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Steam showers are popular additions to bathrooms. Adding a steam generator to a shower allows you to sit and relax or bathe and shower as you normally would. Steam can be added to many shower types and styles and enhances the room’s use.
There are many ways to create a steam shower, from adding a generator and door to your existing shower to installing a pre-plumbed unit. This variation comes with a range of costs. The national average for installing a steam shower ranges from $7,000 to $18,000, with most people spending around $12,000 on a new 5-foot by 5-foot by 8-foot porcelain-tiled shower with a steam generator, glass shower door, and tiled bench. For the lowest cost, you can retrofit an existing shower with a steam generator and door for around $3,000. At the high end, create a 10-foot steam shower with a solid surface surround, new doors with transom, body sprays, cedar bench, and lights for $20,000.
|Steam Shower Installation Costs|
|National average cost||$12,000|
Steam showers are a variation of the standard shower you probably have in your home. They can function as a standard shower with a showerhead, body sprays, and shower doors. But, they can also fill with steam so that you can sit and relax for an extended amount of time.
A steam shower is different from a standard shower because of the steam generator and its layout. You need enough space in the shower to include a bench, seat, or other area to sit. You also need a way to seal the steam in. This means that your shower door needs to extend to the ceiling. Most include an opening at the door’s top, which is known as a transom, that lets normal steam escape during a regular shower.
Your shower surround must be entirely made of non-porous materials because steam is made up of very fine water vapor particles. This means avoiding natural stone because this material absorbs the steam and stains.
Technically, you can add a steam unit to any shower. In this case, the only thing left is to seal the door so that the steam does not escape. In most cases, a new shower is typically built with steam in mind. There are several ways of doing this and many types of steam showers to consider.
|Shower Type||Average Cost (Fully Installed)|
|Prefab||$4,000 - $8,000|
|Corner||$4,000 - $10,000|
|Steam/Sauna Combo||$8,000 - $15,000|
|Steam/Jetted Tub Combo||$10,000 - $18,000|
|Custom||$10,000 - $18,000|
A prefab steam shower is the easiest way to get a new steam shower in your bathroom. This is a pre-plumbed acrylic or fiberglass unit. It comes with a shower floor, surround with ceiling, and doors. Most have a built-in seat or bench, but some smaller units need a fold-up seat or removable shower stool. A prefab steam shower comes with everything you need for the unit to be functional. You only need to install and hook it up. These cost between $4,000 and $8,000 on average, fully installed.
Corner steam showers are not as common as rectangular or square showers because they are not very spacious. However, this is a viable option if you do not have much room in your bathroom and want to create a steam shower. Corner steam showers can be pre-plumbed, prefab units complete with doors, or you can build one custom with your choice of surround material. To create custom doors for a corner unit, use a neo-angle shower pan and door configuration. In this setup, your door is made of three panels that join at 45-degree angles. Prefab units often use curved doors. A corner steam shower costs between $4,000 and $10,000 fully installed on average.
Steam showers provide a “wet” heat by using steam or hot water vapor. Saunas give you a dry heat with no steam or water vapor. Both can be a pleasant experience, and for families with different preferences, you may want to opt for a combo unit. In these units, there is both a steam generator and a sauna heat generator installed. They include a bench and standard shower elements. Many people choose a removable wood slat bottom for when the unit is used as a sauna. These units cost between $8,000 and $15,000 on average, depending on the setup.
There are a few ways to create a steam shower and jetted tub combination. You can arrange them side-by-side for a fully enclosed space, with a half wall on one side starting the tub’s surround. You can also use a jetted tub in an alcove setting and include a set of shower doors and a fold-down bench. Jetted tubs are much deeper than usual tub/shower combinations, so you need to be prepared to climb over the higher tub to get inside. Prices average from $10,000 to $18,000 for fully installed combination units.
Most people who want to add a steam shower usually make a custom purchase. With a custom shower, you create the size and shape that works best for you. You can add a tiled or cedar bench and create the surround out of any material you want, such as porcelain or ceramic tile, porcelain slabs, or glass tile. You can also create a performance shower system and work with unique ceiling heights while still trapping the steam. Custom steam showers cost between $10,000 and $18,000 fully installed on average.
Steam showers can be made in any size or configuration as a standard shower can. Because most people want to sit and relax while steaming, a walk-in rectangular shower with a built-in bench is the most common style. The shower must be sealed off, so the fewer open walls you have, the better. Most steam showers are alcove-style installations with three solid walls and one glass wall.
This is not the only way to create a walk-in steam shower, so if you are limited on space, opt for a square, curved, or neo-angle unit instead. The following material costs are for prefab units in the most common configurations.
|Shape||Average Costs (Material Only)|
|Curved||$2,500 - $4,000|
|Square||$3,000 - $4,000|
|Neo-Angle||$3,000 - $5,000|
|Rectangular||$3,000 - $6,000|
If you do not have much space, a prefab curved steam shower maximizes the area you have. Curved showers install in a corner, and the steam unit has the surround, base, and ceiling. The doors are sliding, curved acrylic, and fully plumbed for showering and steam. This configuration is more spacious than a neo-angle corner, which cuts in on the sides at 45-degree angles. These are also the least expensive options for prefab steam showers. They start between $2,500 and $4,000 on average.
