Not so long ago, anyone who wanted to enjoy the relaxation and health-promoting benefits of a real steam shower had to go to an upscale gym or spa. Today, however, a growing number of homeowners are choosing to install one of the new generation of steam showers at home, creating a warm mini-retreat in their own bathrooms.
Home steam showers (such as MAAX’s Jet Set II) are fully sealed enclosures that can be installed anywhere you would put in a conventional bathtub or shower. They produce a heated mist using a humidifying steam generator, and offer controls on a wall panel inside the shower that allow you to adjust the temperature and flow of the steam. Because steam showers are sealed, the heat and moisture won’t damage the paint, paper or walls of a bathroom. This also means that no venting is required; as the sealed steam shower cools down, the condensed moisture simply drains away into the floor of the unit.
The health benefits of steam showers are well-documented. For years, doctors have recommended as a home remedy that patients suffering from congestion, sore throats and sinus problems close the door to their bathrooms and run a hot shower. This allows the steam to fill the room, clearing allergens and loosening airways. But an enclosed steam shower offers a much more effective and pleasant way for homeowners to get the same soothing results.
Dermatologists also recommend steam treatments as a great way to open pores, release toxins and enhance circulation to the skin, creating a healthy glow. Additionally, steam showers are often used as part of physical therapy regimens for athletes and others dealing with injuries and pain. The moist heat increases blood flow to affected areas, speeding healing. And another increasingly popular addition is the use of aromatherapy oils specially formulated for enjoyment in modern home steam showers.
One important note is that pregnant women and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart problems should always consult their doctor or midwife before stepping into the steam.
Today, steam showers exist to fit just about any size bathroom, and most double as conventional showers as well, but they don’t come cheap. While few steam showers require any plumbing upgrades, cost for purchase and installation ranges from $2,000 all the way up to $11,000 depending on options and upgrades.
While purchase and installation can require some initial investment, steam showers offer a relatively energy and cost-efficient way to bring luxury and relaxation into the home bathroom. For starters, they don’t use a significant amount of water. Compared to whirlpool tubs, for example, homeowners can get a year’s worth of steam showers using the same amount of water as only two or three single fill-ups of a hot tub. As for electrical use, the average steam shower costs only between 20 to 25 cents per hour to operate.
Steam showers can be purchased as all-in-one modular units, with a variety of bundled option packages, or homeowners can build their own custom unit by mixing and matching special features. In some cases, existing showers can be converted to steam by sealing the unit and adding desired features.
One of the most popular steam shower options is bench seating. This allows homeowners to kick back and relax in the mist after a long day rather than remaining on their feet. The Steamist brand tilt-up steam shower bench is both attractive and functional, allowing it to be pulled down for use and stored flat when not in use in even the smallest steam shower.
More than just a traditional showerhead, oversized, pressurized showerheads offer a true “rainforest” full-body shower experience that can add an extra touch to a steam shower. They are also a great way to cool down after a steamy heat-up. Kohler’s rainshower add-on is a popular option that comes in several finishes to complement any steam shower design.
Full Body Massage Panels
Horizontal panels (by Keidel) can be placed at various heights inside the steam shower for a full body massage with jets of pulsating water, used during or after the steam gets going. This option turns the traditional overhead shower experience into an all-over water massage treat.
Ambiance Options: These ultimate luxuries can include mood lighting, built-in speakers and even a hands-free telephone for use in the steam shower, such as those offered by ThermaSol.