Steam Shower [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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06-15-2001, 10:00 AM
I have seen references to "steam showers" on this board and in other places. It sounds interesting, especially since I'm at the beginning of a renovation process. Can someone point me in the direction of some information about these beasts?


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Bud Cline
06-15-2001, 02:16 PM

Now you've got me curious. I went surfing and came up with this website. Those are fairly nifty little guys, H-m-m-m-m gets me to thinkin'.

What do you know about them?

Rob Z
06-15-2001, 03:58 PM
Hi Mike

Thanks for joining the Forum. Some of the major plumbing manufacturers make steam units. Try kohler, American Standard, Jacuzzi, etc to see what they have.

From a tile standpoint, consult the TCA handbook for steam room detail. The 2001 TCA standards are SR613-01 (Mortar) and SR614-01 (Cement Board). You can contact the TCA at

While I have never done a steam room installation, I can see from the detail that it is important to use expansion joints, waterproof the substrate, and to slope the ceiling and the floor.

This should be considered a high-end tile installation, requiring a skilled tile setter.

I've heard stories through the grapevine of steam shower units installed every which way, including with mastic/greenboard.

Please let us know what you find out from Kohler and the others. Come back and see us with tile questions as your project progresses.


John Bridge
06-15-2001, 04:33 PM
Hi Mike,

The steam showers I've done have been with metal lath and cement mortar (mud). The only extras are to make sure the moisture barrier is done thoroughly, and that the steam unit is readily accessible.

If I were going to do one using cement backer board, I would use 3 mil poly as a moisture barrier, and then waterproof the surface prior to tiling, as backer boards present more of a problem with water "wicking" than does old fashion mortar.

I understand the reasoning behind sloping the ceiling, but I don't think it is really effective. Condensation is still going to cling to the lid, so I don't think I would go to the trouble.

The glass enclosure should have an operating "transom" window above the door to let out excess steam when necessary. The transom should remain open when the shower is not in use. This will help air the thing out.

Installing an exhaust fan would also be a good idea. The thrust would be to dry the unit out as soon as possible after each use to prevent or control mold growth.

The idea of expansion joints is new to me. I would have to hear more of the thinking behind that to make a judgment. I value Rob's thinking on this, though. He is probably among the best technically educated people in the trade today. As it stands, though, I don't think expansion joints are necessary.

[Edited by John Bridge on 06-15-2001 at 06:37 PM]

Rob Z
06-15-2001, 09:05 PM
Hi John

The TCA detail shows the expansion joints at changes of plane-wall to floor, ceiling to wall, etc. This is a standard rec on TCA's part. On the mortar installation detail, they list expansion joints on walls greater than 16'.

I wonder if these standards are developed by anectodal experience or derived by materials science testing on tile under effects of heating and cooling.

I think the exhaust fan is a must, as well. Preferably one that moves about 500 cfm.

Rob Z

Jesse Cole
12-30-2002, 03:06 PM
Just found this site, and looked for answer to a question which you address. I am planning to build a steam shower but was warned off about putting a vent in the shower itself because of hot steam effects on fan motor, I guess. Shower is a dedicated steam room about 8 x 8 feet. The bath will be ventilated. Prefer to have one wall, including door, glass, so I am not sure about transom idea.
Any thoughts?

John Bridge
12-30-2002, 04:10 PM
Hi Jesse, Welcome. :)

I think the transom is the way to go, and I also don't see any problem with a fan motor. A good one won't be affected by steam from a steam shower anymore than it would be by steam for a regular shower. How about a transom with the fan outside the shower in the bathroom ceiling?

12-30-2002, 04:23 PM
My new steam shower does not have a fan inside the enclosure but it does have a vapor proof light and a transom. The fan is pretty close on the bathroom ceiling. I leave the bathroom fan on and then I turn on the cold shower to dissipate some of the steam before opening the transom. This setup has been working fine so far.


Jesse Cole
12-30-2002, 05:38 PM
Thanks for the quick reply. Well, I was thinking of doing what Maxman suggested, but all things being equal I would just as soon have a fan in the steam room. Maybe the reason I was warned off was because of leaks at the fan orifice/ceiling. I plan to have a central whole house bathroom fan system. Would you recommend installing the orifice for the fan in the same way as the drain is established in the floor? Just seems like with the high, prolonged temperature and humidity this would be an area prone to leaks if not done correctly.

BTW, I have been browsing this site, and as soon as I catch up on the other threads, I have a lot of questions related to installation of tile and porcelain in other places, including outdoors, over radiant heat, etc. Great information here.

12-30-2002, 06:26 PM
It may be more work than it is worth, but if the fan was outside the steam room, ducted to blow into the room, and another duct or vent to exhaust the room, the fan would not see the high humidity and condensation. More better with backdraft damper on the fan duct. Inlet duct low, exhaust vent high to take advantage of the heat.

Blowing into the room is less effecient than exhausting from it, but all you want to do is to dry the thing out, right?

Alright then, never mind...

05-22-2004, 10:08 AM
Am I glad I came across this site.

I am just in the process of installing a steam shower and never considered ANY of these.

I have a few questions if some one would be good enough to reply.

My steam shower is a 5' * 3' base with ceramic tile sides, back & ceiling.

I have a centrally ducted exhaust so I could add an additional vent in the shower if there are any decent grills that would allow me to seal it while I am in the shower ( so it doesn't suck out the steam while showering ).....any thoughts?

Also I have been given a ton of different advice on the backer board. I finally setteled on Dens Shield and all the nail holes, joints are supposed to be covered with a rubber produce called Red Guard.....again, any thoughts?

I never thought about the vent in the transom. If I use the vent in the shower would that suffice for regular shower mist \ steam removal

I have also been given conflicting info on the tile adhesive. One tile supplier says mastic the other cement.

Appreciate any thoughts - sorry for the long message

John Bridge
05-22-2004, 11:38 AM

I wonder if you'd give us a first name. ;)

The louvers or the transom in the shower door may not allow the air flow of a regular shower, but air flow will certainly be improved. I think the exhaust fan outside the shower is a good idea.

I don't like the idea of Dens Shield. I think you are much better off using cement backer board and then waterproofing it with a membrane. Schluter Kerdi and Nobleseal are two good ones.

