Friday, May 15, 2015

SAUNACORE Steam Room Requirements: Pro Series KWS9 etc

A recent client is looking into a steam generator from SaunaCore.  I took a moment to review the requirement list by their installation guide and added my thoughts below each point in red.  The unit in question a Pro Series KWS9 by Saunacore.

  • If you are using an existing shower or bathtub, make sure that it is completely sealed right up to the ceiling. 
  • Chances that an existing tub or shower has vapour proofing are slim to none
  • The ceiling and walls must be tiled or covered with water resistant material. 
  • Yes
  • If you are building a steam room, talk to someone that has experience with the construction of steam rooms. 
  • Someone with five years experience
  • Steam rooms must be constructed differently from any other type of room. 
  • They don't have too but they should be

1.) Steam room must be completely enclosed, with full walls, door, floor and ceiling.
Yes - put that is just part of it.  The waterproofing and vapour proofing are key to success.

2.) It is recommended that a gasketed door is used for heat sealing and steam containment.

I don't like a gasket door.  They are too sticky and the gaskets fail in time.

3.) If tile flooring is used, install anti-skid strips or equivalent, for safety.

Sure - or pick small tile or one with texture.

4.) Walls and ceilings must be covered with water-resistant, non-corrosive surface, such as tile, molded acrylic, fiberglass, etc.

I like tile and cemnitous grout.  Nothing else.

5.) Provide a floor drain.

One that meets the needs of the fixtures and an ACO Linear Drain is my first choice

6.) Ceiling and seat must slope slightly to allow condensate to runoff. (Ceiling slope 2î per 1 ft)

Ceilings should meet this slope if they are looking for a commercial rating but in residential we typically do not follow this rule and aim for a ceiling around 7'6" in height.  With little to no slope.  Bench Seating should not see such a step pitch.  It's a crazy recommendation.

7.) Steam generator must be on a flat surface, in an area where it would be accessible, dry, and where it will not freeze.  Smart. The steam lines should always slope either towards the generator or towards the steam heads as not-to allow the formation of condensate to accumulate. 

The steam line can run up and then down but never down and then up.  Never flat like mentioned. This allows the steam line to drain after every use.

8.) All inside surfaces should be adequately sealed. Around faucets, shower head, and steam heads should be sealed with mildew resistant silicone.

Vapour proofing as well prior to the installation of the tile and the plumbing trim

9.) Ceiling height should be no higher than 7ft to 8 ft, preferably 7 ft.

That seems a little low to me.  What about benches.  Two level seating.

10.) Room should be insulated with not more than a maximum R-12 value. A higher R-value may cause room to heat to quickly and not allow steam to condense normally.

Not sure what to say here.  I think the walls should be insulated and that all local code on exterior walls be met.

11) Steam lines over 10 ft should be insulated. 
Any length line should be wrapped when possible for safety and to reduce condensation on the inner walls piping.

  • Generally, steam rooms which are used at a maximum of two hours at one time do not require any special ventilation. 
  • I like to see a transom in the shower and a fan right out side that.
  • Steam rooms which are continously used more than two hours at a time should be ventilated with a ratio of 10-20 cubic meters of air per person per hour. 
  • That sounds nice but now find the equipment.  Call Sauna Core and ask who makes this.  Then Please tell me.
  • The air inlet maybe placed down low on the same wall as the door or a gap under the door. the air outlet should be up high as far away from the inlet as possible. Do not locate above door or over seats.  Outlet should be connected to a vent duct leading to open air.  Duct should be 100% steam and water tight.  Avoid sags in duct which may cause water pockets, that will block outlet, due to condensation. 
  • These ventilation fans are something I have yet to source for a residential setting.  Before installing any get Sauna Core to recommend their preferred installer.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to place your ACO linear drain in front of your steam shower bench

One of the struggles people have when using the ACO linear shower drain is getting the drain right tight to the shower bench.  There are a number of ways to do this and all of them require a little tweaking of the rules or following some steps maybe outside a typical installation.

This shower below is a friend of mine's.  He has been picking away at this room for what seems like forever and now so close to the end he has called in the troops and I will be flying out to help him get through the last key steps.

Before I show up I need to order my materials and have them on site. And we need to order the slab for the shower bench so if we get time we can start banging out some tile.  I asked for some pictures so I could do the math and felt it would make for a good blog post.  So here goes.

This picture shows the ACO primary PVC Clamping drain installed in front of the shower bench.  I prefer to install the bolts the other orientation but that is a minor point and one that will not affect anything on this job.

