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Building a Custom Steam Shower - Article 2 of 3

This is our 2nd installment in our series on building a custom steam shower.

In this article we will discuss the major considerations when building a custom steam shower including the materials to be used, layout of the steam shower and key features of the shower to plan for.

The steam shower will need to be enclosed and insulated meaning that you will need to have a ceiling for the enclosure (unlike other walk in showers) as well as seals or other type of insulation to keep the steam inside while in the shower. Most custom showers are constructed of glass, tile, marble or other non-porous materials, and equipped with a water-tight shower door and floor drain.  

The ideal steam shower has a maximum ceiling height of eight feet. If you require a taller space, you will need to account for that in the sizing of the steam generator which will be discussed later.

You can add bench style seating or use fold-up seats to maximize shower space. If space isn't an issue, look for a bench. Bench seats are typically framed out as part of the shower structure and covered with the same shower material as the side walls. The shower floor should include anti-skid strips to prevent slipping. 

Normal fluorescent shower ceiling lights are most often used for lighting however LED lights or chromatherapy lights (mood lighting) have grown in popularity as an option that can enhance the showering experience by using a combination of lights that change up to 7 different colors. Regardless of the lighting type you choose, make sure you use only vapor sealed lighting fixtures. 

You will also need to consider the physical location of the steam shower generator as part of the planning process. The steam generator should be located no more than 50 feet away from the steam room. The steam generator can be installed in a closet, vanity, or heated attic or basement. Most steam generators are 240V and will require a dedicated electrical line for the power so keep this in mind when choosing the location of the generator. Make sure you have ample room in your power panel for a double pole circuit breaker.

The steam head should be mounted approximately 6-12 inches above the floor on a wall opposite the seating area if you have one or on the back wall away from the entrance/exit area. Steam heads emit very hot steam so look for models that remain cool to the touch or use diverters to keep the steam head away from your skin to avoid scalding.

Steam shower controls can be located inside the shower or outside the shower. The optimal location of the shower control is inside the steam room 4-5 feet above the floor convenient to the bather and away from direct steam flow. We will discuss steam shower control functionality in our next article.

Finally, the steam generator will need a cold water source and a drain line. You can “tap” into your existing plumbing connections within the bathroom or area that you plan on installing the steam generator (e.g. attic, crawl space) so long as you have a water supply and drain available.

Look for more tips and upcoming articles on building your own custom steam shower in our Blog.