By Rachel Rubin
When we think of saunas we generally think of gyms or luxurious day spas, but did you know more and more people are installing them in their homes? Having a relaxation tool of this caliber on your property might seem like a dream – but it’s possible! Saunas don’t just warm you up on a chilly night and look cool, they actually offer a whole host of health benefits.
While we won’t get into the weeds on the health stuff – this is, after all, about useful tips for home saunas, not their many health benefits – but they are widely known to clean the toxins out of your system, while easing muscles pain and tension and promoting skin health, just to name a few. Putting one in your home is going to be a big project, and there are many different routes you can go. Here are some helpful insights to help you succeed in your mission.
Pre-made or Custom
Your sauna can arrive at your home in a few different ways, and it’s important to know which you want: pre-made or custom. A pre-made sauna is pretty self-explanatory, as it simply arrives as it and is immediately ready to be installed. A custom job is going to arrive in many different parts, and will generally be built on site, allowing for more freedom of design.
The custom will allow for a lot more luxury, as it isn’t just a portable sauna plopped into a place wherever there is room – a lot more goes into the details. Obviously, this is going to be more expensive, and it varies widely deeding on the materials and size of the sauna. It’s possible to get a pre-made sauna for around $1,000, but a custom sauna will likely cost more than five times that, and possibly much more.
Indoors or Outdoors
Before you even begin, you should determine whether you want your future sauna to be outdoors or indoors. Indoors are a bit more common than outdoors (they require more space and are usually more expensive), but it’s all going to come down to your home situation – how much room do you have? If you already have a pool, it’s pretty common to set the sauna alongside it, or to extend your pool house if you’ve got one.
If you decide to go outdoors, remember that your sauna will be exposed to the elements. This can be fixed with a little more insulation, and the construction materials will have to be that much sturdier. Also, if you want a simpler option outdoors you could opt for a sauna kit. A sauna kit comes with snap together walls and a roof you put together on site. You just have to provide the waterproofing and electricity.
Determine the Necessary Materials
The best materials are going to resist rot and not absorb too much of the excess heat – this will literally burn you. We often see cedar used, and this is usually considered the go-to material when determining what to build the sauna out of. Cedar is great at resisting shrinkage and splitting. Softwoods are used regularly as well, things like spruce and hemlock. Sometimes tiles or concrete are used because wood can splinter and warp over time.
A classic wet-dry sauna uses an electric or wood-burning heat source with stones to elevate the temperature upwards of 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Steam can be created by splashing water on the stones, giving it that desired sauna feel.
Recently, infrared saunas have been gaining traction, and they work by putting the heat directly to the body, rather than the air like a traditional wet-dry setup. They are a bit cooler (up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit), but sauna traditionalists don’t consider them true saunas. However, they are a bit gentler on your skin, so that is definitely something to be taken into consideration.
The biggest factor surround the size of your sauna should be its intended use. What will you use it for? Will it be a gathering place for friends and family, or a solitary retreat? If it’s going to be a solo thing than you can save plenty of space and money by making it smaller, say 8 by 10 feet. You don’t want the ceiling to be too high though, as heat rises and you don’t want to be wasting precious energy in an already pricey sauna.
Saunas are meant to improve health and quality of life, so make sure you always use it properly. This will all depend on your tolerance to heat, but you should never remain in the sauna for more than 15 minutes at a time. And, if you decide to go with the infrared option, make sure it is set to a safe level of Electromagnetic Fields, and never overexpose yourself.
Costs for a home sauna will vary widely, but a small, pre-made sauna will be somewhere around $900. If you want a sauna that allows for more than one person, it will minimally be between $3,000 and $4,000. Custom jobs can be quite expensive, with the higher-end, more luxurious setups costing somewhere in the low five figures.
Always determine what is right for your situation because installing one in your home is going to be a big project, and there are many different roads you can go down. Keep these helpful insights at the forefront of your mind to get the best outcome and best sauna experience for your needs.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shuttershock.com