Building a new sauna, don’t overlook these details.
Over the years we have found many mistakes made by amateurs during the sauna construction process. We want to save you some hassle by providing these quick tips for maximum safety and comfort.
Clearances to Combustibles
There are minimum clearances from combustibles for the sauna heaters. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended clearances. For wood burning sauna heaters you may also require a WETT inspection to satisfy your insurance company.
Sauna Door Swing
For safety reasons, a sauna door should always swing out of the sauna allowing quick escape should an emergency arise. Becoming trapped could prove fatal if escape delayed.
Saunas with heavy traffic should have a window in the door to avoid bumping the door into someone behind it.
Air Circulation and Venting
A moist, warm sauna can be a breeding ground for unwanted mould if proper precautions are not taken into consideration. Following a sauna session, the sauna needs to be quickly aired out and dried to eliminate mould potential. Installing a vent or window that can be opened post-sauna would be ideal to allow moisture to escape and allow fresh air movement. If no vent is possible, then leaving the door ajar post-sauna will help.
Often saunas are oversized needing extra energy to heat. Consider how many people would use it at one time and adjust sizing accordingly. To save on cubic space but maximize on seating, consider L-shaped or U-shaped benches in your design. If the sauna has a wood-burning heater, also consider the clearances required from the heater to the benches.
Your new sauna interior will be breathtaking!
Water and an sweat eventually stain the wood leaving ugly wear marks on benches and walls. While some of it can be sanded to bare wood to refresh, deeper stains are difficult to remove. Also sanding is a messy and tedious process. The wood inside the sauna should be preserved, but not with varnish, lacquer or paint. These finishes can off-gas toxic fumes in the heat and also could make the surfaces uncomfortably hot. The best option is a water based natural sauna sealer which dries clear. It will seal the pores of the wood and keep it from staining and going grey, keeping your sauna looking like new.
Improper drainage, leaves pooling water and moisture to linger causing potential mould problems. The sauna floor should contain a drain with the floor slightly sloped towards the drain to remove excess moisture quickly. The floor should be finished with a waterproof, easy to clean surface to make maintenance a breeze. Cement floors are cold on the feet and a dirt trap if not finished well. Tile is better but still cool on the feet, with grout lines to maintain. An epoxy paint system is the easiest to clean and can be applied on a wooden sub-floor. Wooden slat mats, called duckboards, can be used where feet touch the floor for added comfort on cold floors, however they need to be lifted on edge to air dry post-sauna.
Bring in your plans, and consult with our knowledgeable staff at Nordic Energy. Costly mistakes can be avoided as we walk you through the final details to ensure you get maximum safety and enjoyment from your new sauna.
Before determining what type of heater is required you first need to determine how often you will be using it, where it will be located and how many people you need to accommodate.
You have several options, and one type may be better than the other for your family’s situation.
If your sauna will be outdoors, typically a wood burning sauna heater is the recommended unless you are in the city. Always check with your insurance company prior to committing to a wood burning sauna to ensure they will provide insurance coverage. Outdoor saunas can be larger in size to accommodate more people, and are great by the lake to extend your swimming season.
When an outdoor sauna is preferred, but your insurance company is not in favor, then a sauna heated with electric is your next best option. In Northern Ontario, with rising electric costs, you want to ensure that your outdoor sauna room is well insulated, floor and ceiling included, if you plan on year-round usage. Electric also provides convenience, no need to chop firewood, or stoke a fire. Just setting the thermostat and timer for your sauna will ensure it’s ready in 30-45 minutes depending on outdoor temperatures. Sizing the heater correctly, will ensure you have plenty of heat and steam to relax in.
To make it even more convenient, why not have a sauna indoors. You can choose from a traditional electric sauna or an infrared sauna. Again depending on your purpose for the sauna, one may be better than the other for your family. If you prefer heat and sizzling steam to relax in, then an electric heater would be in order.
