No matter how large or small your house will be, most of us want our primary bathrooms to be a spa-like sanctuary, or at the very least a place where we can escape, renew and relax. And with us spending more time at home over the last year, many of us are adding more amenities to our bathrooms and home— amenities that make our homes feel more comfortable and luxurious since we haven’t been able to get away on vacation, or even to the gym or spa when we’ve wanted to. So today, we’ll explore some of the reasons you might consider putting a steam shower/room or sauna in your new home.
Before we get into it I want to thank Purple Girl for your 5 star Apple Podcasts review. She says, in part, "This is the best resource for anyone looking to build whether you wan to use a builder or not." Thank you purple girl for taking time to write that review. I appreciate you.
Okay, let’s get into it.
Both steam showers and saunas have quite a few benefits associated with their use stemming from the heat and sweat they generate. We’ll talk about those benefits in a moment, but let’s start by talking about the physical and mechanical differences between the two, starting with steam showers or steam rooms. I’ll use those terms interchangeably.
A steam room is an enclosed space with a steam generator that boils water and turns it into steam. Sometimes that space is a completely enclosed shower that traps steam inside and sometimes it's a completely separate room not connected to the shower.
Because of the moisture content, steam rooms are constructed with non-porous tile floors and either glass or tile walls. Porous materials like wood should be avoided in steam rooms since those materials will promote the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew. The steam room should also have sloped ceilings and a drain so the water generated can drip and drain properly. Many regular, free-standing bathroom showers are already constructed with non-porous materials and a drain. And they occupy enough space to enjoy a steam bath. For those reasons, it’s usually more economical to have your shower do double duty as a steam shower as opposed to having a completely separate steam room constructed.
A 3 x 3 foot steam shower with a 7 foot ceiling averages $4300 nationally according to
Home advisor.com. That average cost includes materials and installation.
Typically, steam rooms or steam showers are heated between 100 and 120°F and have nearly 100% humidity. Even though they aren’t technically as hot as saunas, you’ll likely feel the heat more intensely in steam rooms because of the humidity.
There are two main categories of saunas— a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna. Both are made with wood and create relatively dry heat. You can get standard or custom designed sauna kits that have to be completely assembled, or pre-fabricated saunas.
A traditional sauna is also called a “dry sauna.” Traditional saunas use heat from rocks or other heating elements such as electric or gas heaters to warm the air. Depending on what type of heater is used, you may need an electrical or gas connection.
A traditional sauna’s temperature is kept at 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity ranges from 10 to 20%. While this is very effective for producing intense sweating, that level of heat can uncomfortable to people who are more heat-sensitive.
An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses infrared electromagnetic waves to create heat. Infrared waves are on the light spectrum, but they are not visible. So infrared saunas create heat with invisible light. These saunas are sometimes also called far-infrared saunas, because most infrared saunas use waves that fall “far” on the light spectrum.
The infrared light waves from the infrared sauna penetrate up to about 6 inches into the body which activates your sweat glands. These saunas use infrared panels instead of conventional heaters to create heat.
Infrared heat warms up the body before heating up the air. According to manufacturers, in an infrared sauna, only 20% of the energy is used to heat the air, leaving the rest of the energy to heat the body. In fact, testimonials says that even though an infrared sauna doesn't feel as hot as a traditional dry sauna, many people sweat more in an infrared sauna.
Infrared saunas can stay cooler because they focus on heating up the body itself rather than using the room air to do so. Infrared saunas keep the temperature between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is much more tolerable for those who are sensitive to heat.
You’ll need an electrical connection for an infrared sauna, typically a 240-volt connection. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of a 4 person home sauna is $4,500. This average includes materials and installation and takes into account the costs of traditional and infrared saunas. Of course the price could be greater or less depending on the size and features you choose.
If building your own custom sauna, the floor and walls should be heat insulated. If, however, you decide to use a premade/prefab home sauna, the flooring and walls are already appropriately constructed. Premade saunas can be placed on nearly any surface as long as it is level and sturdy. Most people plan to put their sauna in the primary bathroom, a home gym or a basement.
If you don’t think you have space for a full sauna in your home, but you really want one, consider a portable single person sauna or an outdoor sauna. Lots of folks who can’t find room within their homes for a sauna can find a spot in their backyard to place an outdoor sauna.
So why put a steam shower or sauna in your house?