I'm going to guess that the center of the drain is at the 4" mark but will email my friend to be safe. After reading the reply email I learned that the drain is 3 3/4" to center.  Taking photos like this it is important to keep the lens of the camera entered on the opening of the drain!

This is the shower he is building.  A NEO angle entry that will have room enough for two.  That is if his wife does not leave him before he finishes this project!  lol kidding.  The bench as it sits right now is framed at 16" deep.  From the wood wall stud to the face of the bench.  When I add the waterproofing I will be cladding the face of this bench with some more plywood and some cement board.  This once waterproofed and tiled will raise the finished face aprox 1 1/8".  Once the tile goes in the front the total build out will be 1 3/4" and will align the tile to the edge of the ACO drain.

The top portion of the ACO drain hiding out of the way under the tub deck.  The tub deck was designed to double as a NASA launch pad and far exceeds any local building code on this planet.  

The overhang of the shower bench becomes a key point as well.  How much is too much? How much looks right?

I like half the width of the stone as the overhang amount.  So with a 3/4" slab I would run it past the face of the bench 3/8" and for a 1.5" slab I would over hang it 3/4".  The width measurement should be 3/4" less than the cement board to cement board measurement or 1 3/4" less the framing to framing measurement.  This allows room for the NobleSeal TS vapour proofing and a little wiggle room side to side.

The safest thing to do if you have an angle grinder is just oversize the cuts.  Doing this adds some time cutting the stone yourself but it is not that much work.  The downside is chipping the slab or messing up the cuts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How your steam shower's bench design can affect the placement of the shower drain

One of my newest clients is designing their steam shower and home with a little help from me.  I sent them a link to my shower bench design book and they picked out some bench styles they both liked.  the purpose of this one little step was to place the drain in the right spot.  The shower bench can really affect the grading options on the floor so one choice affects the other.

I received an email back to review some of the key points we discussed on our first design meeting. Instead of calling back - I'll share this back and forth here in the hopes of show casing how these design calls work.  My text will be in Black and my clients I'll make the purple colour.

"...Here is a summary of the phone call…does this seem accurate?

Regarding the benches, we like the idea of a two tiered bench on the west side.  There seems to be advantages of having a solid bench (I am not talking about the solid surfacing material, but under the seat) such as not losing steam to that area, not having to clean under the bench.  (shown above in the photo) ..."

I agree. With that.  Cleaning the under side is not a fun task at all and does add more surface area to the bench and walls.  I like the benches shown but am un sure what they are made of.

"...But the idea of a floating bench is nice because of having a place for feet to tuck back into as well as the cantilevered look is a nice clean look.   (shown below in the photo) ..."

Benches like these are fairly simple to build but making sure they are strong enough is key.  I like to design a bench like this with some pretty heavy steel and use it as a stiffening device for the floating look.  

There is a lot more planning to a floating bench but they can be pretty slick.  hard t clean the under side of the seat.  One of my favourite showers has a floating bench installed off the wall.  If you have not seen the "X rated" posts of mine - and want to analyze all your options you can take some time and research these top videos from 2013.

"....Another option would be to have a solid bench with the front being angled back…which I personally don’t really like the look of:  (shown below) ...."

"....I would say that we are leaning toward a solid bench with a solid surface top.  Thanks for the link to the pictures!

We have only 8’5” of finished height, so that would have to be taken into consideration when determining whether we can have a two tiered bench. ..."

None of these benches shown an arm rest nor do they show an angled back rest.  Today I recommend this to all my clients but locally I have yet to built this for any.  Many of the worlds finest steam shower and Hamman's share this common design theme.

This is one of my all time favourite bench designs.  I like the back support, the angled back. The grading for water run off and the arm rest up high. Another view of this style here. These images all taken from my Shower Bench Design IdeaBook.  SHOWER BENCHES - DESIGN IDEAS 150+ PICTURES

I'll sent a link to this new blog post and we can finalize the bench style.  From that we can pick some heights and use this to place the drain.  Currently the builder is getting ready to pour the concerte flooring and the radiant heating pipes.  All the design elements not needed right away but the drain placement is needed sooner than later.

The shower I'm working on will be barrier free.  And the tile size a smaller 2"x2" type tile.  I don't always recommend linear drains and in this case or this job this was just the case. Every job is different - everyone unique in it's own way.

Had the benches been floating or if there was to be only one level we would adjust the position of the drain for this.