Do I really need a steam shower?

attygirlNovember 14, 2010

We are in the process of finalizing plans for redoing our master bathroom and our GC is pushing hard for us to go with a steam shower. We have a separate soaking tub with jets. I am not sure I want to pay the extra money for this steam shower thing, but then again, I don't want to give up a good idea if it is really worth it. Does anyone have a steam shower? Why would I want one if I already can soak in my tub? Are there any problems associated with installing such a set-up? And to those who have installed steam showers; would you do it again?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think a steam shower is one of those things where you KNOW you want one or you could just take it or leave it. It's a big expense and not easy to build properly, so unless you really want one (and really did before your GC suggested it)I'd wonder if it's worth it for you.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 11:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course you don't "need" a steam shower. If you want one, you can decide if it is worth the extra money to you. If you don't really want one, why on earth would you pay extra for one?

BTW - your contractor is pushing for this because it is an expensive upgrade and he will make a lot more money.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 2:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

don't need one, didn't want one. something about the idea of extra moisture ...and tile. i admit, i know NOTHING about the workings of a steam shower, so i might be paranoid for no reason, but it just seems like it would be more susceptible to mold down the road.
obviously they're pretty popular so there must be some way to avoid the mold issue but i'm not willing to risk it.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I really want one because we don't have room for a spa tub in our new house, but probably won't do it because of the cost even though I want one. Unless you really want a steam shower (because you love using it at the spa or gym) and think you will use it regularly, it is not worth the extra cost IMHO.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 8:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

unless you live in a 3 million dollar house, I'd say no. Like someone else said, it sounds like a way for your GC to make more money.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am installing one because everything has been ripped out to the studs, and we are replacing plumbing and electrical in the area. Therefore, the expense of adding it in is not that great. Steam is wonderful and it saves water.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2010 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless you really want one, I wouldn't do it. But, WOW! I didn't think you had to have a 3 million dollar house in order to have a steam shower. We took the money that would have gone into a jetted or soaker tub that we would never use and put it into the steam shower I really wanted.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 12:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you like steam? If you have allergies/asthma, it can be very soothing, as long as it doesn't bring along mold. Even the extra moisture can encourage dust mites.

If you picture yourself relaxing in the steam, are you standing or sitting? For me, I love the shot of steam with a regular shower, and sometimes put my face in the hot water just to breathe better. But since two minutes of standing under that is enough,and the shower does it well, I see no need for a steam bath. I'd rather sit and relax in a tub.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 7:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do you live in a cold climate? Do you have joints aches and pains? Do you live a stressful life and taking a steam bath at home would be nice? I think these are realistic reasons to install a steam shower.

The other posters are correct about the technical difficulty of properly installing a steam shower: electrical requirements, water- and vaporproofing, right sizing, right tile, room for a bench, angled ceiling, etc. I would only have a very experienced sub build/install a steam shower.

Another consideration is resale. Will you move in a few years and would a future buyer want a steam shower? Living in a frigid climate would be a strong indicator to me to go ahead and splurge - and this is a splurge.

Only you can decide if you want to spend lots more for a steam shower. I agree with the others that it's a lot of money for something you don't even know you want.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 2:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If your GC said you need a steam shower, then it must be so. After all he spoke. And you heard. When the truth has been spoken there can be no doubt. Only action.

So tell your GC that if you must have a steam shower, then it'll be at his expense. After all, it must be so. It is the truth. And he knows it. Because he spoke it.

Time for another gin and tonic.

Now seriously...

If for whatever reason you think you might want a steam shower later, but not now:

1) It's very common to hide the steam generator under the adjacent tub platform. Is yours located where that could happen? Sometimes they are put in an adjacent closet. Or down below int eh basement. Or up above in the attic. There are restrictions with the installation location, but as long as things are considered now the unit can be installed later.

2) You'll need a water supply to the steam generator. Easy.

3) You'll need electrical to the steam generator. Easy.

4) You'll need a vapor barrier on all six sides of the shower room cube. I usually use Kerdi membrane in steam showers. In steam showers I prefer the membrane to be right behind the tile (a topical membrane) to better control moisture within the shower. So if you can use Kerdi, or another roll-on topical membrane that is a VAPOR barrier (While topical roll on membranes are water barriers, not all are vapor barriers too) then that'll help.