Square steam showers are meant to save space. They typically average around 35-inches or 41-inches square - large enough to shower in and enjoy steam on a fold-down bench or seat. Most square steam showers have at least two glass walls, rather than the single-glass wall a rectangular shower has. Despite the smaller size, you need a larger steam unit to accommodate the glass. Glass does not hold heat as well as solid walls, meaning it is harder to create long-lasting steam. Prefab square steam showers cost between $3,000 and $4,000 on average.
Neo-angle steam showers are also a good space-saver because the shower pan and shower doors move off the walls at 45-degree angles. They meet at a straight section across the front. It takes up less space than a curved corner shower, but you have slightly less space inside. Using a fold-down bench while you steam is likely preferable in a shower this size than attempting to build a permanent bench. These units cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
Rectangular steam showers are the most common type. For a rectangular shower, you can have an alcove set up with three solid walls and one glass wall or two solid walls and two glass walls. The former gives you more steam for less energy than the latter. Rectangular steam showers often have space to add a built-in bench at one end, rather than having to fold a bench down or bring in a shower stool. Prefab rectangular steam showers come in several sizes, both alcove and not, so you have options no matter your bathroom size. They cost between $3,000 and $6,000 on average.
Unless you purchase a prefab unit with an acrylic or fiberglass surround, you have many options for the surround and base of your steam shower. In most cases, homeowners opt for tile because it provides the most customization. You can tile a built-in bench and base, use a combination of an acrylic base with a tile surround, or purchase solid wall panels.
Natural stone is not recommended for a steam shower surround because it is porous and absorbs the steam. If your water contains impurities, it will stain the stone permanently. Some stones, such as Bianco Carrara, contain high amounts of iron and rust. Any green-colored natural stone flakes and peels after being exposed to the steam, and no amount of sealing will prevent this.
Finally, the steam being absorbed into the pores of the stone can cause bacteria to grow. This may result in slimy walls or lead to health issues. Always use a nonporous material for the shower surround to avoid these issues.
|Surround Material||Average Costs (Material Only)|
|Ceramic Tile||$1.25 - $100/sq.ft.|
|Porcelain Tile||$3 - $30/sq.ft.|
|Swanstone||$6 - $10/sq.ft.|
|Glass Tile||$20 - $50/sq.ft.|
|Solid Surface||$100 - $200/sq.ft.|
The shower door is an integral part of your steam shower. For the shower to be effective, it must be sealed. So, the door extends from the floor to the ceiling and must shut tightly. Many shower doors include a panel across the top, which may have a transom door set into the center. Opening this small door lets some steam out of the top so that you can shower after your steam without fully opening up the shower.
Because a framed door may corrode when exposed to steam, most steam shower doors are frameless and may pivot, slide, or be a combination of doors with fixed panels. Bi-fold doors are less common but can be used in some corner or neo-angle showers. The door should completely fill the space and seal the shower. Expect the door to cost $800 to $2,000 at a minimum. The larger the opening and higher the ceilings, the greater the costs.
A prefab steam shower comes with its own doors. The following door material costs are for custom doors and showers only.
|Shower Door Type||Average Cost (Material Only)|
|Sliding||$800 - $2,000|
|Pivot||$900 - $2,200|
|Door and panel||$2,000 - $4,000|
|Door, panel, and transom||$3,000 - $6,000|
The steam generator is the most important component of your steam shower. They come in many sizes to accommodate the different needs of your shower and home. They have a range of costs. A small steam generator may cost around $800, and this is sufficient for a curved or neo-angle shower. Most generators cost between $1,400 and $2,400, depending on the type and size.
You need a steam generator installed to operate your shower. Because the generator is usually located behind your shower, the only visible parts are the control panel on the wall and the steam nozzle near your shower’s floor.
Your generator’s size directly impacts the shower’s cost. Calculate the cubic feet of your shower by multiplying the depth, width, and height to find the size you need. For example, a 5x5x8-foot shower has a cubic foot size of 200.
For every outside wall your shower abuts, multiply this number by 1.1. Next, consider the shower wall material. For ceramic tile, multiply by 1.3, porcelain by 1.6, and glass by 1.35.
For a 5x5x8-foot shower with porcelain tile and one outside wall, the total cubic foot measurement is 475.2 or 200 x 1.1 x 1.6 x 1.35 for the shower door. So, select a generator that falls into this range.
Installing a steam shower is like installing any other shower. The plumbing is roughed in, and the walls are waterproofed, covered in cement board, and tiled or covered in wall paneling. The finish plumbing is installed over the top.
When adding a steam shower, the process is about the same. The generator is installed in the walls with the rest of the plumbing before the finish work is done. The nozzle is extended through the surround, and an electrician hooks up the control panel, which may be located inside the shower or just outside it. Finally, the doors are installed. For prefab units, the plumbing is roughed in, and then the entire unit is installed and hooked up together. The finish pieces are generally already in place.