05-24-2004, 01:46 PM
I'm going with a transom window and a fan outside of my steam room (mostly due to John's suggestion). I recommend anyone interested in steamrooms check these guys out.
Just (

Based on their experience, it seems John's intuition was right on. The sloped ceiling doesn't really do much. It seems the water takes forever to drop and when it does it clings to the edge of the tile where it hits the grout line and drops from the middle anyway. Maybe the slope would make sense if you had a perfectly flat ceiling (ie. slab, corian, fiberglass, etc)
Sloped ceilings (

Based on their site and other research I made the following decisions:
Thermasol is my choice for a steam generator manufacturer because
1. Their better models have the soft steam option (Keeps slight amount of steam coming at 1/2 power instead of on/off/on/off/etc)
2. Their power flush is pressurized (I have hard water) and doesn't require a separate drain to be plumbed.
3. Their Thermasol Pro model is a good deal because it adds a drain pan, the autoflush option, preplumbed safety release valve, the 220V plug is prewired for you, and the water inlet connects with a flexible supply line they supply.
4. Their Elite control allows you to control both the time and the temperature. (Many others don't allow you to control the temp, they just have a default and let you control the time)

John Bridge
05-24-2004, 06:39 PM
That's a really good web page, Edgar. I've book marked it and will post the link from time to time. :)

05-25-2004, 12:03 PM
Hi, guys,

I am building a steam shower in my home. What do you think about hardy backer board? I'll use nobleseal TS on top of them, under the tiles. Did I understand right that I have to put red guard on the wooden framing?
What kind of tinnset is good to use?
About the vents: what do you think about installing NuTone vent ILF 120 in front of the door of a neo-angle shower?


05-25-2004, 01:25 PM
Nicola, the folks at the James Hardie company, the manufacturer of Hardibacker and Hardiboard, do not recommend their product in a steam shower. It has to do with the wood fibers in the mix. Instead, use any of the 100% cement boards out there: Durock, Wonderboard. Or use one of the foam cored boards: Wedi, (Nobel makes one, but I forget it's name). Just don't use Den-shield.

Use a sheet of 6-mil poly as the moisture barrier, and a paintable membrane (Redgard) on the tiling surface of the CBU. That's all your framing needs for protection.

Your thinset choice would be based on the type of tile and personal preference. The pros will chime in on this.

I'll look up that vent and get back with you.

OK, I'm back. I think you'd be happier with a higher flow fan than this one. Their spec is for a regular bathroom, you'll have much more moisture to get rid of. Also, it would be better if the vent was in the shower, but I understand the problems with steam loss. Still, the backdraft damper should be able to prevent most of the loss, a slightly larger steam generator would make that up.


John Bridge
05-25-2004, 06:16 PM
Welcome aboard, Nicola. Nice name. :)

There are some very good steam room schematics on the Noble Company site.

06-13-2004, 07:39 PM
1. Installed Steam Shower in my basement 9 years ago. Love it! Family fights over using it, in fact we have four bathrooms but most mornings we have to stick to schedule to get into the basement.

2. Would like to say everything in my installation went fine, but I made some mistakes in the waterproofing and build up. Even had high speed internet way back then but didn't get best plans togther. I have some small leaks that have weeped into the bath area drywall and ruined them on the bottom. I did temp repair that lasted only weeks. This is all mostly because I didn't do correct waterproofing installation beyond the shower pan - there is no membrane or film etc. beyond about 18" up. That there is no membrane at the horizontal seats joints is the biggest issue. Doing the basic stuff in this forum for showers would make it a no brainer and complete. I have worked up toward doing that but haven't wanted to start the project and do without the steam for so long. Will need to do it at some point though.

3. Next issue is the door. I used one with a piano hinge, much like ones noted in links in this forum. Not completely happy with in, but that again is more to my faulty, or improper installation back then - it is not square and the dam at the bottom wasn't slope in properly. Again something that is handled in this forum and I need to redo. But with the piano hinge, the hinge creeps loose at the top (sags is maybe better description) eventually and which hinders closing and fit. When I do the thing over, I really want to move up to a higher quality door with "Pivot Hinges" for a classier, solid feel. These, from folks like Kohler, are 2-3 times more expensive though.

4. Sloped ceiling. Used 2 inch tile everywhere. Sloped ceiling wouldn't matter. At times there is drip from ceiling after we've used it all day and it hasn't dried. Not a big issue, you're sitting in the damp already. Slope might help, but I'd agree that smooth surface would be better. In revision I'm looking at 8-12" tile minimum or corian type materila (cost is big deal though). The change is more for looks and upgraded feel more than anything else.

5. Lights, I put one ceiling / sealed light in. In remodel, I'd add more lighting and put it on dimmers etc. Hey even some neat programmed fiber lights would be neat with unlimited budget.

6. Fan. Went with fan in bath area, outside on a twist timer. Can't say this was completely succesful. There is some rust spots on some cheap fixtures in the main area. This may be more due to family not using the timer consistently, but at this point I have to replace the timer as it won't shut off - expect there is some corrosion inside it. Fan inside seems like it might corrode also, so I'm on both sides of the issue on this one.

7. Transom above door might be nice with fan in bath, but I've good success with just closing the door firmly. At least here in Northern VA, in the winter it dries out fine and seems to do same in summer. If it was completely tight (See door paragraph) then maybe this would be bigger problem. Have had no problem with mold etc. Remember this is in basement so it's cold or cool down there year round.

There, exposed all my mistakes on the steam. But I'd still say go for it, it is really nice to sit in 125 degree moist heat in January here in VA after a run and get a nice sweat and shower done. I even do the Scandinavian thing most times and sit outside in swim suit and towel in the snow for 10 minutes for a cool off, crazy looking and sounding, but relaxing.

Last thought, for deluxe, some piped in music into the shower and the fog free mirror would be neat. Shaving is great in the steam but hard without a mirror when tired or hurried. Tried speaker in the bath area and they work OK but the steam runs most of the time and it's hard to hear the sounds inside when that is going on.


Steven Hauser
06-14-2004, 02:44 AM

Thanks for your input.

I can relate to the nice steam soak.

Unfortunately, I have had to start ice and water soaks after some of my runs.


John Bridge
06-14-2004, 04:34 PM
Hi T, Welcome aboard, and thanks for the run-down. ;)

You may have given me a new outlook on home steam units. Sounds like the Y around your place. Next time you might consider a gang shower where everyone can sweat ensemble. Swimsuits, of course. :)

06-20-2004, 12:08 AM
I installed a shower/jacuzzi/shower a little over a year ago. I love it!
I bought a corner whirlpool tub and ordered a custom shower enclosure that was made to use for a steam enclosure. I used solid surface material for the walls and trim. I used the same material for the vanity tops and the area to step in and out of the tub.
I put speakers in the enclosure. I'm glad I did, but it would be fine without them.
I tilted the ceiling and am glad I did. I still get some dripping, but not nearly what it would be otherwise. For anyone contemplating the same arrangement, I recommend a sturdy grab bar to assist getting in and out. I did so and that is one of the smartest things I did.
I like the combined unit, mostly because of the space saved.
My biggest mistake was the location of the steam head. I placed it below the shower controls about 8" above the rim of the tub. It can get pretty hot for me sitting near it, though that is not a big issue. The main problem is that it melts the sealer between the tub and the wall. I have replaced the sealer using hi-tem rated sealer, but still have the problem. It also overheats the shampoo, etc that might be sitting near it.
I used a panasonic light/vent fan inside the enclosure and am very happy with it. They are very quiet. I don't have a timer switch on it, but will probably add that after reading this forum.

