Sauna Room Top Tips
How is a Finnish Sauna different from other baths?
A sauna requires an insulated room, clad in a softwood such as Cedar Wood. It also needs a heater which can raise the room temperature to around 180 degrees. When the stones are hot enough, a small splash of water will create a nice blast of steam to raise the humidity level for a brief time. Remember, a dry sauna differs from a steam bath as a sauna room is typically 255 humidity while a steam shower is 100% humidity.
Tell me about the rocks in the sauna heater.
The sauna rocks hold the heat of the sauna heater and will create a gentle steam when water is poured over them. The sauna rocks should be placed loosly in the heater box to cover the heater elements. This helps to “soften” the heat being radiated from the heater box. Rocks that sit on top of the heater basket cannot get hot enough to produce a nice steam and they will not create the soft, comfortable heat that sauna bathers want.
What is the difference between a wet and dry sauna?
Surprise! They are one in the same! The term “wet sauna” simply means a sauna that has a small amount of water sprinkled over the rocks to produce a nice burst of humidity in the sauna room. Any sauna that will not accept water should not be called a Finnish Sauna. The water added to the rocks creates a more comfortable bathing environment. It also aids in opening and cleaning the skin pores. Some hearty sauna bathers prefer their sauna to be “dry”. That means that they enjoy the arid, dry air of the hot sauna room without any moisture added to the air from the addition of water to the sauna stones. The level of heat and humidity in a sauna is very personal and can be controlled by any sauna bather.
Softwood for a sauna? Why not a hardwood like birch, maple of oak?
Softwoods are best for a hot sauna as they do not get as hot as hardwood and remain cool to the touch. The hardwoods absorb the heat and will become too hot to sit or walk on. The best sauna woods have been kiln dried to about 10% moisture content. This helps to prevent shrinkage and warping of the sauna wood.
How does an Infra-Red room differ from a Finnish Rock Sauna?
The only thing in common between an IR Room and a Finnish Rock Sauna Room is that both are lined with cedar wood. The IR Room has exposed elements on all sides of the room to create warmth. The only parts of the body that get warm are the ones that are closest to the IR panels. A Finnish Rock Sauna heats the entire body. A typical Infra-Red room will heat to 125 degrees. A Rock Sauna Room can get as hot as 194 degrees which is the highest heat mandated by the UL listing regulation. IR Room humidity cannot be controlled as there is no way to add water to the electric IR panels. There are many differences in the experience of an Infra-Red Room and a traditional Finnish Rock Sauna Room. These differences mean that there is a sauna experience for everyone.
Does a Sauna Room need a waterproof floor with a drain?
Yes and no. A sauna room does require a sealed waterproof floor. This floor needs to be cleaned regularly and kept clean and sanitary. Your floor can be finished to your taste and covered in a simple or extravagant tile. A vinyl flooring material or even a simple sealed concreate floor is adequate. Often the flooring is covered with a cedar duckboard flooring which can be removed for cleaning the floor below. In our opinion, a residential sauna does not need a dedicated drain as it will not become overly wet or damp. We do require a floor drain for all commercial sauna rooms. This is because a commercial sauna room will be cleaned much more often and will experience far more water that a residential sauna will experience.
What type of insulation is needed in a Finnish Sauna Room?
A fiberglass or natural fiber insulation batting is recommended for the walls and ceiling of the sauna room. An R11 rated insulation is adequate for the walls with an R19 for the ceiling. The insulation will be covered with a foil vapor barrier to help radiate the heat back in to the sauna. The insulation and vapor barrier greatly enhance the efficient of the sauna room.
What is the best practice to clean my sauna room?
Remove any installed wood duckboard flooring. Use a damp mop with a disinfectant cleaner and mop the floor. The benches can be cleaned with a mild soapy cloth. Be careful not to rub the wood too aggressively. Doing so will open the pores of the wood and can cause the sauna wood to degrade more quickly. If you desire to remove any perspiration stains, use a 120-grit sandpaper and lightly sand the stained area until the stain is removed. It is best practice to always sit on a sauna towel to keep perspiration stains off the wood surfaces.
Is a lower ceiling height better for my sauna room?
We recommend a 7’ ceiling height for a residential sauna room. A lower ceiling height ensures that the hot air in the sauna is lower and allows the bather to sit in the best sauna heat. A higher ceiling results in a longer heat up time and makes it difficult to sit in the hottest air of the sauna room.
Tell me about Sauna Venting.
It is recommended to place a lower vent approximately 4” from the floor under or as close to the heater as possible. A second, higher vent is required about 6” from the ceiling height. The upper vent can also be located in the ceiling if desired. Upper and lower venting creates a convection airflow in the sauna room. This helps to heat the sauna room faster and more evenly. Venting does not need ductwork, nor does it need to be vented to the outside. Sauna room vents can simply be open to the adjoining rooms. The amount of heat being passed through the vents is minimal and will cause no damage to paint or wallpaper. You do have the option of venting to the outside, but our experience tells us that this allows colder air into the house when the sauna room is not in use.
Where can I install my new Sauna Room?
You can install your new sauna room in just about any location inside or outside of your home. It really comes down to location and space. It is best if the sauna can be installed in the most convenient place possible whether inside or outside of the home. A sauna room placed near a shower is convenient for cooling off or cleaning up. The other consideration is space. You must determine how you will use your sauna. How many bathers will use your sauna at any given time? Do you have the proper amount of space available to build the best sized sauna room?
What does it cost to operate a Sauna Room?
Most sauna rooms heat up in 30 minutes or less. A sauna room is only using energy when it is being used. This makes the sauna much more cost efficient when compared to a hot tub spa. The average sauna room costs as little as $5.00 per month if used 2-3 times per week.