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Steam Showers 101: How To Turn Your Bathroom Into a Wellness Retreat

Everybody has a different routine. The time between waking up and going to sleep is filled with our habits and rituals. For busy people—and who isn’t busy these days?—finding the time for self-care and following through on healthy lifestyle choices can be a challenge.

What if you had your own wellness spa in your own home? It’s easier to do than you think. It’s as simple as transforming your ordinary bathroom into a health oasis, where you can rejuvenate and revive with a daily session in a steam room. By the simple act of installing a steam shower in your bathroom, you can create a wellness retreat at home that can have a profound effect on your health and happiness.


Steam therapy is one of nature’s oldest treatments. Since the days of antiquity, Romans, Greeks, Scandinavians, Japanese, and other cultures have used various steam environments— some natural, others constructed—as a curative or simply because it felt good. These far-flung cultures didn’t know why it was therapeutic to use ancient hot springs, sweat lodges, Japanese onsens, and Turkish baths. Now, after years of study, we have a better grasp of steam’s ability to help a spectrum of conditions, including respiratory health, skin integrity, circulation, cognitive health, and stress management, among others.

Modern steam units are even more effective when combined with augmented therapies that can be installed easily into modern units. These add-ons combine the healing boost of scent (aromatherapy), the magic of light (chromatherapy), and the soothing rhythms of music (music therapy) with steam to help you unwind, relax, and recuperate from everyday stress. Ultimately, steam therapy aims to transport you to a place of calmness and serenity. Whether you use a steam room alone or with a loved one, you’ll find your energy levels and mood restored with regular steam sessions.

Let’s look at the benefits of steam therapy and the logistics of installing a steam unit in your residence.

Wellness Begins in the Bathroom

The average adult spends about 30 minutes per day in the bathroom, for a total of 416 days in an average person’s life. It’s often our first stop after waking up and the last stop before sleeping. For both health and cosmetic maintenance, the bathroom is our “me” time. With a steam shower installed, your bathroom becomes a wellness destination, a place for renewal. And that’s what we all need these days. 

And that renewal happens to be extremely eco-friendly! An ordinary 20-minute shower can use up to 50 gallons of water, while a steam shower only uses two.

“What the culture is craving is a sense of ease and reflection, of not needing to be stimulated or entertained or going after something constantly,” writes Soren Gordhamer, founder of the Wisdom 2.0 conference.

You need this downtime. According to statistics, stress is ravaging our mental and physical health. About 77% of Americans “regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress,” resulting in $300 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

Steam therapy takes your stress management strategy to the next level. Steam showers also help enhance the effects of other wellness and stress-relieving techniques, like exercise, sleep, and other habits that positively affect key health markers

Improving Your Home’s Value

Beyond the therapeutic side of steam and its many wellness benefits, steam showers constitute a rising trend among bathroom designers and their clientele. If you build a steam room at home, you can raise your resale value by as much as 31%, according to Zillow

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) did a survey and found that steam is a “strong trend” for 2020, with 34% of designers requesting a steam shower in their plans. The NKBA cites wellness as a prime driver of this demand.  

The demand for steam is echoed by real estate professionals, who love to showcase homes that have bathroom wellness retreats with steam included. Paul Zweben, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Manhattan, told The New York Times that during showings, “When you say there’s a steam shower, most people say: ‘That’s so awesome. I can’t wait to try it.’ ”

What Is a Steam Shower? A Customer’s Perspective

There are so many good reasons to choose steam. Whether you've got a client who wants it for its holistic health benefits and is sold by the eco-friendly aspects of steam, or a client who's in it for the skin-care benefits and is sold by the relaxation factor—whatever your client's motivation, once they have decided to install a steam shower, you are ready to discuss details for the particular project. 

See this testimonial, Dear MrSteam: How My Steam Shower Changed My Life, and check out these other case studies

What Do You Need for a Steam Shower?

A steam shower is a type of bathing where a humidifying steam generator produces water vapor that is dispersed around a person’s body. It is added to the typical features of an ordinary bathroom shower. To transform a bathroom into a wellness retreat complete):

  • A completely enclosed shower space including: 7’- 8’ ceiling and a gasketed door;
  • A properly sized steam generator;
  • A standard shower floor drain;
  • A steam head;
  • A standard shower head;
  • Sloped seating; and
  • Vapor-sealed light fixtures.

