Bring on the steam

You’ll need a steam generator that heats water over an electrical element, then pipes the steam into the shower. The generator is about the size of a microwave oven and, if you take a steam shower each day, costs only about $16 per year in added electricity, according to steam shower manufacturer Steam Planet. The generator is installed next to the shower or tucked away in a nearby closet.

Custom steam room

You can transform your existing shower into a steamy spa, or build a new steam room by wood-framing the area, installing waterproof drywall or cement backer board, and lining with tile. (You’ll likely need a permit—check your local building codes.)

The key: The shower must be completely sealed and waterproof. That means tiling the entire space, including the ceiling, and installing a tight-fitting glass door. Make sure the space is large enough for a bench, ideally 3x5 ft. If you’re tight on space, try a corner bench. (Cost: $7,000 to $10,000, including the steam generator.)

Prefabricated steam

A modular fiberglass steam shower is cheaper than a wood-framed shower, and can be installed in 1 to 5 days. The unit comes with a generator and flexible, braided lines to hook up to hot and cold water. If you’re really handy, install the unit yourself, or hire professionals for $500 to $1,000. Units range $1,000 (3x3 ft.) to $5,000 (6x3 ft. unit).

Use caution

Steam showers can adversely affect people with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, pregnant women, young children, and the frail elderly. Kids five years old and older may take a steam shower under parental supervision.

Maintaining steam

Hot, damp areas are perfect incubators for mold and mildew. After using your steam shower, open the door to dry out your bathroom, and run the exhaust fan to suck out the steam.

Every few months, flush the unit to get rid of calcium deposits.