It's a great way to go!

06-20-2004, 08:01 PM
Hi everyone,
I completed my steam shower about 6 months ago. I did not slope the ceiling and have no regrets . Condensation is never an issue. The unit is used almost everyday. I do not have a fan interior of the shower and so far the shower has dried fine. I installed a transom and frameless door. I selected hinges that allowed the door to pivot in or out . This allows us to leave the door open to the interior of the shower and facilitates drying.
I left a 3/8 gap around the entire door and have no issues with to much steam escaping. I did not want to add plastic trim pieces to the door. They usually end up looking nasty after a couple of years . I also do not have a drip gaurd at the bottom, I let the water hit the threshold and run into the shower. I had some concerns about the bathroom steaming up and installed heaters behind the vanity mirrors. I have not needed them and I will soon unhook the power to them to save on the electric bill. I have a 12 foot ceiling in the bath and this could be the reason I do not get fogging. I have not seen any signs of moiture collecting in the bath at all. I did install a whole house ventalator but have yet to hook it up. The house humidity ran about 40 % all winter.
The steam unit is a roma steam generator. I chose this unit because it fits in the dry wall cavity of a 2x4 wall . I also like the response time . I think the workmanship of the unit could use some improvement but I am satisfied with its performance. I will post a couple of pictures. There are more pictures in a thread
in the pro forum. I will try to answer any question although I am out of town alot so have patients.

06-20-2004, 08:19 PM
Picture 1

06-20-2004, 08:21 PM

06-20-2004, 08:24 PM

John Bridge
06-21-2004, 01:06 PM
Good lookin' shower, Tim. :)

06-22-2004, 01:01 PM
Thank You

06-23-2004, 06:27 PM
Hi everybody.

Does anyone have experience with this unit, the Jacuzzi Sedona steam shower base? It's pretty new--I always have to be a guinea pig.

I'm halfway through installing this unit in the footprint of my regular bath. Basically, this unit occupies the same footprint and height as your regular bathtub. If you had the walls and ceiling waterproofed properly, you'd just need to seal it in place, glass it up, and go.

But mine weren't. We removed the tile, put in styrofoam insulation and cementboard. Could someone tell me what to watch out for? (My contractor is a great guy but I don't know how many of these he has done.)

We are removing the overhead light in the steam shower area and putting a vent/light in the bathroom itself--my glass guy recommended it. Other than that, what is crucial? What do I put on the cement board before it is tiled up? I believe there is 3 mil plastic between the insulation and cement board.



PS One bit of wisdom from the glass guy. He said that putting glass on the ceiling of your steam shower is something to avoid. He believes that it will shatter--it's just a matter of time. You might have not choice (e.g., if you have a 15 foot ceiling and your bathroom, as one of his clients did), but he does not recommend it. The client with the 15 foot ceiling is on her third sheet of tempered glass. He says the edges of tempered glass are too fragile and can't really support weight like that; also, it bows over time.

06-25-2004, 08:06 AM
I want to reply to a couple of Emails that I received.
The glass for my shower came from wilson glass.
They were great to work with.

Take care

John Bridge
06-25-2004, 05:21 PM
Hi Ruth, Welcome. :) Sorry if it's taken a couple days to get back to you.

You will need to waterproof the cement backer board before the tiles are installed. There are a number of membrane materials that will do the job. Schluter Kerdi is one and Nobleseal is another .

As to the glass on the ceiling, I wholly agree. Tempered glass is very fragile, and laminated safety glass will certainly settle and warp from its own weight. Who in his right mind would want to try to relax under a sheet of material that can cut your throat if it doesn't cut your head off? ;)

08-18-2004, 03:37 PM
In case anyone is interested, we've installed the Sedona and it looks tremendous. My tile guy used a paint-on membrane on cement board, and we used ceramic tile with two bands of iridescent glasstile for decoration.

Now we are just putting in a glass door with side lights and transom. The hook-up and test is next week. I'll post pictures and tell you how it works.

I think this job, including the cost of the Sedona, demo of old bath, minor reconstruction (replacing wall-board with cement board, moving and changing the fan), tiling, glassing, and plumbing might be about $7,000. This seems less than a standard steam shower--am I right on this one or just dreaming?

08-18-2004, 07:44 PM
I'm still not registered, but the previous post about the Sedona is from me. I'm still curious to hear whether anyone has experience with this unit.


John Bridge
08-19-2004, 05:48 PM
Hi Ruth,

No experience, but why don't you register? We DO NOT sell or distribute your email. You have nothing to fear. ;)

Mike T., Swampeast MO
08-22-2004, 03:19 PM
John is dead on with the transom recommendation.

All the steam generator mfgrs. I found insist that the enclosure be as air-tight as possible.

I ordered my door before planning the ventilation and am now sorry. Door HAS to stay propped open for the shower to dry out.

One other suggestion: unless your water is naturally very soft, make certain that the steam generator flushes out the water after the steam cycle. This is often an option.

10-05-2004, 07:33 PM
I just installed the SEDONA steam shower from Jacuzzi. The shower base arrived broken, no damage to carton. Easily fixed since I am handy with epoxy. The Steam generator seems to work fine and I did install the automatic drain valve. THE only problem I have with the system is that the doors are very cheap and didnt fit. It took 8 hours to install them using a dremel tool to make it fit the base. The door seals are crap, the doors rattle and dont seal well and I have requested the Jacuzzi representative come to my home and see the quality of his shower doors. I should have had the local glass shop provide the doors, but I thought that if I spent the extra money for "steam" shower doors from the manufacturer.
Good luck

10-09-2004, 05:40 PM
Hi all!
This is such great info, I'm hoping I might get some good ideas about how to fix a bad steam shower door. We purchased a home that has a great steam shower...two shower heads, tile sloped floor, tile walls, tile ceiling (non-sloped with no complaints), tile bench, and a steam installation. We love it so much, but the previous owners installed a WOODEN door....and wooden door frame which is connected to a glass block wall and another tiled wall. Needless to say the wood door and frame need to be replaced. It is currently covered with some type of sealant in the bad areas, but looks awful and I know is not probably really working: mold is a huge problem in Florida. How can we replace the door with a glass door and different frame without ruining the glass block wall or the tiled wall that the frame connects to? The entrance to the steam shower is also sloped OUT rather than in, causing water build up and leakage just outside the door. Last, the glass block wall is not completely grouted in in some places at the top, and I've noticed some tiny black areas in the small there a way to kill the mold and still fill the area in, or will the mold cont. to grow no matter what we do, once it's in there? This is a beautiful bath, we do love it, and we want to preserve it. Any input would be helpful. Last, any ideas on cost? Thank you!

