If you've enjoyed basking in a steam room at a gym, hotel, or health resort, you know how quickly a quality steam renews both body and spirit. More and more homeowners are soaking-up similar therapeutic experiences at home, thanks to steam rooms they've built inside bathrooms, master suites, and exercise room enhancements.
Steam rooms offer benefits galore. Unlike saunas, which supply really hot temperatures and dry heat, steam rooms operate at close to 100 percent humidity with temperatures generally falling between 110 and 115 degrees. These sultry environs improve blood circulation, loosen aching joints, ease symptoms associated with sinus and respiratory ailments, and cleanse bodies of toxins. The room's steamy clouds soften and defoliate skin, act as a natural sleep aid, and, most notably, wash away worries.
Looking to build a spa-like sanctuary? Installing steam rooms, which involve a designated cold water supply line, a 240V electrical circuit, proper drainage and ventilation, and heavy construction, are best left to professionals or accomplished DIYers. Here's a look at what you need to know to construct a steam room.
A steam room is a space that's enclosed from ceiling to floor on all sides. A steam room is equipped with steam outlet heads powered by a steam generator and is warmed by a heating unit. The generator should be placed near the room in a closet, attic, or, depending on its size, beneath a steam room bench. The type of generator and heater you'll need will be dictated by the size of your space and your heating preferences.
Steam rooms should measure 7 feet in height and be no taller than 8 feet. Since steam rises, limiting a steam room's height ensures that plentiful steam cloaks those sitting on benches. Since the idea is to keep steam swirling inside the room, exposed surfaces must be leak-free and waterproof to prevent moisture from creeping into adjacent areas and a home's structural framework.
Vapor-barrier materials must be installed before adding non-porous tile, stone, or solid-surface to the steam room's walls, ceiling, and floor. You'll need a vapor-proof door that opens outward for safety, slip-resistant flooring, and a slightly sloped ceiling that prevents condensation from dripping directly on users' heads.
Every steam room needs a teak bench or two for sitting or reclining and peacefully diffused vapor-proof lighting. Choose specialty "chromatherapy" LED lights to create custom-color steam that sets a wide array of moods. Install vapor-proof speakers and docking stations so you can listen to tunes; improve the experience by adding aromatherapy oil pumps or spraying aromatherapy oils into the steam. Add regular and rain showerheads, handheld sprays, and fog-free mirrors to turn a steam room into a meant-to-pamper relaxation station.
If building a steam room seems like too big a job, talk to a plumber about adding steam functions to an existing shower. Or, consider installing freestanding steam-shower units that range in price from $1,800 to $5,000.
No matter the steam room you choose, you're sure to feel better after idling awhile amidst the steam room's restful rhythms and health-promoting vapors.