What is a home sauna?

“Every year on December 31, my friends and I go to the bathhouse …” If it were not for this very bathhouse with traditional libations, there would not have been Eldar Ryazanov’s beloved film. “I went to the bathhouse … I washed myself at the same time” – one of the favorite jokes of those years. Perhaps, home-use baths, or rather saunas for apartments and country houses, were invented by women so that men in their addiction to cleanliness did not go too far. But in any case, they were not invented by us. And in general, industrial home saunas have appeared on the Russian market relatively recently. And immediately a lot of questions arose. Which one to choose? Is it possible to install a mini-bath at home? What is needed for this?


Original sauna model Vena (Knüllwald Helo Sauna)

What is a “home” sauna?

First, let’s understand what a “home” sauna is. Saunas for apartments and country houses are wooden cabins that are heated by a wood-burning or electric stove. Models for city apartments use only electric ovens. In saunas, you can steam with both dry and wet steam: you only need to adjust the humidity by pouring water on the stones, and the temperature by changing the heating mode on the control panel.


The temperature in the sauna is regulated by changing the heating mode on the control panel

The main components of such a sauna:

Wooden cabin with heat and vapor barrier. The walls of the cabin are made of a wooden frame, upholstered on both sides with clapboard (in addition, there are models of saunas where the outer side of the walls is made of acrylic or pressed wood). The frame is filled with insulation (mineral wool, pressed cork, fiberglass, etc.).

Electric stove, heating the air. In such furnaces, only special stones are used – volcanic peridotite, Scandinavian diabase or their domestic analogue – Karelian gabbro-diabase. There are no other options: after temperature drops, a stone with a granular structure, for example, granite, can crack. The stones in the furnace are heated by an electric spiral – heating element, protected from moisture by a special coating. Such stoves are designed specifically for saunas: they do not burn oxygen, the body is protected from heating, and, moreover, they are equipped with an automatic shutdown system.

Airtight doors provide thermal insulation. Doors should fit snugly against the jamb. If the door is wooden, this is achieved by making its edges three-stage, if it is glass, due to the silicone seal.

Internal equipment of the cabin: shelves, headrests, footrests, back supports – everything a person touches. As a rule, foreign manufacturers make this part of the “decoration” of the steam room from the African tree abashi (abachi, abacus). It has a low thermal conductivity, therefore, sitting on an abasha shelf, you will not burn yourself even at very high air temperatures. Domestic builders, at the request of the customer, can use aspen or linden for these purposes.

Accessories – everything from special lamps, thermometers, hygrometers and ending with tubs, ladles, etc. These are also important details of the sauna, which we will tell you about in more detail in our shopping. But the shower is not included in the mini-bath set..

What kind? Of what? How much?

The cost of a cabin fragrant with wood depends, firstly, on whether you buy a ready-made prefabricated sauna or are going to build it according to an individual order, and secondly, on the chosen model, and thirdly, on the materials used (the same model of the finished prefabricated sauna can be made, for example, from pine or spruce, and these options will cost differently).

What, apart from designer bells and whistles, distinguishes a ready-made prefabricated sauna from the one that you can build on an individual order? The finished sauna is assembled from shields, like a constructor, so it can be easily dismantled if necessary. Smaller elements are used in the construction of saunas; in addition, the structure is attached to one of the walls, so it is very problematic to disassemble the “bathhouse” in order to reassemble it again. That is, if it becomes necessary to sell or exchange an apartment, it will not be possible to move the built sauna to a new location. During construction “for a sauna”, the corner of a corridor, a bathroom is often trimmed, or simply upholstered with clapboard walls of the pantry. And the finished cabin is at least 5 cm away from the wall – this is necessary for normal ventilation. Therefore, in “completed” saunas, ventilation, as a rule, is worse than in ready-made ones, which means that the “lifespan” of such a cabin is shorter.


The finished sauna is assembled from shields, like a designer

Models of ready-made saunas differ primarily in the material from which they are made, in shape and size. The well-known Finnish companies Helo and Harvia use, for example, Scandinavian spruce and pine, cedar and hemlock (the Canadian analogue of fir), and the Swedish company Tylc also makes saunas from alder and aspen. The cabins are square, rectangular and “angular” in shape, and in size – single and double, “seated” or “recumbent”, the so-called “family” (just to lie down together, but if desired, the whole family will fit in the cab) ). The larger the cabin, the more power the stove is required to heat it and the higher the price of the sauna. In addition, each model has its own characteristics of interior and exterior decoration. Some sauna models are equipped, for example, with special lamps for color therapy (the cabin is illuminated in red, blue, yellow or green).

