Most people in the UK first experience sauna at a leisure centre or a swimming pool and never truly get to try the real deal. It’s usually a hot box set up with poor ventilation and no steam and we tolerate it for five or ten minutes as an afterthought after a gym or swim session. It’s led to a popular misconception about sauna bathing and – quite understandably – it’s put lots of people off taking them.
As the sauna health benefits associated with the hot steam (Finnish people call Löyly) created in a Finnish sauna are becoming increasingly more well known, there’s been a surge in the demand for bespoke residential authentic Finnish sauna projects. In this piece, we take a look at what’s possible and some of the essential things to keep in mind.
When it comes to placement and style, there’s a number of options. Some people chose pre-fabricated modular cabins in their garden, some go for free-standing traditional Finnish log cabins and others might go for a fully bespoke build into a home extension. Finally, some have them built into an existing outside building or have them added as an extension or an addition to an existing inside room.
Ventilation and heater placement are both key to ensure the true delights can be experienced. Ventilation is so often overlooked but it’s absolutely crucial to make sure the sauna atmosphere is comfortable and not too stuffy or stifling. It brings oxygen-rich breathing air which avoids you becoming drowsy. The process can work naturally or it can be forced with a fan but the crucial part is that incoming air is just as important as outgoing air. The distance from the ceiling to the upper bench of the sauna is a very important consideration. If the benches are too low, the heat and steam will be happening above peoples heads, and the sauna won’t be as pleasurable.
Using products designed specifically for insulating the walls and ceilings of a sauna, as well as the roof surfaces of wet rooms is crucial. Similarly, using first-class materials is very important if you’d like a quality finish which lasts and endures regular usage. Don’t go for any timbers that aren’t hard-wearing and make sure to speak to professionals in the industry who’ll be able to help you out should you chose to do the install on your own and or with the help of local tradespeople.
You’ll need to choose an electric heater or a wood-burning heater that offers a lovely soft heat and make sure to start the heating up process early. Turn the heater on about 40 mins before you’d like to get in because it allows the sauna time to reach an ideal temperature of between 70°C to 85°C. Once there’s about 5-10% humidity on the hygrometer in the sauna the conditions are optimal for you to start enjoying the session.
If done properly, the final result can make a splendid and classy addition to your home that’ll be the envy of your friends. Once you start using it you’ll see why at least two-thirds of people in Finland use them regularly. Taking them regularly is simply a way of life in the Nordic country and even if you probably can’t do a cold plunge into a lake straight away after you’ve been in when you are at home – you can take a freezing cold shower which will give you a similar endorphin-releasing sense of exhilaration.
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