If you enjoy a mild, dry heat for detoxing and soothing aches and pains, then an infrared will be more to your liking. These run at lower temperatures but penetrate heat much deeper, providing excellent therapy and toxin removal.
If you like both and can’t decide, then opt for a combination electric and infrared sauna together in one room, using one or the other based on your mood and general well being.
Visit us in your planning stages of the sauna and we would be happy to help choose the right sauna heater for your situation and help develop a construction plan for your ideal sauna.
Photo of happy mother with two daughter relaxing at steam bath
The short answer is yes. So if that’s what you were looking for and you don’t want to read any further, there you go. Oh, unless they’re under a certain age.
The short answer leaves out some important angles to think about. Most kids can use the sauna, but can yours?
The sauna can be as good for their mental and physical health as for yours, but there are some guidelines you should follow with the kids.
4 SAUNA GUIDELINES FOR KIDS.
- Supervise the kids. Saunas are a place where accidents can happen easily like burns, slips, and falls. Parents need to teach children these hazards and accompany them till they show responsibility and respect for the rules, usually around 10. They’ll learn through your example, the best way kids learn. Besides saunas together makes for quality family time.
- How old are your kids? Generally, kids under 8 years of age can’t regulate heat as efficiently, so precautions are needed to be totally safe in the sauna. Limit the heat exposure by sitting on lower level benches and limiting steam to minimal. Give them plenty of cool water in a basin that they can play with or sit in and splash themselves to cool off as needed.
- Not too long now. Again, the heat regulation centers of the body aren’t as developed in young kids, so children should spend less time in the sauna than you. Limit their time exposure by age, 3-5 minutes for under 3 years, up to 15 minutes till they are in their mid-teens. Older kids may want leave the sauna to cool with a shower or plunge (basin, kiddie pool, lake – supervised of course) and repeat the sauna cycle again. How do parents get to enjoy the sauna with such short durations for the kids? Parents of younger families could stagger their entry; the earlier parent enters alone, followed by other parent with the kids 15-20 minutes later. The first parent showers themselves first, and then showers, dries, and dresses the youngest child. The older kids play with water in basins on lower sauna bench or cool off in shower area while waiting for the other parent who will then shower them and send off to the first parent for drying and dressing. The last parent can then enjoy another round of sauna to relax before showering off while kids enjoy a snack.
- Rehydrate & replenish. Always provide a cool drink, and salty snack to replenish salts lost in sweating after sauna.
If your kids don’t like the heat of a traditional sauna, an infrared sauna might be the smartest choice for you.
Infrared saunas operated at lower temperatures, warming you from the inside out versus outside in of a traditional sauna, so kids can handle it more readily. There is also less risk of burns as the heat source is different and more concealed. The only drawback is that infrared saunas are usually smaller and not as conducive to water play, so you will need to entertain your kids.
Kids most enjoy saunas involving swimming for a cool down, but failing that tubs or basins filled with cool water and scoops will certainly do. Saunas provide a great place for a more splashing than baths allow. What kid doesn’t like to play with water?
Infrared or traditional, make sure you teach your kids to respect the sauna experience – to stay safe and enjoy the relaxation.
Give us a call today for help making the right sauna buying decision.
When planning your sauna, there are many often overlooked factors that could contribute to how well your sauna performs and how much enjoyment you get from it. Let’s review some to ensure you get your sauna design right.
Generally, smaller is better, but it depends more on factors like the number of people using the sauna at once and the type of heater. Ceiling height is also important, remembering heat rises to the highest point.
- Electric heater
- The ideal room size is about 6’x6’, but can be smaller or larger depending of the space available.
- 7’ ceilings are sufficient and reduce volume of air to heat, saving on your electricity bill.
- Wood burning heater
- The ideal room size is about 10’ x 10’. Any smaller and you get into clearance issues from your stove to combustibles like your benches.
- Minimum ceiling height is the stove height plus 5’ above, to meet WETT certifications needed for your insurance company.
APPROPRIATELY SIZED SAUNA HEATER ACCORDING TO THE SPACE
There is nothing worse than an ill sized heater, making it either too hot or not hot enough.