10-09-2004, 11:13 PM
I built a poor man steam shower. Basically have a sliding glass door that goes up to the ceiling and two shower heads, even w/ one it gets very steamy and very wet on all walls and the ceiling very fast. I would go with the expansion joints or at least silicone callking around all edges where tiles meet as in less than a year I have small cracks in the edge joints (will be hitting w/ a penetrating sealer soon). I used a backing of 1/2" sheet rock, covered by exterior grade building paper (remember to installing by wrapping horizontally and start from the bottom and work your way up overlapping, the bottom sheet should overlap the sides of your pan but don't staple/nail through it). I put mastic over all the nails in the paper, but that could be overkill. Of course use galvanized roofing nails. I then used 1/2" wonder board over that (wish I would have had it floated, gets rid of all the uneven walls. Use a tile with small grout joints to limit water penetration and chance of mildewing as it gets very wet and even with a fan takes a while to dry. Plus use a good grout sealer and re-seal every year. I have a glass block wall and window which are not a problem yet but the large grout joints give a better chance for mildewing. I have a fan outside the shower but my wife hates the fan noise so we don't use it much except to keep all the steam from completely filling the mirror when you exit the shower. Probably the best advise I have is get a rubber squeagy (sp?) to clean the door and if you are really anal the walls, this really helps to push the water down to the floor where it can drain. The ceiling will just drip regardless of slope so do what you want there. All and all I love it and to date have no real problems....but it has just been a year...ask me in another 10 or 20.

10-09-2004, 11:23 PM
on the door here is what I did, works just great. I too have a glass block wall.

I took a standard double track sliding glass door rail (the door basically hangs from this on rollers). I think had to ripped in half so it was only for one door. I attached this tool my ceiling through the tile w/ anchors trying to find wood behind the tile/backer where possible. I then trimmed it with a 90 piece of bent metal paine white to match the rail. I think just have a little guide on the bottom at the edge of the glass block wall. I also have plastic 'bumpers' on the front and back enges of the door so it can open and close up to the tile walls without chipping the glass and to provide a better seal. Works great!

P.s. when attaching the guide to the dam, only use short screws (<1") so you don't penetrate the dam's watertight seal.


10-09-2004, 11:24 PM
We may need to use you as a bad example for steam shower construction, Dave. How about getting registered so we can keep track of who we're pickin' on. :)

10-09-2004, 11:57 PM
Pick away that is how we all do tell why it is such a bad example and don't hold back as I'm a homeowner not a pro so don't claim to know much about tiling, just sharing my experience.

I'll take a trail run in here b4 registering I think.


John Bridge
10-10-2004, 10:16 AM

Don't take it personally. CX is joking. We won't pick on you if you don't want to be picked on. :D

There are certain things that are supposed to be done in steam shower construction, though, and using tar paper as the waterproofing isn't one of them. I agree it'll work for a while -- might even work for a long time, but there are better ways. Surface applied waterproofing is what's recommended nowadays.

As to registering, it's up to you. It does allow you to post pictures and to communicate with other members via our server. We do not sell or otherwise distribute information, and no one sees your email address except moderators, and they don't tell. ;)

brian m
10-10-2004, 05:19 PM
We are planning to intsall a 4' x6' walkin shower with cultured marble walls & base for our remodeling. After reading this thread we may add a steam generator and rimless glass doors with glass transom and cultured marble ceiling. Is it ok to have just this steam shower & also use it for regular showering? Will we need the special waterproofing in back of the cultured marble? Help!!

John Bridge
10-10-2004, 06:58 PM
Hi Brian, Welcome aboard. :)

You won't find any cultured marble installers here. All of us have torn out cultured marble showers and converted them to tile, though. ;)

If you do a little searching around you'll find some recent dialog on the subject. Generally, I don't like the material for anything, and I especially wouldn't recommend it for steam shower. Your best bet is ceramic tile.

Yes, you will need a waterproofer no matter what you decide to do.

brian m
10-11-2004, 09:30 AM
Thanks John. I will try to find some additional info about cultured marble compared to tile. If you have any links on this topic please send. My wife doesn't like the idea of cleaning the mildew off the tile grout lines. If we can find a way to solve this problem we will revisit tile for the project.

10-11-2004, 09:38 AM
I'd agree with JB, Brian, the only thing different about your steam shower would be your choice of wall covering; the basic construction would remain the same, you would just add cultured marble instead of tile. You'll still have coulked joints at the corners, floor, and ceiling to clean and maintain, but, of course, no grout joints.

I think you'll find that a good exhaust fan in that bathroom, well used, will do more for your grout joint mildew problem than the installation of a solid surface material. John and others will be quick to also tell you that wiping down the shower after each use will help eliminate the problem all together. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

10-20-2004, 10:42 AM
Glad I read this forum! I was going to go with Corian in my steam shower,originally, but now will use tile. Any suggestions on size or type for a 3 x5 steam shower? Thanks, so much!

10-20-2004, 10:56 AM
Porcelain smooth finish is best for steam showers and your maintenance of it.

10-20-2004, 10:59 AM
Thanks, Todd! Will get started on it today!

10-25-2004, 03:43 PM
Doing a bed and breakfast for a customer, restoring a carriage house of the existing house its been changed to a bed and breakfast started out with a simple plan and small budget, owners shot the budget in the first few weeks. Went from fiberglass showers to fancy whirlpools and full shower body spas with steam, have followed manufactures instructions (Koehler) through out, found out there’s a lot of opinions out there. After reading this forum sounds like all is going to be ok no leaks should occur (us contractors no you have to bring the membrane up above the seat) the one item I wonder about is the steam head location. Per instructions it must be away from a corner 4" and above the floor 6" no other specifics have been given. So we placed on a bear wall as far from seat as possible and not around faucet down low been that way for weeks owner seen something on TV were the steam came out of ceiling now is wanting moved, my plumbers pissed (not the first change) any input on location of steam head location and reasoning behind it would be great
Thanks in advance.

10-26-2004, 08:22 AM
Whoa! You don't want the steamhead very high (certainly not ceiling) that would make for an extremely uncomfortable steam bath experience. The idea is that steam rises so you want it to start out low and then rise up, warming the whole enclosure. People already have enough trouble keeping the whole enclosure warm (which is why the say the max height is 7-8 feet) because the steam rises so quickly without having it start out there.

My steamhead is opposite the bench, centered under the shower valve (just for looks) and is a little higher than your specs (maybe 12").

