We all have that one friend who looks happy and has tons of energy, even if he has three kids and holds down two jobs. That’s my neighbor, Adrian. He sleeps five hours per night, and he’s always doing something, but he’s never tired.
His kids are very healthy and always in a good mood, unlike my two, who always seem to catch colds and throw tantrums.
That’s when I found out about his steam shower room. He built it all by himself, in his spare time, and his whole family is using it.
I asked Adrian to help me write this article because he has a lot of experience with DIY projects. But that was after I asked him to build a steam shower for my family too.
Read along, and you can have your healing vapors ready in no time.
What’s a Steam Shower?
The residential steam shower originates from the Roman Empire. The Ancient Romans invented steam baths when they noticed the health properties of hot springs, but they didn’t bathe alone, so the hot baths had a social purpose too.
Your DIY steam room will look a lot different than ancient Roman baths, although the principles stay the same. Instead of the hot springs, you’ll need a steam shower generator to make steams, aka water vapors.
Your home steam-room is best to set in the bathroom or another room that water vapors can’t damage. Hence, the best materials to consider are acrylic, fiberglass, glass, stone, tile, or wood.
SUMMARY: A shower transforms water into steam so that you can reap several health benefits.
Pros and Cons
If you’re making a steam shower, you must consider all the pros and cons of having one in the first place. The literature concerning the benefits of hot water therapy is vast, but there are also disadvantages to your health, budget, and personal safety.
Here are the things I considered before building my steam shower:
- Steam and warm baths help blood circulate better to your extremities. The result of effective blood circulation is faster healing, less discomfort, and more mobility.
- Steam baths show a significant decrease in blood pressure thanks to activating the hormone aldosterone.
- Your stress is reduced because your heart works more effectively and because your blood pressure is normalized. This decrease leads you to feel happier and relaxed.
- Steam baths help with respiratory infections because the vapors decongest your airways. Many doctors recommend inhalations and saunas to people with common colds or sinus infections.
- Using a steam can improve your skin health as water vapors dilate the pores, so the toxins and dirt are easily removed.
- Steam baths are more effective than dry heat in alleviating post-workout muscle soreness. As you recover faster, you can work out more.
- Steam increases joint mobility, which is essential for people who have arthritis, the elderly who have frailer bones, as well as dedicated athletes.
- Showers accelerate your metabolic rate, so you can lose weight faster, overcome weight loss plateaus, and improve your general hormonal health.
- Steam baths accelerate the production of white blood cells, which helps to strengthen your immune system against a variety of infections or possible chronic illnesses.
- It can be cheaper than buying a built-in steam shower system.
- You might get dizzy or nauseated if you get dehydrated or if your blood pressure drops too much.
- You might experience negative long-term health effects if you’re in a certain category such as pregnant, immunity-challenged, or prone to a severe heart condition. Double-check with your health professional before grabbing your DIY steam room kit.
- Residential or commercial steam bath construction costs more time than buying a ready-made one.
- If you’re not good at DIY projects, poor installation can lead to fires or electrocution. Google “steam shower installers near me” to check there’s always a professional technician on stand-by before starting your DIY project.
SUMMARY: Steam showers improve heart, skin, joint, and metabolic health. DIY steam showers are cheaper than commercial ones, but installing them wrongly leads to a variety of hazards.
Things to Consider Before You Begin Your Steam Shower Installation:
Installing steam showers is all in the planning. You have to consider things like shower waterproofing, shower electrical requirements, and steam room design.
My advice is to look for helpful resources, such as the Steam Shower Construction Guidelines With that in mind, let’s see what your general plan will look:
Size and Location
- Choose a comfortable size, big enough so you can stretch your legs, but not so big to waste a lot of energy.
- Go for a low ceiling, up to 7.5 feet.
- Place your creation away from outside walls, for maximum performance, if your weather is cold.
Windows and Skylights
Steam rooms should have no windows or skylights because they disperse the water vapors. If your room already has:
- Windows: replace them with others that have the max R-value on the market
- Skylights: build an extra steam proof roof over the shower, inside your bath, from glass or tile
The best shower door insulates your shower, and that’s why it can get cold in the winter if you close that door. The solutions are to:
- Leave the door open, so the door has to swing outside
- Install a radiator to heat the shower room and to prevent mold
Steam Generator Location
The location of the steam generator depends on the model you’re getting. Some models can only be placed inside the bathroom, while others up to 60 feet from your steam room.
