Creating a Steam Shower

The information in this article applies to:


I need to create a steam shower in a bathroom and I need to make the walls vapor-resistant. How do I design this in my software?

Interior bathroom with glass walled steam shower


In Chief Architect, it’s easy to setup a custom wall type for rooms such as a steam shower. In this article we will show you how to define a vapor-resistant wall type, and how to design this style of shower.

To define the wall types

Section of a steam shower wall

A vapor-resistant wall needs to at least meet the following criteria in the most common cases;

  • A surface layer of tile.
  • A layer of thinset mortar.
  • Cement Backer Board with mesh taped seams.
  • Vapor barrier.
  • Stud framing.
  • Drywall.

The wall type shown in this article is based on the common structure for a wall of this type. It is always best to refer to the building codes in your area for the correct structure of a vapor-resistant wall.

  1. Navigate to Build> Wall> Define Wall Types  from the menu.
  2. In the Wall Type Definitions dialog that displays, click the New button to create a new wall type.
  3. Name this wall Steam Shower – Interior, add five additional layers by selecting the Insert Below button, and define the wall as follows:

    Wall Type Definitions dialog where new wall types can be defined
    • Exterior Layers

    • Main Layers

      • Layer 2: Fir Framing – 5 1/2″

    • Interior Layers

      • Layer 3: Vapor Barrier – 1/16″
      • Layer 4: Backerboard – 1/4″
      • Layer 5: Thinset Mortar – 1/4″
      • Layer 6: Tile of your choosing 1/4″
  4. Repeat the process to create a second wall type. This wall type however, will be called Steam Shower – Exterior and the Exterior Layers section will have a siding material layer, along with an OSB layer, instead of drywall.

You are now ready to draw your bathroom and steam shower. In this example, we will start with the standard default wall tools, then change the bathroom walls to use the new vapor-resistant wall type(s) mentioned above.

Note: You may receive the following warning for the Steam Shower – Interior wall type:

“The wall layers just defined have drywall on the exterior of what appears to be an exterior wall. Are these layers defined correctly? The exterior layer should be at the top of the diagram.”

This simply means that the program sees the wall type created contains characteristics of an exterior wall, which would not typically have the exterior layer to be made of drywall. You can safely click OK and continue with the rest of this article.

To draw a steam shower

  1. Select Build> Wall> Straight Exterior Wall  and/or Straight Interior Wall from the menu, then draw an area to represent the bathroom.

    Bathrooms walls created

  2. Using the Select Objects  tool, select the room and click the Open Object edit tool.
  3. On the General panel of the Room Specification dialog that displays, change the Room Type to Bath, then click OK.

    Change the Room Type to Bath on the General panel

  4. Next, navigate to Build> Wall> Straight Glass Wall or Straight Glass Pony Wall from the menu, and add two additional walls in the corner to form the area that will serve as the steam shower.

    Placing glass walls to form the steam shower

  5. Navigate to Build> Door> Shower Door  and click along one of the glass shower walls to place a shower door.

    Select and open the Glass Shower Door to specification to make size modifications, change the applied hardware, adjust arch properties, or to alter other characteristics such as the type of glass that is used.

  6. Select the left, vertical wall using the Select Objects tool, click on the Break edit button, then click once where the glass shower wall intersects the exterior wall. A break line will be created separating the wall in to two separate segments.

    Break point placed at the glass shower and exterior wall intersection

  7. Place an additional break point on the top horizontal wall where the glass shower wall intersects.
  8. Next, select the left, vertical wall segment that is part of the shower, Open it to specification, and on the Wall Types panel of the Wall Specification dialog, change the Wall Type to the Steam Shower – Exterior wall type that was created earlier in this article.

    Changing the Wall Type for the left vertical wall

  9. Perform the same procedure to change the top horizontal wall that’s part of the shower to use the Steam Shower – Interior wall type. Do this only for walls that will be shared with other rooms in the structure.

    Your plan may now look similar to the image below.

    Plan view of a steam shower in a bathroom

We are now ready to adjust the floor and ceiling properties of the steam shower.

To define the floor and ceiling

  1. Using the Select Objects tool, select the steam shower room and click the Open Object edit tool.
  2. On the Structure panel of the Room Specification dialog that displays:

    Structure panel of the Room Specification dialog

    • Adjust the Ceiling height of the steam shower to your liking.
    • Click the Edit button next to Ceiling Finish to open the Ceiling Finish Definition dialog, modify the layers until the ceiling finish of the steam shower is to your liking, then click OK.

      Adjust the ceiling layers for the steam shower

    • Do the same thing with the floor by selecting the Edit button next to Floor Finish, modifying the floor finish layers to your liking, then clicking OK.
    • In some cases, a sloped ceiling is generated for steam showers to prevent dripping in unwanted areas due to condensation. If you would like to have a sloped ceiling above the steam shower, uncheck the Flat Ceiling Over This Room checkbox and the ceiling will follow the pitch that is specified for the roof.
      Note: If additional ceiling plane modification is desired, please see our Ceiling Videos Playlist to learn how to create and modify custom ceiling planes. 

  3. On the Moldings panel, add or remove any moldings to the shower, then click OK to confirm the changes and close the dialog.
  4. Add any additional Library accessories to the shower such as faucets, drains, and shower heads.
    • Faucets can be located at Chief Architect Core Catalogs> Architectural> Fixtures> Faucets, while drains can be located at Chief Architect Core Catalogs> Architectural> Fixtures> Drains and Fittings.
    • Shower pans can be located at Chief Architect Core Catalogs> Architectural> Fixtures> Showers> Shower Pans.
    • Steam shower components such as steam heads, ports, glass wall components, and control panels can be located in the Bathroom Fixtures No.4 Shower Hardware bonus catalog located in the 3D Library.
    • Additional sauna accessories such as benches and other seating components can be located in the Poolside and Sauna bonus catalog located in the 3D Library.

  5. Lastly, create a Camera view to see the results.

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