6 Tips for Choosing A Steam Shower
The Romans were famous for their baths. In those days taking a bath was a considerably different experience. Most bathing was communal – certainly not as private as it is today. Folks then enjoyed hot and cold rooms, and medium-temperature lounging rooms with a variety of extra services such as food, wine and exercise. Today, we would refer to such a place as a health club, gym or spa.
History also tells us that bathing in bathhouses, specifically sweat baths (hot air or steam sweating, followed by washing or cold plunges) was the preferred and fanciful method for getting clean. As we researched this article we wondered if they ever actually “sweated to the oldies”. Oddly enough, the basic procedure of pouring water over heated rocks to create steam is still used to this very day. In fact, you can find sauna and steam units, like the one we just described, on the internet.
Today, research validates this ancient wisdom, supporting the fact that a steam bath enhances health by increasing white blood cell count (which helps the body fight disease). A steam bath also helps to improve circulation (getting needed blood to vital organs). Finally, it helps to improve lymphatic drainage (the process that eliminates pollutants from the system). So, it can be said that saunas and steam showers not only help you to get clean outside they can do the same for your insides as well – and then some. Although heat can be therapeutic it is wise to insure that such therapy is OK with your doctor.
Fact is, a modern, compact steam shower unit installed in a closet, within a vanity cabinet, or a heated attic space can provide warm, moist steam heat in a shower. But there are considerations and precautions that must be taken.
Steam can be easily introduced into a shower enclosure with a modern day steam generator, but the shower must be completely enclosed to prevent the steam’s escape. A conventional shower door can be used, but a fixed panel must be added so that the normal opening above the door is converted to a completely sealed configuration. Most shower door companies can make such a panel for a very small cost.
Also, the walls and ceiling within the shower should be tiled or surfaced with a waterproof material such as stone or a manmade sheet product – pretty much any one of them will do. If you decide on tile – heed what the experts say: Affixing tile to wallboard is a big mistake. If you intend on creating your own “steam world” you will want to use an old fashioned mortar-backed shower or one with cement tile backer board – no wallboard.
Personally, we would not build a steam shower without first creating a waterproof barrier on all walls and the ceiling – before adding backer board or mortar. There are several sheet products used by tile companies to seal shower pans, which would double beautifully for a steam shower.
Once the backer-board is in place, use a “latex modified thinset mortar” as an adhesive to set either tile or stone. For stone, be sure to butter the back of each piece (in addition to the wall) to create a top notch seal. Stone can be very porous and the extra layer of thinset will solve that problem. Also, it is wise to use latex modified grout in a steam shower. And remember, you can’t use epoxy (another alternative) if you choose limestone. By the way, nothing personal, but we would never use limestone in a shower – steam or otherwise. It’s too porous. Finally, nothing is more important in a steam shower than a good grout and tile or stone sealer or impregnator – depending on what the finish is. Go to a shop that sells tile – not a big box store – for good advice on what the best product is for your project.
Keep these features in mind when looking for a steam shower:
- Quiet operation is important. Many units are very noisy.
- “Instant-on” also is an important feature. Many units can take up to 20 minutes to warm up.
- An adjustable steam shower mist control is also helpful. Not every shower is the same size and being able to dispense steam in a way that prevents body contact is important.
- Some units plug right in to existing electric. This may be your cup of tea, but such a unit may not be powerful enough to generate enough steam for a large shower stall.
- An Aromatherapy attachment is a great addition.
- UL approval also is a must for any electric contraption.
Check out the following companies and websites to learn more about steam showers:
- Acquinox, acquinox.com
- Kohler, kohler.com
- Luxaris, luxaris.com
- Steam, www.mrsteam.com
- ThermaSol, thermasol.com