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FAQs - General
Thank you for visiting this page. We are working dilligently to compile our list of Questions and Answers about saunas and steambaths.
Saunas and steam have a high percieved value. People aften over-estimate the cost of saunas. So when selling a home, a sauna is an excellent selling feature.
Wet Sauna, Dry Sauna, Steam Sauna, Rock Sauna.
Individuals have always been confused by the different terms used for saunas: wet sauna, steam sauna, rock sauna and dry sauna. Traditional Sauna is what we prefer to use. In a nutshell, a traditional sauna is a basically dry environment, with momentary bursts of humidity when water is splashed on the rocks. Ambient sauna humidity is around 10%, far below the 30-40% that is found in most homes. Splashing water on the rocks will spike humidity to 60-70% for a few seconds only, resulting in the wave of heat that comes off the rocks. To add to the confusion, the infrared industry has taken to calling their product a dry sauna. We say the very same traditional sauna heater is both wet and dry. The sauna basically bakes the air inside the room (dry) and splashing water on the rocks (in moderation) is part of the sauna experience (wet).
Similarly, The term steam sauna is used by some to refer to a traditional sauna and by others to describe a steam bath. We at Saunafin avoid the using of the term steam sauna. It just leads to confusion. The terms you will hear us say are traditional or rock sauna, steam bath or steam shower and infrared sauna.
Prefab vs. Material Kit
(Also known as Pre Built Saunas)
These saunas are pre-frabricated, hence the name.
They can be assembled in 2-3 hours.
With Pre-Fab saunas there is no additional framing or insulation. The walls are self-supporting.
Everything is designed for quick assembly without specialized tools.
Saunas can be dismantled.
(Also commonly referred to as Sauna Material Packages, Sauna Liner Kits, Do-It-Yourself Sauna Kits)
A Sauna Kit refers to the inside "skin" of the sauna.
You or your contractor build the frame walls, insulate and finish the exterior.
The kits we provide come with cedar lining, a door, molding, benches, a heater, and the vapour barrier.
You will trim the boards and nail them to the walls & ceiling.
You will assemble and install the benches, hang the door, etc.
Kits are installed permanently into a home (or club) during renovation or new construction.
The installed kit can blended in to home decor and can be customized in to any shape or size.
Sauna kits are more popular than pre-fab saunas
WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?
It's portable. While we would not recommend moving it on a regular basis, it can be dismantled and re-assembled elsewhere. If you are renting your home, this may be a better solution.
If you can't build a sauna yourself and can't get someone to build one, then a prefab is a viable option.
Perhaps you already have a finished basement and you do not want to deal with the mess of a full construction project.
Sometimes renovators do not want to "do" a sauna for whatever reason. In such cases we often see a pre-fab sauna and then the renovator drywalls around it so it appears built in.
If you are doing renovations, a material kit allows the sauna to be incorporated as part of the house finishes. It is not a stand-alone structure set off from the rest of the home.
There are some limitations with a pre-fab structure in terms of size and shape. With a built in sauna kit, you can build virtually any size or shape sauna.
A framed sauna with the stud cavity filled with insulation will have more insulation value. (The flip side is that a sauna is generally only on for an hour or so. The amount of heat loss in an hour is minimal. For the hour you are there, the sauna will feel hot.
The benefits of steam baths and saunas are well documented. From stress relief, rexation, and soothing muscles to all types of health benefits related to detoxification, induced fever, and profuse sweating. The benefits can be achieved with each. Which type is best suited for you is a personal decision. Your choice might be impacted by your preference, space restictions, home decor plans, health concerns, social aspects, or a specific exercise regime.
Primarily, we sell traditional sauna products: Material kits, Pre-fabs and Sauna Craft & Tylo heaters.
We also carry the Steamist Steam Generators.
We offer a narrow range infrared saunas. We do not carry the common, portable, plug-in type infrared. We only offer infrared sauna kits for those who require a custom field installed kit.
Traditional saunas are an increased heat, decreased humid environment. The temperature can fluctuate from 80 to 90 degrees Celsius (185-195 degrees Fahrenheit). Splashing water on top of the rocks causes an explosion of hypersteam and intensifies the feeling of heat. Infrared rays warm up the body first and heat up the air afterwards. For individuals who love the heat bath feeling, there is nothing in the world quite like it.
NOTE: There is an exception for the Tylo Combi sauna heater. The Combi produces its own steam and so operates at a lower temperature. The Combi is the "soft-heat" traditional sauna.
Infrared saunas offer a more gentle atmosphere. Infrared rays warm up a body first and then the air around second. For individuals who appreciate a heat bath feeling, yet don’t prefer traditional saunas, infrared is a great substitute.
It is important to keep in mind that the experience is not the same. Tons of individuals who love the feel of traditional saunas often request more information about infrared saunas thinking that they provide an identical experience.