5) The door. With steam you usually want a tightly fitting or a gasketed door. Can future-proofing for that add on be accommodated with your existing design?

6) Ventilation. You don't want a typical fan vent in a steam shower. Steam will be driven up into the fan housing and further along into the duct. It'll condense in the duct and run back down into the fan housing. The steam and condensate can ruin the fan, plus the condensate can drip into the shower. Drip. Drip.

I'll usually put the vent just outside the shower opening. Or use a positive dampered fan grill inside the shower that can be sealed when the steam function is on.

  1. Ceiling. Code usually requires the ceiling to be sloped a minimum of 2" per foot.

Conslusion...with a bit of future-proofing today you can prepare the shower to be a steam shower tomorrow.

Or you can do it all now.

Or chastise your GC if he's giving you add-ons that don't appeal to your lifestyle or your budget.

Best to all...

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MONGOCT, great post, thanks!
Another question I have is what generators are the most reliable and easy to service?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never had a callback on a steam generator. I've installed several different makes over the years; Thermasol, Mr. Steam, Kohler, maybe one other.

Look for one that self-cleans, other than that they are pretty much service-free.

If the end user has no opinion, I'll usually recommend Thermasol geneators, but you really won't be going wrong by choosing one of the others. Some folk will choose a trim/controller package they like and go with that line.

Just makes sure you size the unit appropriately. In a nutshell, you take the volume of the room and multiply that by factors for wall materials, wall insulation, exterior walls, etc. Ceramic tile might be a 1.25 factor, porcelain 1.50, natural stone times 2.0, for example. Just follow the manufacturer's sizing instructions. Too many people just use the room volume without the multipliers and end up with an undersized unit.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mongo, I forgot to mention that I thought your guide on Kerdi installation was outstanding. Although it appears like it's alot to deal with, it just has to be easier than a fiberglass pan. The only issue I see is getting a proper seal around plumbing penetrations.

I have an installation coming up with a 12-12 (45*) pitch ceiling, so I guess I won't be worring about slope ;-). Is there any special consideration with grout and steam?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 8:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks. FWIW, I think Kerdi is pretty easy to install. Plumbing penetrations are as easy as you want to make them.

You can DIY plumbing penetrations with a punched hole in the membrane and a schmere of Kerdi Fix, but in a steam shower for the steam outlet I do recommend the "Kerdi Seal" product. It'll snug up around the pipe, no additional sealant is required. And it's good for contact with the high-temperature steam outlet.

Grout and steam, nothing out of the ordinary there. I've never had a problem with portland cement based grouts.

I do recommend stepping away from natural stones for steam showers. Especially marble. Moisture absorption, discoloration of marble, etc. There are some very nice porcelains that mimic the natural stone look that would be a wiser choice for a steam shower. My simple recommendation there. Not gospel.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 12:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had the same question so here's what we did. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that had a steam shower so that we could test one out and decide if we really liked it enough to build one. Turns out we hated it. Both my husband and I had the same reaction. After the shower filled with steam and we no longer could see two inches in front of our face, I felt like I was choking on the steam. I couldn't see or breathe. Even though ventilation was already on, we immediately threw open the window to escape the suffocating steam. We got our answer to our question fairly quick. The whole experience lasted no more than 3 minutes.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 9:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mongoct i'm about to put in a steam shower and my builder put cement board around the walls - is that enough or will i have a moisture problem later. also, regarding what you said about marble in the shower, i'm using porcelain tile with a marble mosaic border. will the mosaic border hold up in the steam shower?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 4:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cement board is fine as long as there is a bulletproof vapor barrier behind it. I generally prefer a topical membrane instead of one behind the cement board simply due to better moisture control.

It's not that you will have problems with the barrier behind the cement's just that I like to limit the vapor drive in to the wall as much as possible, which is why I prefer topical membranes.

The problem with marble is that it can get a bit natty looking after a while. Marble is porous, and it usually has deposits within the marble...iron being one of them. Iron oxidizes, or rusts, so if your marble has iron, it could discolor a bit, or just look dingy. It kind of loses that "brightness" after a while.

