Installing one of these at home requires the services of a few pros. First, you'll need a dealer; you can find one locally through the websites of major steam-generator makers, such as Mr. Steam, Steamist, and Thermasol. The dealer will find the best spot to hide the generator, which needs to be within 25 or so feet from the shower stall. (A linen or walk-in closet will do nicely, as long as the equipment is easily accessible for maintenance.)
Then you'll need a tiling contractor and shower-door installer to build you a steam-proof enclosure. When that's ready, the dealer can bring in a plumber to connect all the pipes and an electrician to hook up the generator's 220-volt electric cable and digital controls.
All told, the system should run you about £2,500, installed, plus the cost of the new stall and door. Or for about £2,000 to £4,000, you can get a stand-alone, steam-ready enclosure that just needs to have the wiring and plumbing hooked up, though the space-capsule look of such units might be a bit out of place in your elegant master bath. Overall, a steam shower's cost is far outweighed by its numerous benefits.
The Basics of Steam Showers
What Is a Steam Shower?
A moisture-sealed shower enclosure equipped to deliver clouds of steam before, during, or after your shower.
How It Works
Cold water piped into a steam generator is heated to the boiling point and then sends fresh steam to an aperture in the shower stall. Digital controls inside the shower let the user adjust the steam's temperature and duration and can even add piped-in aromas, lighting, and music.
What to Look For
- Delivery speed: Better models take less than a minute to build up a head of steam.
- Remote controls: That way, you don't even have to get up from your bench to adjust steam time or temperature.
- Auto-flush: Reduces calcium deposits on the heating element and saves you from a manual flush-out every 50 uses.
How Much Does a Steam Shower Cost?
A steam generator runs about £2,500, installed. For the full spa experience—mood lighting, a stereo MP3 dock, and a pump for aromatherapy oils—expect to pay another £1,800. A custom steam-proof, tiled enclosure is extra. So generally speaking, a steam shower costs about £2,000 to £4,000.
Where to Find One
A Stall for Steam
The moisture that a steam shower unit generates will do a number on your shower stall, not to mention your whole bathroom unless the steam shower design is built properly from the studs out.
How to make a stall steam-proof
- Slope the ceiling slightly. If you don't, any steam that condenses there will drip down onto your shoulders.
- Protect wood framing with sheets of 6-mil plastic stapled over studs and joists. Overlap all edges by at least a foot.
- Seal the seams between the concrete backer-board panels (which are unaffected by moisture) with mesh tape and thinset.
- Cover every inch of backer board with a waterproof membrane. Use either two coats of a roll-on liquid polymer such as Laticrete's Hydro-Ban, which dries into a seamless, rubbery skin, or embed sheets of flocked polyethylene, like the Kerdi membrane made by Schluter Systems, in wet thinset.
- Tile and grout as usual. If using stone, apply an impregnator to seal the stone. You'll need to repeat this treatment every two years.
- Seal around any fixtures that penetrate the tile—including shower and steam heads, digital controls, and valves—with the gaskets or O-rings supplied by the manufacturer