NKBA - Steam Shower Presentation (Build Ex Vancouver)
I have been asked to do another presentation this year for Build Ex here in Vancouver. Build Ex is a large trade show for business to showcase their products and people to learn about the construction business.
Last year I did a presentation on linear shower drains and I thought it went quite well. This year the subject is Steam Showers. I did a dry run for the Vancouver Community College Bathroom Design Students a couple weeks back and I think I overloaded them with information.
What would you like to know about steam showers?
Any specific topics you think I should include?
I want to cover the basics like.
Steam head placement.
Ceiling detail (to slope or not to slope).
And of course backer board section and vapour proofing.
The trickier details like exterior walls and commercial builds I think I can leave out.
Steam Shower Construction in Vancouver
Here in Vancouver I find that most times the builder of the project allows the plumber to position the steam generator where ever they want. 60% of the time this is under the bench or the tub deck. Another 30% of the time I see them installed in the ceiling space above the steam shower or in the home's drop ceiling space.
What is the best location?
Does it need to be so close?
In reading many of the specification sheets provided from the various steam generator providers a steam generator can be installed quit some distance from the steam shower. A steam line can be run up and then down but not down and then up. The reason for this is so that there is no way the steam line can plug itself with a load of condensed steam in the line.
When I told a designer that a steam generator should not be installed under the bench because the distance to combustibles is not accounted for he told me that is how they have always done it. I asked if the plumber has ever read the specifications before.
I asked this same question over on Link'd In and got my first set of questions. I'm sharing them here as well in order to break the ice and get the ball rolling.
Nancy Cooper asked
"Is there a unit out there, that doesn't make so much noise when it is operating?"
"Does having a sloped ceiling really make a difference in the drip factor?"
"What size seat would you recommend?"
"Does having natural stone on the walls help with the comfort level because the stone retains the heat?"
Thanks for the input Nancy!
Many times the noise is cause by the installation of the unit and poor connections in the cover plates. Vibration of the steam generator and the pan can cause a lot of noise. I'll look into other ways of improving this and hopefully find some good ideas for you.
Steam shower seats should be comfy! 18"tall 18" deep and 48" wide a great bench for two.
I try and avoid natural stone in a steam shower for many reasons and what I hear from most of my clients is that they preheat the steam shower so when they get in the steam is already toasty.
I have hade many steam showers and never once has a drip on a ceiling affected my enjoyment. I have never even felt a drop. What I like best is using a rain head set to ice cold water as a cool down measure. Most times a steam session is under 15 minutes. Unless you can handle the heat.
Sloped ceilings are required in commercial projects but not in private steam showers by our local Vancouver Inspectors.
Steam Showers - Build Ex Presentation Outline
I meet for dinner on Sunday night with Corey Klassen of the NKBA to discuss an outline for my Build Ex Presentation. We had a great dinner at Milestones and the following day had this outline put together.
Corey and I discussed his current steam shower build and was totally impressed with the level of detail he specified in his drawings to both the client and builder. As a designer you should understand that many tradesmen will not have built a steam shower before - make sure you include guidelines on how to do it right. Corey was very clever and specified the Noble Seal TS system (one of my favourites).
Here is what we came up with on Sunday night.
Steam Shower: design to completion
1. Overview: what is a steam shower?
- Types of steam showers
(Side note: per NKBA Bath Planning, a bath room with a steam shower would actually be qualified as a "Spa", not a bath.)
2. Benefits of steam shower
- health benefits
3. Requirements to build a steam shower:
- building code reference
- mfg spec
- components overview (detail later)
- recommended sizes
- optimal locations in the spa
- is there a location in the home that is not best?
- shower seat (it gets hot, manage user fatigue)
- shower pan
- vapour barrier
- shower niches
- shower seats
- equipment needed: steam generator, steam head, control panel
- steam generator location
- head location
- panel location
- mechanical: plumbing, electrical & ventilation
- water supply line, types
- steam line locations
- drain requirements, if any
- electrical service: hard-wired or receptacle
- lighting: best types of fixtures
- ventilation, inside and outside shower, locations
4. NKBA Bath Planning & Access Guidelines:
- #9 Shower size
- #10 Tub/Shower Controls
- #12 Tub/shower seat
- #13 Tub/shower door
- #14 Grab Bars
- #19 Equipment access
5. Designing a steam shower
- slope ceiling - why, what to do if client rejects (errors and warranty waiver), overcoming objections
- material choice (features & benefits)
- natural stone
- porcelain tile
- ceramic tile
- grout type
- shower niches: slope
- ceiling (conceal slope)
- seat material
6. Best practices - tips & tricks
8. Literature distribution
The NKBA has some great Apps and some great designers. Corey is our head representative here in B.C. and also teaches bathroom design at the Vancouver Community College downtown. I better knuckle down since the final draft of this summary is due on Friday!