1 Like    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 1:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you everyone for your great input. I've made my steam shower. This has taught me to be more cautious with all these GC "recommendations". I think we can find a better use for our money.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 10:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Although this post is old, I felt compelled to comment. I love using my steamer. Especially after a work-out. The moisture concern is over blown. Residential steamers are only working perhaps 3-4 times a week for say 40 minute intervals--Max. Tiling the walls and ceiling, of course is good enough. Running the pan liner up the walls say 24-36" is not a bad idea but this should be all you need. Commercial applications where the generator is on several hours at a time is a different story.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 8:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We gutted our bathroom - the steam shower was something that was not on our "want" list. My brother-in-law has one and he loves it and said now would be the time "if" we wanted to put one in due to having the surrounding area getting replaced anyway. So . . . . we thought about it and installed a Mister Steam (generator placed in the attic above) the shower. We built e a small operable window in our shower so when we use the steam - we close the window. We have had no problems whatsoever with it and I enjoy adding a drip or two of eucyliyptus oil where the steam is released and love love love it. When we are done - yes - "we" - the window gets opened, no mold, no mildew, etc. It is a luxury yes . . . will you use it? We do, especially on a cold night or after exercising. I also use my air tub almost every day. Now that I have hit 50 with three kids in college, I am taking some time to enjoy a little bit of pampering. Instead of having to pay for an expensive hotel to enjoy a "spa like" bath, we treated ourselves to one at home where we enjoy it everyday. What is it worth to you? I figured this is probably the last time I do a major remodel in this room so we spoiled ourselves. We also put a light in the shower (never had that either) and it's actually nice having light in the shower while I am shaving my legs or just to have it brighter! Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You would know when a steam shower is desirable because you would be seeking it out, no pitch would be required by a contractor, friend or relation. My wife has asthma and the steam really helps her breathing; there are many other health benefits as well for those with chronically sore joints, muscles and various skin issues.

Here is a link that might be useful: Master bathroom renovation underway...

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we finished the unfinished basement we were able to put a steam shower in. It really didn't cost that much more than a regular tiled shower would have cost (we went with a custom tiled shower instead of a standard pan base because of the odd size of the room.)

It was the first steam shower that my tile guy did, and he was very excited about doing it. He and I researched the requirements, he used the appropriate watertight backing and drywall, and we were able to put the steam generator on the other side of the wall in the garage, so plumbing was kept to a minimum. We sloped the ceiling to the required proportions, and I found a simple glass door made especially for steam showers.

Several things to remember:

1) Get the right sized generator for the cubic footage of the shower area. It will still take a while to heat up the shower to where you're comfortable, there is enough steam, and the tile is warm enough to sit on. In ours, I have to run it thru one full 25 minute cycle before I enter.

2) Make sure you plan for some sort of seating area, either built-in, or a waterproof seat of some sort.

3) Make sure your tile guy uses the correct sort of caulk for a steam shower. We had to replace the caulk we first used in the corner joints because the steam made it dry and shrivel up. We used a clear silicone made for heat the second go round and have had no problems.

4) It helps to get a large squeegee (I use a 12" one meant for windows) to dry down the entire shower after you have a steam session. Otherwise you'll be leaving the vent fan on for 24 hours while the shower dries out. The ceiling tends to be the last thing to get dry, so if you squeegee it while the tile is still hot, in an hour the whole shower will be clean and dry.

5) If you're in a cold climate, you'll use it a lot. We also have a hot tub outside, and tend to alternate. But the steam shower has been a really great thing to have. Admittedly we don't use it more than once or twice a week, but it's nice to have it there.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 8:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Funny how these things work... I have ignored this post several times over the past few months, and today after talking to our designer/builder who also suggested we put in a steam shower, it was just serendipity that this post was moved up to the top again.

I loved Mongo's reply because now I'm afraid I'm going to fall for many things over the next little while. WE are doing a total house renovation (2800 sq ft), 3 bathrooms. We did the first one (in basement) all on our own, but after 3 years we are getting tired, and now are putting on two small additions (~ 200 sq ft), and so have hired a design/build team. A steam shower wasn't even on our radar, and as his rough estimate for total costs has gone WAY over our initial budget, I'm beginning to feel a combination of buyer's remorse and out and out panic.

