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Home Steam Showers: Installing a Steam Bath - Part One

Apr 10, 2008
Do you love steam baths so much that you feel you can't live without taking them? If you answered yes to that question, getting a steam bath installed in your home may be right for you. Owning one is the ultimate for steam bath lovers. Having one in your own home may be easier and less expensive than you think.

There are two basic choices when installing a steam bath in your home. One is converting an existing bathtub or shower. The other is installing a modular steam bath. There are several steam bath designs which are self-contained and simply need appropriate plumbing and electrical connections.

Preparation

Steam is a highly penetrating form of moisture, so any room that has a steam bath must be properly prepared to prevent moisture damage. If steam gets into the infrastructure of your house, it can cause serious damage.

If you are in the process of building a new home, it is a simple matter of asking the builders to use the proper materials to make your bathroom steam-proof. If you are installing a steam bath in an existing house, you must make sure that the bathroom can safely withstand steam.

The basic principals in safe steam bath installation are threefold: to prevent the steam from escaping, collect the condensed water without dripping on the bathers, and allow the water to drain. To achieve these three goals, the steam room must be completely sealed and insulated, it must have a sloping ceiling, and it must have proper drains.

To prevent steam from escaping beyond the steam bath, the structural materials should be waterproof and have an underlying vapor barrier of thick plastic. Sheetrock or plaster must be specially made to withstand moisture or be covered with a waterproof finish. The walls and ceilings of the steam room must be covered in an impervious material like ceramic tile or glass. All the joints and connections must be sealed with silicone to prevent moisture from escaping.

Once the underlying structure has been prepared, the height of the ceilings must be considered. The ceiling should be lower than eight feet high to maximize steam build-up and prevent cold spots. It should be slanted to allow condensation to slide down the ceiling rather than drip on the bathers. A slope of two inches per foot is appropriate.

If you are converting a bathtub into a steam bath, you need to enclose it with a suitable door. Small steam areas (the size of the bathtub) should have a narrow gap at the bottom of the door to allow for airflow. Larger steam rooms can be made airtight.

Even if you are installing a modular steam shower, the bathroom should still be constructed to contain steam. These units contain steam pretty well but still release moisture into the surrounding bathroom area. Modular steam showers have the advantage of extra features such as multiple shower heads, built-in seating, lighting, and even CD players and telephones.

Whether you are installing a modular steam shower or converting an existing bathtub into a steam shower, you still need to select and install a steam generator and all the connections correctly. That will be topic of our next article.
About the Author
Mike Hirn is a longtime steam enthusiast. His website supplies a wealth of information about the construction, use and health benefits of home saunas and steam showers.
www.the-home-sauna-center.com
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