Choose a space inside your home that’s not prone to extreme temperatures, such as:
Steam Room Walls
Steam showers increase the moisture inside the bathroom, which is why you should choose the best materials for the walls such as:
- Helo steam panels
Choose a top finishing like Schluter for your wall’s exterior corners for extra insulation and waterproofing.
SUMMARY: Your residential shower shouldn’t be too big or too small. You should avoid windows and skylights, choose insulating materials for the walls, and consider waterproofing your room to avoid mold.
Basic Steps for Designing and Building DIY Steam Room
The cornerstone of how to make a steam shower at home is the planning and design stage.
We’ll review all the basics below, with plenty of tips and tricks that allow enough room for your preferences and customization options.
Designing the Shower
- Include a seat, but take your space into account. If you have a lot of room, choose a tilted bench. If your room is small, choose folding seats.
- Don’t install the steam outlet near the door or seats because it’s too dangerous.
- Set the controls close to the seats, but keep them a few feet off the floor so they can measure the surrounding temperature correctly.
- Take ceiling sloping into account, depending on the materials inside your home. For instance, sloping isn’t recommended for tile ceilings because the water will drip on your head. The rule of thumb is 0.75-inch of tilting for each foot of the ceiling. If your steam shower is big, you can slope the ceiling only above your seating area.
Choosing the Materials
Choosing the materials takes several issues into account, such as:
- The heat. You need hat-proof materials, such as tile, cement, or stone. Acrylic and plastic are usually not recommended.
- Moisture. The materials for your steam shower should be waterproofed completely to avoid mold.
- Radiant heat. Insulate your exterior walls, especially if you live in a cold climate zone. Insulating the walls on the inside is not mandatory because your steam bath will not last for hours.
Choose a door that’s specifically designed for shower rooms, which means it will be sealed on top and the sides.
Don’t seal the bottom to get extra ventilation and to make sure you can open/ close it easily. Make sure you measure the door opening precisely before getting a door.
Take the steam shower instructions into account before setting up the final trim. Double-check all the wiring and turn the water on before the first test.
SUMMARY: Although we haven’t given you an exact shower plumbing diagram, we helped you outline a design plan. Your shower room should be safe, insulated, and waterproofed; choose the best materials and ceiling slope for the job.
Steam Shower Ideas FAQ
Don’t skip this FAQ section, even if it seems you don’t have any questions. Building your steam-shower is all in the details, some of which we haven’t yet discussed.
The ceiling slope, vent, and overall room size are all issues to take into account. You’ll also find out how to avoid mold and how to properly install a generator.
Does a Steam Shower Need a Sloped Ceiling?
While a commercial rooms should have a 2-inch slope per foot of ceiling, a residential steam room doesn’t necessarily need a slope, unless it’s big.
The usual ceiling slope is 0.5-1 inches per foot of ceiling. Remember, the ceiling should slope away from the sitting area to avoid water dripping on your head.
Does a Steam-Shower Need a Vent?
You should never install a vent or air conditioning machine in your shower because it diffuses the water vapors. An exhaust fan is all you need to clear out steam.
Do Steam Cause Mold?
Steam cause mold if you choose poor materials for your steam shower room and if you’re not careful with waterproofing.
Good maintenance of steam showers starts with top materials, such as tile, stone, or cement that don’t allow mold to form. Second is getting rid of the stall air.
How Much Space Do You Need for a Steam-Shower?
Your steam shower room should be at least 3 x 3 x 7 feet. Your room height and width can be over three feet each, but the ceiling shouldn’t be over 8 feet tall. Otherwise, you will need a powerful generator and increase your electricity bill.
How to Install a Steam Generator
Here are some tips on how to install a steam shower generator:
- Choose a good DIY kit that includes all of the extra parts, along with clear instructions.
- Make sure your generator comes with or allows the installation of therapeutic extras, such as an aromatherapy kit or audio.
- Place your generator in another room or a closet if it’s too noisy or too big, or hide it in vanity in your bathroom.
- Make sure you have the correct wiring to connect the generator.
SUMMARY: Make sure your room is at least 3 x 3 x 7 feet before installing your steam shower. It’s not necessary to slope your ceiling, but it’s essential not to add a vent and to waterproof your room with top materials.
Installing a steam shower starts with careful planning. Make sure you have all the instructions ready before starting the job, and also the correct wiring.
The best advice is to outline your steam shower design and to have an expert plumber/ technician ready to intervene if anything goes wrong.
Otherwise, your steam shower will have a lot of health benefits that can make the difference between a life that’s meh and one that’s wow.