Infrared saunas provide a very enjoyable experience, but are different from a traditional sauna. If you know and love traditional saunas, you should seek out information beyond the claims of infrared vendors.
Many infrared manufacturers and distributors make comparisons to traditional saunas that are misleading and untrue. As a distributor of both types of saunas, we try to offer a balanced point of view. Check out our Infrared section for more information on the differences.
Yes, but not the way you think. This an area of common confusion for saunas. People associate the need for ventilation with a bathroom and shower (or steam shower). You ventilate a bathroom to remove excess moisture. Saunas are by nature a dry environment-you are essentially baking the air. Typical sauna humidity is around 10%' with momentary spikes when water is splashed on the rocks. Your average household humidity is around 40%. The sauna is in fact much dryer than the rest of your home.
Sauna venting does not mean venting to the outdoors as you would for a shower. It means cross ventilation. It refers to an inlet (low behind heater) and an outlet (generally high in opposite corner from heater). The purpose of sauna ventilation is to move the air from the heater to the seating area. In general, you should not vent to the outdoors, but into the adjoining room so that the warmed air is re circulated.
(Remember that saunas are dry heat, there is no concern of humidity spreading all over the house.)
It is not always essential to have vents fin order for sauna to operate properly. If your sauna installation will allow you access to install vents at a later time, you may try sauna without vents with a contingency to add at a later date if it is determined they are required.
If venting openings are not easily accessible (i.e. exterior wall), there are options redirect vents by ducting to open wall.
See vent details here: Sauna Venting
Should you insulate? The short answer is yes. But it is often not as a critcal as people think.
You insulate a home because the heat is on six months out of the year. A sauna is on for one to 1-1/2 hours. So, the insulation has a more limited value.
When building sauna, the stud cavity should be filled with R-12 (or R-13) Fiberglass Batt insulation. The insulation will be covered with the foil barrier that comes with our sauna material kits.
As rule of thumb, we discourage foam insulation (i.e.SM or blown). Foam has a lower heat rating. While it is generally OK for typical home sauna; for heaviliy used saunas it may deteriorate
Note on Pre-Fab saunas: Our pre-fab saunas are constructed using solid 2x6 cedar. While the solid log does not have as much insulation value as a fiberglass filled cavity, it is sufficient for the application. Keeping in mind that saunas are only on for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, the log construction is effective to contain the heat.
Indoor: on average 20-30 minutes
Outdoor: depends on region and season. Cold climate, cold day - could be 40-60 minutes.
For residential, tile is attractive and functional; however it is also acceptable to leave concrete.
Cedar floors are an option, but is not intended as an alternative to tile. Cedar "duckboard" is generally only installed in the walking area. It is mostly cosmetic for those who like the look.
If sauna is on a upper floor or over a wood subfloor, we recommend a water membrane and tile (as in a shower).
If floor is sloped, mosaic tiles are best.
You may add a tile baseboard up the wall 2-3".
Commercial saunas should have a drain in the center of the floor (sloped to the drain) to facilitate cleaning.
Most residential saunas have drains, but it is not essential. Water should only be used in moderation.
(If you are doing a complete renovation or new build and are putting new bathroom, shower, etc, we would recommend you also put a drain in the sauna.)
Splashing water in moderation over the sauna rocks is part of the sauna experience.
Water can be brought in and added using a sauna bucket and dipper.
A water tap inside the sauna is convenient. Keep in mind, there are restrictions on how close water can be to power (heater). Generally, distance is 3’-4.5’ (local regulations may vary)
If a sauna has a water tap, it should have a drain and a waterproof floor.
While other materials are occasionally used, clear Western Red cedar is by far the most popular, most attractive and most durable. Cedar has a mild, pleasant fragrance that many people associate with saunas. Western Red cedar's particular properties allow it to expand and contract. And the natural tannins make cedar rot resistant. This is important in a sauna where the wood is exposed to extremely high, dry temperatures, interspersed with blasts of humidity when water is splashed on the heater or the walls.
Electric sauna heaters are much more popular and often more practical. They are more compact , require less clearance and offer many design options.
Electric heaters are inexpensive to operate. The average sauna is used once or twice a week for one hour or so.The electrical cost will be about $2.00-$3.00 per week. All our electric heaters are approved by either ETL or CSA.
Wood burning sauna heaters can only be used in outdoor saunas. They are larger and depending on installation conditions can require very large clearances. There is no certification category for wood burning saunas stoves. There is a guideline provided for installing uncertified wood stoves and if followed exactly, you may be able to get wood heaters WETT certified in the field. (Consult with your insurance company before installing a wood heater to see if they have any concerns or conditions.
In USA and Canada 240 volt is standard residential voltage in homes.
Residential saunas are 240volt, single phase. Breaker size depends on heater size. Most saunas require a 30 or 40 amp breaker (but may be larger).
Breaker should NOT be GFI type.