The ideal steam room experience consists of the following:

  • An adjustable operating temperature range (90 – 120 degrees fahrenheit);
  • A wet environment experience; and
  • A session that lasts 10-20 minutes (this is a common recommendation).

Other important details:

If you come across any misconceptions about steam when you discuss it with a significant other or others involved in the project, we have just the answers you need to steer them right: Debunking the Myths About Home Steam Showers.

Customize That Steam Wellness Retreat 

A MrSteam steam shower offers many customizable options. For example:

iSteam: a sleek, 1/8-inch thick, nearly flush mount, moisture-proof control pad with swipe-touch simplicity that’s as easy to use as a smart phone. It allows control of every aspect of the steam experience (including AutoStart). It was created by world-renowned industrial engineer David Farrage, who focused on user simplicity and intuitive experiences.

For more, see: Bring 5 Steam Shower Benefits Home With iSteam 2.0.

iTempo and the wireless iGenie: So you can remotely pre-heat your steam shower from up to 100 feet away with the one-touch water-resistant control.

MusicTherapy: For a full steam therapy experience, combine steam with your favorite calming playlist to manage stress with flush mount, moisture-resistant, in-shower speakers that can accept input from almost any audio source. For more, see: The Steam Therapy Guide to Music and Mood and The Magic of Music for Wellness.

ChromaSteam: Combine steam and color therapy to enhance your mood elevation. You can set the atmosphere with vapor-sealed low voltage LED modules that can be set for continuous color or to cycle through six colors (including blue and white light), slow changing lights (chameleon), and fast changing cycle (disco). For more, see: How the Power of Color Fits into Chroma and Steam Therapy and How to Install the Chroma Light Cable and Light Up Your Steam Room.

AromaTherapy: Combine steam with aromatherapy to relax and invigorate with an on-demand AromaSteam system that automatically infuses healing  oil into a steam environment. Doing so with lavender, for example may promote relief from stress and tension. For more, see: See How to Add AromaTherapy to Your Steam Shower to Invigorate Mind and Body, Steam Therapy Chakra AromaTherapy Guide, and Essential Oils and Steam: The Do’s, Don’ts, and Musts

Bath & Body Therapy: Bring the history of steam bathing into the present with TALA body therapy products derived from the Moroccan landscape. For more, see: Simply Heavenly: TALA Bath & Body Gift Set Review.

Tower warmers: Don't forget towel warmers! They come in a variety of styles and finishes, available with AromaTherapy, digital timers, and in either hydronic or electric models. For more, see: Mr. Steam Answers 15 Towel Warmer Questions.

Your Basic Steam Shower Planning Checklist

Here is a  basic planning checklist for a steam shower. This outline will help you walk through the questions you should ask clients so you can help create their dream steam shower wellness retreat.

  • Size of the shower—at a minimum, you'll need 36” x 36” for a one person shower or 48” x 60” for a two person shower
  • Full service access to steam generator
  • Waterproofed area with ventilation or humidistat/occupancy sensor
  • Seated space 18” high and 15” deep with bullnose edge
  • Full back-rest area free of small tiles
  • Steam controls located within easy reach
  • Steam head located across from bather
  • Shower door with gasket and transom above
  • Tile and finishes approved for use in steam showers
  • Waterproof membrane

For more, see: 

Why a steam room? look to the Wellness Experts! 

Because it feels good! And it fits in perfectly with the surge in wellness lifestyles. Just ask one of the most trusted experts, Dr. Andrew Weil.

“I have long recommended steam therapy for its health benefits and use it frequently myself,” says Dr. Weil. “Unlike the dry heat of most saunas, it soothes the nasal passages and respiratory tract, relieves congestion, and clears the sinuses. It relaxes the mind and body and neutralizes stress. After trying a number of home steam therapy systems, I have found MrSteam products to be the best. They allow me to enjoy steam therapy regularly, just the way I like.”   

Steam Shower 101 Resources 

These resources will provide you with more information about steam showers:

Do you feel ready to turn your next bathroom project into a wellness retreat? Let us know if you have any questions.

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Topics: Benefits of Steam, Installation & Maintenance