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How to Build a Steamroom | Start to Finish

This program covers the removal of an existing shower and all the required steps necessary for a watertight tiled and glass panel steam room. If your project is new construction, you may skip Videos 1 and 2 of the presentation.

VIDEO 1 - DAY 1: Demo'ing Existing Shower

Steam Room Video: Demo'ing Existing Shower

In our first video, we review the overall goal of the first phase of this home steamroom installation project

  1. Artfully remove the old tile and shower pan
  2. Evaluate any moisture damage
  3. Plan repairs before proceeding with the steamroom construction and preparation

Helping to keep down the dust, we cut out the tile in large squares. On this site, we had some rot from moisture behind the shower walls. We remove the shower pan which slides out easily after removing the flange and the drain screen.You can see the damage caused by a leaking shower or steam room, thus emphasizing the need for watertight steam room installation.


VIDEO 2: Precision Tile Demo

Steam Room Video: Precision Tile Demo

We review the plans for an 18"W steamroom bench. We're going to remove some of the existing tile precisely. It will become the back of the bench.

Here we only need to cut a portion of the tile away near our tub. So we use masonry blade with a skillsaw. For the finer cuts, we use a 4" grinder. In our case, we found bit more floor rot. So we're cutting more floor tile away which will help us poor a better pan. We recommend following your saw with a vacuum cleaner to keep your dust down.

Water actually has amazing bonding properties. Your steam room will have high humidity and water will stand on a flat surface too long without a slope. So, your steam room bench top should be sloped at ¼" per foot toward your drain.

We slope the ceiling at 1"+ (one inch or more) per foot (this is corrected in a later video), framed in a short wall off the ceiling the distance of our glass door and wall. We also framed in some alcove boxes in the wall for shampoo bottles. Ledges are sloped for better drainage at ¼" per foot. We're using 4" recessed lighting in the steamroom.

We are now ready for our electrican, plumbers and concrete workers to pour the pan.


VIDEO 3 - DAY 2: Prepping the Pan

Steam Room Video: Prepping the Pan

Let's discuss pouring the pan for the steamroom. We've set our form on the front edge for a 6" curb and threshold leading down to the drain. Next we'll set drain.

We've layed a PVC liner on the pan floor, we cut the corner so a square piece will fit when coming up the wall. So add more liner over ther corners to protect that cut. And our concrete is mixed with some fiberglass to strengthen the base.

After smoothing out the liner on the bottom. There is a shower-panliner advhesive we use under the pan liner. Now we staple down the liner along the edges. Never staple on the bottom of the liner.

We highly recommend doing some of this work yourself as you're able, but some things are really nice to have installed by a professional.

In our case, we also put extra liner cut tight to the drain under our main liner with PVC adhesive between. We also leave the liner up the wall, so the cement board will overlay the pan liner keeping water toward the drain. While we away the plumber put in the steam head which unfortunately too close to our benches, so we're going to have it moved over.


VIDEO 4 - DAY 3: Pouring the pan

Steam Room Video: Pouring the Pan

We're pouring the pan. The concrete is reinforced with shreded fiberglass to give the steamroom pan more dimensional strength. The concrete is poured a bucket at a time and worked into the form of the pan. This helps remove any bubbles and assists the bonding action.

You can lift the drain slightly to assist the concrete setting under the drain. We pour the pan flat actually and leave room for our thinset to seal the drain edge. Also, our thinset will actually set the angle of our slope when we set the tile.

Liner kits do provide instructions to assist you. We let the pan cure for 3-4 days, even a week is great.

Meanwhile, the cans for the recessed lights have been set up above.


VIDEO - DAY 7: General Wall Prep

Steam Room Video: General Wall Prep

We had the plumber move the steam head into the corner. We've added rigid foam insulation to the walls. It's a good product because it's shapable and has the reflective backing.

After the steamroom is wired and plumbing set, we line the room with 4mm visqueen plastic to ensure any moisture behind the tile does not go into the wood.

