Steam Shower Buying Guide
Discover the Benefits of Steam and Learn How To Build Your System
Enjoy a luxurious two-in-one experience for your bathroom when you feature a steam shower. These totally enclosed showers utilize the power of steam to create a spa-like experience in the comfort of your own home. Choosing the best home steam shower system for your space is easy when you know what features to look for.
What is a Steam Shower?
A steam shower is a fully enclosed shower area outfitted with the equipment needed to fill the space with moist steam. The steam portion of the shower can be turned on and off, allowing the space to double as a standard shower when you aren’t using it as a steam shower. This allows you to enjoy both functions in one footprint.
Saunas vs. Steam Showers
Steam showers and saunas are both home improvements that have similar relaxation and health benefits. They offer clean ways to enjoy the benefits of heat and steam, but how they work varies greatly.
Both saunas and steam showers are small, enclosed spaces that provide full-body exposure to steam. They are good at allowing you to work up an all-over sweat and breathe in heated air. Both can be installed in your home.
Saunas typically release dry heat via rocks or a stove. In contrast, steam showers rely on a generator and water to release moist steam in the enclosed space. Steam showers produce steam much more quickly than traditional saunas, as well. The moist heat of a steam shower or steam room results in more health benefits than the dry heat released by a traditional sauna.
How a Steam Shower Works
It all starts with a control panel installed within the shower. Steam is activated from that control panel, which causes a valve to fill the steam shower generator with water. The generator heats the water to boiling. Steam from the boiling water then travels through pipes, filling the enclosed shower space with hot, moist steam.
10 Benefits of Steam
Spending time in a steam shower isn’t just enjoyable; it actually provides a host of health benefits. Discover all the ways installing a steam shower in your home bathroom can help you feel better on a daily basis.
1. Mental Health & Relaxation
Daily stress takes a toll on your overall mental health. Making a steam shower part of your routine promotes relaxation and stress relief by decreasing cortisol production in the body.
2. Skin Health
Daily exposure to dirt, oils, and environmental toxins can lead to the build-up of dead skin cells and result in breakouts. Steam showers open your pores and cause condensation that rolls off the skin to help remove dead skin cells and wash away the irritants that lead to breakouts.
3. Respiratory Health
Warm, moist environments such as those found in a steam shower help to break down mucus membranes, relieving congestion in both the sinuses and lungs.
4. Weight Loss
Spending time in a hot steam shower raises your heart rate, much in the same way as a cardio workout. When used as part of a daily or very regular routine, this increased heart rate can help to promote weight loss.
5. Improved Circulation
The use of a steam shower will help to improve overall blood circulation, improve cardiovascular health, and promote the health of both hands and feet.
6. Lower Blood Pressure
Spending time in a steam shower causes your body to release aldosterone, a hormone that works to regulate blood pressure. Prolonged high blood pressure causes heart damage, and the use of a steam shower is one way to naturally bring blood pressure down and improve overall cardiovascular health.
7. Workout Recovery
Muscles can feel tight and sore after a workout. Taking a steam shower allows heat to penetrate those deep muscle tissues to provide relief.
Steam showers promote an all-body sweat. As you actively sweat, heavy metals and chemical irritants are flushed from your body through your pores, providing natural detoxification.
9. Joint Health
Heat therapy prior to a workout is often suggested for anyone suffering from joint pain. Taking a steam shower prior to working out can help to loosen up joints, relieving joint pain during the workout and helping to prevent any further injuries from occurring.
10. Immunity Support
Regular whole-body steam exposure stimulates leukocytes in the bloodstream. These are important cells because they fight infections and can help to provide overall immunity support.
When to Limit or Stop Steam Shower Use
While using a steam shower can be extremely beneficial, it is not something that should be used in excess. It’s always a good idea to get doctor approval before making steam showers part of your regular routine, especially if you are pregnant, immune-compromised, or dealing with a health situation.
Here are some other basic use guidelines:
- Set a time limit of 15 minutes to help prevent dehydration.
- Do not use your steam shower if you have a fever.
- Follow each steam session with a shower.
- Drink plenty of water leading up to and following the use of a steam shower.
For a person in good health, steam showers can be safe to use every day, but it’s always important to take precautions.
Parts of a Steam Shower
For a shower space to become an effective steam shower, there are a number of products that have to be in place. You can purchase these parts individually to create a custom steam shower, or you can purchase them as a complete shower kit for ultimate convenience.
All-in-one units include a complete enclosure — with walls, ceiling, and shower base — shower heads, steam heads, ventilation, a generator, and controls. Some models include a bathtub or luxury features like chromotherapy, aromatherapy, and music systems. Make installing a steam shower system easy when you check out the custom complete steam shower kits available.
Steam Shower Enclosures
To work its magic, the steam your system produces should be contained within a completely enclosed space. Typically, this means glass shower doors that extend from floor to ceiling. If the steam is not contained, it will escape into the room, wasting water and energy and creating condensation that could damage bathroom walls and cabinetry.
Material matters. Natural stone, ceramic tiles, and manmade materials — like fiberglass or acrylic — all have different properties that affect the transfer of heat. For example, because marble is a porous material, it takes longer to heat up than ceramic tiles. Showers with marble surfaces will require a larger steam generator than those made with other materials. (We’ll show you how to account for that variable in the Choose the Right Size Generator section of this guide.)
Steam Shower Controls
Basic steam shower systems include a simple on/off switch for the steam head. More advanced steam shower control models include digital readouts and programmable presets and can also control options like lights, essential oil diffusers, and music. Some are Bluetooth™ enabled, so you can control your experience through a mobile app.
