Everything you need to know about buying a steam shower for your home including design options, types, shapes and door styles.
The next time you step into the shower, consider this: a shower can be much more than a place to wash your body.
Transform an ordinary shower into a steam shower and you’ll experience the benefits immediately.
Table of Contents
A. What is a steam shower?
It’s a shower and steam room all in one designed for homes. Many fitness facilities and hotels have dedicated steam rooms which emit steam creating a warm, wet environment that gets you perspiring and clearing out your lungs. A steam shower is a small steam room with a shower head. Read the technical details here.
A steam shower can be your go-to place for mental and physical relaxation after workouts and/or the workday. It’s also a really nice way to start the day.
It’s the place where your skin can receive the best moisturizing and hydration treatment available. Just 10 minutes in the steam shower will relax tense and aching muscles and clear congested lungs and sinuses. Turning a regular bathroom into a home spa also increases your home’s resale value.
Editor’s note: I’m a huge steam room fan and go frequently. It’s the ideal way to finish a workout or end the workday. If you’re thinking of getting a steam shower in your home, I can’t overstate how relaxing it is. It’s like starting the day over… that’s how refreshing it is.
The question isn’t whether or not to install a steam shower. The question is really which one to choose. There are several types of steam showers and features, and deciding which one will work best in your home and for your family will depend on the size of the bathroom and how you plan to use it.
B. Key Design Features
Diagram Source: SteamSaunaBath.com (very cool photo).
The steam shower will obviously have steam spouts and a shower head. However, other features you might want are:
Seating: If you’re taking a steam, sitting is important. I’d want one with space for two benches if possible.
The steam spout: Some steam showers and rooms shoot out steam forcefully which can be dangerous in small spaces. Others are a series of spouts and lets the steam billow out. The forceful type is great because it really heats the space up fast. However, this type turns on and off as the maximum temperature is reached quickly. The billowing style heats up slower and so the steam continues for longer periods of time. The billowing style is likely to cause any burning injuries.
Here’s an example of billowing steam:
Steam spout location: When shopping for a steam shower, you want one where you can tell the steam won’t be directed at anyone while seated. Believe it or not, I’ve been in a steam room in a fitness facility where the steam was shot at our feet. It was ridiculous.
Temperature controls: Some like it hot and some not. You want the ability to control temperature. I prefer it scalding, but most don’t. A steam room heats up when steam is emitted. It comes in spurts and then stops once the thermostat is triggered at the set temperature. As the steam dissipates, the temperature drops and triggers the steam to emit again.
Music: Some showers include the option to listen to music. That might be something you want.
Fog-Free Mirror: If you shave in the shower, this can be a convenient feature.
Vapor-Proof Door: If you buy a full contained steam shower this isn’t an issue. However, if you have one built you need to make sure steam doesn’t escape other wise you’ll have to run the steam continuously to maintain sufficient steam and heat.
Aroma Control: This is huge. I love it when eucalyptus oil is used in steam rooms. It elevates the experience considerably. An aroma control feature makes it possible to dispense oils within the steam.
Slip-resistant floor: Steam and water can make plenty of surfaces slippery. Ensure the floor is slip-resistant to avoid injury.
Ambient lighting: You don’t want it brightly lit, but you want some light. Check out the lighting options and get what you like. I probably like it brighter than most people. Keep in mind that when there’s plenty of steam, you can’t see much. You can get colored lights if you find chromatherapy helpful.
C. 7 Main Types
Modular, or pre-fabricated, steam showers are among the most popular. The shower basically comes in a box. All you need to do is put the panels together and hook up the plumbing and the wiring. As ready-made as these units are, we still recommend you hire a professional and qualified plumber and electrician to hook it up. They come in a range of sizes, styles, and with a range of amenities. (See Luxury below for details.) These are the perfect choice for anyone who wants a home spa experience without the expense of extensive renovations.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to completely renovate and upgrade your bathroom, then this is the perfect time to install a custom steam shower. You will need to hire a plumber, electrician, a general contractor, and perhaps a designer. Creating a custom home spa complete with a steam shower means that you will need to choose every component from the floor tiles to the color of paint to the fixtures. Everything will reflect your own unique taste and personality. Building a custom bathroom from the bottom up ensures that you will also be able to completely customize the steam shower features, too.
You really don’t need a whole lot of bells and whistles to have a fantastic steam shower experience. But, if you’re going to go to the time, effort, and expense of buying and installing a steam shower, you might as well treat yourself to the ultimate in spa treatments. Add a remote controlled Bluetooth speaker so that you can relax to your favorite playlists. You can connect a hands-free telephone, too. We highly recommend purchasing a steam shower unit that has an aromatherapy dispenser. Chromatherapy lights are also popular. Opt for a bench so that you can sit or stretch out while you relax.
Walk-in showers have become hugely popular in recent years. These showers are, as their name suggests, shower units you can simply walk straight into. They typically feature floor to ceiling glass doors. Walk-in steam showers not only provide a home spa experience, they give any bathroom a designer look and feel, too.
5. Combo 1: Whirlpool/Steam Shower Hybrid
Despite the fact that so many people are tossing out their regular bathtubs in favor of a stand-alone shower unit, whirlpool bathtubs are actually increasing in popularity. The reason is that they offer all the health and comfort benefits of a steam shower. Most bathrooms just aren’t large enough to accommodate a bathtub and a separate shower unit. If that sounds like your bathroom, the answer is to install a combo whirlpool bathtub-steam shower unit. These offer the best of both worlds in one compact space.
6. Combo 2: Steam Shower / Sauna Hybrid
Editor’s note: I’m also an avid sauna user. For years I’ve enjoyed multiple sauna and steam room sessions each week. While both are heated spaces, they are quite different.
If you’re like me and you like both experiences, consider a steam shower/sauna combination unit.
Corner steam shower units are perfect for small bathrooms. They fit neatly into a corner of the room while still allowing plenty of elbowroom when you’re using the steam shower. You won’t need to skimp on features either. All of the luxury steam shower components mentioned above can be accommodated in a corner steam shower unit.
There are 3 main steam shower shapes unless you get one custom built. The 3 shapes are square, rectangle and curved. Here are examples.
One other consideration is door style. The 2 most popular options are hinged and sliding. However, there are a few pivot door models, but that’s pretty rare. Here are examples.
Gone are the days when a small bathroom limited your choice of shower or bathtub. No matter the challenges your bathroom offers, there’s a steam shower unit that will work in the space and fit your lifestyle.
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