We hadn't even convinced ourselves we really want two sinks...LOL

I also think the idea of trying it out at a B&B is brilliant, but wonder how the heck I find one...

Attygirl- how is your bathroom coming along?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 3:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have done 3 bathrooms in our NYC townhouse, each of them custom and luxurious, one of them epochal.

However, the one that gives me the most pleasurable experience is the small shower with rain head, side jets, hand shower (Hansgrohe) combined with steam shower. I improvise hydrotherapy by making each of the three shower systems different temperatures. Then I turn on the steam. I only use it 2 or 3 times a month. We used Kerdi, but did not slope the ceiling. I turn on cold water to condense the steam when I exit. I do not have a special door, and a small amount of steam escapes, but it does not matter. The steam is more relaxing than the 65x65 spa bath with air jets, water jets and chromatherapy. It really did not cost much to install.

No one needs this. But it is very relaxing. The fact is that you never know how much you will use something like this until you build it.

Our spa bath is spectacular, breathtaking even. But we rarely use it. Although rose petals can be very romantic.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 1:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I haven't tried my new steam shower - but I do have a question.

The builder installed my generator above the actual shower enclosure. They built an area above the shower and put doors on it in case the generator would need serviced.

Is that an allowable place to put the generator? I've had visions of it falling thru the ceiling of the shower and getting electocuted !!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mine was installed in the attic directly above the shower area or off to the side of the shower. Our entire shower is completely tiled in. I don't worry about it nor do I worry about the heater or air conditioner falling through the kitchen or living room ceiling either. There are beams in the attic and many of those items are "braced" to wood in case of earthquakes, etc. I have a flat screen on the wall at the foot of the tub though - if my husband got REALLY mad at me I guess he could loosen it and cause an accidental electrocution from the back side of the same wall with a strong slam or jolt. I better be good I guess! If my posts come to a sudden halt, please contact the authorities!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We stayed at a B&B just as we were starting our master bath redo, and got to try out the steam shower. I had been pushing DH to get one (he is the shower guy) and he resisted.

I stopped pushing after the experience. The steam came on and smelled strongly of hot metal, then I started coughing. After about 5 minutes I finally stopped coughing and could say that it was OK, not great. The shower was an odd shape and size, that didn't help the experience, the tile seat was uncomfortable. It would be helpful if you lived in a cold climate (we don't) or if you have asthma, allergies, sinus, etc - great with a stuffy head, although the coughing and choking was a bit much. DH was only eh about it as well, so we passed.

Try it first if possible.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

oooh I can't wait until my master bath is finished and I can use my steam shower! Yes, it is an unnecessary luxury, but I figure we deserve it! I am more a shower than a bath person, and often run the hot water tank cold, wile showering, This will be more environmentally friendly, and I can feel less guilty about water consumption!


    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 5:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a Mr. Steam in my last house but wished that I put in professional steam doors...building again and I will do it right this time....I used fake marble in the last steam room and it shrunk after a couple of years and we had to caulk every couple of months...always loved it but the area was too small..this house it will be a
4X7 steam shower....and good tile really works..I am also putting in small lights about the size of a pen light in the floor tile that will shine up when I steam...very relaxing effect...saw this at a steam room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas...they had the professional glass and makes a difference. I used that Steam room everyday in the winter and went back and forth from the steam to the cold pool...very good for the body!! You never know what you can pick up from a public steam room...a private one at home is the BEST CHOICE!

This post was edited by 123solarmaninvegas on Wed, Dec 19, 12 at 7:35

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Me I have ALLERGIES, HAY FEVER, CONGESTION and SINUS Problems.. I AM 59 NOW BUT i was 55 when I had my home remodeled and was initially going to put a Jacuzzi 48 '' shower thingy in with a bench.
When my framer said let me build you a real shower..Something that 5 years from now you will be happy I put it in for you. So he put in a 5 ft by 6 ft by 7.5 ft framed in shower with a 3 ft bench. I followed the John Bridges forum [online] and bought a kerdi kit online from EBAY . The I helped direct my master carpenter into putting up cement board and then Kerdi.
Then got a plumber involved and finally then the tile contractor came in and did his thing as well. I got an appropriately sized Thermasol Steam Shower Unit from Craigslist.. believe it or not .. for only 200.00 That user was remodeling his bath and wanted the faster on model call Thermasol- PRO which is an instant on/always on model.