Steam Shower Heads
The steam produced by the generator is dispersed into the enclosure via a steam head. These are available in a variety of styles and finishes to complement other fixtures in the space. Some are even equipped with aromatherapy reservoirs to hold essential oils.
Other Steam Shower Parts
While the generator, steam shower head, and controls are the three main components of your steam shower system, there are other parts that you’ll need to complete the installation. Generator drain pans, auto-flush systems, piping, inline water filters, and pressure relief valves are just a couple of the parts you’ll find as you shop.
Steam Shower Generators
The generator is the powerhouse behind your steam shower. Its job is to take water and turn that water into steam quickly and efficiently. When installing a steam shower in your bathroom, it’s important to consider what size generator is the best fit for the space and where you plan on placing the generator.
Choosing the Right Size Generator
The correct generator is essential to creating the right amount of steam to fill the enclosure and ensure the best bathing experience. You’ll need to first calculate the volume of your steam room, then factor in variables such as construction materials and ceiling height.
1) Step 1: Calculate Volume (in feet)
- Length x Width x Height = Volume of space within the steam enclosure
2) Step 2: Calculate Material Factors
- For Glass, marble,& stone: Calculate 110% of the volume from Step 1
- For Ceramic or porcelain tile: Calculate 40% of the volume from Step 1
3) Step 3: Account for Extra-Tall Ceilings
- If the ceiling is taller than eight feet: Calculate 15% of the volume from Step 1
4) Step 4: Calculate Total Room Volume
- To arrive at the total room volume, add: Volume from Step 1, the Material Factor (if any) from Step 2, and the Tall-Ceiling Factor (if any) from Step 3.
For example, let’s calculate a 5’ x 5’ marble steam room with a 9’ ceiling:
- Volume: 5 x 5 x 9 = 225
- Material: 225 x 110% = 247.5
- Tall Ceiling: 225 x 15% = 33.75
- Total Volume: 225 + 247.5 + 33.75 = 506.25 Cubic Feet
This is the figure you’ll use to choose your generator.
Where your steam shower is situated will also be a consideration. Does the room have windows? Is the enclosure on an exterior wall of the home? These factors could necessitate a larger generator.
Generator Installation and Placement
Generators require special electrical and plumbing connections and should be installed by a licensed professional. Typically, the generator will have to be placed within thirty feet of the steam shower. Your generator can be housed in a number of out-of-sight places: an attic directly above the shower, basement space directly below the shower, an adjacent bathroom vanity cabinet, a bathroom linen closet, or a built-in shower bench. If the enclosure is in an en suite bathroom, the generator can be placed in a closet on an adjacent primary bedroom wall.
Luxurious Steam Shower Accessories
Once you’ve installed all the necessary components of the steam shower, it’s time to make your steam a treat for the senses. There are a number of steam shower accessories available that will elevate your daily experience.
Chromotherapy uses different colors to influence mood. There are a number of different chromotherapy LED light designs offered throughout the steam shower collection, allowing you to flood the steam shower with a rainbow of hues. Blue promotes creativity, orange can be stimulating, and violet is considered meditative. Discover even more about the psychology of color.
Audio speakers and sound modules designed specifically for use within showers allow you to add music to your ritual. There are speakers available to connect to most music sources, and some systems can be paired with your wireless devices so you can stream your own playlists. It’s important to choose speakers designed specifically for steam showers, as they will be exposed to damp and humid environments.
Aromatherapy uses scents to affect mood and promote wellness. The essential oils are extracted from natural sources and then diffused into the air. Lavender is purported to be calming, while mint is energizing, and eucalyptus is refreshing. Essential oils can be added to the steam shower at the point of use or dispersed through fragrance pumps or injectors that are integrated into the system.
The Proper Way to Use Your Steam Shower System
Now that you’ve installed your steam shower, it’s time to understand the proper way to take a steam. There are some simple things you should do to maximize the benefits of your new steam shower.
Step 1: Steam with an Empty Stomach
Do not eat for one hour prior to your steam because of the effects on both circulation and digestion.
Step 2: Hydrate Before and After Your Steam
You’re going to sweat during your steam. Prepare for this by drinking plenty of water before and after your steam bath. You can even take a bottle of water in with you.
Step 3: Shower First
Showering prior to your steam cleanses your skin of dirt, oils, lotions, and makeup. This allows the steam to work more effectively.
Step 4: Break a Sweat
Steam for 10 to 15 minutes until you break out in a full-body sweat.
Step 5: Shower Again
After your steam, enjoy a full-body cool rinse to help close pores again.
Steam Shower Maintenance
Once your steam shower is installed, there are a few simple maintenance tasks you can do to keep the system working like new.
Clean the Steam Shower Regularly
Clogged steam shower heads will prevent the steam shower system from operating properly. Help maintain all the components of your shower by making cleaning a part of your regular routine. Make sure to inspect the shower for any mold or mildew growth and clean the affected areas thoroughly.
Install an Exhaust Fan
Bathroom steam showers produce a lot of moisture in the room. Installing an exhaust fan in the bathroom helps to remove the excess moisture from the air and prevent the growth of mold and mildew in the space.
Inspect the Water Lines
If you notice any change in the performance of your steam shower, it’s a good idea to check the water lines for any leaks or other problems. Leaks won’t just decrease the amount of steam released into your shower, they can also cause water damage to the bathroom itself.
With careful plaining and a little standard maintenance, your steam shower will be a favorite part of your primary bathroom for many years to come. Make the space your own by choosing tiles and bathroom hardware that’s reflective of the overall design style of your bathroom. Hang a plush towel and robe nearby and you’ll be ready to indulge in your first steam.