Nothing feels more detoxifying than a session at a steam spa. Under the high heat of steam, your body is pumped up, toxins are flushed out and its warmth simply feels therapeutic. While it’s an irresistible treat you want for yourself all the time, going to these fancy establishments frequently is not the most practical thing to do.
You may be surprised to learn that you can experience the wonders of steam without having to leave your home– and it’s more attainable than you’d expect! Just go inside your own bath, sit and set the controls, and voila, your body is slowly enveloped in a warm and aromatic cloud of steam!
Redefine “spa day” and convert your very own bath into a luxurious steam spa with the help of this guide:
|Steps in converting your bath into a steam room|
When building an at-home steam shower, you have 2 options: buy a prefabricated steam shower, or convert and customize your existing shower into one.
For more convenient and budget-friendly shopping, there are full package steam shower units that are sold as one entire system and can be inserted into your existing shower space.
Meanwhile, with a custom-made steam shower, you have the flexibility to plan the layout beforehand and add other luxury equipment like fancy showerheads and shower panels. You may also opt for a simpler setup by only adding a sealed shower door, tiled surfaces with non-porous material, and a steam generator with controls in your existing shower.
Now, how can I turn my shower into an in-home steam room?
STEP ONE: Choose the right steam generator
What is a Steam Generator?
A steam generator is a stainless-steel reservoir that boils water to release vapor into a steam head and then to the shower enclosure. When activated, its electric heating technology heats up water to its boiling point, which in turn, produces vapor. This is basically how a steam generator works, and it’s vital to any steam spa.
As mentioned earlier, you can just add a steam generator to a conventional shower if you have no plans of remodeling the space. While the idea is pretty basic, the devil is in finding the right generator unit for your room so you can best optimize your steam experience. What size of steam generator do I need? How can it be installed in my room? Do I go for the cheaper ones or those at the higher end? Can it serve my relaxation needs?
In choosing the right steam generator, consider these factors:
Size of Room and Steam Generator. What size of steam generator do I need? Finding the right size of steam generator requires knowing the exact measurement of your steam room. Bigger rooms will need larger generators, while tiny bathrooms–even as small as 3x3 feet –can still be turned into a steam oasis with smaller steam generators.
The compatibility of the steam generator’s size and the shower’s dimensions will greatly dictate how fast and efficient the unit can steam up the room. Choosing the wrong size may lead to oversteaming or not producing enough steam to fill the room.
In determining which size of steam generator is the right for your room, it’s best to use sizing charts or steam generator sizing calculators like Mr. Steam’s. Be sure to make the necessary adjustments for other room variables like windows, exterior walls, the ceiling’s height, and the room surface material. For instance, a room with windows/skylight or an enclosure positioned on the exterior of your house’s wall may need a larger generator.
Power and water consumption. How much energy will it consume? If you’re worried about the electric or water bill, steam generators are incredibly energy-efficient. When it comes to water consumption, a residential steam generator consumes a mere 2 gallons of water for every 30 mins. of usage. It’s surely a “green” way to bath compared to showers and bathtubs. For comparison, the average American showers for about 8 minutes, which uses as much as 16 gallons of water [Source: The Water Research Foundation]. Baths even more– with water consumption ranging between 35 and 50 gallons.
Electrical cost is relatively small too. Costs vary based on the energy price and the steam generator’s size. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average U.S. energy costs are about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. So a 6.5 kW generator operating for 30 minutes ( 10 minutes spent for warm-up, 20-minute for the actual steam shower) will cost you only about 42 cents per shower.
CAVEAT: Every steam generator will use a different amount of water and power depending on several factors: such as size and efficiency, number of steam heads, shower size, and stall materials. Still, there are units like Steam Planet’s Superior 6kw that have been reviewed and proven by multiple customers and experts to have relatively lower power consumption, yet are high in quality and reliability.
Installation and Location. How can it be installed in my room? A steam generator’s usual package comes with everything you need for the installation– the manual, necessary pipes and other essential tools. However, it’s not your typical DIY sauna bath. It’s best to have it installed by a licensed professional to ensure special electrical and plumbing connections are in place and will work well with the generator.
