Legendary sauna design and layout article. Includes indoor and outdoor sauna designs as well as the main sauna layouts (1 to 12 person saunas) followed by an extensive sauna photo gallery showcasing many styles.
I’d be remiss if I did not extensively cover home sauna designs because I spend an inordinate amount of time each week in a sauna. While I don’t have a home sauna, I expect to get one some day because there is no better way to end the workday than a few rounds in the sauna. Saunas are the perfect addition and companion to the home gym.
Because of my passion for using saunas, this article, which is image-rich (typical of this site) also contains more text than usual as well as relevant videos… it’s our go-to sauna page for anyone interested or thinking about a home sauna.
Disclaimer: Please consult a physician or health care professional before using a sauna. Moreover, the information in this post is just that – information. Please do not take it as medical advice… it’s based on my personal experience and research. The same applies to the research linked to throughout this article and gallery.
Table of Contents
A. Health Benefits of Dry Heat Saunas
I’ve been preaching the benefits of using a dry sauna for years (I’ve been using a sauna since I was 18), but until recently I couldn’t find any comprehensive studies on the health benefits of saunas. I always feel great after a sauna session so I knew they offered health benefits – I just couldn’t point anyone to authoritative research on the subject. However, Rhonda Perciavalle Pattrick, Ph.D published an extensive report which is the best article on the health benefits of dry saunas I’ve ever come across. In a nutshell, she concludes (based on extensive research) that using dry saunas responsibly benefits:
- improves endurance (for endurance training)
- improves muscle growth from weight training
- suspected increased life span (shown in flies and worms – but not conclusive with humans)
- increases norepinephrine which “helps with focus and attention… makes your brain function faster, which is key in repairing nerve cell damage.”
- helps increase the growth of new brain cells by increasing “the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
What else? This is anecdotal from my experiences using saunas, but I find them very relaxing and a stress reliever.
Find more backyard ideas in our definitive guide to backyards!
Other quality sources on the health benefits of saunas:
- Sauna-Induced Sweating Offers Many Healthy Benefits
- Health Benefits of a Sauna by Dr. Julian Whitaker
B. Infrared vs. Dry Saunas
I’m not going to comb through studies to address the infrared vs. dry sauna – there is plenty of information online you can find quickly. I’m going to state my opinion based on using both types of saunas.
I’ll be blunt. There is no way I would purchase an infrared sauna for my home. I only use dry saunas and would only consider a dry sauna for my home. I enjoy the heat as well as the sweating. While you do sweat with an infrared sauna, it lacks the heat element.
What if you like both types of saunas? Consider a combination infrared and dry heat sauna.
What should you buy? Some people like infrared saunas and they’re popular for homes and spas likely because they cost less than dry saunas. However, I urge you try both before spending a nickel and decide based on your preference.
C. Home Sauna Options
Fortunately, there are many options for getting a sauna in your home. They are:
1. Saunas for Inside the Home
When constructing a sauna inside your home, you can buy a portable sauna, pre-built or get a custom sauna built. The following are images of portable and pre-built saunas.
The following saunas would even fit seamlessly into homes featuring a modern minimalist natural wood design, such as the Hu Residence.
2. Outdoor Saunas
The two basic styles of outdoor saunas are huts and barrels. You can get them pre-built (i.e. a sauna kit) or have a custom outdoor sauna built.
D. Basic Tips for Buying a Sauna
As stated above, I prefer dry heat saunas over infrared – but I urge you to try both and choose the one you prefer. In fact, use a sauna several times to find out how you like to use it – lying down, elevated, lounging, etc.
I enjoy lying down in saunas, so I prefer larger models. This means I require a long bench… so if you’re like me and enjoy lying down, look for a design that offers a longer bench.
Perhaps you prefer more of a lounging position. Fortunately many saunas offer a variety of bench styles, including lounging benches (or wooden accessories that enable you to elevate your head and shoulders).
Another seating feature to consider is how many people it accommodates. There are saunas of all sizes accommodating one to 12 or more people.
You want to ensure that the sauna you get has sufficient heating power to heat the sauna to your preferred temperature. Ask the sales person about this. Again, use saunas before buying and note how hot you like it.
Tiered seating is important. You want your body above the heating element because heat rises. I wouldn’t consider a sauna without 2 levels. I’ve been in saunas with 6 levels which is kind of cool, but I didn’t really notice any advantage above the third tier.
Dry vs. Wet
Most hot saunas (as opposed to infrared saunas) are not designed to be wet saunas. In other words you do not want to, nor should you spray water on the heating element… unless expressly permitted by the manufacturer of that sauna. Most saunas I’ve been in are dry heat only. Traditional saunas heated by hot rocks can have water splashed on the rocks because there isn’t electricity involved. Therefore, while you may read about wet saunas, they aren’t common with sauna kits because the heat source is electric. If you like a wet sauna, consider getting a steam bath/shower.
Where can you buy saunas? You may have a local sauna retailer or you can shop for saunas online.
E. Pictures of Saunas (Old School and New Saunas)
Below is a collection of sauna photos including fabulous sauna interiors and sauna huts – old school and new. The first section are sauna interiors and the second section are sauna buildings/huts.
1. Sauna Interiors
The above triple-level sauna is impressive, if perhaps a little larger than most homes, home gyms, or even man caves would require.
2. Sauna Exteriors
A sauna nestled in nature on a large pond or lake would be a wonderful way to relax.
For more information about buying a sauna visit Saunas.com.
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