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Among the expensive options are saunas with rounded corners, shelves arranged in two tiers, etc. For some models, you can choose the size and shape of windows, doors with or without glass, with a “window” or completely glass. External cladding – from the “old log effect” to plastic in the color of the bathtub and toilet bowl. In addition, pressed wood is used instead of plastic for the exterior. This material, unlike chipboard, does not contain adhesives and varnishes and makes it possible to choose the color that will be in harmony with the overall color scheme of the room. Insulation is also an important part of the sauna. Mineral wool is used in Finnish and Swedish cabins, and in some Finnish models – pressed cork – a natural moisture resistant material. Sauna insulated with cork is 30% more expensive. As a rule, a ready-made prefabricated sauna costs from 1800 – 2000 $ to 5000 – 6500 $ and more. This range of prices is primarily dictated by the cost of the material from which the sauna is made: Scandinavian spruce is cheaper than pine, while cedar and hemlock are the most expensive materials..


Some sauna models are equipped with color therapy lamps

When building a sauna, the constituents of the concept “model” depend mainly on the wishes of the customer and the capabilities of the contractor company. As a representative of one of these companies noted, a door with a mosaic image of nude nymphs is not the limit of customers’ imagination. Domestic builders use both coniferous wood (pine, spruce) and deciduous (linden, aspen) for the cabin. Stoves-heaters are offered both imported and Russian (for example, the Zhar stove). The situation is the same with insulation: you can be offered both Finnish mineral wool and domestic or fiberglass-based insulation. According to my information, there is not a single company that would build saunas entirely from domestic components. And here is the opinion of an employee of one of the firms engaged in the construction of saunas: “For a long time, wood-burning and electric heaters have been produced in Russia, you can easily order domestic furnishings – shelves, benches, lamps and accessories.

Prefabricated panel cabins also began to be made here, from our lining. And we cannot say that our ovens or cabins are bad. Not! It’s just that Finnish and Swedish experience in this business goes back decades. And if you can still argue about the qualities of wood, then about electrical equipment my opinion is unequivocal: I don’t remember that “overlaps” ever happened with Finnish and Swedish stoves, which cannot be said about ours. But the buyer chooses based on his financial capabilities, and we simply offer him certain options. And since we give a guarantee for the built sauna, we prefer to deal with a higher quality “product”. The price range for the construction of saunas is quite large. But recently, construction from domestic materials has almost equaled the purchase of a ready-made cabin: a turnkey sauna costs on average $ 1,500.


Sauna cabins are available in size for one or two, “seated” or “recumbent” (so-called “family”)

In the choice “buy or build” there is also an “intermediate” option – construction from materials from foreign manufacturers. This is usually done by distributors of prefabricated cabins. For example, the cabin is made of domestic linden or aspen, and the shelves, headrests and other internal parts are made of abasha; the doors and the stove are Finnish. If the sauna is built entirely from imported materials, its price will be about $ 1,800. The representatives of the companies explain the difference in price not only by the high cost of components, but also by the fact that the saunas of domestic craftsmen do not always correspond to the “corporate” quality standards, and “construction” in such cases often does not mean complete arrangement. “You can build a sauna for $ 800, and they will offer you to buy the door and the stove yourself,” an employee of a distribution company told me. – And in general, maybe these “builders” use wadded blankets as thermal insulation.

Aspen and linden, from which saunas are built in our country, are cheaper than spruce and pine, but they have a loose structure, so that steam comes out faster in “linden baths”. If you come across builders erecting saunas from “our” spruce and pine – and even worse: in Russia there is no technology for special processing of coniferous wood. Indeed, unlike hardwoods, conifers emit resin, which, at high temperatures, will simply flow along the walls. To avoid this, in Scandinavia, wood for saunas is treated with hot air. Therefore, the tree does not “flow” and is not sticky “.


Sauna KLAFS (Germany)

There are doubts?

