Sauna Design; a Heated Space That Should Be Just Right



A sauna in one’s home can be as simple as portable-plug-in type or can be custom-built on-site. Small traditional saunas and nearly all infrared saunas usually come pre-fabricated and just need assembly and an electric outlet to get them running. However, if you want your sauna customized to fit a specific space, or with an array of custom upgrades, and/or need the sauna to accommodate more bathers, say in a gym, you probably will go with a traditional sauna that is built to order. No matter what type, a sauna should be UL and code compliant. Mistakes due to lack of knowledge of design and build can make the sauna space impractical, prevent users from an enjoyable sauna experience and, in worst case, be outright unhealthy or even dangerous.

On the other hand, with proper planning and design, the sauna will be an amenity to add value and architectural appeal to the home or club and provide wellness enhancing benefit for years to come.

When planning your sauna you should make sure you are dealing with people knowledgeable about sauna. It would be even better if these people also had personal experience regarding sauna bathing. Even though sauna bathing is a growing worldwide trend, there are still many architects and contractors who are not too familiar with it and don’t know the difference between a sauna and any other room. Compromises are made due to lack of understanding and can end up causing an uncomfortable sauna experience due to poorly designed benches, improper materials, improper lighting and ventilation. Even basic design flaws such as doors opening inwards or sauna rooms with too high ceilings can cause safety risks and prevent users from enjoying the rejuvenating heat.

Proper design of commercial sauna rooms is particularly important due to heavy day-long use. Not only does the club owner want the sauna to look stunning, it’s equally important sauna comfort, safety and maintenance issues are properly addressed upfront in the planning of the sauna project. Important design criteria include ventilation, proper plumbing to ensure easy cleaning, handicap accessibility features and properly matching the heater kW rating with the room size per UL standards.


Yet, North American Sauna Society’s mission is not to police sauna builders, but to promote sauna bathing. Even though all these issues should be addressed, our concern is that every sauna or infrared room that is not built up to standards prevents users from getting a genuine sauna bathing experience and thus blurring general public’s understanding of what sauna bathing really is.

When you are purchasing or renovating your sauna, in need of replacing your heater, or about to make other improvements, it is a good time to check that your sauna meets the code and doesn’t have operational issues. Check North American Sauna Society’s dealer list, or contact us directly to find a knowledgeable sauna professional to work with.