Just my $0.02, worth price charged.

John Bridge
10-26-2004, 05:33 PM
Yeah, steam rises quickly. The outlet needs to be down low. Also, the entire shower is supposed to have a membrane. :)

10-29-2004, 02:34 PM
I am trying to find out some info for a friend whose newly built (about 6 months old) steam shower tile installation is failing. I do a little tile work but haven't done a steam application and didn't do the setting on this job.
All the joints where planes meet are cracking--they are all sanded grout--I couldn't find a caulked joint anywhere--so I don't think the setter used any expansion joints. The tiles at the edge of a built-in bench are lifting up as are the tiles under the door.
I assume from previous posts that a waterproofing membrane is considered standard. Is that over all surfaces or just at the joints? Should it be installed below or above the substrate? Would you suggest spot fixes for this job or a complete re-do?

11-01-2004, 11:48 PM
I have seen references to "steam showers" on this board and in other places. It sounds interesting, especially since I'm at the beginning of a renovation process. Can someone point me in the direction of some information about these beasts?

Thanks. Iam looking for the same info too. I am insalling and i dont
have a clue.I need help.

11-02-2004, 05:52 AM
The two main differences between a steam shower and a regular shower are:
1) The joints between walls, floors and ceilings have an expansion joint between the backerboards. These joints are caulked, as are the tile joints. Backerboard joints in the field are taped and mudded like regular showers.

2) A waterproofing membrane is applied to the tiling surface of the backerboard on walls and ceiling. This replaces the behind-the-backerboard vapor barrier used on regular showers. Of course, you can use a surface waterproofer in regular showers if you want, just don't use both.

A minor difference is that steam showers have a sloped ceiling. Some say not necessary, but if you plan to give your steam shower heavy use, slope the ceiling.

11-02-2004, 02:54 PM
My name is Sergey and I have been reading your forum for about two month. Great forum with lots of helpful info! John: Great book, read it in a week! :bow:

Glad you started the discussion around steam showers because I am building one in the next couple of month (just waiting on the octagonal window and tiles to arrive and time-off approved). Otherwise have everything else to start my demolition and construction.

I have a Kerdi system and planning to install it in my steam room. From reading this forum I understand that for steam rooms it is recommended to install backerboard and cover it with Kerdi membrane. So I can not use a sheetrock with Kerdi like in the regular shower?


11-02-2004, 09:08 PM
Welcome, Sergey. :)

You need to start your own thread for this project or you and your questions will be hoplessly lost in this thread. It's too confusing already. :rolleyes:

Go do that right now. Immediately. Before it's too late. :D

Seriously, do that. We'll meet you there. :)

11-23-2004, 10:47 PM
Bob I noticed in citing the major differances in a steam shower construction you didn't talk about the rigid insulation that is specified in the TCA this ommission intentional? How important is such an application, which sounds complicated with "pencil rod etc"?undefined :rolleyes:

11-24-2004, 03:53 PM
A friend is looking at doing the same type of steam shower...they used backerboard, and waterproofed it with Redgard. What type of thinset, and trowel size should be used for 6"x6" porcelain tiles in this steam/shower application?

12-10-2004, 11:53 PM
Might there be a big demand for a detailled Power Point Presentation about wedi custom steamrooms (without any framing/round and circular walls /completely made of wedi 2" or 6" boards/all forms and types of ceilings/domes),wellness products (benches etc.), how to install a steamroom using wedi board 1/2", includes 2 dozen beautiful jobsite/project pics (can be used in customer calls) etc.etc.?

Just send your info/ address to and i´m going to send you a CDROM + literature asap :)


wedi GmbH Germany
Tech. Manager US Products

John Bridge
12-11-2004, 07:46 PM
Hi Pedro, :)

The spec you are looking at is for mud showers. I don't think we have any newbies doing mud steam showers here. No pencil rods in backer board showers. And all it says is that adequate insulation be used.


Why don't you convert the CD to an MPEG and place it on the web site? That way people can tune into it anytime they want to. Save a bunch of postage stamps, too. ;)

12-14-2004, 11:53 AM
I'm not an expert and didn't even play one on TV, but if you read the literature on Hardi it says it's not certified for steam rooms.

12-18-2004, 10:41 AM
Hi folks, I installed the sedona unit from Jacuzzi and it works great. I was wondering though, if anyone has tried changing the steam diffuser head (comes preinstalled in the tub base), so that you can utilize aromatherapy. Or if there are other ways to have aromatherapy with the unit. Any thoughts are appreciated. Mike

12-18-2004, 11:24 AM
I would think that a ceramic crucible hanging over, but not obstructing, the heating outlet would allow you to use scented oils for "aromatherapy". The heat would disperse the frangrance, the ceramic would transfer heat without being a hazzard as glass would, and you wouldn't be monkeying with the heating elements of your expensive steam unit. Suction cups, a brace installed with 2-part epoxy, or something else would have to be improvised to suspend the crucible though. Love to see how you work this out.
Best of luck,

12-20-2004, 02:14 PM
i am SO new to this -- please advise! hubby and i have basement bathroom plumbed for a stand-up shower and the walls currently up are green board. just decided we will make this a steam shower. floor is already cement and an adjacent wall is to laundry room. questions:
1. do we need to tear out ALL green board or just where shower will be?
2. do we need to install vapor barrier between frame with insulation and cement board?
3. can we install cement board before we have all plumbing pieces -- steam generator/etc? and then make cuts where needed?
4. are we fools to try to do this ourselves?
5. can we use marble/natural stone or is tile better?
6. should we tear out the ceiling frame too as greenboard is currently above frame or can we cut at the frame and caulk between two different types of board?
7. some have said no need to tile the ceiling. if not tiled, would it just be painted cement board?
sorry for all the questions, just trying to do this right.

12-20-2004, 07:54 PM
Welcome, Kristin. :)

Please start your own thread with these questions. You'll get hopelessly lost in this thread, and we don't wanna lose anybody.

03-06-2005, 09:11 AM
I read this entire thread but didn't find any reference to the proper way to build in benches whether foam, metal or frameed in? Any ideas? Thanks

John Bridge
03-06-2005, 09:54 AM
Welcome aboard, Confido. Please give us a first name. ;)

We have a lot of shower articles in our (Liberry), including one on building masonry shower benches.

03-16-2005, 11:26 AM
Wondering if someone can help put the final piece together for a steam shower we're doing for a customer. All tile is in, sloped ceiling, with frameless glass from curb to tiled ceiling tray...metal guide is installed on the ceiling tray. We mounted the door brackets directly to the wall (not to another small piece of glass attached to the wall). We've got the standard flexible sealer where the glass door hits the fixed piece of glass, but steam currently comes out where the brackets are mounted to the wall. We're going to put another sealer along that piece, but I'm worried about the area where the top of the glass meets the metal guide on the celing tray. Any thoughts on how to best pull this off? Thanks.

