Sauna: design ideas, inspiration & pictures

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Sauna: benefits, styles and inspiration.

What is a sauna and how does it work?

Sweat isn't something you associate with cleanliness, and ’sweating like a pig’ hardly makes for good banter. Ironically, a sauna main function is to remove toxins in your body by making you sweat. A lot. Originally from Finland and derived from a Finnish word meaning bathhouse, the first saunas were made from pits dug in the ground and featured a fireplace that was used to heat stones to a high temperature. Water was then thrown onto the hot stones to produce steam and give a sensation of increased heat. Although the main purpose of a sauna hasn't changed, today, saunas are rooms that are specially designed for dry or wet sessions. This is done by heating the room to a high temperature, which in turn creates steam and makes you sweat excessively. But a sauna does more than make you sweat. It comes with a host of physiological and psychological benefits including relieving stress, soothing muscle pains, flushing out toxins, cleansing the skin, inducing deeper sleep and improving cardiovascular muscular performance. A sauna session has been proven to produce the same benefits as mild exercise. Who would've guessed that dripping with sweat would be worth it? These impressive advantages are why saunas are found in health clubs, gyms, spas and homes across America.

What are the different types of saunas?

Because there's more than one way to make you sweat, saunas are designed differently to suit different spaces and needs. Here's how each sauna style differs from the rest.

The Finnish Sauna is the earliest known sauna. It was made from pits dug in the ground and used as a dwelling in the winter season. The sauna featured a fireplace where stones were heated to a high temperature. Water was thrown on the hot stones to create steam and high temperatures which made people take off their clothes. As times changed, the fireplace was replaced by wood burning metal stoves that had a chimney to allow the smoke to escape.

The Smoke Sauna is one of the original saunas. This sauma was a small room that was built on corner stones and made from wood. The room had an earth floor and chimney, and was heated with a cobble stone stove and the smoke from the stove escaped through the chimney.

The Steam Sauna is derived from Roman steam baths. In ancient Rome, everyone used public baths that were supplied by natural hot springs from beneath the ground. The Romans' love of bathhouses spread throughout the Empire and most Roman towns had at least one public bathhouse. The bathhouses had three rooms that varied in temperature. (The Caldarium was the hottest, the Tepidarium was a warm bath and the Frigidarium was the cold bath. Today's modern steam sauna uses a lower temperature and higher humidity and produces moist heat produced by a steam generator.

The Electric Sauna stove was introduced in 1983. This sauna provided the means to accurately control the heat level and allows you to pre-heat the sauna without making a fire. This sauna was the beginning of indoor sauna rooms as no fires or chimneys were needed. The electric sauna is one of the popular home saunas available on the market.

The Infrared Sauna is a sauna that uses light to create heat. Also known as a

far infrared sauna, the far describes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum. While a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body, an infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you. The infrared sauna is one of the most popular saunas on the market.

How much does a home sauna cost?

Thanks to technological advancements, sauna home kits are readily available, so you can enjoy all the benefits of a sauna in the comfort of your home. You can choose between Pre-cut, Pre-fabricated or Infrared sauna kits. The overall price of a home sauna kit depends on the sauna size, the type of sauna heater, special amenities such as extra windows, the finishing touches and accessories. You can expect to pay between $80-$130 per square foot for a home sauna kit package with basic accessories, so do your homework before you decide which one will suit your family's needs as well as your house structure, and get in touch with a professional to assist you before making your choice.

How do I maintain my home sauna?

A home sauna is low maintenance compared to a hot tub or pool. An occasional floor sweep or vacuum and wash as well as wiping down the seats and backrests with soapy water will keep your home sauna in a good condition. To keep it operating at its optimum all year round, apply these simple steps and sauna away.

Keep your feet clean: Always rinse your feet before entering your sauna. If you need to, keep a bucket near the sauna entrance just for this. Your feet can bring in unwanted soil and dirt, and rinsing them before a sauna session reduces your sauna cleaning routine, lessening the abuse to your floor and seats in return.

Stack up on towels: Accumulated sweat can cause discoloration and staining, and because you'll be doing a lot of sweating in your sauna, protect your seats, backrests and floors with a towel. Towels won't only keep stains away, but they'll also help to maintain the appearance of your sauna. Rugs will do the same for your sauna floor. If you're interested in a sauna for your home but don't know where to start, homify has tons of images to inspire your selection.