A sauna or home steam room has long been a Scandinavian essential, but the infrared sauna has come in hot from LA – and it’s causing a stir. It warms occupants by heating their skin, rather than the air around them, and is thought to have various health and de-stressing benefits. How it fits into your home, however, depends on two things: lifestyle and location.
As well as being a pleasurable and potentially social experience, home steam rooms and saunas are said to bring health benefits. The high temperatures induce sweating to help you detox, while also causing blood vessels to dilate, which improves blood flow and relaxes tense muscles.
Whether a home steam room will boost your property price is dependent on circumstance. Certainly one can be a plus for homes where they’re sympathetic to the location. Who could resist a log sauna in the woods? They also work well in homes with sports facilities on-site or nearby. But if you’re in a small city pad or a humid country, the added value may not be there.
You’d be forgiven for wondering whether infrared saunas are real saunas at all: they don’t heat the room over 70 Celsius, they don’t use rocks to produce heat and there’s no steam. But they do have advantages.
True infrared saunas use far infrared radiation. This warms occupants by penetrating the skin to a depth of up to 4cm, causing the molecules within to vibrate – which generates heat. Many believe this helps stimulate more sweat to aid cleansing, and creates a deeper warmth to dilate blood vessels and soothe muscles and joints.
Unlike a home steam room, infrared saunas don’t need water. This eliminates the cost, practical problems and potential damp issues that come with introducing moisture to your home.
If you’re set on the dream of an indoor sauna (infrared or otherwise), you’ll need to consider practicalities. A basement makes a good location for your infrared sauna as it’ll be out of the way, easy to insulate and can be converted completely to your specification. However, a large, tiled bathroom may also be a suitable spot that requires less building work.
If you have space for an outdoor infrared sauna, you could opt for a whole new structure. As well as adding potential value to properties with under-utilised outdoor spaces, a separate outbuilding makes it easier to manage potential risks relating to damp or electrical problems. You will, however, need to think about insulation to keep the heat in, and foundations to ensure the structure is stable.
Materials also matter: while tiled interiors are practical, wood is more authentic. If you opt for wood, you’ll need to think about the right type – ensure the timber is strong, like cedar or solid hemlock, has a tight enough grain and is properly dried to remove any resins and oils.
Infrared saunas can increase the value of your home, as well as creating a well-being space where you can receive guests or sweat it out on your own after a busy day. Will you be installing one in your property soon?