The Ultimate Guide to Convert Shower to Steam Shower


converting regular shower into a steam shower

Are you ready to elevate your showering experience and transform your bathroom into a spa-like oasis? Imagine stepping into a warm steam bath after a long day. 

You can achieve this by transforming your traditional shower and converting to a steam shower.  And it’s not just a treat for yourself, converting your regular shower into a steam shower also adds value to your home.

You might be wondering if this is a difficult, costly, and time-consuming process, but with the right tools and guidance, it’s actually quite simple. 

This article is going to take you step-by-step through the process of converting your traditional shower into a steam shower, so you can start enjoying the benefits and start relaxing in the comfort of your own home. Want to know the steam shower cost? Check out this full article!

What is a steam shower anyway?

Steam showers are a type of shower that uses steam to create a warm and humid environment for the user. It is typically enclosed in a stall or cabin, with a special steam generator that heats water to produce steam. The user can then adjust the temperature and humidity levels to their liking. The steam fills the shower area and creates a sauna-like experience.

Steam has been found to help open airways, improve circulation, and provide relief from muscle soreness and tension. Additionally, the warm and humid environment from steam showers can be beneficial for the skin, as it can help to open up pores and make it easier for your skin to absorb moisture.

The best part is that you can convert a regular shower into a steam room. You can do this yourself or have a licensed professional do the steam shower installation for you.

Overview of the conversion process

Converting regular showers into a steam showers can be a great way to upgrade your bathroom and add value to your home. 

Before you get started with the steam shower installation, just keep in mind that it’s not as simple as just swapping out the shower head. It’s important to understand that the process of converting a regular shower into a steam room involves making changes to your existing plumbing and electrical systems, as well as installing new equipment such as a steam generator.

Next, you’ll need to install a steam head, which is a device that releases steam into the steam room. The steam head needs to be installed in the ceiling of the shower stall, and connected to the steam generator.

After the installation is complete, the shower stall needs to be sealed and waterproofed to prevent steam from escaping. This is typically done with a special waterproofing membrane, which is applied to the walls and floor of the shower. It’s also important to install proper ventilation to dissipate the steam and ensure a safe environment.

Now, let’s take a look at each phase of the process so you know what it takes to convert shower to steam shower

Costs to convert shower to steam shower

Steam shower costs can vary widely depending on the materials used, the size of the shower stall and features of the shower, and the location. On average, the cost to professionally install a steam shower can range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more.

However, the steam shower cost can be higher or lower depending on the specific materials and features chosen, the existing shower space, as well as any additional costs for plumbing and electrical work. You can also usually save some money by getting a prefabricated steam shower instead of a DIY steam shower kit. It is recommended to get a few estimates from different contractors to get a better idea of the cost for your specific project.

Choosing the right equipment and material

The steam generator

A steam generator is like the engine that powers your steam shower. 

It’s a stainless steel container that heats up water to create steam in the shower stall. It works by using electricity to heat the water until it reaches boiling point and turns into vapor. Then, the steam gets channeled through a steam head into your shower area. Some even have a way to use essential oils so you can try aromatherapy in the steam shower.

It’s an essential piece of equipment for any existing shower space to be converted.

Finding the right size steam generator

Choosing the right size steam generator is crucial to get the most out of your steam shower. The size of the generator will depend on the size of your steam room. 

When sizing a steam generator for a steam shower, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • -Cubic footage of the shower space
  • – Type of material of the shower stall
  • -Number of shower heads
  • -Desired steam room temperature

A general rule of thumb is that a steam generator should provide 1.5 cubic feet of steam room volume per minute for every cubic foot of shower space. So if your shower space is 100 cubic feet, you would need a steam generator that can produce 150 cubic feet of steam per minute.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the number of shower heads in your shower stall and whether or not you’ll have additional features like a sauna or bathtub. Each shower head will add roughly 1-1.5 cubic feet of steam room volume per minute, so if you have multiple shower heads, you’ll need a larger steam generator.

The type of material your shower stall is made out of will also determine what size generator you need. Most shower stalls will be acrylic or glass or a combination of the two.

Below is a handy chart that will help you determine what you need for a steam generator based on the size of your shower stall and the material. We will go over how to figure out the cubic footage of the enclosure later on in the article.

sizing chart for steam generator

Where to put the steam generator

The steam shower design is going to be important since the generator must be kept in a dry, non-flammable, well-ventilated space with 6 inches of clearance all around it. It can be placed can be up to 50 feet away from the steam shower, however. Remember to create a slope of 1 inch per foot when constructing the ceiling if that is where you decide to place the generator so the condensation in the shower stall can drip away.

