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Sauna at home: costs, materials and tips

6.10.2022
  1. Finnish sauna, steam sauna or infrared sauna?
  2. Where can you install a sauna at home?
  3. How much space do you need for a sauna at home?
  4. Home sauna: the right stove
  5. Home sauna: the right wood
  6. How much does a sauna at home cost?
  7. How much electricity does a sauna use?
  8. Install it yourself or have it installed?
  9. Three care tips for a sauna at home
  10. Bonus: ten tips for your first sauna session

Having a sauna is good for body and mind. On the one hand, a sauna session is relaxing, and on the other hand, saunas stimulate the immune system, rev up the metabolism and strengthen the body's defenses. This is especially important in the winter months. In addition, sweating is healthy. Finnish scientists have found that people who regularly have a sauna die less frequently from sudden cardiac death or coronary artery disease. Other death risks also decreased the more frequently subjects had a sauna. In Finland, where saunas are a popular sport, many Finns have their own personal sauna. In Switzerland, too, more and more homeowners dream of having a sauna at home. We have researched what you should know about home saunas.

Finnish sauna, steam sauna or infrared sauna?

In a traditional Finnish dry sauna, it is plus/minus 90 degrees hot, sometimes as high as 110 degrees, and very dry with 10 to 20 percent humidity. In a steam sauna, also called a bio or humid sauna, with 45 to 65 degrees it is less hot and with plus/minus 45 percent humidity it is also less dry. Both dry and steam saunas are heated with a wood-burning or electric stove. Different is the infrared sauna, where infrared rays directly heat the skin instead of heating the air. The temperature ranges from 35 to 50 degrees and the humidity is low.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

A dry sauna or steam sauna takes 20 to 40 minutes to heat up, depending on the model, while an infrared sauna takes only a few minutes. It is therefore more energy efficient.

Where can you install a sauna at home?

Anywhere you have enough space. For example, in the basement, in the bathroom, in a children's room that is no longer used, or in the attic. The room needs a power connection and must be well ventilated because of the humidity. If you have no or too little space in the house, you can also install or have your sauna installed in the garden. For example, in the old garden shed, in the unused tool shed or in the arbor.

Houzy Hint

Tip

The floor must be flat and easy to clean. The most suitables are painted, ceramic, linoleum or natural stone floors. A sealed or oiled wood or cork floor is only suitable to a limited extent.

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How much space do you need for a sauna at home?

One square meter per person, according to a general rule. For four people, that would be four square meters. If you want to lie down, you need more space. Private saunas are on average 2 by 2.20 meters, which is 4.4 square meters. That's enough for four people sitting or two people lying down. Saunas larger than 6 square meters are usually not worthwhile privately and are an exception in a single-family house or apartment building with condos, even in vacation regions.

Houzy Hint

Tip

Make sure that there is at least 20 centimeters of space between the sauna roof and the ceiling of the room. If the sauna technology and the socket are installed above the sauna, you need more distance.

Home sauna: the right stove

The stove should produce radiant heat and distribute it evenly, not just heat the air. Therefore, it should be placed in the middle of the sauna and not hidden behind a wall covering. The outer surfaces of the stove must not get hotter than 100 degrees. Stove guards or protectors protect against burns. So that you do not have to heat up the sauna for a long time, the stove power (in kilowatts) should be adapted to the size of the sauna. Modern sauna controls are intuitive to use and display important operating data such as temperature, humidity or time at a glance.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

For the sauna climate, in addition to the stove and control system, the wood and ventilation are crucial. A draft-free ventilation system exchanges the air, optimizes the climate and reduces energy consumption.

Home sauna: the right wood

Not every wood is suitable. The wood should retain heat and moisture in the sauna. That is why woods with high fiber density are best suited. For example, polar pine, which still smells of resin for decades, Swiss stone pine with its soothing and antibacterial essential oils, red cedar or Canadian hemlock. More and more saunas are built from hardwood, for example aspen or alder. When buying a sauna, look for the FSC seal. The Forrest Stewardship Council controls the entire value chain from wood products to end customer.

Houzy Hint

Tip

The wood for loungers and backrests must be free of knots, resin and splinters, and withstand high humidity, sweat and temperature fluctuations. Abachi and poplar are the most suitable.

How much does a sauna at home cost?