Two of the major reasons for adding a steam shower or sauna to your home are convenience and privacy. With a home steam room or sauna, you have total freedom in sweating whenever you want. And however you want. A private, at-home unit is especially nice if you prefer to sweat in the nude. Plus, at home, you don't have to worry about sharing that space with other potentially infectious people. Home units provide a way to relax without going to the a public spa or gym.
And what about the health benefits?
Infrared saunas are still fairly new on the health scene, and they are still being researched, but several studies have shown numerous health benefits. Those benefits are similar to those seen with steam baths and traditional saunas which have been studied for longer.
JAMA Internal Medicine reports that regularly spending time in a sauna could help us live longer and keep our hearts healthier. Other studies show that steam room and sauna sessions can contribute to better sleep, detoxification through sweating, increased immunity, pain relief, better skin and increased metabolism. If you’re interested in the science, you can do a Google search and find the studies.
Some people are skeptical that saunas and steam rooms can produce all the the health benefits that proponents claim. I’m actually a believer. But even if your sweat session doesn’t produce all the health benefits that you had hoped for, you will most likely still enjoy a sense of well-being and relaxation. Plus saunas and steam room can give you some much needed time to yourself.
If they both have health benefits, which do you choose, a steam shower or a sauna?
First of all, if you’ve never been in either a steam room or a sauna, I would definitely try them out before investing in a unit for your home. They’ll only be worth the investment if you actually like and use them.
I’m personally a fan of the dry heat of a sauna. I find it difficult to breath and relax in a steam room/shower. But if you like high humidity, a steam room/shower is a better choice for you. Other reasons to choose a steam over the dry heat of a sauna is if you often have allergy symptoms, sinusitis and cold symptoms. The moist air of a steam shower can open the sinuses and nasal passages, allowing for clearer breathing. A steam shower might also be better if you have especially dry skin. Users with dry skin may experience more hydrated skin after regular use of a steam room.
However, be aware that steam showers have increased risk of developing mold and mildew when compared to saunas.
Aside from those specific reasons for choosing a steam room over a sauna, it’s primarily a matter of personal preference.
Even though I have slightly dry skin, I just don’t enjoy a steam room as much as I like a sauna. And although I like the dry heat of a sauna, I don’t want the sauna to be oppressively hot. I’m choosing an infrared sauna, which again doesn’t get as hot as a traditional sauna, but allows you to get a good sweat.
I’ve done extensive research and the sauna I’ve decided to go with is the Clearlight infrared sauna. Clearlight is the sauna branch of Jacuzzi which has been making quality whirlpools forever.
You should do you own research before deciding on the brand of sauna you choose, but I’ll end by telling you a few reasons why I’m going with Clearlight.
1. They have a combination Carbon/Ceramic far infrared heater.
The carbon in our heaters allows the heater to produce long wave far infrared heat that penetrates deeper into your body. And the ceramic in the heaters gives the sauna high heat output when compared to traditional carbon only heaters found lesser quality infrared saunas. Still, the heat is more comfortable and less oppressive when compared to traditional dry saunas.
2. Clearlight is intentional about the positioning of their heaters.
Where the heaters are positioned is important. Poorly-placed heaters can cause uneven or ineffective heat distribution and/or hot spots. Heaters should be located so they are directed primarily toward your core/midsection, including your back, sides, and front. In addition, the backs of calves should get some heat, but heaters above the head that you see in other saunas are unnecessary and can be uncomfortable.
3. Clearlight has near zero EMF levels.
EMF stands for ElectroMagnetic Fields and most infrared saunas emit EMFs. EMFs are energy waves that are emitted in the everyday lives of most Americans from things such as power lines, television and computer screens, motors, fluorescent lights, microwave ovens, cell phones, electric blankets, house wiring and lots of common electronics. So it’s hard to completely avoid EMFs, but we should do our best to decrease them, especially in a sauna where the goal is to relax and renew ourselves physically and mentally. EMFs have been associated with:
memory loss, depression, loss of energy, irritability, inability to concentrate, weakened immune system, chronic fatigue, and headache
Clearlight saunas reduce EMF levels to nearly zero in areas where you’re sitting in the sauna. The way they manufacture the sauna allows them to cancel out EMFs so the levels are virtually undetectable.
4. Clearlight saunas are beautiful.
This reason is not nearly as important as the other reasons I’m choosing this brand, but it honestly is one of the reasons I’m drawn to them. Their saunas have a sleek, beautiful design that will look pretty in whatever room you choose to put it.
Well that’s it for me this week. I hope you learned as much as I did. Thanks for stopping by.