Saunas are freestanding buildings or small rooms which trap dry or humid heat for purposes of relaxation or physical therapy. Saunas are constructed of wood and usually possess a long bench running along their periphery. They can range from the size of a small bathroom to a large lodge; a standard formula for a home sauna is two feet of bench room per intended user.
Heat in Saunas
Warmth is usually provided by means of an electric heater which radiates energy into a small pile of natural stones. These stones in turn can be immersed in water to provide steam and thus wet heat. This humidity is what renders most sauna temperatures tolerable for the occupants, as such temperatures can reach over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Some modern saunas do not use steam heat but are rather warmed by means of infrared, a form of heat which is much less damp and provides increased percolation into the muscles.
Home saunas are often surprisingly easy to construct. Many can be purchased in pre-arranged packages which require little more than bolting and a small amount of electrical work on the part of the buyer. Such packages commonly consist of the frame of the sauna, complete with paneling and insulation, as well as a built-in door and a bench. The user thus needs simply to adhere the walls, ceiling, and floors, and to wire the heater and lights with a dedicated circuit for their electrical needs, usually one which can process 240 volts. Such pre-packaged saunas are available in a variety of different sizes and styles, and have the advantage of being reasonably portable, meaning that they can be moved to one's next home.
Building a Sauna in an Existing Room
An alternative to erecting a freestanding sauna is simply to convert an existing room into a sauna by means of a pre-cut kit. Often a spare bathroom or even a reasonably sized closet can suffice for this purpose. Pre-cut kits contain the paneling needed to line such a room along with the essential bench, heater, and lights, and often a transparent glass door to provide a much needed sense of spaciousness in a tight room. Such kits come in standard-issue sizes but can be ordered to custom specifications for a little more expense.
Safety with Sauna Installation
One should take care never to paint or otherwise coat the inside of a home sauna, as certain substances can react dangerously with the extreme heat. In addition, one should never use a lock on the door of the sauna, and such doors should be carefully installed to ensure that they cannot be inadvertently blocked shut.