Archive for February, 2015

Steam Shower vs. Soaking Tubs

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Most of our Daily Basis Choices are pretty easy. Coffee or tea, subway or bus, sweater or jacket. You know, the “nice” decisions. And then, there are the Big Massive Home Choices. The ones we toss-and-turn over. Stainless steel or ceramic, wood or tile, EGGSHELL OR BUTTERCREAM??

(Sorry. We got a little out of control.)

Wouldn’t it be nice if some of those Big Massive Home Choices came with a little cheat sheet? Well, here you go: your insider’s guide to one of the biggest decisions about your bath – should I soak, or should I steam?

Steam showers and soaking tubs are two of the most popular bathroom upgrades, and with good reason. They both offer a luxurious spa experience from the comfort of one’s home, and can increase the value of one’s remodel. But which is the better investment? What nets you a better return? And which offers more utility?

First, what is a soaking tub, and what is a steam shower? Soaking tubs are deep bath basins – usually crafted in slightly different dimensions than traditional tubs (in addition to the greater depth, soaking tubs typically feature a narrow taper, and can come in an oval or circles shapes). Most often free-standing, so they’re rarely connected to a shower hookup. And they range from simple, basic varieties, sporting only a faucet and spigot, to more ooh-la-la versions, with tingly jets or built-in lighting. Available in a bevy of materials (from economical acrylic finishes to luxurious stone-crafted vessels), soaking tubs are beautiful, relaxing, and spa-esque, but don’t provide many more benefits (beyond that of size) than what you get out of your traditional bathtub.

 

Oh, did someone say benefits? Why yes, Steam Shower, over there, waiting to be defined, we DID say benefits. When it comes to health and wellness perks, steam showers rule. The unit itself consists of a generator (which can be housed either in your bathroom or, in certain cases, farther out for convenient installation, like ThermaSol’s generator units, which can live up to 50 feet beyond the bathroom) that delivers steam through your stall shower. Set your desired time and temperature, turn it on, and the generator delivers a luxurious stream of steam that envelops the stall, and invigorates your body. Steam showers are proven to have myriad medical benefits for your skin, your muscles, cellular recovery, and so much more.

So when it comes to a better investment for your body, steam showers have a significant edge. But let’s talk about that other kind of investment…the wallet sort. Like most things, soaking tubs and steam showers are available in a range of prices and qualities. Soaking tubs can be procured for as low as $500, and as high as $8,000, based on size and material. And while a soaking tub itself requires little maintenance, it can put a strain on two things: space and your water bill. Unlike a steam shower, which can be installed in a space as small as four feet by four feet, a soaking tub is an additional element in your bath. Which means that if you have the space, great – by all means, soak away. But if you’re lacking for room, wedging a soaking tub in a tiny bath not only limits utility (of the basin and the bathroom as a whole), it isn’t ideal for resale. And then, there’s the H20 factor. Because soaking tubs are deeper than traditional bathtub vessels, it’s very time-, energy-, and water-consuming to regularly fill a soaking tub…and your water bill will reflect this usage. (Plus, the million dollar, ahem, million gallon question…how often will you REALLY spend a half hour to fill and use your soaking tub?)

Steam showers are a different story when it comes to the quality of their investment. With a steam shower, your initial overhead is a little higher than that of a soaking tub. If your bath already has a stall shower, any modifications needed to make it steam shower-friendly are usually pretty minor. And the steam shower components – typically a generator and a controller – are available at a mid-point of around $3,500. So while you might spend more at the outset, post-installation, there are very few lingering costs. ThermaSol’s MicroTouch and Temp Touch technology, for example, has the power to generate heat and steam within seconds; and water usage for a 20 minute steam shower consists of a pretty memorable amount: ONE GALLON. Which all boils down to this: steam showers have a significantly lower impact on your water bill and your electric bill.

The spa-nalysis: in the short term and the long run, the better bang for your buck is a steam shower. The slightly-higher initial cost is well-worth what you get back. A steam shower is an upgrade that provides unique health and wellness benefits (versus a soaking tub, which has such limited advantages over your already-existing bathtub), a space-conscious luxury add-on – proven to be a hot resale amenity – an eco- and bill-friendly installation, and a piece of equipment that can be initiated with such speed and efficiency, you’ll actually use it. Our take: join Team Steam!


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