- Dan

03-26-2005, 05:45 AM
After reading through the post for this thread I thought maybe I could offer my experieces with a steam shower build:

1. Don't angle the ceiling - it just isn't needed for a small room.
2. Offset your steam outlet or your shower faucet- I thought I would center everything for effect, but handle heats up even three feet away from outlet.
3. Don't worry too much about steam leakage - sure you don't want gapping holes, but a bit is fine. I have ceramic tile with glass door and between grout lines and all a bit leaks out.
4. Dual swing door - no transom. Mr glass guy wanted to know the deal with the transom. Not only did he want more $, but having a swinging door that went both ways meant when you're done, leaving the door swung into the steamroom meant it dries out quickly - more than a transom would ever do.
5. It's been over a year and the steamroom looks fine -no cracks, etc. You will really enjoy the steamroom over the winter. Thanks again to this forum for good advice. I am having fun with my basement remodel now. Timo

03-26-2005, 06:18 AM
hi Timo,
I'm going to have to disagree with you here. ALWAYS pitch your lid, even in little steam rooms. The reason is that without a pitch condensation will cause dripping and aside from being annoying it just screams "shortcut". As a professional, I could never get away with not pitching a lid and I think the goal of most DIY'ers is to achieve the look of a professional job?

05-08-2005, 06:01 PM
I've read through all of th steam shower messages and have a question which you seem best suited to answer. I am converting an existing 4 x 6 closet into a steam shower. Fortunately all of the plumbing is immediately adjacent to this space as it was servicing a fiberglass shower stall unit. That is gone and the steam shower will replace it.

I have the walls down to the framing. They are insulated with typical foam batting on the one outside wall and the three inside walls will also be insulated in the same fashion.

I have read various approaches form here on..

some use a vapor barrier
some use a vapor barrier and then durock
some use a vapor barrier and then durock and a sealant...

so.... here we go....

which backer board product would you use?
would you use a vapor barrier?
would you seal the backer board?
would you seal the surface that faces the insulation or the surfact that the
tile will be place upon? or both?

would you ask you any other questions?

Thx. Dave

05-08-2005, 06:09 PM


3)yes with laticrete 9235

4)surface that the tile is on

John Bridge
05-08-2005, 06:25 PM
Hi Dave, Welcome aboard. :)

Any backer board. I would use a paint on membrane on the tile side.

Really, I would use Schluter Kerdi and the Kerdi-drain. ;)

05-14-2005, 07:56 PM
Hi all, I haven't seen any mention of lighting inside steam showers. I do find products on the net for use in steam showers. What's the thinking on lighting? So much to think about on this project! :crazy:

05-14-2005, 09:19 PM
Mark in Napa (NVC) and I were just discussing fixtures in showers and such the other day. I'll ping him and see if he's got anything to add here.

05-14-2005, 09:33 PM
Thanks for dragging me into this one. Dag nabin’ pie-rates. :)

Shaughnn, I’ve never used the trim we were discussing in a steam shower, only a regular one. So I will try to find the specs. on it and see if it’s approved for steam showers.

A recessed (can light) in a regular shower isn’t any different than a regular can, it just uses an approved trim which has a rubber gasket and a glass lens. It also has to be hooked up on a GFCI protected circuit. (at least here in CA)

I’ll hunt around and post any info I find.


05-15-2005, 04:45 AM
I found this one....

and a local lighting shop has a line they say is appropriate, it is "forecast lighting" by Lightolier.

Glad you've been dragged in. I'm a new DIY'er. Is putting electrical in a tile wall the same basic process as with a drywall wall? Put in a box, add durock over and around it. Or is there more to it? I'm thinking of adding speakers from the same website.


Dave Baker
05-15-2005, 08:23 AM
Speaker issues were discussed in this thread:
Speaker Enclosures (

Hope that helps!

I bought some marine grade speakers from eBay which are going in my
steam shower ceiling. All thick plastic in the cone and support.
I won't seal them in a box, since I have good airflow above the ceiling.

05-15-2005, 01:04 PM
It looks as if those steam/sauna lights would fit the bill as they’re designed for it. They look very similar to a ‘wet niche’ underwater pool light. (non-low voltage).

I’m still waiting for some manufacturers to get back to me to see if there is a lower cost alternative, but the sealed stainless 'sauna/steamroom' would be very hard to beat in terms of longevity.

Putting electrical in a tile wall is identical to drywall. We always use 4” metal (not required on residential) square boxes behind backsplashes and use the appropriate ‘plaster-ring/mud-ring’ which are available in a variety of depths, in 1/8"th inch increments, to match the thickness of your finished installation.
They make plastic extension rings also, that can be used with the plastic ‘nail-on’ boxes as well. The outermost face of the ring should stand just shy of the finished tile/wall surface, and not past it as it will give you grief when installing the devices later, but no more than an 1/8”th of an inch shy. (Technically, tile/mortar/backerboard would be considered non-combustible, but within 1/8”th has kept every inspector happy, which is how we like it.)

If the outlets are already installed and tile is set, they make an ‘extension ring’ that can be inserted into the box, but they’re a hassle and it’s preferable to use the aforementioned alternatives before covering the walls.

Another thing I should mention regarding electrical boxes is that any box within (6 feet here) of water is required to be a GFCI protected circuit, which can be accomplished by either a GFCI breaker (whole circuit is protected) or a GFCI receptacle (push button reset looking plug) We prefer the receptacles rather than the breakers, and multiple outlets can be protected by using 1 GFCI ‘upstream’ and feeding the other regular (i.e. cheaper) receptacles off of the “load” side of the GFCI outlet. Kitchen countertops/backsplashes have additional requirements so if you’re talking kitchen, let me know.

Steam room/shower speakers, I haven’t any experience with them. Others have offered some good suggestions,(marine) and I also can’t see how you could go wrong with one that is designed to go in such an environment. (Except the price) :)

One thought I might consider regarding the installation (and it were mine), if practical, is running the speaker wire in non-metallic flexible conduit (smurf-tube) up or down to an accessible space and that way, if you ever had a corrosion issue or problem with the speaker wire, you could simply pull new wire through the conduit rather than having it stapled to framing.
The end of the flex (at the speaker box) would be sealed the same way as a hole would, but could be cut out if the wire ever needed to be replaced. This is overkill, but cheap security. Also, keep everything clear of areas that might inadvertently be hit by a nail while putting up backerboard/lath.

Best of luck with your project, based on your questions/forethought I think it will turn out great.


