Steam showers are the next big thing in bathroom décor—and they have more benefits than just relaxation.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated April 04, 2019
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What is a steam shower? Steam shower with faucet
Credit: Glow Decor/Getty Images

Shower trends can be all over the place—remember the not-so-humble dog shower?—but steam showers may be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. All trends shift, but in bathrooms, décor preferences, styles, and features seem to be moving in a more luxurious direction, while also celebrating a little industrial modernism; just look at the exposed pipe shower trend. Now, the steam shower might just be the bathroom must-have of the year.

What is a steam shower?

A steam shower is a shower—typically a standalone stall, without a tub—that can produce enough steam to create a soothing, warm, humid environment without running hot water for an extended period. Steam has proven positive effects for dry skin and clogged sinuses; it also provides a huge opportunity to relax completely and comfort stiff muscles in a warm, moist space. Adding some essential oils or other mood-boosting scents can introduce some aromatherapy benefits, too. Once someone has reaped the benefits of a good steam soak, a quick rinse in the very same shower is easy.

Most steam showers are made with glass enclosures that help keep the steam trapped, and many have benches to maximize steam enjoyment. Steam showers certainly aren’t for everyone, but anyone seeking some extra spa-like features might love the idea of coming home to steam.

What does a steam shower cost?

To install a steam shower, homeowners have two options: A standalone steam generator or a steam shower kit. Generators start at around $800, plus installation costs, and can cost thousands, depending on the different features, power levels, and more. Installation is best left to the pros, especially because plumbing is involved. Steam shower kits cost around $3,000 and more.

A standalone generator can be added to a new shower stall to produce steam through a steam head; the generator can be installed in a wall, with the rest of the plumbing, leaving the control panel and steam outlet exposed for a sleek look. A steam shower could be installed in an existing shower, but it would take some clever maneuvering and is probably most efficiently done with the installation of a whole new shower.

Steam shower kits (like the Ariel steam shower, of which there are several variations) include the glass enclosure, steam generator, and typical shower tools—think rainfall shower head, massage jets, and more. Priced at $3,000 and more, these are certainly luxuries, and include surround sound speakers, radio, and more for a truly sublime steam shower experience. Installation of steam shower kits is also best left to the pros.

Why should you get a steam shower?

Steam showers certainly sound luxurious, but with such a hefty cost, they may not be at the top of the typical homeowner’s must-have list. (If they could clean themselves, eliminating the need for figuring out the best shower cleaner and learning how to clean a shower head, it would be a different story.) Maybe they should be, though.

According to a new analysis from real estate site Zillow, homes with steam showers sell for 31 percent more than their expected values; that could mean tens of thousands of extra dollars. Homes with steam showers did take 18 days longer to sell than expected, on average, but home owners not in a rush may appreciate a sale price above ask price more than a quick sale. Adding a steam shower could give home sellers a good chance of making good money (again, potentially tens of thousands of dollars) on the sale of their home, especially if they plan to sell in the recent future and are already considering a renovation.

Remodeling costs certainly aren’t cheap, but making the right decisions in the process can pay off in increased home values later. With that knowledge, a steam shower seems less indulgent and more like a savvy, resale-oriented decision. (And who doesn’t want to come home to a sauna every day?)