Design Your Own Sauna
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Every Pre-Built Sauna is preassembled on the factory floor to test the fit of each component. Every part is then labeled upon disassembly, to assure the easiest and quickest installation at your site.
Heavenly Saunas' Pre-Built Saunas are easy to assemble. You simply stand the premanufactured wall panels together on the provided floor frame, connect them together, then set the ceiling panels in place. You then install the premade benches and duckboard floor, have your elecrician connect the power, and you're ready to sauna! Since the Pre-Built Sauna is just as easy to disassemble, you can even take it with you when you move.
We supply everything that you need to line the inside of the room with cedar or redwood, as well as a pre-hung door, premade benches and duckboard floor.
You are required to provide the structural framing, insulation, vapor barrier and exterior panelling, which are all easily available at your local building supplier.
All Pre-Cut Sauna Kits are available with the same wide variety of door and window options as our Pre-Built models.
The temperatures in a traditional sauna can actually approach 200 degrees Fahrenheit! The extremely low humidity present in the sauna makes these temperatures tolerable. Properly designed, the sauna's relative humidity rarely exceeds 5% when operated in the "dry" mode. This permits the copious amount of perspiration produced by the body to dry quickly thus having a cooling effect.
All saunas have a radiant air heater which has a container of volcanic stones. These stones retain and radiate heat more consistently, which is why the Tylo electric sauna heaters have such a deep stone compartment. The stones can also be sprinkled with water to produce the "wet" sauna. This creates bursts of steam (called loyly by the Finns) which disappear quickly into the porous soft wood of the sauna. Humidity then climbs from a few percent to 20-30%. This instantly intensifies the sauna's heat as if the temperature had increased drastically (although it may even have dropped slightly).
By contrast, a steam bath makes use of a steam generator. This device heats water directly, not air. The steam room enclosure fills completely with condensed vapor. Clouds of "steam" envelope the bather. The humidity exceeds 100% and the temperatures are much lower than those of the sauna. Because of their very different modes of operation, the choice of construction materials is critical. A totally non-porous material such as tile or acrylic is the choice for a steamroom which must also be made steamtight.
Previously, a homeowner desiring a steam room needed to frame and tile an enclosure and then fit it with steamtight doors. While this resulted in a beautiful installation, both the labor and materials made this method quite costly. Now, modern plastic technology has made the easy to install enclosure available. It has drastically reduced the cost of installing a steamroom in your bathroom or excercise room. The Tylo Steamroom enclosures are easier to install and more efficient than their framed counterparts by virtue of their design.
Although the steamroom enclosure must be non-porous and relatively steamtight, the opposite is true of a sauna room. A sauna must be constructed of porous materials (meaning some type of wood), and it often actually employs air circulation through intake and outlet vents. Many varieties of wood are acceptable for sauna construction, but care must be taken when selecting the type and grade.
Whether it's dry heat or clouds of steam, the choice is yours and it is only a matter of taste and lifestyle.
Temperatures in a dry sauna may approach 200 degrees Fahrenheit! But, because the humidity is only a few percent, and the bather's perspiration evaporates quickly, these high temperatures are tolerable.
To create a "wet sauna", a small amount of water is poured onto the heater's volcanic stones, creating burst of vapor which disappear quickly into the sauna's walls. Although the temperature inside the sauna may even drop slightly, the humidity climbs to 20 or 30 percent, and the effect of the heat intensifies drastically.
The traditional Scandinavian practice is to begin with a dry sauna followed by a period of rest outside the sauna. The bather then reenters the sauna, this time with a ladle and a wooden bucket filled with water. A "wet sauna" is then taken followed by another period of rest. Showers are taken before and after the bath.
We have heard that a heavy cigarette smoker can actually leave a brown stain on a white towel as they perspire toxins from their body in a sauna.
The benefits of sauna and steam bathing have been known to almost all of human civilization for eons.
All clear wood comprises our entire sauna. Many other sauna manufacturers use this grade only in their benches. Despite this, our sauna prices are quite competitive even with those made of much lesser materials.
We have always made, and will only ever make our saunas from wood that is totally clear of knots. This is the most expensive grade that you can purchase. Some of our competitors have been supplying knotty Cedar (even though their literature still says "clear"), but you will never find a knot anywhere in one of our saunas.
The species of wood that we use is far better than just spruce or hemlock. It's the best wood that can be used for saunas - Western Red Cedar. This species offers a beauty not found in most other woods. More important, even though it is a soft wood, it has natural decay resistant properties making it more durable than most hardwoods.
There was a time when all of our saunas were made of Redwood, and Cedar seemed like a second choice. Redwood and Cedar are very similar species, and in many cases, the visible differences are indistinguishable.
