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Choosing the Right Steam Shower Tile for a Spa Experience at Home

A steam shower is a luxurious addition to a bathroom, providing you with a spa-like experience at home! Steam showers pull double duty - combining the work of a sauna with a traditional shower stall. They can create a relaxing vaporous cloud as well as streams of fresh water to rinse off and refresh! The benefits? A relaxing environment that can help ease your stress, soothing water vapor that can help clear up sinuses, and an at-home detox that’s great for your skin!

The organic atmosphere of our Oval Wooden Beige Marble Mosaic Tile gives this steam shower a calming, neutral design inspired by classic Scandinavian interiors!

An at-home steam shower experience is easier to build than you might think! The organic atmosphere of our Oval Wooden Beige Marble Mosaic Tile gives this steam shower a calming, neutral design inspired by classic Scandinavian interiors!

 It’s a simple idea: a generator is installed inside a fully enclosed shower, where you sit and unwind in the warm, soothing steam. You need the steam mechanism, a sloped roof, and a fully enclosed stall to ensure your shower stays up to temperature. They’re much smaller than a sauna or steam room, and doable even for small homes and bathrooms. 

You’ll need some form of steam generator to heat water enough to vapor - luckily these are usually small enough to be hidden inside a standard size vanity! This Old House has a great primer on the install specs needed to create your own steam shower at home!

While the concept sounds like an easy one, the process of building a steam shower has a few key items to consider. Because steam builds up heat and moisture and can be more invasive than water, choosing steam shower tile requires a few extra steps.

To help you simplify the process of choosing the right tiles to create an at-home sauna, we’ve gathered the most important aspects you need to consider to have a long-lasting steam shower!


How to Pick the Right Tile for a Steam Shower

We detailed the three main components that go into creating a steam shower above, and choosing the right tile material is the first important decision you need to make. When deciding on tiles, you should check out the features of each material before you set your heart on any shower design.


Natural Stone Tiles 

Like the luxurious marble adorning the ancient Roman baths, natural stone tiles set the stage for the ultimate bath experience. The classic charm of natural stone tile is so appealing that it remains one of the most popular choices for classic bathroom designs and modern showers!

For a chic classic style, imagine stepping into this honed marble stall with brass fixtures - the perfect choice for luxurious, timeless showers!

For a chic classic style, imagine stepping into this honed marble stall with brass fixtures - the perfect choice for luxurious, timeless showers!

However, it's important to create an environment that repels water and remains as dry as possible when it’s not in use. Therefore, natural stones are not always the best tiles for steam shower enclosures due to their porous nature.

Natural stone tiles absorb steam, which can trap moisture. Apart from that, natural stone tiles dissipate the heat rather than keeping it, which ultimately draws away all the steam. That means your stone tile wall requires more electricity or a larger steam generator. 

If you prefer natural stone tiles for a steam shower, be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure tiles are suitable for your application (we list this information in the Area of Use on all of our products). To ensure long-lasting beauty for your marble or stone tiles, make sure you prepare for a regular maintenance routine, such as sealing tiles at least once a year and periodically inspecting your walls, ceilings and floors for mildew. 

Do you have your heart set on the beauty of natural stone but want something more low-maintenance? Then move on to your next option: porcelain tile! 



Steam Showers with Porcelain Tiles 

When longevity and safety are your priorities, there’s no better option than porcelain tiles for a steam shower! Non-porous and durable, porcelain tile has the best combination of aesthetic appeal and function.  As an added bonus, porcelain tiles retain heat and act as an insulator for your steam room too - this enhances their efficiency as well as saving energy!

If you’re worried that porcelain tiles will not look as good as natural stone, think twice. Porcelain tiles now include a wide range of stunning colors, patterns and textures designed to replicate the look and feel of natural stone, giving you the genuine look, you’ve always dreamed of!

Why not achieve the smooth marble look in your steam shower with porcelain tile that is durable, beautiful, and more affordable like Varana Morengo

 Why not achieve the smooth marble look in your steam shower with porcelain tile that is durable, beautiful and more affordable? Varana Morengo tiles will create a smooth, clean design for the steam shower and open up the space when carried out throughout the area. 

You don’t need to live in a rustic mountain cabin to feel closer to nature! If you’re looking to bring an organic feature to your shower’s environment with something that’s durable and affordable, porcelain tiles that emulate wood can be an excellent alternative to hardwood. 

Rovere Miel is ideal for creating a Scandinavian-inspired sauna in your bathroom! The warmth of the wood grain porcelain tile is versatile enough to blend in any shower design.

Rovere Miel is ideal for creating a Scandinavian-inspired sauna in your bathroom! The warmth of the wood grain porcelain tile is versatile enough to blend in any shower design.

Porcelain tile is a low-maintenance option for steam showers that combines optimal function with an elegant finish without any of the upkeep or weathering you’d have with other materials!


Ceramic Tiles 

Similar to porcelain, ceramic tile is another non-porous option that is ideally suited for steam showers. When you have shower ideas that involve a broad range of colors, let your imagination free, ceramic tiles will keep up to it! There is a beautiful selection of tile colors to choose from and each one offers a unique detail, texture, and finish. 

Adding a pop of pale blue with Mallorca Grey 2.5 x 8 Ceramic Tile can bring an incredibly relaxing vibe to your shower design

Adding a pop of pale blue with Mallorca Grey 2.5 x 8 Ceramic Tile can bring an incredibly relaxing vibe to your shower design, for example.