- Electric heater
- Oversized units. in kilowatts, could continually shut off due to a factory installed overheat limit switch designed to turn off the unit when the heater body reaches 90 degrees Celsius, as a safety measure. This is mostly a hassle. You need to manually reset the button on the bottom of the stove during your sauna. If it happens while you’re outside the sauna, you might open the door to a lukewarm sauna when you were hoping for a good sweat.
- If the kilowattage is too small, your room may never reach decent temperatures to get a good steam and sweat.
- Wood burning heater
- If the heater is too large, you need to control heat with smaller, shorter fires and good draft control.
- If the heater is too small, you risk over-firing the stove and warping steel and popping welds to get optimal room temperature. It will need frequent reloading of the fire to maintain temperature.
BENCH HEIGHTS AND LAYOUTS
Heat rises to the ceiling, so to get the best heat you want your top bench as close to the ceiling as comfortably possible (as long as people on the top bench can still sit upright).
The second bench level should be at a comfortable height to rest your feet without too much pressure behind your knees from the edge of the bench, so consider the knee height of a shorter to average person. The step up to this bench, should also be comfortable, so if it is too high, a simple step to split the difference makes a huge difference.
Interior of a wooden finnish sauna
Having benches at multiple heights allows bathers to enjoy sauna at their tolerable temperatures. If temperatures get unbearable, they can move down to a lower bench. Also, children and older family members may find temperatures more comfortable on the second level bench.
The layout of your benches impacts comfort and usage. Some people like to stretch out and relax, maybe lay down, in the sauna. That could eat up all the seating quickly. L-shaped benches allow more seating in the same space.
Oxygen, or lack of, can take away from the comfort and safety of a sauna, causing light headedness. Vents ensure you have good air exchange bringing in fresh air and exhausting stale air.
Ideally you want a static fresh air intake low to the floor below or close to the heater, and an adjustable exhaust vent higher up on the opposite end of the room by the upper bench. Keep this vent closed while heating the room and open as needed while occupying. Leaving the vent open after sauna is useful for airing out the sauna avoiding risk of mold.
To meet building code, sauna doors should always swing out of the sauna allowing for a quick escape in an emergency.
Doors can be solid wood for privacy, or have windows to open up the space and provide safety if there is a lot of traffic in and out.
Maintaining a comfortable temperature adds to your enjoyment.
- Electric heater
- Electric heaters come with a thermostat and timer in analog or digital form. The thermostat maintains consistent heat. You just need to define your favorite temperature and leave the thermostat set. The timer will turn your sauna on and off for you desired length of time, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off the sauna after.
- Wood burning heater
- This is where practice and skill come in, knowing how much wood is needed based on the dryness condition of your wood and the amount of air the fire needs for a good controlled burn. Air control varies per stove: a damper, opening & closing of the ash drawer, or opening the door slightly at the start of the fire. Knowing when to reduce air to avoid stove damage is critical.
Bring your sauna design to Nordic Energy and we will happily review and make any recommendations to ensure you create the best sauna ever. It doesn’t need to be fancy, even a quick sketch will do. We can then review the different heaters and materials you will need to complete your sauna project so you get it right, from the start.
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Follow these 4 Steps and Get the Best Sauna in Your Budget Range
1. KNOW THE PRODUCT
The first step to becoming a confident sauna buyer is to get to know the different products available on the market today.
There are two main types of saunas:
Both are, rightly, touted for their many health and relaxation benefits.
2. TRADITIONAL SAUNAS VS. INFRARED
The traditional sauna concept began many centuries ago for cleansing purposes. It has since evolved into a wooden or tile room containing a small furnace with rocks in it over which water can be poured to produce steam, if steam is preferred to dry heat.
This type of sauna will provide an indirect heat to the body. Meaning, the stove or heater heats only the air or the moisture in the air. The hot air in a traditional sauna may be hard for some folks to handle since temperatures need to be between 80 to 100 degrees Celsius to get a nice sweat going.