06-03-2005, 02:47 PM
I am in the middle of construction on my steam enclosure (also going to be our daily shower unit) and my appoach to the venting/drying issue is to install a heavy glass door with a pivot such that the door can swing in to dry. I am also considering adding a skylight (10" tube type) that has an optional built in exhaust fan.

The diffusser sits flat against the ceiling (I've read all the threads and its going to sloped... if for no other reason it'll look more professional). I suppose the diffuser (plastic) edges may collect condensation and drip, but from the previous threads, I'm lead to believe that you need to be in there for a long time for condensation to an issue.

Are there any other pro or cons to this approach? Any experience with skylights in steam enclosures?


06-16-2005, 12:58 PM
Well, nobody seems to agree about whether this is important or not, but everybody who has an opinion sounds pretty sure of themselves.

The shower I am constructing is 6 x 4 and even in that small a shower pitching it 1" per linear foot looks cockeyed :crazy:

I guess I haven't seen many....or maybe I didn't register the pitch when I did see them.

For those of you who are believers....1" per linear foot sound right? look right? feel right?

Anybody with pictures of their pitched lids? I'd love to see how they look when they're finished....because when the are just framed they look sort of like, um, um, well some of my past projects that didnt' turn out quite right.


06-29-2005, 08:01 PM
John, I went to a local tiler's showroom to ask about mudbeds etc. I asked about Kerdi and was told that there are only 2 sizes for the base and neither is large enough for my 6 x 4 shower.

Are they right?

thx. dave

06-29-2005, 08:07 PM
The pre-formed Kerdi pans are (I think) 60x32 and 48x48. That doesn't mean thatyou can't use the kerdi system and the Kerdi drain, you just have to make your own pan out of deck mud. It's easier than doing it with a liner, as you only need one layer. Then you add the Kerdi and tile. You do need the special Kerdi drain...

08-29-2005, 01:36 PM
I will be installing two steam showers in a remodelling project I am doing in San Francisco. We've done our research and have found this company Anyone know anything about them?
We will be getting a Mr Steam MS150T Generator, with autoflush. Our shower will be completely lined in a ceramic tile made too look like marble. Any information you can provide about the above company would be great

Jay Levitt
12-27-2005, 04:48 PM
I just found this age-old thread as I'm planning my second residence with a steam room.

I don't know about sloping the ceiling; I don't think my 4x5 shower is sloped. I can tell you that installing any sort of ceiling-mounted spray is a bad idea, because you'll definitely get condensation dripping from that... you want the low point to be somewhere that's not over your head! And yes, you're already damp, but believe me, condensed, dripping steam feels very cold when you're in a hundred-degree room.

You definitely want expansion joints; I have an all-grout shower, and all the edges cracked within a few years.

I did go for the transom, because mine is used as both a regular shower and a steam room, and the airflow is nice when you don't want it to steam up. I thnk a previous poster made a good point, though - opening the door lets a whole lot more steam out than does opening the transom.

Now, a question: Has anyone had any luck with the various fog-free mirror products out there? I like shaving in the shower. Zadro's coating-based mirrors are no match for a steam generator. I'm considering the ShowerTek model, which uses hot water to heat a copper backplate on the mirror, but their mirrors are pretty tiny. I'd really like to find some sort of good-sized mirror, ideally a magnified one, that's meant for in-wall installation, and can stay fog-free in steam. Anyone?

12-31-2005, 05:11 PM
I have found the joy of shaving in a steam shower, but need a mirror. BTW, I haven't been back to this site since my project was completed, still a great source of info and discussion. I have switched from Italian porcelained tile to Italian scooters.

PS. I do have a bit of slope in the ceiling, but the drips follow the grout lines away and it takes a while for drops to build to the size to drop. I bought a Thermasol unit and haven't had a problem with it.


12-31-2005, 10:11 PM
There are heated mirrors designed to hook up to the shower...the hot water runs behind the mirror and keeps it clear. Might work in your steam shower as long as the shower head is also running.

12-31-2005, 11:05 PM
Timo, I been shavin' inna shower for at least 25 years and ain't never had no mirror in there. Unless you git you a new face too frequently to keep track, you aughta know where everything is by now if you're old enough to shave, eh? :D

01-01-2006, 12:02 AM
Shavin with no mirror? No way CX. :shake: I'll admit it, you must be more of a man than me. My face would look like this: :x:

Tool Guy - Kg
01-01-2006, 02:16 AM
:lol2: :lol2: :lol2:

01-01-2006, 08:38 AM
Last time I shaved without a mirror, I caused a bald patch, about the size of a quarter, that didn't grow back for nearly a year. :eek:
CX, maybe he needs a mirror because he's concerned how he'll look *after* the shave also? :)

01-01-2006, 01:42 PM
I'll second CX...I don't use a mirror in the shower, and often don't turn the lights on. I can easily find all of the required parts. Maybe that came from not being able to use my glasses in the shower! Fixed that with LASIK, though...still same results.

04-04-2006, 05:16 PM
I see some past posts here from folks who have installed the Jacuzzi Sedona Steam Shower unit. I can't seem to find a good photo of the optional steam dome top. Do any of the folks who have this steam shower have photos they can share with me? And do you like the dome top - easy to keep it clean? Thanks!

04-08-2006, 04:18 PM
What is the best grout to use in a steam shower? Also how big of a exspansion joint, and the best caulk to use. Thanks for all the information.

04-19-2006, 05:47 PM
Re: #4

Slope in the cieling, say 2%, I hear is to prevent hot drips of water from dripping onto occupants. As for it dripping at 2% slope anyway, I cant say from experience...

09-11-2006, 01:32 PM

My gerneral contractor installed the Jacuzzi Sedona Steam Shower. The Shower door and dome was way over his head. Yes... ouch!!! RRRR.

I have been looking for a contractor to install the steam shower doors and dome. Seems like no one wants to do it.

Do you know anyone in the Washongton DC area who has a proven track record to install the Jacuzzi Sedona steam shower door and dome?

Thanks in advance.

Best Regards,
Dan K.

09-21-2006, 02:32 PM
I just bought a steam shower (an ariel) from the online company (steamshowersinc) and I just loved the service, quality, i'm spreading the word for them.

hope this could help in any way :clap1:

10-08-2006, 02:30 PM

We have had a shower/steam room roughed-in into the basement of our 75 year old house. Unfortunately, the first contractor could not complete the job. Now, a second contractor is telling us that the whole room must be redone because a basement room that is tiled on all six sides must be "floating." While I understand his rationale (the possibility of floor or foundation shifting), I also wonder if this is necessary. I saw mention of 'expansion joints' in this thread. Would they do the job? Might there be any other solution than tearing down and rebuilding a room that is wired, plumbed, and ready to be walled and tiled?

