A variety of steam shower units are available from home improvement stores and specialized retailers. The installation process is simple, especially if all of the pipework is already in place, although you will probably need to employ a specialist electrician. The key to successfully installing a steam shower unit is attention to detail. All of the steps must be followed precisely otherwise the steam can damage your home.
Step 1 - Prepare Walls
If you have a shower enclosure which will leave some of your walls exposed, you need to make sure that they are protected from the steam that will be generated. If the walls are not sealed, the moisture can cause mold, mildew, and rot to form and will compromise the integrity of your building. The first layer you need on the walls is a vapor barrier. After attaching the vapor barrier to the studs, cover it with a layer of Durock wallboard. This cement board panel is excellent for applying tiles to and will have a greater resistance to any water than standard plasterboard.
Cover any joints in the board with adhesive mesh tape. The tiles will be laid on top of the wallboard but instead of a standard tile adhesive, you need to use a thinset bonding agent. Non-porous tiles such as ceramic or porcelain are recommended but you can use other tiles as long as you apply a layer of sealant to prevent any moisture passing through.
Step 2 - Install Shower Enclosure
The base of the shower unit must be completely level to allow the water to drain away properly. Use a spirit level to ensure that your base is installed correctly. When it is in position, use self-tapping screws to attach the walls to the base and seal any joints with silicone caulk. When the walls are secure, put the top onto the unit. This prevents the steam from escaping and causing damage to your ceiling.
Step 3 - Add Dedicated Circuit
A steam shower enclosure should have its own dedicated electrical circuit with a ground fault circuit interrupter installed by a professional electrician. If this is not possible, the bathroom should be isolated on its own circuit within your home. The separate circuit is required to protect you from receiving an electric shock while using the unit. The electrician will also be able to connect the electrical wires of the shower unit for you.
Step 4 - Install Ventilation
As a further precaution against mold and mildew forming in your bathroom, it is recommended that you install a ventilation duct and fan to remove the excess moisture from the room. The ventilation required is similar to that in a laundry room for a clothes dryer.
Step 5 - Test Unit
Before using the shower for the first time, you should run the water for 5 or 10 minutes to ensure that any chemical residue in the pipes or unit has been completely removed. You don't want to be breathing in air filled with chemical gases. Check that the controls on the shower unit work correctly and that you know how to control the temperature before getting in.