Steam showers are one of the most desirable amenities in bathrooms today, but for many homeowners, it still doesn’t seem like a realistic project. This is an experience reserved for health spas and gym memberships. Putting in a steam shower at home would be too problematic and expensive—and besides, most people probably wouldn’t use it as much as they think.
Or would they? When you realize that a quality, functional, durable steam shower can actually be installed in the privacy of your own home—at a cost that’s entirely reasonable—you might think twice about this luxurious bathroom upgrade.
What’s the experience like?
Essentially, a steam shower is just like the steam room at your favorite luxury spa or hotel. With the touch of the button, your shower stall fills with warm, healing vapor. It’s the perfect way to rejuvenate after that long day at the office or grueling physical workout. It’s also an ideal amenity for cutting the winter chill.
There are also documented health benefits, including: Better skin tone and completion, relaxed muscles and joints, better circulation, increased metabolism, elimination of toxins, reduced stress levels, and overall feelings of wellbeing.
How steam showers actually work
A functional steam shower in your home bathroom involves a few basic (but important) components. First, you need a steam generator that takes cold water, heats it to the point of boiling, and releases it through an apparatus as steam. The generator can be installed either inside or outside of the bathroom (in a utility closet, for example), and must be integrated into your plumbing system. It will come with digital or manual controls (depending on the model) that allow you to adjust settings like temperature and time. Some models allow you to infuse the steam with aromas such as Eucalyptus.
The other vital part of your steam shower is a moisture-proof enclosure to keep the steam inside. In other words, you need an upgraded shower stall. You’ll probably also want a bench on which to relax during steam sessions, but the finer design points will depend on budget and personal taste.
There are many details involved, and it’s crucial to make sure your steam shower is built right. An experienced contractor will be able to recognize all the requirements of your particular space, and advise you accordingly. The ceiling above the enclosure may need to be sloped, all visible fixtures and wood may need to be protected, and even the areas outside the steam shower may need to be fitted with waterproof membranes. This sounds complicated, but to a seasoned expert, it’s all very straightforward. The object is to give you a highly functional steam shower that lasts for many years, while protecting the rest of the bathroom from moisture damage and avoiding pesky operational problems down the line.
How will all of this actually get done?
A qualified plumber will perform the installation work, and a reputable bathroom renovation specialist will build the actual shower stall. In some cases, home renovation companies are able to handle the entire process for a flat fee. Construction may involve relatively minor adaptations to your existing shower stall, or it may entail serious renovations. Again, this depends on budget, tastes and existing infrastructure.
Costs and considerations
Most homeowners spend between $2500 – $6000 on shower stall installations, including the plumbing and construction work. This is less than people often expect, especially given the relaxation and health benefits involved. There are, however, operating costs to consider. While steam showers are incredibly efficient in terms of water usage (a few gallons of water will create an hour’s worth of steam in most cases), they do use a fair amount of electricity. Periodic repairs may also be necessary, depending on the generator you choose and the quality of installation.
Ultimately, steam showers are supposed to be a source of relaxation, not stress! Finding a contractor who is experienced, reputable, and attentive to your individual needs is the best way to make your personal steam shower a rejuvenating dream come true.