Labor costs vary depending on whether the unit is prefab or custom, the size, and materials. Labor costs start at $1,000 for a prefab unit and $4,000 for custom units. For an average 5x5x8-foot unit with porcelain tile and a hinged shower door, the total costs are around $12,000, with labor costs making up about $4,000 and the materials making up the remainder.
Prefab steam showers are the least expensive and easiest to install, but a custom steam shower has the most options. This includes the shower size, shape, layout and the wall and surround style, color, and material. Custom steam showers can incorporate other elements, such as performance shower systems, additional showerheads, or built-in benches. A custom steam shower costs around $4,000 in labor, with a total of around $12,000 for a porcelain tile steam shower with a door and built-in tiled bench.
A steam room is not the same as a steam shower. This is a room dedicated to steam, so it is not plumbed or set up like a shower. It has no shower doors but is a fully contained room. You can use tile, solid-surface slab, or other non-porous material for the walls. The floor needs to slope slightly toward a drain, so a mosaic tile is recommended. Otherwise, this room can be any size or shape, and you should include a bench. Expect costs for this room to run around $150 to $200 a square foot fully installed.
The maintenance of a steam shower depends largely on the surround’s materials. Steam showers need to be made of non-porous materials, so your biggest issue is keeping the grout clean if you opt for a tile shower. The grout can absorb impurities in the water and stain, so you may want to seal it with a silicone-based grout sealer and reapply regularly.
Otherwise, after steaming, the only real maintenance is to take a squeegee to the walls and shower door. This prevents water spots from developing after the steam’s condensation evaporates.
There is no grout with a prefab unit, so there is even less maintenance involved. Clean the walls like any shower, and squeegee after each use.
Adding a steam shower creates a luxury spa experience in your bathroom. Steam may improve circulation, opens and cleans pores, relaxes the user, and can increase your home’s resale value.
However, steam showers are not a good idea for children or pregnant women because steam showers elevate your body temperature. In children and pregnant women, this can lead to low blood pressure, dizziness, and dehydration.
Porous materials in the shower, including grout in some cases, may absorb the steam easily, meaning any impurities in the water absorbs into and stains the surround. Steam showers need to be cleaned frequently and are not always the best choice in a humid area.
For homes with low water pressure, wells, or small hot water tanks, a steam unit is a good alternative to jetted showers and soaking tubs to provide a luxurious feeling in the bath.
Steam showers and regular showers have much in common, and both can function as a regular shower. A steam shower needs doors that fully seal and a steam unit plumbed and installed. These two differences add up to about $4,000 more in costs for a steam shower vs a regular shower. So while a regular shower costs around $8,000, the price for a steam shower averages $12,000.
A sauna is a small or large room designed to sit in. It is filled with dry heat generated from electricity, coal, or gas. It does not function as a shower.
Steam showers are showers that also have a steam generator. They must be fully sealed, so the shower doors must extend to the ceiling. They also have to be plumbed for a regular shower, including the valves, shower head, and steam unit.
For this reason, a sauna costs significantly less than a steam shower. The average sauna costs $4,500, while the average steam shower costs $12,000.
Many people use steam showers to relax, but they are not the only style that can achieve those goals. A jetted shower or shower with body sprays can also be a great way to relax.
A jetted shower requires a steady supply of water and a 75-gallon or larger hot water tank. It also needs specialty plumbing, including a pressure balancing loop and a minimum of three jets. If you have well water, poor water pressure, inadequate space for the plumbing, or a small water heater, a steam shower can be a good alternative to a jetted shower.
Jetted showers are designed for faster, more energetic results, while steam showers are meant to sit and relax. Steam showers can have some health drawbacks like overheating. Jetted showers do not typically have these concerns, and they may offer a muscle massage.
When comparing a steam shower to a jetted shower, steam showers are less expensive if all other things are equal, such as the size, tile, surround, and doors.
Because steam showers are designed for extended periods, most include a seat or bench. A removable shower seat costs less than $100, a fold-down seat costs about $300, and a built-in bench tiled with walls costs roughly $200.
Many steam generator manufacturers offer a remote control option to control the steam. While all units have a wall-mounted panel, you can add a remote control for another $200.
To further increase your relaxation, some homeowners install chromatherapy lights in the shower. These lights come in different colors and energize or relax you. Chromatherapy lights cost around $500 to add.
Some systems also pipe music into the shower. Many include a Spotify account for customizing a playlist, while others let you stream through your smartphone to a speaker. These systems start at $500 but go as high as $2,000.
If you have minerals in your water, these can build up, which can cause the unit to clog. Some units automatically flush to clear the line after use. Some units include this option at no cost, while others add $100 to $300 more.
If you shave in the shower, an anti-fog mirror may be beneficial when using the steam option at the same time. These mirrors start at $50.
Yes, a steam shower must be fully enclosed.
You can add steam to an existing shower, but the walls need to be opened to install the generator, and a small hole made in the shower surround to accommodate the steam pipe.
Yes, most steam showers are regular showers that are also plumbed for steam.
No, saunas use dry heat while steam showers use hot water vapor or steam.
The longest amount of time recommended for use in a steam shower is 20 minutes. Longer than this can result in dehydration, dizziness, or lightheadedness.