.
Planning for layout and space needs can fit right into your house plans and should go smoothly to completion. A steam shower would be a good choice for your new home. It could help with the resale of the home if you ever have a need to move on.
The steam generator controls can be hardwired, WiFi, or Bluetooth connected. Lights and speakers can be controlled in the same fashion. The controls are inside the shower and are waterproof making them easy to use.
The choice is up to the individual and their budget. Many choices are offered to the public and the author makes no recommendations as the electronic world changes on a daily basis.
Personal research of home build magazines, home supply stores, internet sources, and any personal contacts can result in new information about steam showers. New materials and construction techniques are constantly being offered to the home building market.
Temperature controls to keep the steam shower from getting too hot will be a good accessory to have. It will stop the steam generator until the shower cools back to a preset level. This would be considered a safety feature. Some generators have this thermostat installed at the factory.
A steam generator automatic drain valve will be worth its cost. It will open a drain valve and let the steam generator drain after each use. This will reduce the amount of mineral scale buildup in the steam generator and extend its usable life.
Steam Shower Pro
A steam shower can:
Promote healthy skin by aiding blood circulation and adding needed moisture.
Relieve congestion by helping the lungs to open up and relax.
Activate your circulation.
Reduce stiff joints and recover faster from strains and bruises.
Steam the stress away and promote relaxation aiding the body in dealing with any stress related problems.
Steam Shower Con
A steam shower can:
Cost many dollars in maintenance and requires more maintenance than a regular shower.
Require a moisture wipe down after each use.
Cause medical problems for some persons. (heart patients should consult their doctor before using a steam shower)
Promoted some diseases by the warm wet environment. (athletes foot is one example)
Increase your electrical expense.
Cause bathroom bottlenecks as some people will want extended time in the steam shower. (you should limit time to no more than 10 minutes in the steam shower per session)
Cause skin problems if you stay in the steam shower too long.
A steam shower can be a beneficial experience and many people will enjoy having one. If a steam shower will benefit you, then go ahead and get one, and enjoy the relaxing effects it will have for you. A few people should not use a steam shower due to medical conditions.
Heart patients are advised to consult with their doctor before using a steam shower. Some heart conditions can be helped by using a steam shower, but other conditions can be aggravated by the steam shower environment.
Some people with certain respiratory issues should refrain from using the steam shower. Some respiratory problems will be helped with a steam shower. Consult your doctor for recommendations.
If you are interested in a steam shower, find out all you can about them and then make your decision if one is in your future. If you decide to move forward with the steam shower construction, the next decision is to DIY or hire a contractor.
Your personal budget constraints and your DIY expertise all come into play in the equation.
Can you afford it? Do you have enough DIY experience to complete the task? If you do a makeover of a bathroom in your home, do you have another bathroom to use during the construction time? Will you use a steam shower enough to justify all the costs associated with it, both money and time wise?
All these questions need answered to make the right decision. If the answers are all yes, then get going on your planning! When you have completed the steam shower you can enjoy all the benefits of having a steam shower.