A Stall for Steam

The moisture that a steam unit generates will do a number on your shower stall, not to mention your whole bathroom, unless it's built properly from the studs out. Here's how to make a stall steamproof.

1. Slope the ceiling slightly. If you don't, any steam that condenses there will drip down onto your shoulders.

2. Protect wood framing with sheets of 6-mil plastic stapled over studs and joists. Overlap all edges by at least a foot.

3. Seal the seams between the concrete backer-board panels (which are unaffected by moisture) with mesh tape and thinset.

4. Cover every inch of backer board with a waterproof membrane. Use either two coats of a roll-on liquid polymer such as Laticrete's Hydro-Ban, which dries into a seamless, rubbery skin, or embed sheets of flocked polyethylene, like the Kerdi membrane made by Schluter Systems, in wet thinset.

5. Tile and grout as usual. If using stone, apply an impregnator to seal the stone. You'll need to repeat this treatment every two years.

6. Seal around any fixtures that penetrate the tile—including shower and steam heads, digital controls, and valves—with the gaskets or O-rings supplied by the manufacturer.
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