What if you desire an extra punch of color? With ceramic tiles, you can easily design a vibrant wall inside your steam shower by choosing from a rainbow of beautiful colors, like this deep green La Riviera Quetzal 5x5 tile. 

With ceramic tiles, you can easily design a vibrant wall inside your steam shower by choosing from a rainbow of beautiful colors, like this deep green La Riviera Quetzal 5x5 tile.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles can endure much more wear and tear than natural stone tiles. With the right grout and regular care, ceramic tile is a fairly low maintenance choice for steam showers. Just in case, check the manufacturer rate on their hardness with the (PEI) number to ensure they have enough strength for use in the shower - we’ve taken care of this for you by including the Areas of Use and noting if tiles are approved for installation in a Steam Room.


Glass Shower Tiles 

Glass tile is another option that is technically suitable for steam showers as it’s a non-porous and stain resistant material. However, you need to make sure you pick specific glass tiles that are suitable for a steam shower, and we’ll explain why. 

Colored glass makes the best pick for a steam shower, as clear glass can show any moisture that gets trapped behind the tiles. The clouds of steam vapor can also cause glass tiles to cloud, dulling their sparkle while in use.

 

 A glass tile with variation in the color is ideal for a steam shower, like our Blue Pearl Herringbone Mosaic tile!


So, which tiles are the best for a steam shower? 

Hopefully we’ve helped answer this question in the sections above - and given you the right resources to find tiles that work best for your needs and cleaning preferences!

To sum up - natural stone tiles will look beautiful but require more attention to proper cleaning, regular ceiling, and a higher capacity steam generator to keep the temperature up. Ceramic or porcelain tiles can be lower maintenance in the long term, while offering the aesthetic benefits of stone or marble steam shower tiles!

Recognizing different materials is clearly the most important step but not enough alone to choose the best steam shower tile. Keep on reading to find out about a few design aspects that you need to consider before you finalize your tile decision. 

Make an Impact with Industrial Design with this White Pearlized Porcelain Bathroom Tile

 Other Key Factors for a Successful Steam Shower Installation - 

Sloped Ceilings with Smaller Tiles

One more crucial design element for a steam shower design is a sloped ceiling - this allows condensation to drain efficiently and eliminates large drops falling on you while you’re relaxing!

Because using smaller tiles makes more graceful slopes, opt for smaller tile on curved ceilings. When picking out mosaic tiles with a mesh backing, always choose one that offers at least 95 percent contact from the tile to the backer board because you need that contact from the wall to the tile.


Check for Insulation

Even if you make the perfect and most durable choice for your steam shower tile, you need to have a properly insulated substrate to lay your tiles on. This will maximize your investment in the tiles and work and preserve the integrity of your walls and ceilings, as water condensation will create wall cavities, and there can be fungal growth and damage to the structure! 

Thanks to new waterproofing methods, it’s now possible to keep moisture from seeping into the walls or foundation even in most steam showers! No matter what type of tiles you choose, be sure to have proper insulation before you install tiles anywhere in your steam shower. 

To learn more about types of waterproofing membranes you can apply for a steam shower, check out our blog on ‘Tile Shower Waterproofing Methods to Prevent Moisture and Damage

Gems Bianco Shangai Distressed Wood Look Shower Wall with Wood Grain Porcelain Tile Floors

 Indulge your passion for Scandinavian bathroom design with this combination of Gems Bianco wood grain porcelain tile planks on walls and floors, and a distressed wood-look Gems Bianco Shanghai steam shower wall!


How to Clean Steam Shower Tile

Finally, any tiles you select will need some care to ensure the longest life. When it comes to cleaning your tiles in a steam shower, steam cleaners give you the best results on even hard to clean surfaces. Luckily, cleaning steam shower tiles is easier than you might think! Instead of scrubbing, you can pass a steam unit over your surfaces to get rid off any dirt, bacteria and grime! When you take the time to properly steam clean shower tiles, your shower not only looks sparkling but also stays hygienic and germ-free for a healthier environment! 

Another key to ensuring that your steam shower doesn’t suffer from moisture damage or mildew is ensuring that it gets adequate ventilation. Although you want to ensure that the shower itself is fully enclosed when in use, letting it air out after each shower is key.

Make sure you run the exhaust fan in your bathroom during and after use of the your shower to avoid any potential of humidity causing damage to your tile or shower joints, and leave the door open after use to allow the remaining vapour to fully evaporate. 

Keep a low PH-cleaner on hand and regularly spray and wipe down your shower tiles after each use to keep them clean. Once you’ve cleaned the tiles, it’s recommended to use a shower cloth to wipe away remaining water and allow for optimal ventilation.

Looking for the perfect solution to keep faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures clean? It’s as simply as picking a lemon! Cut it in half and rub the lemon on areas that show hard water stains. Let it sit for up to a minute before rinsing off the lemon juice and wiping with a clean cloth.

Care and Cleaning Guide for Steam Showers

From selecting the right material to considering different aspects of a design, choosing the best steam shower tile is a process that requires care and attention. It’s important that you learn and plan ahead of time to ensure the best results for your steam shower!

Taken together, we hope our tips will help make easier and better tile choices for your steam shower. And with proper planning and maintenance, we ensure that you’ll enjoy the soothing relief of a steam shower for many years to come.

If you need any assistance selecting tiles for your dream steam shower, just let us know. We’re always here to help!

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