Then we attach the cement board to the studs. you can see it's quite easy to cut by hand using a scoring tool, a saw or use a masonry bit and cut it outside, and hole saw.

The side with writing is side which shows and designed to receive the thinset. Additionally we set screws every 8 inches. You want alot of screws as they board will hold alot of weight. Note, we set the cement board ½" above the pan as materials do expand and contract with heat and cold. You want an expansion gap.

Next we seal the seams with silicone. And we remove the form board for our curb or threshold.


VIDEO 6 - DAY 13: Sealing Seams and Gaps

Steam Room Video: Sealing Seams and Gaps

We put silicon in the corner and wall seams. To do it right, fill every seam

Inevitably there are some gaps around pipes that silicone can not fill well. For the gaps, we use expanding foam. Once dried, you can cut the excess away with a knife.

FYI, we used 5 tubes of silicone in our small steam room. After our silicone is dry, we cover our seams again with thinset and mesh tape. Apply your thinset smoothly.

Lay your mesh tape and smooth with your putty knife. Then overlay with a smooth layer of more thinset being careful to keep your tape intact. Your thin set should dry for 24 hrs.


VIDEO 7 - DAY 14: Seal the Floor and the Walls

Steam Room Video: Seal the Floor and the Walls

We've let the thinset dry. The next step we're taking is a crucial step for the ultimate waterproof seal between the cement board and the tile.

We're using Laticrete Waterproofing membrane. It's a black roll-on rubber product we roll over the mesh tape of our existing seams and corners. Use a roller and a brush to spread the waterproofing. Sometimes it helps to have 4 hands when handling this stuff. Roll the Laticrete beneath the mesh tape and then adhere the tape over the spread liquid. Move quickly as the Laticrete drys fast, and quickly becomes tackey.   Continue rolling over the open areas of the cement board on the walls and the steam room pan.

Laticrete is very pricey. We spent $200 just on the amount for this room, but it is considered the premier sealer for steam rooms. When finished, your entire room will be black. You can go back and roll it thoroughly. Laticrete requires 24 hours to dry.



VIDEO 8 - DAY 16: Laying the Tile

Steam Room Video: Laying the Tile

Tiling is the most time-consuming portion it seams of all the steps to making a steam room. Generally, start your first row of tiles one course off the floor where level can be set. Thus, the row where the pan and floor meet we'll save til last, and typically it must be custom cut to hide any consistencies when the pan was poured.

We're using the Masterblend high acryllic thinset for extra water proofing.

The tools we're using for tile cutting and shaping are

  • a wet saw for our precision cuts
  • a hand cutter for the easy ones, and
  • a roto-drill for the holes.

We also use a level to assist the tile master setting the tiles perfectly plumb and flush. Spacers set the distance between each tile. We continue setting our tiles up the wall.


VIDEO 9 - DAY 18: Generator location and plumbing notes

Steam Room Video: Generator location and plumbing notes

We located the generator a few feet away from the glass enclosure. The plumbing ran along side the bathtub over to the steamhead in the corner. We like the Mr Steam generator for a few reasons, especially servicability, ie you can access the steam elemant inside the steam tank. The element could be replaced rather than replacing the entire tank. We like the stainless steel exterior, and their customer service has been very good.

We also wired in a master cut-out switch, and note this is a 240V installation. We're using a 6kW Mr Steam 150E generator. It's important to size your steam generator appropriate to the cubic foot size of the steam room. We can definitely help you assess your situation when you call or email us.

These systems also flush the very hot water after each use. There are manual and auto flush options. Make sure your plumber is aware of the need to flush the system. Of course, routing your plumbing is always easier during new construction versus remodeling and needing to tie in plumbing later.


VIDEO 10: Cut Outs

Steam Room Video: Cut Outs

We continue to tile up the wall and now are doing the "cut outs", the portions around the where plumbing comes through the wall as well as the alcoves for the bathroom sundries and canned lights in the ceiling.