Suitable areas include a walk in closet, cabinets, attics or basements with climate control. Avoid placing the generator inside the steam room so there is no risk of it getting wet. Also, be aware of any areas where it could get cold enough that the water would freeze such as an unheated attic or outside.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Accessibility: The generator should be located in an area that is easily accessible for maintenance and repairs such as a walk in closet.
  • Plumbing: Steam generators should be located near the steam shower so that the plumbing can be easily connected. It should also be near a water supply and drain for the generator’s tank.
  • Electrical: The generator should be located near an electrical source to provide power for the generator. Make sure you have enough power and circuit to cover the steam generator.
  • Space: The generator should be located in an area that has enough space to accommodate the size of the generator and any additional equipment that may be required.

How to measure for the steam shower enclosure

Measuring a shower stall for an ideal steam shower design is a lot different when converting to a steam shower than if you are constructing a traditional shower and need to understand the space. The reason is that it is going to be fully enclosed and filled with steam. You need to know the cubic feet of the enclosure to get the right steam generators and stead shower heads. 

Cubic feet is a unit of measurement for volume. It is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of an object or space. In the context of a shower stall, cubic feet would be the total volume of the enclosure. To calculate the cubic feet of a shower enclosure, you would multiply the length, width, and height of the enclosure in feet.

For example, if the shower enclosure has a length of 3 feet, a width of 2 feet, and a height of 7 feet, the cubic feet of the enclosure would be 3 x 2 x 7 = 42 cubic feet.

With this number you can consult the sizing chart above to understand what steam generator will work best for your steam shower installation and how to come up with the best steam shower design. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the height of the enclosure shouldn’t be more than 8 feet. You may need to put a ceiling over the shower stall if your actual ceiling is higher that that. 

Installing a Steam Generator

Installing a steam units for steam rooms can be a complex process, and it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions and hire a professional if you are not experienced with plumbing and understanding of the required electrical connections.

However, generally speaking, here are the steps to install steam generators:

  • Locate the generator: Choose a location for the steam generator that is close to the shower, but not in the shower itself. It should be in an area with good ventilation and easy access to electrical and water connections. A walk in closet is commonly used if it abuts the bathroom.
  • Connect the water supply: Connect the steam generator to the cold water supply using the appropriate plumbing connections. The water supply should be at least 1/2 inch in diameter and able to provide a minimum of 2 gallons per minute at a pressure of 25 PSI.
  • Connect to a drain: The flexible hose connection for the drain on steam shower units is 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in diameter, making it easy to connect to the drain. The existing location of the drain can be utilized as long as it falls within the boundaries of the steam shower unit.
  • Connect the electrical supply: Connect the steam generator to the required electrical connections with the appropriate voltage and amperage as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Install the control: Install the wireless control units for steam generators, which are typically a digital control panel that is mounted outside the shower area.
  • Install the steam head: Install the steam head, which is the part of the generator that releases the steam into the shower. It should be located in the ceiling of the shower or in the back wall, where the steam can circulate freely.
  • Test the system: Once the installation is complete, turn on the water and electrical supply and test the system to ensure it is functioning properly.

It’s important to note that installation of steam generators may require a building permit and must comply with local plumbing and electrical codes for steam rooms. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult with a professional if you have any doubts.

Here is a video of a typical steam generator to give you an idea of how the process goes:

Waterproofing and Ventilation

What separates a traditional shower from a steam shower is that it has to be totally enclosed, waterproofed, and ventilated. Think of these showers as a miniature steam rooms and you get the idea. In this section, we will go over what you need to know about waterproofing and ventilation since this is such a crucial element in your steam shower.

 Importance of waterproofing in a steam shower

Waterproofing a steam shower is necessary for a few reasons:

  • Prevent water damage: Steam showers generate a lot of moisture and if not properly waterproofed, water can seep into the walls and floors, causing damage to the structure and surrounding areas.
  • Prevent mold growth: High humidity and moisture in a steam shower can lead to mold growth, which can be harmful to your health and can also damage the shower and the surrounding areas.
  • Ensure the durability of the shower: A properly waterproofed steam shower will last longer and will be less likely to develop leaks or other issues, saving you money and hassle in the long run.
  • Ensure safety: If the steam shower isn’t properly waterproofed, there is a risk of electrical shock and other hazards.
  • Maintain the aesthetic: A leaky or moldy steam shower can look unsightly and can negatively impact the overall aesthetic of your bathroom.

How to waterproof a steam shower

Waterproofing a steam shower is essential to prevent water damage and mold growth.

Here are some steps to properly waterproof a steam shower:

  • Start by preparing the surface: Remove any old caulk or grout from the ceramic tile and make sure the surface is clean and dry.
  • Apply a waterproofing membrane: Apply a waterproofing membrane such as a liquid waterproofing membrane, sheet membrane, or waterproofing paint to the walls and floor of the shower. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying time.
  • Seal the joints and corners: Use a waterproof sealant to seal any joints, corners, and penetrations, such as around the shower valve and drain.
  • Install a waterproofing system for the steam generator: As the steam generator is a source of water, it’s important to install a waterproofing system around the generator to protect the surrounding area from leaks.
  • Test the system: Once the installation is complete, test the system by running the steam and checking for any leaks or water infiltration.

