Sauna: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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Definition of saunas and their benefits

Saunas are tiny log structures in which bathers enter to experience a heat therapy session. The intense heat of the interior makes them to perspire. This is considered to be rejuvenating for the mind and body. Though many countries boast of different types of sweat bathing facilities, saunas have been made popular by Finland. Nearly every homeowner in Finland owns a custom built or pre-fabricated sauna.

For many years, the prohibitive cost of installation meant saunas are available for use only in the local hotels, resorts and luxury spas. In the last couple of decades this has changed though. Modern homeowners in Singapore can now enjoy a hot bath right inside their own bathrooms. Naturally people are taking the full advantage of this opportunity.

Saunas have multiple health benefits. It is generally believed, saunas help you to invigorate and distress your mind and body. With regular use, you can eliminate or lessen the concerns of chronic aches and pains. It is particularly beneficial for people suffering from some types of arthritis. A session inside can also relieve you from your sinus related complains.

Saunas help to flush toxins out of your body. You can achieve healthier and younger looking skin. A sauna bath aids in weight loss. It is said to improve the performance of your cardiovascular system.

Types of saunas

Saunas are available in a range of varieties. The ones mentioned below are some of the most popular choices.

Finnish sauna – Finland is renowned for its classic wood burning saunas. If you are willing to introduce an authentic touch in your residential sauna, then this would be the style to opt for. Finnish saunas also have lower temperature and humidity levels compared to some other types of saunas. This may be particularly suited to the hot and humid climate of Singapore.

Steam sauna – Steam saunas provide both moisture and heat. Steam rooms are not authentic saunas and shouldn’t be confused with one. But they have similar health benefits to traditional sauna designs.

Infrared sauna – Infrared saunas are the latest rage. They are convenient to use in urban homes. These saunas use infrared heaters to deliver a therapeutic experience. No water is used inside. The temperature level also remains less than intense. Many people, including the members of Finnish Sauna Society, don’t accept infrared cubicles as saunas.

Smoke sauna – Smoke saunas are built without chimneys. The wood burning stove creates the required amount of heat in the interiors. These saunas are durable and cost-effective. Apart from Finland, smoke saunas are very popular in the Baltic countries.

Electrically heated sauna – Electrically heated saunas are more of a modern invention and are designed to suit the needs of today’s city dwellers. They are available in a range of sizes and styles and can be tucked in any empty corner of your house.

Costs of buying and maintaining a sauna at home

Saunas are now available in a variety of styles. Portable infrared saunas in Singapore will cost you less than SGD 1500. These saunas are typically built to occupy a vacant space in your spa style bathroom. They can be used by one person at a time. Luxury infrared saunas cost around SGD 4000. You will need to spend about SGD 7000 for custom built saunas that could be used by 5 to 7 persons at time. The cost of maintaining a sauna, irrespective of its type, is not very high. Frequently used saunas can be maintained in less than SGD 40 per month.

Pros and cons of positioning a sauna inside a house or outside it

Saunas positioned inside the house offer greater privacy. They are easy to install in the bathrooms where the plumbing and electrical systems are already in place. They are cheaper to install. Depending on their sizes and styles, they can be used by a single person or more than one person simultaneously. Due to the flexibility of design, they are ideal for small family homes in Singapore.

Saunas built in the exterior of the house can take greater advantage of the surrounding landscape, especially if your house boasts of a rural setting. These saunas tend to have a larger interior space and can be used together with friends and family members. Like original saunas of the Scandinavian countries, large outdoor saunas promote community engagement.

Design of a sauna room

To enjoy the benefits of using a sauna for a long time, invest in materials that last long. Take due care to plan the ventilation well. Saunas are generally designed with an upper out and lower intake vents. The upper outlet is placed just below the lower bench level and lower intake vent close to the flooring. Invest in foil vapour barriers designed for saunas. Avoid cheap plastic barriers which often emit toxic air in high temperature. To enjoy building the best quality saunas, take suggestions from an experienced spa designer.

Sauna colours and materials

Sauna colours depend on the wood type in use. For an authentic feel, most people love retaining the natural tone and texture of the wood in use. Some modern saunas are coloured for a brighter look. But these are still rare and limited to the prefabricated models.

Saunas are built from lumber. Woods like cedars, aspens and basswood are used for building a sauna. Aspens are considered one of the best wood types for saunas due to their non-allergic nature. Apart from these wood types, saunas also make use of eucalyptus, hemlock, spruce and walnut for the interior.

Sauna furniture and accessories

Saunas don’t require elaborate arrangement for furniture. Often simple benches are the only type of furniture that a sauna needs. In bigger saunas, benches are tiered into different levels. Saunas also need accessories like wooden bucket, ladles, thermometer to check the interior temperature, headrests and essence.