Shown is a diamond cut out saw blade which make tube protrusions much easier to make smooth rounded cut outs.

Porcelain is one of the harder materials to cut to size. Slate and ceramic. However, slate is probably one of least desirable materials for a steamroom because it's more porous. Ceramic tile is cheaper and easier to work with, but in our case we're matching some other tile, so best to keep a consistent look.


VIDEO 11 - DAY 21: Tile Review and Setting the U-channel for the glass panels

Steam Room Video: U-channel for the glass panels

We've completed our tile job now. All cut out pieces set and grouting has been finished. We used smaller tiles on the floor. That's important because smaller tiles shape to the sloped floor much better.

It's best to order your glass panels and door after your tile is all finished. Measure at least 3 times, so you absolutely sure it all fit. Now we'll prepare for receiving and placing our glass panels for the enclosure which we ordered from the factory. We'll need to prepare the aluminium channels which hold the door.

Shown are our shop drawings from the glass factory. They will have you initialize these plans.They are not responsible for your mistakes, so be very attentive to detail here and it never hurts to have another pair of eyes check your work.

Now we're doing the mitre cuts on the U-channel provided by the factory. They send these longer than needed so you have extra. A fresh blade is wise. Use a mill file to smooth any cuts afterward.

We like to set up our U-channel in a dry run to check all cuts and measurements prior to attachment to the walls. The U-channel is attached by drilling through the tile. Then using nylon anchors embedded in the tile. After drilling our holes in the tile, we put a bead of silicone on the back side of the U-channel. It's not specified often in factory specs but it never hurts.


VIDEO 12 - DAY 22: Installation of controls and croma therapy lights

Steam Room Video: Controls and Switches

We're setting our steam generator controller on the wall. All wires have been threaded much earlier of course thru the walls. 

Make sure all services are completely clean of any grout residue, so the silicone seal is nicely waterproofed.

A note about our croma therapy lights. Of course test the connection before applying silicone behind the units. The lights come with a threaded cap used when you can get behind the wall to secure it tightly. In our case, we are going to use silicone behind the outer gasket to waterproof our lights.


VIDEO 13 - DAY 23: Glass panels and fixtures review

Steam Room Video: Glass panels and fixtures

Our track is positioned and we have the first glass panel in. We use some vinyl shims to bring the glass up to our exact height requirements, as well as to assist vertical plumb.

We're using an etched mat glass which yields a nice frosted opaque feel to it. The right lighting will enhance it even more!

Our plumber is doing the final trim on the mixers and the showerheads.

Shown our the customer's showerhead choices, plus the round steam controller, water mixer and handles.

Also, we spoke to too soon, the customer decided to go with a clear Crystal Clear Starfire Finish glass after installation. This glass has a hydroshield interior finish which helps with any shower build-up of mildew and soap stains accumlating on the glass interior.


VIDEO 14 - DAY 24: Mounting our glass door jamb

Steam Room Video: Mounting our glass door jamb

Our door jamb has a continuous metal strip and spring loaded hinges. It's important to make sure the 3" screws holding this strip and 3/8" glass door are anchored into the wood. Glass doors are extremely heavy! Also worth noting is the top hinge will hold more weight than the bottom hinge.

We also put a bead of silicone behind our metal strip for additional water protection.

The door is now hung with a good amount of tolerance between the fixed panel and the door. A ¼" gap is good and what to aim for. Where the glass meets the U-channel will get sealed with vinyl poly carbonate gasket materal.

When sealing the glass panels cut a fine tip on your silicone gun. Make your lines as clean as possible.


VIDEO 15 - DAY 25: Demonstrating the steam generator and enclosure

Steam Room Video: Ready to Use!

Nothing like the convenience of a relaxing steam room in your own home or commercial location. See the room fill with steam with our chromolux lights. Enjoy!







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