Experts Advise on Installation and Maintenance
Patti Johnson, CID, IDS of Patti Johnson Interiors in Columbus, Ohio, installed a steam shower as part of a gut remodel of her own master bathroom. The new steam shower included two separate showerheads to accommodate her height and her taller husband and opposing jet sprays for a 360 degree experience. Patti installed a wraparound bench seat for two, underneath the steam sprayer. The thermostat was installed inside the shower and the steam controls installed outside the shower, adjacent to the door, allowing for access from inside the shower. Two vent fans were installed to help disburse the pent up steam as quickly as possible. Patti said, “It takes approximately 4 minutes to heat and steam up the shower enclosure. The length of time and temperature can be preset and shuts off like any timer. After five years, my husband still uses the steam feature regularly, especially after working out or after travel to unwind.”
Johnson installed ceramic tile on a mildew free cement board. “I chose not to use a natural stone due to its porous and ‘slippery when wet’ nature, and am glad I selected a porcelain tile with a bit of texture to reduce slippage and places for mold to grow. Even with a squeegee immediately following each use, the door should be left open to allow for faster drying of the tile and let the fan run for a bit. The only thing I would do differently in a future installation would be to use smaller grout lines, as that is where the mildew collects. Cleaning the ceiling grout is not fun, so we take very good care of it.”
John Blacker, of Universal Plumbing & Heating in Lynnfield, MA, also recommends the use of ceramic or glazed tiles over natural stones or marble in steam showers. Blacker said, “Natural stones are porous and absorb more of the steam which detracts from the overall experience. I would not recommend anyone other than a licensed professional to install a steam shower. There are a lot of factors involved in creating a safe and efficient system. In addition to the types of materials used, the sizing process is affected by the amount of surrounding glass, the ceiling pitch, the relationship to exterior walls.”
How much does a steam shower cost?
Unlike a standard shower which can use up to 50 gallons of water in 20 minutes, a steam shower will use as little as two gallons in the same time period. They do use more electricity, however. Steam shower installations start at about $2,500 for modular units to upwards of $20,000 for the deluxe multi-person steam experience installations. But then, if you have one of those, you’ll never have to leave to go on vacation again.