I found the older Steamer controls from Clearance sales at plumber supply stores on ebay/Internet. All IN I think I spent 2000.00 more then if I had just done a regular shower. that includes the cost of the 500.00 kerdi kit and floor.
Now fast forward to 5 years later.. that was the best 2000.00 I EVER spent too... no more SINUS HEADACHES... It is the perfect next step after being on the treadmill and bicycle exercise to wind down.
It only uses 2 gallons of water as opposed to our Jacuzzi which uses 67 gallons of water to take 1 bath..Meanwhile the least often used Jacuzzi cost 4500.00 then and is not used as often now. We got the extra thermasol control unit [outside the door] that allows us to cut the steam unit on 10 minutes before I get in it so it is at a temperature around 80 degrees upon my entrance. I have it on a 'cycle' that goes up to 100 degrees for 10 minutes and the unit cuts off in 30 minutes. [Enough for me...] had a tight fitting glass door 34 '' X 72'' and a 4inch vent glass above the door. [These door measurements are items your framer needs B4 building one.and whether it will have a vent]
Ours has the fan outside the vent door. We chose the PANASONIC fans that are almost commercial use.. They get the moisture out in 10 minutes when humidity is 50 percent or lower. Found the fan on EBAY for 200. We are happier with the steam shower then the 6 ft JACUZZI we purchased and installed at the same time. NO MOLD PROBLEMS EITHER...
Pre planning and careful reading of that John Bridges website is the information I got right here off of GARDEN WEB. i'd highly recommend you see what other DIY'S are doing and saving money doing it..

2 Likes    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 7:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Make sure you pick the right size. They all have different power levels and steam.

This link can help you size the right steam shower engine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sizing your steam shower engine

1 Like    Bookmark   January 28, 2015 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have a jacuzzi tub and a steam shower. We NEVER use the Jacuzzi tub (takes forever to fill and water gets cold after just a few minutes). We literally used it only one time. We use the steam shower every day. If it broke tomorrow, i'd pay whatever it took to fix it!! It's the single greatest thing I could think to add to a house (except maybe a pool if you live in Florida/Texas/SoCal).

  • Relaxing
  • saves water
  • no cleaning/mold (though we live in dry climate)
1 Like    Bookmark   March 4, 2015 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tundra Finish Works LLC

YES you need one. Preferably curbless with A linear drain and top of the line vapourproofing.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2015 at 3:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
John Whipple - By Any Design ltd.

Good point about the vapour proofing Tundra.

Not all are created equal. I recommend to people that they use a vapour proofing material that is good for high use builds and can work with modified thin-set.

Most do but there are a few products out there not suited for this. Be careful picking.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 6, 2015 at 5:59AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Which latricrete products for full shower build?
I'm a bit confused about all the various Latricrete...
mother of pearl tile
I'm thinking of doing my master bath with mother of...
amerec vs mr steam vs thermasol steam shower
Trying to choose a steam shower for a 4 x 5 shower...
Does anyone have their light switch NOT by the BR door?
Our new bathroom will be 5' deep by 11' long. There...
Anyone installed a Geberit in wall tank?
DH is getting ready to do the install in a 2 x 4 wall,...
Sponsored Products
Serena & Lily Shower Curtain Liner
Serena & Lily
Straight Trak Rod
Signature Hardware
Terrene Jupiter Blend 1x1 Glass Tiles
$15.95 | TileBar
Tranquility Cotton White Cloud 2-piece Bath Mat Set
Kristal Concealed 2 Outlet Triple Thermostatic Shower Valve (Oval)
Hudson Reed
Garden Watering Wand
$24.50 | FRONTGATE
Polished Chrome Ceiling Mounted Arm and Shower Head
Eago 18 in. Round Ceramic Above Mount Bathroom Sink - BA141
$169.00 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™