How far can the steam generator be from the shower? is the more crucial question. A steam generator can be placed up to 30 feet away from the shower. But don’t worry because it can be housed in a number of out-of-sight spots like at an adjacent bathroom cabinet, a basement directly below the steam spa, a bench inside the steam shower, and even in the attic directly above the shower– provided the location is dry, properly ventilated (w/ 12 inches of space around the generator) and has access to electricity and water.
Features and accessories. Can it serve my relaxation needs? Different brands of steam generators offer unique features and technology to customize your steam experience. A steam generator may be equipped with some or all of these features and luxury extras:
Featured product: WiFi Superior SMART Steam Shower Generator Kit 12kW
- Aromatherapy outlets– for adding essential oils and aromatic scents
- Chromatherapy- colored therapy lights that set the mood
- Music Therapy- allows the user to add music of their choice for a more enjoyable "me time"; usually WiFi-operated for user convenience
- Fast heating and steady flow of steam- for an unhampered steaming relaxation
- Self-cleaning system- to automatically flush out old water and impurities, prolonging the life of the steam generator
- Safety features like automatic shutdown features, self-draining valves, temperature sensors and timer - to prevent overheating, damage, corrosion, and for an overall stress-free steam bathing
- Dual keypad controls and noise-less technology- so you can enjoy a tranquil bath without the hassle of getting up from the bench just to adjust the steam settings
- Drainage pan- to collect and capture water released from the generator and surrounding area
While these features are deemed as luxury add ons, they are greatly functional to ensure the longevity and performance of the unit, likewise the user satisfaction. Choose features according to your relaxation needs. You may find some features unnecessary and some more useful– especially if they can help soothe specific health conditions. [Read: Hot vs. Cold: 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Bathing]
Price and Warranty- Do I go for the cheaper ones or those at the higher end? When it comes to price, a lot of factors come into play. But like everything else, we want what’s best for our budget. Steam generators range in price from less than $800 to over $8,000 for full-size commercial models. Prices vary widely depending on the brand, features, warranty, and additional accessories.
How much does a steam shower cost? Here’s a price comparison made by Forbes Advisor:
Image source: Forbes Advisor
As buyers, carefully assess your options. A high price tag doesn't always ensure good quality. For instance, the price difference between physical and online stores. While physical stores give customers the exact picture of what the item looks and feels like, the prices are understandably higher considering the fees and expenses they have to cover (salary of staff, utility bills, rent, etc.)
This is where online stores have leverage; they can offer lower prices simply because they don't have as many expenses. This is only a fraction of all the factors to consider. It's still for you to decide: experience the product firsthand at a physical store before buying, or purchase directly from an online store distributor and spend less for practically the same product.
Steam generators may also be higher in costs depending on the accessories and features– the more elaborate, the more expensive, Though more costly, sophisticated models are also typically more efficient for faster steam buildup and delivery. The additional price spent on luxury add ons is also worth it considering the convenience and extra relaxation they could provide you.
Prices may also vary due to differences in warranty. Some models are cheaper because of their shorter warranty period; some are reasonably pricier because of their greater warranty coverage.
Residential steam generators, their accessories, and controls are usually covered by a 1-year warranty. Steam generator parts are more prone to damage than the generator itself. So typically, they are covered up to a 10-year warranty. Some brands even offer a lifetime warranty– giving you a lifetime peace of mind and even a possible increase in your home’s value!
STEP TWO: Select a compatible steam head
Image source: Mr.Steam
What is a steam head?
A steam head is an apparatus that allows the steam produced by the generator to smoothly disperse throughout the steam shower. It’s available in an assortment of styles and finishes to match the room’s interior and fixtures. Some models are even equipped with aromatherapy reservoirs to hold your favorite scented oils.
Where should a steam head be placed?