All this, of course, is interesting, but here is the question that haunted me: “Does the installation of a sauna require any additional equipment in the apartment?” For some reason, a sad case came to my mind: an attempt to install a jacuzzi in one of the old Moscow houses ended … literally failure – the wooden floors could not stand it. My doubts were dispelled by an employee of the company: “A single cabin weighs like a bed – 190 kg. The larger the cabin, the larger its area, which means less pressure. So fears that the floors will fail are completely in vain. The whole safety technique is not to touch the stones with your hands and change them about once every three years (the stone begins to crumble from temperature changes). Stove stones are sold in the same place where your company’s saunas “.

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The interior fittings of the cab (shelves, footrests, back supports) are usually made of African abashi wood

But here another doubt arose: will the electrical network withstand such a load? After all, even a TV, a computer and an iron sometimes cause voltage drops, and if there is another “bathhouse” nearby… “3.6 kW ovens are used to heat small single cabins,” the Harvia showroom reported. – Warm up the booth – it’s like heating three irons at the same time. The voltage of 220 V can withstand furnaces with a capacity of up to 6 kW, furnaces of higher power require a voltage of 380 V. ” Helo distributors were more reserved: “In city apartments, stoves up to 4.5 kW can be used. Voltage 220 V “can withstand” only small single cabins with ovens up to 4 kW. For the rest, 380 V and a three-phase current are required (this is easier to arrange in houses with electric stoves). But while the sauna is warming up, it is better not to turn on the irons, heaters, reflectors. ” In the office of the Swedish company Tylc, we were told that all their stoves are adapted to both 220 V and 380 V mains. The most popular models for city apartments, as a rule, are heated by 6.6 kW stoves..


It is best to put the sauna next to the bathroom or right in it so that it is convenient to go to the shower

The place for the sauna in the apartment is also an important issue. It is best, of course, to put it close to the bathroom or right in it so that it is convenient to go to the shower. But it depends on the size and layout of the apartment. By the way, it is allowed to make saunas only in houses of the first category (that is, in brick or monolithic houses with reinforced concrete floors and apartments of large areas). But we will talk about the legal intricacies of installing and building saunas in city apartments next time..

“Bath” tree

Traditionally, in Russia, baths were built from solid logs, and pine and spruce of the northern regions were considered the best materials. But not only. For example, Alexei Tolstoy in the novel “Peter the First” describes how the tsar, Menshikov and the orderly Narts are soaring in a linden bathhouse. Alder and larch were also used in the construction of baths. The logs for the bath were taken straight, with a minimum number of knots and resin cavities – they could flow with resin in the hot atmosphere of the bath. Aspen was considered a good material for benches and shelves..

What types of wood are used in the construction of saunas today??


1 – Spruce; 2 – Cedar; 3 – Abashi; 4 – Pine; 5 – Aspen; 6 – Mazonite

Aspen. Aspen paneling is cheap and beautiful. The wood is knot-free, light beige, does not emit tar. Has a unique property – does not rot.

Linden. Recently, materials for saunas made from domestic linden are almost equal in price to imported softwoods. Wood without knots, without resins, yellowish.

Alder. The wood is light, pinkish-brown, with a beautiful pattern of annual rings, rather dense. Swedish manufacturers use it for exterior cladding of saunas..

Scandinavian spruce. The cheapest material among conifers. Light yellowish wood with a large number of small knots, which in the homeland of Scandinavian spruce are usually perceived as a decorative element. Russian buyers are usually wary of this. And this is understandable – after all, in Russia there are no special technologies for wood processing for saunas, and untreated boards can really become a cause for concern – knots tend to fall out. With regard to the lining of Scandinavian spruce and pine, these fears are in vain: all materials for saunas are processed using a special technology, with hot air.

Scandinavian pine. Wood with a pinkish tinge, almost without knots. The pattern of annual rings is an additional decorative element. Over time, the wood darkens, a patina appears on it.

The definition of “Scandinavian” spruce and pine does not mean any particular type of wood, but its quality. The fact is that the Finns, for example, grow conifers specifically for the construction of saunas. Moreover, the “beds” with such spruce and pine trees are located not to the south of the 63rd latitude. Therefore, in these trees, the annual rings are very dense, their “summer” and “winter” thickness are the same. Accordingly, the density of such wood is greater than, say, that of spruces and pines of central Russia..

Hemlock (Canadian analogue of Siberian fir). Pinkish brown wood, free of knots and resin. The pattern of the annual rings forms parallel lines.