It’s important to note that waterproofing a steam shower is a critical step and should be done by a professional or someone with experience, as improper installation can lead to leaks and water damage. Also, it’s important to use products that are specifically designed for steam shower and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

What’s the best material for the wall of the steam shower?

The key to remember when setting up the steam shower to be waterproof is to avoid using porous materials for the walls. Materials such as marble, granite, and concrete may look great but they will absorb the moisture from the steam.

Instead of using natural stone, use non-porous materials such as glass, ceramic tile, or acrylic walls. Just make sure to only use materials that can withstand temperatures of up to 212°F or 100°C since this is the temperature of the steam as it enters the shower.

Ventilation requirements for a steam shower

A steam shower is an enclosed space with a sealed shower door, which means that when it’s not in use, only a minimal amount of humidity is released into the bathroom area. The majority of the steam will condense and drain away. Although ventilation is recommended to regulate humidity in the home, it is not a must. In fact, you can dissipate the steam quickly by turning on the cold water in the shower.

Homeowners have the option to install a mechanical vent fan or ceiling-mounted bath fan to control humidity and prevent excess moisture from accumulating on bathroom surfaces during the use of the steam shower.

Here are some of the key ventilation requirements for a steam shower:

  • Exhaust fan: An exhaust fan should be installed in the shower to remove excess steam and humidity. The fan should be rated for the size of the shower and should be able to remove at least 1 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air for every square foot of shower space.
  • Venting to the outside: The exhaust fan should be vented to the outside of the building to prevent moisture from accumulating inside the walls and ceilings.
  • Timer switch: The exhaust fan should be connected to a timer switch that will turn the fan on automatically when the shower is in use and turn it off after a certain period of time to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Air circulation: To prevent mold growth, it’s also important to maintain good air circulation in the bathroom by keeping the door open or by using a bathroom ventilation fan.
  • Proper insulation: Insulation in the walls surrounding the steam shower can help to prevent moisture from seeping into the walls and causing damage.

When purchasing a bathroom vent fan for a steam shower specifically, it is important to consider its cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating. This rating represents the amount of air the fan can move in one minute.

To calculate the appropriate CFM rating for your bathroom, multiply the room’s square footage by 1.1. For example, a 100-square-foot bathroom would require a 110 CFM rated fan. Additionally, you should also consider the sound rating, measured in sones, of the fan. The range of sound rating is from 0.5 sones to 6.0 sones, and you’ll be able to find both the CFM and sone ratings on the product’s packaging.

Installing ventilation in the steam shower

There are two factors that go into proper ventilation of a steam shower. The first is to install louvers in the enclosure itself to help direct the steam to an exhaust fan. An exhaust fan is also an essential factor. Between having louvers, an exhaust fan, and proper waterproofing you shouldn’t have any mold issues or damage inside the walls. 

Here is a video tutorial on installing an exhaust fan:

Finishing Touches

Once you have the steam generator and steam heads installed, the enclosure sealed and waterproofed, plus an exhaust fan to remove the excess steam, you cna finish the steam shower to feel more like a steam room.

There are a lot of accents and finishing touches to make steam rooms feel like a spa and provide a very comfortable space.

Installing lights and speakers

Installing lights and speakers in a steam shower can enhance the overall shower experience and provide additional functionality.

Here are some reasons why you might want to install lights and speakers in steam rooms:

  • Ambiance: Lighting and music can create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere in the steam shower, and can be used to set the mood for a spa-like experience.
  • Safety: Proper lighting in a steam shower can help to ensure safe use by providing ample visibility, and can also help to prevent slips and falls.
  • Functionality: Speakers in the shower walls can provide the option to listen to music or podcasts while showering, making the experience more enjoyable.
  • Control: Lights and speakers in a steam shower can be controlled by a switch or a remote control, allowing for easy adjustments to the lighting and sound without having to leave the shower.
  • Design: Lights and speakers can be integrated into the design of the steam bath, which can make it more visually appealing and enhance the overall aesthetic of the bathroom.

Adding a bench or seating

A steam bath bench is an essential component for your steam shower. Since you will be spending up to 30 minutes in there, it makes sense to have a place to sit down. When you design the enclosure, you can opt to have a seat or bench built into the structure of the steam shower.

Or, you can simply add a special seat or bench for steam rooms that can be moved or removed when you want. Make sure the bench is designed specifically for steam rooms since many that aren’t will be made of material that will get ruined quickly.

Final Thoughts

Converting a regular shower into a steam shower can be a great way to add luxury and functionality to your bathroom. The steam bath health benefits, relaxation, and the value it gives your home make it a no brainer if you have the budget for one. 

Overall, a steam shower can provide a luxurious and functional addition to your bathroom, and can improve your overall well-being. It’s an investment that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come.

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Denise

Denise

Hi we're Denise and Tony! We are new homeowners and the bathroom is our favorite room. We made this blog to help others like ourselves get all the useful information needed to build a better bathroom all in one place!

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