Both Redwood and Cedar have a high natural content of tannins and phenols, substances which impart to the wood its natural resistance to decay, and Redwood, on average, has a higher content of these, so it is perceived as being slightly more resistant to decay. With respect to saunas, ironically, Redwood's higher content of these substances will cause it to blacken when exposed to the body oils and sweat of the bather.
Interestingly enough, if you look at the product range from any of the Scandinavian sauna companies, you'll see that their very best top-of-the-line saunas are made from "imported" Western Red Cedar. Even the Finns and Swedes know it's the best wood for a sauna. We're just lucky enough to have it growsing right here in North America!
An added requirement specifies that the inlet vent and outlet vent open into the same room or space, and this part of the specification has been particularly important in homes with forced air domestic heating and cooling. It's definitely also ill advised to draw your fresh air from or exhaust your sauna air to the outdoors, if the sauna is inside the house.
This is because venting occurs only from convection, as the air in the sauna is heated and rises. There is no fan involved, and the flow of air is very, very small - on the order of only a few cubic feet per minute. If the air pressure outside the sauna is different between the inlet and outlet vents, it could interfere with the proper flow of air.
Although one would think that the reason for ventilation is to provide fresh air in the sauna, we in the U.S. learned decades ago that the real reason is to draw air around the heater and move the heat to the farthest part of the sauna. As a consequence, according to the age old spec, venting matters much less for very small saunas (less than 5 x 5), where the heater could hardly have a problem reaching every corner of the sauna with its heat.
In such cases, the space under the bottom of the door can double as an inlet vent, providing air for the heater, and the outlet for the air, if any, is pretty much provided by the unavoidable space around the rest of the door higher up.
Part of the standard sauna venting specification states that the inlet vent must remain unobstructed, whereas the outlet vent can be louvered, allowing for it to be closed completely. Thus, it is not a contradiction of the standard specification to build a small sauna completely absent of any outlet vent.
To be sure, in almost two decades of selling saunas, we have plenty of anecdotal evidence that proper venting can improve heat circulation and consistency. However, there are those quite well respected in the industry that would argue that, especially in a small sauna, no venting whatsoever is required, even an inlet vent.
At least for small saunas, we're inclined to agree with this, despite the fact that it flies in the face of traditional sauna design. We're not certain, however, that we'd agree with those that would say that, regardless of the size of the sauna, the only reason that you ever need a vent is when you have a large commercial sauna being used by perhaps hundreds of smelly people each day. We're more inclined to think that larger saunas can benefit from proper venting even in residential situations.
Aside from vent placement, the next question most commonly asked by people building their own saunas is "how big do I make the vent"? The traditional specification is quite vague about this, and from our experience, it seems that this is the most forgiving part of the spec.
Tylo, the Swedish maker of the sauna heaters we have sold for almost the last 20 years, states that a vent area of about 15 in2 is suitable for a small residential sauna, but that larger commercial saunas should have about 45 in2. Our standard vent size, which has always been suitable, regardless of sauna size, is a hole measuring 3.5" by 7", which equals 24.5 in2.
When it comes to proper sauna design, there is no shortage of opinions, and this fact could be no truer than with respect to venting. The bottom line is that there is mostly a consensus in the industry that fresh air be supplied to the sauna heater, either through a vent near the heater, or with the heater installed right next to the door, and by placing a louver in the outlet vent, you can have complete flexibility in adjusting the flow of air through the sauna.
If you purchase one of our Prebuilt saunas, it will have an inlet vent right under the sauna heater and an outlet vent, either in the ceiling or high up on a wall, as far from the heater as is feasible. Normally, we place the vent in the ceiling, but if you would rather have it in the top of a wall, you only need let us know.
If you purchase a Precut sauna kit, we'll supply you with all the necessary trim, and you can decide how you'd like to do it. Precut sauna kits include three vent grilles (one each for the exterior of both vents and one for the interior of the inlet vent), as well as a sliding adjustable cover for the inside of the outlet vent.
No special tools or skills are required, and our instructions are written with the do-it-yourself customer in mind. All components are precut, predrilled and pre-assembled. Complete assembly of a Pre-Built Sauna takes only a few hours.
Click Here to access the assembly manual for our Prebuilt Saunas (PDF Format - 615 Kb)
More effort is obviously required for the installation of one of our Pre-Cut saunas, but the benches and floor are still preassembled, the door still prehung, and all of the pieces are precut to your exact custom specifications.
Click Here to access the assembly manual for our Precut Sauna Kits (PDF Format - 689 Kb)
Even in areas where electric rates are rather high, regular use of a sauna will add only pennies per day to your utility bill.
Since we offer the best sauna, we have decided to use the best heater available
- Tylo of Sweden. This heater has patented double side vents and a multi-stage
thermostat which improve its performance and efficiency.