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Canadian red cedar. The most expensive wood is now. Unique feature: Planks made from one log can be of different colors – from light beige to chocolate brown. Such color overflows create an additional decorative effect. The wood is almost resin-free and has a pleasant smell. A red cedar sauna is an aromatherapy tool in itself.

Abashi (abachi, abacus), or African oak. Dense wood, no knots, smooth structure. It has a low thermal conductivity: it maintains a temperature close to that of a human body, even if the air is heated to 120 ° C. Color palette – from yellowish-straw to light brown, with dark specks.

Mazonite – pressed wood shavings for invisible parts of walls and ceilings of saunas. Economical and environmentally friendly material.

Steam rooms are different

We want to dispel a typical misconception: not every hot steam room is a sauna. Strictly speaking, not every bathhouse is a sauna. “Sauna” is a Finnish word, which means that it means “Finnish bath”. That is, a room where dry steam is steamed (air humidity – no more than 15%) at a temperature of 60 – 90 ° C (if desired, the temperature can be raised to 120 ° C). Nevertheless, very often we say – “sauna”, but we mean – “bath”, and vice versa. But let’s not get confused in terms. After all, in addition to pure saunas, there are also showers with a “sauna effect” and infrared cabins.

Showers with “sauna effect” (they are also called multifunctional). Equipped with a steam generator and often – hydromassage nozzles. The “sauna effect” in the shower is just a common term: dry steam is not generated in such cabins at high temperatures. If only because the walls of most shower cabins are made of plastic, and this material heats up quickly. You must admit that it is not very pleasant to touch the red-hot plastic with your naked body. So the owners of a shower cabin with a steam generator can only afford a “Turkish bath”: wet steam is formed in it (I would even say, “wet” – the air humidity is 100%) at a low temperature – up to 50 ° C. The price of such cabins is on average from 2800 to 4000 $.


Steam shower cabin with “sauna effect”

Infrared cabins. This miracle of technology, invented in the 60s in Japan, can only be called a “steam room”. Steam has nothing to do with it. In such cabins, infrared lamps make the “weather”. Infrared waves penetrate into the human body to a depth of 4 cm (for comparison: in a sauna, the body heats up to a depth of 3 – 5 mm). That is, at a relatively low air temperature (40 – 60 ° C) in an infrared cabin, you can sweat more and warm up “deeper” than in a sauna. The emitting lamps are made of zirconium ceramics, and the booths themselves are made of red cedar. The cabins operate on a regular 220V power grid. The depth of the infrared cabins is 100-113 cm, the width is 112-212 cm, and the height is 185-195 cm. Outwardly, they resemble a wardrobe, but the cost of such a “locker” is comparable to the cost of not the cheapest showers and saunas – from 3500 $.

Sauna care

Alexey Sokolov, sales manager of Finnish saunas Helo:

– It’s easy to clean up the sauna: just wipe the shelves and walls, wash the floor. If you are steaming with birch brooms, sweep the leaves after the bath: if this is not done, they may begin to rot. For cleaning the sauna, it is better not to use any chemicals – only a clean cloth. If necessary, the floor can be washed with soapy water; it is better not to use even soap for shelves and benches. As for the fight against excess moisture, the ventilation system of ready-made prefabricated saunas will “cope” with it. But the built sauna, if necessary, can be heated in “dry” mode, and then open the door and ventilate.

The more powerful the stove, the larger the sauna

Anyone who has researched the issue of arranging a home sauna probably knows that the choice of the power of an electric furnace depends on the size of the future steam room. The larger the sauna, the more powerful the stove should be. So, to warm up a small sauna (with a volume of 1.2 to 2 cubic meters), a stove with a capacity of only 2 kW is required, and for a large family sauna (with a volume of 7 – 12 cubic meters), an 8 kW stove is required..

This is where the question arises: is it possible to equip a spacious sauna in an apartment? As a rule, electric furnaces with a power of over 6 kW are connected to 380 V (three-phase network), while 220 V is supplied to our apartments (single-phase network). Because of this, many are forced to purchase a less powerful stove and, accordingly, reduce the size of the steam room..

The Finnish company HARVIA, by a special order of its Russian dealer, Trading House ONLY, has increased the range of oven capacities suitable for connection to both 380 V and 220 V networks..

ONLY stores offer electric ovens up to 8 kW with a standard 380/220 V connection. The same 9 kW models are coming soon.

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