Simple saunas are available online or in hardware stores starting at 1,500 francs. Without stove, floor grate, light or heat-storing diabase stones for the stove. For this, they still have to be assembled and installed - like better DIY saunas, which cost up to 7,500 francs with the sauna technology. In addition, there are accessories such as an infusion bucket with a ladle, an hourglass, a climate meter and a shelf for scented oils.

If you have higher demands on the wood, stove and sauna technology, you have to reckon with 7,500 to 20,000 francs for a sauna from the wood and interior construction experts. In return, you will enjoy your sauna longer and save on operating costs because, for example, first-class wood insulates heat and moisture better than inferior wood, thus reducing energy consumption.

Houzy Hint

Tip

With high-quality wood, a negative pressure is created in the sauna from 70 degrees and draws in fresh air. That's why you can save on ventilation if you invest a little more in the wood quality.

 

How much electricity does a sauna use?

The average sauna measures 4.4 square meters and consumes 9 kilowatt hours of energy. Let's assume you heat the sauna for 30 minutes, have three ten-minute sauna sessions, and take a 15-minute break between the first and second session and between the second and third session. The sauna stove heats for a total of 90 minutes. That makes 13,5 kilowatt hours, which in Switzerland cost an average of 21,2 cents. 90 minutes of wellness will cost you less than 3 francs. A single admission to the municipal saunas in Winterthur costs 16 to 20 francs. If you have a sauna at home twice a week in winter, you save 676 to 884 francs a year. An infrared sauna consumes only 2 to 3 kilowatt hours, which means that 90 minutes of wellness costs less than 1 franc.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

Most heat and moisture is lost through the walls and ceiling. That's why it's important to have an insulated cabin that retains heat while reflecting it inward.

Houzy Hint

Tip

If you have a photovoltaic system and battery storage, you can produce solar power during the day and cheaply heat your new sauna in the evening with the stored solar energy.

Sauna costs - Garden Sauna permit
For a garden sauna, you will most likely need a building permit.

Install it yourself or have it installed?

f you are handy and have time to spare, you can assemble and install your sauna yourself. However, you will need an electrician for the electric stove, because it needs a power connection - or a master chimney sweep to officially approve the wood stove. If you want to be on the safe side and do everything correctly according to building laws, hire a wood and interior construction expert. Especially if you do not want a cheap sauna, the room is angled or the cabin is to be installed under a sloping roof.

Houzy Hint

Tip

If you want to build a garden sauna in your backyard, you will most likely need a building permit. Read more in «Building Permit: When Do You Need One and When Not?».

Three care tips for sauna at home

A high-quality sauna will last for decades. With these care tips, it will look like new for longer:

  1. Non-soluble dietary fibers settle on the surface of the wood. That is why you should thoroughly clean the seats, backrests and headrests regularly with soap and water.
  2. Always sit on a towel and never naked on the wood, and briefly wipe the seats, backrests and headrests with a damp cloth after each sauna session.
  3. Sand all seats and backrests with sandpaper once a year.

Bonus: ten tips for your first sauna session

With these ten tips you will enjoy your first sauna session and relax wonderfully:

  1. Take enough time and drink enough water before having the sauna.
  2. Take two towels with you. One for the sauna, one for the shower.
  3. Take a shower before having the sauna and warm up your feet in warm water.
  4. Dry yourself well before entering the sauna. Dry skin sweats faster.
  5. It's hotter upstairs than downstairs. Sit where you feel comfortable.
  6. With an infusion of a mixture of water and scented oil, you increase the humidity of the air.
  7. Stay in the sauna for ten minutes for the 1st sauna session and up to 15 minutes for the 2nd and 3rd sauna session.
  8. Straighten up 2 minutes before leaving the sauna if you are having a sauna lying down.
  9. Cool down with water: first feet, then arms, legs, chest, back and face.
  10. Put on your bathrobe and lie down on a lounger for 30 to 45 minutes.

Every sauna session is relaxing. If you want to achieve lasting positive effects, you should have a sauna regularly. That means three sauna sessions at least once a week. If you sweat several times a week, two sauna sessions are enough - and if you plan on having a sauna daily, one is enough. For most people, having one or two saunas with two or three sauna sessions is ideal.

Houzy Advice

Good to know

Do not use the sauna if you have a fever, infections, acute rheumatic attacks, inflammatory skin diseases, open wounds or cardiac arrhythmias that cannot be adjusted.

The cold winter is approaching. With a sauna at home you do something for your mind and body and at the same time protect yourself from colds. Talk to our wood and interior construction experts. They will advise you personally and recommend the sauna that best suits you and your house or apartment.

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