Thank you all for your advice.


08-29-2007, 03:33 PM

Given that a steam shower is a pretty harsh environment, could I expect the same lifespan of grout in a steam shower as a regular one? Iknow nothing about grout so the silly question... is there a special grout that you'd use in a steam shower?

Thanks very much for any help you can offer.


08-29-2007, 03:39 PM
Welcome, John. :)

Regular Portland cement-based grout don't give a rat's patootie about what kinda shower you have. Really.

Posting your question to this realy old thread is not a good idea if you're gonna let us help with a shower project. If that's the case, please start a new project thread and we'll all find you there. :)

My opinion; worth price charged.

08-29-2007, 04:06 PM
Rookie mistake on the posting but thanks for the grout advice.


11-10-2007, 11:09 AM

I have been reading the posts and would like to know the specific reasons you dislike marble in a steam shower application, and why you prefer ceramic tile. Is it for practical reasons or for asthetci reasons? Thank You.


01-10-2008, 08:33 AM

Sorry if I'm posting in the wrong area or link....My husband and I are very close to purchasing of foreclosed home. I've attached pictures of both the left and right side of the shower/tub area. The right side appears to have a knob which controls the heat temp which says goes up to 110! A plumber was out there yesterday and said that two of the valves/back of the shower are missing. We've since determined that this could be a steam/shower/bath. My questions are: Do we have to install special glass shower door(s) or can we get by with regular glass doors? Does the shower door have to go right up to the ceiling? The entire bathroom is tiled including the ceiling. Thanks

Rd Tile
01-11-2008, 03:19 PM
Slope the ceiling to prevent hot water from dripping on you.

You slope the ceiling to keep COLD water from dripping on you.:)

mary beth tello
01-14-2008, 07:50 AM
Hi! I'm new to this site. Am installing a steam shower in my new master bedroom suite and have a question about installing the unit. My plumber wants to install the steam generator (I'm looking at a thermasol proseries) in a first floor closet. It's not exactly vertically below the shower. He says this will require less plumbing (for the overflow drain as well as for the water lines), but I'm concerned about the performance of the unit if located on a different floor. Although the literature for the unit says it can be installed up to 50 feet away, it seems like it would be harder for the unit to heat and produce the steam from down below. Thoughts?
Many thank,
Mary Beth.

02-04-2008, 09:57 AM
I am new to this site, but it looks like exactly what I was looking for! I am building a shower right now, but am wanting to eventually add a steam unit, so I want to build the shower correctly. Would a teak ceiling be a good idea? The ceiling will be sloped, due to the roof line, and it will have a light and a vent fan. Also, the tile on the floor and walls will be travertine tile. Is there anything I should know about travertine in a steam shower?

Thanks for your help!


02-04-2008, 02:49 PM
This has got to be the strangest, most mixed-up thread ever written!!!!!

That said, I have a steamer in my home and I did not slope the ceiling and have no problems with water drops. I can see doing a commercial unit that way but in a house? , not too sure it's necessary.

--- pete

02-04-2008, 07:48 PM
Hi Abby,

I suspect you'll be asked to start your own thread to keep your project all neat and tidy.

There's "some difference" between a regular and steam shower, lots of info here (note: irony - BIG irony). I too thought "it's a shower - let's make it a steam shower - how tough can that be?" (ahem).

What I found out:
Steam shower needs to be built with a vapor barrier - best is a membrane over your substrate. If you choose to use Kerdi, that substrate can be (ack) drywall! Steam shower w/kerdi means DO NOT put a vapor barrier on the studs behind your substrate - makes a moisture sandwich. Steam shower means insulate the wall cavities.

Before you put your substrate up on the walls, make some decisions:
a) niche or no-niche?
b) seat or no seat?
c) grab bars or .. well, even if you decide to not use bars yourself, put some supports in so they can be added in the future!

Needless to say, I made ALL these decisions one at a time, paid for it by pulling the walls off and re-doing, re-doing..

Good luck on your project!


09-24-2008, 02:51 PM
I never start small. I am embarking on my first steam shower and tile install.

I have read a lot, including "Tile Your World", and think I am ready to try some hands on.

I have purchased and read the TCA standards concerning steam rooms. I am going to make a mud floor and see in the standards that there needs to be an expansion joint in the concrete where the floor meets the walls. The TCA graphic shows cove tile at the bottom of the wall, but I will not be doing this. My floor and walls will meet at a 90 degree angle (a bit less than 90 because of sloped floor).

My question is, does there need to be an expansion joint in the concrete layer above the shower pan liner. If there does, how would one do this?

If there does not need to be a joint like this, do I only need to caulk the tile joint around the perimeter?

I hope this makes sense,

Tim Blue

09-24-2008, 03:10 PM
Hi Tim,
No need for an expansion joint in your shower pan. Make certain though to allow for a caulked joint between the pan and the shower wall tiles, as well as at the vertical and ceiling transitions.
The cove base in the TCNA handbook is a throwback to when steam rooms were strictly commercial entities. The sanitary cove allows for a more complete cleaning. Now that folks are putting them in their homes, that requirement is relaxed a bit. If you don't have a couple hundred people using the room every day, you don't need to be as cautious about corners where ick can grow. :sick:

09-24-2008, 08:14 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I assume when you say,"allow for a caulked joint between the pan and the shower wall tiles" that you mean do not grout between the floor tile and the wall tile, but use caulk there instead. So this would mean that the entire perimeter of the floor (just outside all of the floor tile) would be caulk and not grout.

Thanks again,
Tim Blue

09-24-2008, 08:24 PM
This is a point of contention between many, even here at the "friendliest place in the World Wide Rodeo". But here in a steam shower, a caulked joint is going to allow for thermal expansion and not just be a cosmetic seal against cracking grout.

09-25-2008, 01:37 PM

Understood, I have actually heard of stories where the tiles would pop off the floor when the room would heat up because there was no room for them to expand.

You had said to caulk between the walls and the shower pan, and I just wanted to be sure I wasn't misunderstanding you.


10-18-2008, 08:53 AM
I've noticed that a lot of people are sugesting a vapor barier behind backerboard, then liquid membrane on the face. I like this idea, but I've always thought sandwiching between membranes was not a good idea. Is this different on a steam shower?

10-18-2008, 03:21 PM
Ben we use a primary membrane and no secondary vapor barrier in our steamers same as the showers ...Kerdi it and it's good. I haven't used a luquid or trowel applied membrane for a whole shower or steam room for many years....and trowel applied membranes are sketchy in a steam room in my estimation anyway. I have alot of faith in sheet membranes.

10-27-2008, 08:46 AM
So If I did a standard pvc liner pan, then sheet membraned the walls, and ceeling It would be good. I would also think that every penetration should be caulked.