Commercial (public) saunas are often 208 volt, 3 phase or other
(If you are putting a sauna in a condo, check to verify voltage. It may be 208v in a high rise type dwelling; i.e. New York City is mostly 208v)
Yes, you will need a certified electrician to wire your new sauna.
Yes, Si, Da, Ya. Just to be clear: yes,yes,yes, absolutely yes!
Hot air rises and temperature stratification in a sauna is significant (10-15 degrees per foot). if sitting on a single tier bench, you will not feel any heat.
That is why virtually all saunas have two levels of benches. The bottom bench is really a step up and a foot rest.
It is for this reason that Saunafin also favors top tier L bench returns.
Most Saunas are 7' height or lower. Minimum height is generally 75" to 78" depending on heater model.
Our standard kit height is 821/2".
Maximum sauna height should never be higher than 8'. If you really want higher, we strongly urge being as close to 7' as you are willing to go; i.e. 7'-4" or 7'-6".
To be effective, you must sit where the air is hottest-that is up high. Comfortable seating height is 18". So standard two tier benches are bottom tier is18" high and top tier is 36" high.
(In larger commercial saunas with 8' height, there may be floor space for three tier benches.)
It’s always nice to have a bench long enough for someone to lie down (6' or 7').
We can do a sauna as small as 4'x4 or 3'x5'
4’x6’ is a nice size small sauna. (Even in small saunas, we try to always fit two tier benches.)
5’x7’ with top L bench is the most popular size.
6’x8’ is recommended max. size for home sauna.
We use Canadian Western Red Cedar for most of our saunas unless otherwise specified.
For the most part, the only real difference is location.
Outdoor saunas may be built in your own outdoor structure like a cabana, garden shed or bunky. If that is the plan, you can install one of our material kits inside your structure. The sauna kit is basically the inside "skin" of the sauna.
There are also many styles of pre-fab outdoor saunas; including cabin style, barrels, pods and others.
Saunas work when rocks are heated in a sauna heater. This is what keeps the sauna temperature continuously high.
It’s not mandatory to pour water on the rocks in the sauna. However, many people do pour water on the rocks in their sauna because this increases the steam and humidity inside the sauna. For your convenience, we do offer buckets and ladles.
Saunas are generally a hot/cold cycle. Sit inside for 5-10 minutes, then cool off with a cold shower, a dip in the pool or just resting outside for a bit. Then you can re-enter the sauna.
It is not an endurance test. It is best to be guide by how you feel.
As you gain more sauna experience, you may build endurance and be able to stay longer.
When using the our Tylo Combi "steaming" heater, you can often stay longer as the heat is less intense.
Each of our saunas come with a detailed manual to follow (they can be found here: Resources.) Follow our easy instructions and enjoy your sauna session!
There may be a question of what is meant by this.
Temperatures in North America are limited to 900C (1940F). In Europe, temperatures can be as high as 1100C. Some prefer temperatures hotter than is allowable.
Also the 900 is measured at the ceiling above the sauna heater (the hottest spot). The temperature across the sauna at the seating area can be 10-150C lower.
In home saunas, we find complaints of low temperature often result from misplaced or inaccurate thermometers. Some people sit the thermometer on the bench top-not an accurate reading.
Also, over the last number of years, we have found thermometers to be inaccurate. They are slow responding bi-metal mechanism. In fact, we test every batch of thermometers we receive. And then we calibrate them to "more accurately" reflect sauna temperatures at the high end of the scale.
If a sauna is sized correct, within one hour, it will heat the sauna to the desired 900C
Public saunas are more regimented, so it may be that the sauna is not set a high enough temperature.
High limit tripping is a fairly common complaint in North America where permissible sauna temperatures are lower than everywhere else in the world. Temperatures in North America are limited to 900C (1940F). In Europe, temperatures can be as high as 1100C. Some prefer temperatures hotter than is allowable.
High limit tripping is very common in public saunas - especially in Men's saunas. Men tend to prefer hotter saunas, and sometimes "mess" with the thermostat sensing bulb, causing the sauna to overheat, which subsequently triggers the high limit cut-off..
High limit tripping is less common in residential saunas. In most cases, it is a result of improper heater/control installation, or improper room construction and air flow.
See our Resources page for diagnostics.
We ship mainly to Canada and USA.
Sauna Heaters and Steam Generators are usually shipped by UPS or Purolator. Sauna Material Kits and Pre-Fab saunas are shipped via transport truck. (We mostly use UPS Freight and Old Dominion to USA, Western Canada and Maritime-Ontario for Canada). We do not use brokers or agencies. We prefer dealing with large shippers that have local depots and are less likely to pass off freight to third party carriers. (A little more costly, but more reliable-You can't put a price on "peace of mind").
For any further questions or inquiries, please don’t hesitate to call us at our toll-free line: 1-800-387-7029, and we will gladly assist you.