Infrared saunas are equipped with a series of electric heating elements known as emitters. The element emits a energy similar to the radiant heat of the sun that does not heat the air, but is directly absorbed by the person in the sauna and raises their body temperature causing the person to perspire profusely. This type of sauna has to maintain a temperature of only about 30-60 degrees Celsius to get the sweat flowing.
3. TALK TO PEOPLE
You can do endless hours of research online, but one of the best ways to really get valuable information is by talking to folks who own the product you’re in the market for. Talk to friends, family, neighbours who own a sauna to find out about their experience. If online is your only option, visit consumer forums.
Two couples relaxing in sauna and talking.
Ask questions like:
- What’s your routine before, during, and after taking a sauna?
- When and why did you start taking regular saunas?
- What are some health benefits that you’ve personally experienced from the sauna?
4. TEST OUT SOME SAUNAS
This is the fun part about prepping for your sauna purchase: visit a few local spas and hotels that have saunas and test out a few different ones to see what you prefer.
- Do you prefer bright or dark?
- Do you want extra space?
- Do you like a modern look or something more traditional?
Remember these saunas are usually set at the minimum temperatures to accommodate everyone and often only dry saunas meaning no water allowed on the rocks. Don’t get discouraged if the room is not hot enough because you can always control that in your own sauna. You might not get any valuable insight from these visits, but at least you got some sweet sauna time.
FILTER OUT ALL THAT INFO
Now that you’ve done some due diligence, it’s time to whittle down all your options to settle on what’s best for you. Once you’ve gathered some information, you should have a better grasp of the type of home sauna that will work best for you.
We know it can be overwhelming, so visit our showroom or give us a call and we can help you narrow down the choices.
What is the difference between an infrared and a traditional sauna? That is one of the most common questions we hear at Nordic Energy from customers who are in the market for a new sauna. Both saunas have equally beneficial characteristics – it really all depends on your needs/desires.
Here’s a simple breakdown to help you make an informed decision on what’s right for you.
wooden steam room in sauna
ELEMENTS OF A TRADITIONAL SAUNA
- A wood-burning or electric heater.
- Can reach high temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius.
- Has a cavity somewhere in or on the heater to stack a collection of sauna stones
- Can be enjoyed as either wet or dry. “Dry” meaning that you simply get the heater going and leave it as is and “wet” meaning that once the room is nice and hot, you sprinkle water over the heated stones to generate a burst of steam. Once the steam dissipates, you can either go back to enjoying a dry sauna or you can keep adding water periodically to keep things humid.
ELEMENTS OF AN INFRARED SAUNA
- Uses carbon fiber or ceramic emitters to generate heat.
- Heats the body directly without making the sauna room itself very hot, which means it produces a much milder temperature, less than 60 degrees Celsius.
- Is used exclusively as a dry sauna.
- Infrared sauna treatments may be available at different levels: far, mid, and near infrared wavelengths.
The modern sauna in a luxury apartment
Again, there is no better type of sauna, it all depends on your needs.
If you enjoy relaxing heat and like to have the ability to adjust the humidity of the sauna, you’re likely in the market for a traditional sauna.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a sauna that remains dry and if you don’t enjoy such high temperatures yet still want a heat therapy option and deep detoxification, your best bet is an infrared sauna.
Regardless of the type you select, you will find that regular sauna use will provide you with these amazing benefits:
- Flushes out toxins from the body: All that sweating is super detoxifying.
- Strengthens the immune system: Regular users of saunas have been shown to have a higher count of white blood cells, which helps people stay healthier and if illness does occur, the healing begins much faster.
- Helps with weight loss: One of the main benefits of being a regular sauna user is the weight loss that comes with minimal effort. Scientific calibrations suggest that a 20-minute session at around 80 degrees Celsius burns over 500 calories.
If you need help narrowing down all the different options, Contact Nordic Energy and we’ll guide you toward the best sauna option for your budget.