For optimal steam, the steam head(s) should be:
- 6-12 inches from the shower floor
- opposite the wall from the controls and seating area
- away from the door
- away from the bather's head, body and feet
Because the steam is super-heated, make sure the nozzle is cool to touch (must be insulated and/or shielded) to protect bathers from burns. Make sure it’s also compatible with your steam generator, with a finish that can match the room’s fixtures. Here at BathtubsPlus, we offer a wide selection of contemporary steam head fixtures from trusted brands like Steam Spa, Steam Planet and Superior Steam Generator.
STEP THREE: Prepare your steam shower
Image source: Better Living
What is a Steam Shower/ Enclosure?
A steam shower is just like your typical standalone stall, except it has no tub and is made to keep the steam trapped inside for an extended period. After a warm and soothing steam at the enclosure, you can take a quick rinse in that very same shower.
Steam showers are surely not for everyone, but anyone wanting a spa-like bathroom might love the idea of adding a steam– especially if it has proven health benefits to offer.
Here’s how to build a steam shower (for a more efficient steaming):
A full steam shower/ Image source: Mr.Steam
Pick a non-porous tile material. Be wary of your shower’s construction material. As much as possible, choose a surface that can effectively repel water and retain heat, while still maintaining its durability and style.
Water vapor from the steam can damage porous materials like natural stones, slate and mesh-backed mosaics– if not properly controlled. Moreover, the higher the material's porosity, the quicker it is for the heat to dissipate, so a larger steam generator is needed.
Non-porous materials such as ceramic and porcelain tiles are better options for they require fairly low maintenance, and can endure more wear and tear in the long run. Not sure if a material is non-porous? Conduct a soak test. If they absorb water, they are porous and will require a larger steam generator.
Choose watertight doors. To work its magic, the steam must be well-contained within an enclosed space. Hence, it’s best for your shower room to be enclosed by a watertight door that extends from floor to ceiling. When you ensure that the steam doesn’t escape the room, you’re not just saving water and energy, you’re also protecting your bathroom from damages brought about by steam condensation.
Extra tip: Steam shower doors usually need a special gasket to contain the steam within the room. In case the room has any window, it must be double-paned to better insulate the room and thus to maximize your steam experience.
Ensure the room’s height is just right. For optimum performance of the steam generator, the shower should not exceed 8 feet in height. The general rule is the higher the ceiling, the bigger the steam generator needed. For taller spaces, you’ll need a more powerful steam generator like the large commercial steam generators. Avoid moisture buildup by sloping the ceiling. You don’t want water dripping down on you!
Keep safety precautions in place. Just like any space in the house, a steam spa must be equipped with safety features to avoid accidents. If possible, add textured floor tiles to prevent slipping. Make sure a proper drain is built to safely drain away all the collected water. Periodically check walls, floors, ceilings and fixtures– for possible leaks, mildew and damages. Apply necessary steam treatment to avoid greater damages and repair expenses.
Add a bench. To enjoy your steam experience to the fullest, add a shower seat or bench. Get a flip-up wall-mounted bench to maximize your bath. If space isn’t an issue, opt for a stationary built-in seat for added stability and comfort. We recommend you choose those made of waterproof material or teak for a more durable yet stylish option.
Plan the location of control panels: Select steam controls according to your steam preferences and requirements. More modern steam units are already equipped with wireless control units, some even WiFi-operated, that allow the bather to remotely set and monitor the steam temperature.
In most cases, steam rooms have control panels mounted inside or outside the enclosure– or both. Once the location of the control panel has been planned out, make the required electrical connections between the unit and the controller.
We hear you
Perhaps you’re here searching for the best steam generator or steam shower deals. Maybe, it’s the first time you’ve actually heard all of these. Either way, you may have varying questions and concerns that need specific questions– and we’re happy to help!
Some Client FAQs
What are the benefits of a steam shower?
Is steam bath safe for me? What are the risks and benefits?
How exactly do I steam bath?
Find answers to these questions in this related article [Steam Bath at Home: Benefits, Risks and Expert Tips for Effective Steaming]