SFA: What's the Answer?

Backlit Steam Shower

Jeff Leun

Fully functioning residential steam shower with Lumen quartzite. Want to make sure I'm not missing the obvious. 8"x8" back wall of the shower, full-length bench top and the front of the bench all will have lighting. The big hurdle here is that all of the bench, bench front and 48" up the back wall will be heated with Schluters cable.

Yes, I know, don't stop by unless you need something.

dustinbraudway SFA Member

Hey Gorilla Killa, I want to see pics when you figure this one out. Just seems like too much going on and liability for it. Dustin Braudway Bluewater Surfaces Wilmington, NC SFA Team Motorboat "If your gonna do wrong buddy - do wrong right!"

Jeff Leun


Hey Dustin, I'm currently pursuing fiber optics, I think my theory is sound but always like options. I'm waiting for a response on the feasibility from a manufacturer. Money is.not a issue here so if I can pull it off they will pay.

Mark Meriaux

Wow, heating and lighting in the same "sandwich." Definitely ambitious, but I know you're the kind of guy that can make it happen. Good luck with this one Jeff! Let us know how it progresses. Mark Meriaux Accreditation & Technical Manager Natural Stone Institute mark@naturalstoneinstitute.org direct 440-250-9222 x217 • mobile 770-490-0419

Matt Lansing SFA Director


I don't think it will be that difficult but there will be a lot of steps involved. Cement board/Wedi/Schluter board first. All edges, seams, and fasteners waterproofed. Wedi also requires a cost of steam shower sealer across everything also, not sure about the others. Schluter heat panels next. Light panels next. DeFusco has the light panels and the transformers. They will design the system to the exact size you need, the panels all just snap together. Bonstone Glacier to attach the panels to the light panels but you will need to check with Bonstone on this one. The Glacier is made in tubes with mixing tips to make it easy. The panels need to be mechanically anchored as well obviously. Matt Lansing Stone Innovations, Inc. Plover, WI "The difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is our attitude towards it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”

Jeff Leun

Thanks Mark, I've hit a few walls with this as you would expect. Matt, That's generally the line I am taking. The LED from DeFusco isn't waterproof. The shower plumbing unit will put out 48 gallons a minute. I have to be 100% sure water won't affect the panels, too much risk too assume they won't get damp at minimum. I got in on the end of the design so I'm running out of time to make this all work like they want. My idea is a rather simplistic approach so I'm surprised it's not being done. Lumen output is the hang up but there are workarounds. I may have to table this design for the future.

gssfabrication SFA Member

Wow 48 GPM is a ton of water! Thats a small waterfall. You said it is a "steam" shower: Does it have a steam generator or are they referring to a shower with heated surfaces? If it has a steam generator every connector needs to be waterproofed, along with whatever lighting should be underwater rated at a minimum. Steam permeates everywhere whether you want it to or not. How warm do the surface of the heating elements get? If you are putting them next to the lighting panels it may kill them in short order. LEDs + Heat = Shorter lifespan. Luckily the water will do some secondary cooling compared to the heating elements the question is it enough to keep the lighting elements at a temp they are rated for. You might have to put a conductive clear layer between (glass?) the elements and the light panels with the stone on top and hope the layer (glass comes to mind) conducts heat to the stone and not the lighting elements. You could put some Aluminum backed insulating tape/foam on the back side of the light panels to further protect them. I would want to build a sealed mockup of the butt portion (seat) with a temp probe/sensor right by the panel to get an idea what these panels are going to be exposed to. LEDs when overheated go from a lifespan of 1,000s of hours to 10s or 100s of hours. Years ago I did some detector work with lightpipes and after polishing the outsides we painted them with a reflective paint to get the most light to the sensor. I wonder if you could do the same by lighting the sides of a piece of glass/lexan and painting the back (or maybe just mirror glass) to reflect the light to the surface that is cleanly bonded to the stone to maximize light transmittance. It does not have the same effect as back illumination however you could get some powerful light drivers for the sides and then avoid putting the heating elements directly beneath the light panels. To diffuse the light the glass might need to be frosted. Just some of my thoughts. Good luck. Rick Graff GSS Fabrication Inc. 1944 Saint St. Richland, WA 99354 509-375-1960 estimating@gssfabrication.com

Jeff Leun


The steam generator is under the house; they thought about dropping a boiler in but the house was 75% complete when they bought it. 5 instant hot units to run the shower which is 8x8 and in today’s world isn't big anymore. Lot of hurdles that I can't clear on this one so the bench front and back wall are getting lights and the seat itself will get the warming wire. 90°F is about as warm as the seat needs. I found some lights that would allow you to submerge them but the heating wire creates the problem so I had to let it go. There are some interesting products using acrylic diffusers with light paths unfortunately moisture sensitive. I bought some lights and illuminator, diffuser material and will see if I can get them to work over the winter. This would take some work on the fabricator side to complete a project but nothing over the top in the scope of of just another day in most shops. HO wants to have a New Years Party which is not going to happen, I'll be lucky to have the panels by Dec 10th.

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