Sauna FAQ

Q: What types of sauna woods are typically used inside a traditional steam sauna?

A: White Aspen, Western Red Cedar, White Cedar, Hemlock and even Pine wood. It used to be usually what ever woods were locally available. Western Red Cedar is probably the most popular in North America, with its famous aromatic scent. White Aspen wood is non-allergenic, meaning that it has little or no aromatic scent to irritate certain respiratory health conditions, so more people can enjoy sauna benefits especially in public saunas as in gyms, clubs, hotels, etc.

Q: How long does it take to heat up traditional steam sauna?

A: Usually 30 to 40 minutes with a properly sized electric sauna heater. Some sauna heater controls allow user to preset digital 'ON' times or up to 9 hour dial pre-set timer to automatically pre-heat sauna. For example, sauna could turn on 1 hour before and be warmed and ready to use when you get home from a day of winter activities.

Q: How hot can a sauna be?

A: 194°F near the ceiling, accoring to UL or ETL standards. All of Superior Saunas electric Sauna Heaters are UL listed and when installed according manufacturers instructions will comply with this safety standard by tripping the mechanical high limit reset switch at temperatures above 194°F.  

Q: Can I customize any of your Standard Size Sauna Kits?

A: Absolutely, we'll put together a kit to fit your custom size room for components that you choose. Fill out the Custom Sauna Planner worksheet and we will email you a customized quotation. A Design Consultant will review your design for a comfortable bench layout and proper Sauna Heater clearances. 

Q: Why is wood used on sauna interiors?

A: A good question with a simple answer. Dense materials like ceramic tile or stone transfer heat more efficiently and would burn you at typical sauna air temperatures, around 185°F. The cell density surface of soft woods like Cedar feel much cooler than sauna temperature and are comfortable to sit or lean on.

Q: I can't wait a few days to get 'sauna foil vapor barrier', can I substitute something else?

A: NO. Building a sauna Right is well worth a few days of patience. Other types of vapor barrier (plastic, synthetic, etc.) will break down from the heat, releasing chemicals and allow damaging moisture into the ceiling and walls.

Q: Can sealants or varnish be used on sauna woods?

A: The general rule is never apply any coatings or sealants to sauna woods. The chemicals used in wood coatings will break down from sauna heat and release dangerous gases. Also, the soft sauna woods need to 'breathe', by slowly absorbing the sauna heat and humidity and then releasing it when sauna is cooling off. The only exceptions to this rule is that you can apply protective coating to parts like door handles and wood duckboard flooring.

The only proven safe sauna wood treatment is pure paraffin oil which is non-toxic, colorless and odorless. Paraffin oil is used on sauna paneling and benches to add a layer of surface protection that helps keep excess moisture and dirt from absorbing into wood fibers.

Q: What are typical sauna bench heights?

A: 18" for bottom bench and 36" for top benches. If a 3rd tier bench is used, set at 54" or lower if ceiling height less than 7' 6".

Q: How often should a sauna be cleaned?

A: A residential home sauna should be cleaned after every 10 sessions or once a month. Commercial saunas in gyms or clubs usually need daily or weekly attention depending on usage. A biodegradeable sauna cleaner should be used to neutralize bacteria and other organisms that eventually break down the wood fibers. Sometimes a light sanding is required to clean dirty / discolored bench or wall paneling areas.

Q: Is the upper bench wall backrest really needed?

A: Yes, backrests are recommended for comfort and to protect and make the wall woods last much longer by not letting sweat and oils from your skin get on wall paneling.  

Q: Are there special requirements for a home sauna?

A: In most cases, any framed room in a house can be converted into a sauna. A properly planned sauna will have nailer boards placed between studs to provide installation backing where benches and sauna heater will be installed. An inlet and outlet vent should be built into wall for proper ventilation and air exchange (helps sauna dry out after use to limit bacteria growth). Most residential saunas will use a 240 volt sauna heater, recommended that a local licensed electrician does power hookup to heater and breaker box.

Q: My building is framed with metal studs, can I put a sauna in there?

A: Yes, however you must first add a wooden surface to staple vapor barrier and nail T&G paneling to, such as plywood or nailer strips appropriate for T&G wall boards direction, vertical or horizontal.

Q: If I relocate to a different house, can I move my pre-built pre-fab sauna?

A: Yes, pre-fab sauna panels, heater and benches can be assembled or disassembled in 2 to 4 hours with basic tools. Something to consider when purchasing a sauna is if you would like to take it with you if / when you move. A custom cut sauna room built into the framing of the house is a permanent installation. 

Q: What are the absolute neccessary sauna components?

A: Aluminum foil vapor barrier should be used after walls are wired and insulated, this contains the sauna steam moisture and keeps it from getting into walls. Sauna walls and ceiling can be lined with Cedar, Aspen or other type of untreated tongue & groove paneling boards, best to use clear grain wood without hot spots like knots. Benches can be made of same wood as walls or other type, recommended to use clear grain free of knots and to fasten from underneath to avoid hot fasteners on top of benches. Sauna heater should be properly sized to adequately heat the sauna room. Vents are important for health of sauna woods, allows room to dry thoroughly after using sauna.

Q: Can water be used for bathing, like in traditional Finnish Steam Sauna?

A: Only if floor is properly setup with a drain. We recommend waterproofing the floor with rubber sheeting and a floor drain kit. Check with a licensed plumber for local drainage codes. Some people that purchase an infrared sauna are disappointed because they cannot use water to acheive steam like in traditional Finnish steam sauna. The majority of saunas that use a reasonable amount of water on rocks for steam do not need a drain installed. Ipe wood floor tiles allow some standing water to evaporate from under the grid base of tile.

Q: How high should ceiling be in my sauna?

A: As everyone knows, heat rises so saunas don't typically have vaulted or cathedral ceilings. The usual height is 7 feet, so it is comfortable head room to walk in. Some sauna rooms with 3 tier benches will have a 7' 6" ceiling for comfortable seating height on all 3 tiers. If you absolutely must have a higher ceiling it is recommended to adjust bench heights accordingly and use step benches if neccessary so top bench level is in the upper level of heat near ceiling.

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