Pros and Cons of an All-in-One Steam Shower Enclosure

You have two main options when it comes to adding a steam shower to your home: a custom-built shower enclosure or a prefabricated, all-in-one enclosure unit. A custom shower, whether you build a steam shower yourself or hire professionals can vary in cost obviously, but it can also be tailored perfectly to your existing space. Typically, a custom steam shower will perform better. If you have a smaller budget and don’t mind the drawbacks, an all-in-one unit could be a good fit. However, there are a few things to consider before you make your decision.

For those looking to simplify the steam shower purchasing process, an all-in-one shower is an attractive option. In addition to the steam shower generator, these products can include amenities such as a sound system, lighting, a foot massager, and even a small whirlpool tub, all in a compact design. When faced with a shower remodel, this can seem like an easy way to upgrade—just slide the unit into place and hook it up. It is not always that cut-and-dried, however, so it pays to do your research.

When reviewing steam shower brands and models, the first thing to look at is what the shower is made of. Materials like plastic are inherently problematic in a steam shower due to the high temperature of the steam as it enters (212°F). Acrylic, a plastic commonly used in steam showers, can withstand a maximum temperature of only 176°F, so the steam cannot blow directly onto the walls. The concerns are similar for showers made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, so be cautious if you see either of these materials listed in a unit’s specifications.

Where the product is manufactured is also crucial. Many all-in-one steam showers are made overseas and therefore may not be subject to the same safety and service standards as domestically made products. Before buying any unit, be sure to check with a third-party safety agency, such as UL, ETL, or CSA, to verify that it has been tested and is listed by that agency as an approved product that may be used in the US. You can do this by calling the agency or doing a product search on their website. Another important certification to look for is ASSE, as this group checks shower valves for leakage and scalding.

Furthermore, because these units slide into place and are hooked up only via hoses and electrical connections, they are technically not permanently installed, which means they are not subject to the same safety approvals that a permanent shower requires. This “slide into place” quality may remind you of a refrigerator or washing machine, and there are definitely similarities. But unlike those common appliances, it may be difficult to find someone who can service your all-in-one steam shower unit, and even if you find an experienced technician, the repair could come with a hefty price tag.

As you can see, there are some definite downsides to these prefabricated steam shower units, but that could change. As technology advances and home steam showers gain more popularity, many of these aspects will improve. For now, these products’ simplicity and all-in-one nature are still very strong draws. Doing ample research into brands, models, and safety certifications will help ensure that you end up loving your steam shower.