Best Sauna Design Ideas - Home/Infrared/Steam/Indoor/Outdoor

What is a sauna?

The sauna principle is simple. It consists in exposing the body to a strong heat in order to induce an intense perspiration which has the effect of eliminating the numerous toxins accumulated in the organism and to relax the muscles. In the past, steam was the main source of heat used, hence the popularity of steam baths in Europe for several centuries. The principle has changed little over time, although electric stoves or infrared light, in addition to steam, are now used as a heat source. The external appearance of the sauna has not changed since wooden cabins are used to this day without excluding the presence of other materials such as glass, wood and carbon, or even ceramic tiles.

Benefits of using a sauna

The sauna offers many benefits for our body. Its relaxing virtues are no longer worth mentioning. Indeed, the body releases endorphin under the action of heat. This substance fights stress and promotes relaxation and sleep.

The sauna also purifies our body by sweating following exposure to heat. The sweat produced by the skin helps to eliminate more quickly toxins contained in our body.

During a sauna session, our blood vessels dilate under the effect of heat. Our cardiovascular system is thus improved and the cardiac pressure becomes more stable. In addition, the increase in blood pressure helps to relax the muscles and better fight against fatigue.

The expansion of the pores during sweating caused by the heat of a sauna gives more elasticity to the skin. The regeneration of the cells that compose it is favored and the cold shower that follows the session improves its appearance.

Where to install an indoor sauna at home?

Sauna can be installed anywhere in a dwelling. Several forms of cabins proposed in addition to various sizes currently available on the market. You could place your indoor sauna along a wall or in a corner of your bedroom or bathroom. This last location is however preferred, because it will be necessary to take a cold shower after each session. In your interior, the indoor sauna can play a large decorative role. Indeed, the possibilities of personalization of the design of an indoor sauna make it a true accessory of decoration which will complement the style of your room or your bathroom.

The outdoor sauna can also have a place in your garden. The installation may be more complex and will require more resources. However, you would have more room to install a family sauna and the choice of design will be wider.

Different types of sauna

The traditional steam sauna remains the best known. The extension of the concept and the needs for simplification of installation and use have, however, led to the development of other systems such as electric stove sauna or infrared sauna. In all cases, the concept is the same, only the source of energy and heat differs.

Traditional steam sauna

This type of sauna is classified among the wet saunas. The steam liberated with the heat source indeed produces an ambient humidity in the sauna. This humidity varies between 10 to 25% depending on the heat. The heat is generated by volcanic stones heated with wood on a stove. Steam will be obtained by pouring water regularly on the heated stones. The temperature of a steam sauna oscillates between 40 and 90° C. The feeling of warmth is usually more intense in wet saunas. An average temperature of 65° C is sufficient to cause intense sweating.

Some people find it difficult to withstand heat above 90° C in the humid environment of the steam sauna. This type of sauna is more suitable for children and the elderly when used at temperatures around 45° C.

The installation of a traditional steam sauna is simple. It does not require a source of electricity. The use of wood to heat stones, however, produces smoke. This smoke is not beneficial to health and it will therefore be necessary to provide smoke evacuation. The use of fire also increases the risk of fire.

Electric sauna

Like the steam sauna, the electric sauna is also a wet sauna. It is also based on the same principle as its predecessor with the difference that volcanic stones are heated with an electric stove. It will be sufficient to connect the stove to a socket for the stones to heat. The user will then have the choice to pour or not water to produce steam. The heat of an electric stove sauna also varies depending on the humidity. If the humidity is lower, it is possible to heat the sauna up to 90° C. As humidity increases, the heat will have to be reduced.

The ease of assembly and the simplicity of the handling of the electric sauna make it the most common type of sauna today. Its attractive price makes it accessible to all budgets.

However, we may regret the sometimes significant consumption of electricity from this type of sauna. By regularly using your electric stove sauna, you will have to expect a significant increase in your electricity bill at the end of every month.

Infrared sauna

Born in Japan, the infrared sauna is a recent concept. It differs from the first two types of saunas by the absence of stones as a source of heat. This is a type of dry sauna since no humidity is present. The heat will be obtained by infrared radiation placed at strategic locations. No ultraviolet light will be produced, however, to avoid any risk to the skin. With this type of sauna, the temperature can go up to 110° C and sweating is 3 to 6 times greater than with steam saunas.

Due to increased sweating, the beneficial effects of an infrared sauna are increased. The manipulations are also reduced since it is enough to program the sauna. The user can further regulate the temperature according to individual tolerances. It should be noted, however, that higher temperatures are better tolerated by the body with a dry sauna.

The absence of risks following exposure of the skin to infrared light is not always unanimous. This is the main argument raised by detractors of an infrared sauna. Some studies also show some negative effects of this light on the hair.

Its price can also be a drag on its purchase. Compared to the first two types of sauna, the infrared sauna costs significantly more. Users will therefore invest more to afford this type of sauna unquestionably more powerful than others.

Which type of sauna to choose?

Powerful, the infrared sauna is the one that provides the most benefits. It allows the body to expose itself to higher temperatures for more intense sweating. It is easy to assemble and handle, and offers optimized temperature and safety control. However, its high price is a disadvantage compared to the electric sauna. Less expensive, the latter offers the same benefits with a possibility of producing steam. It can therefore very well replace the traditional steam sauna whose handling requires more effort, which is not ideal when you come back from a long exhausting day.

Choosing the right criteria before buying

You are determined to have your own sauna, what are the criteria to take into account to choose the model that suits you best?

How many times a week do you use your sauna?

Frequency of use is one of the important criteria to consider before buying your sauna. The steam sauna is not ideal for frequent use. It will indeed require a lot of wood, and heating could be tedious. In this case, the electric stove sauna or infrared sauna is more suitable. A few simple actions will suffice to start your session of relaxation and well-being.

A sauna for you and your loved ones

The number of places available in a sauna varies depending on the model. There are saunas whose cabin can accommodate one or two people. These templates are better if you do not plan group sessions with family, friends or colleagues. If not, choose high capacity saunas. However, you will need more space for a larger cabin if you decide to install this type of sauna in your home.

What type of sauna do you want to use?

The traditional steam sauna is generally appreciated by the amateurs who preach its ecological and natural side. This type of sauna will suit you if these arguments speak to you. Ergonomics and ease of use are on the side of saunas with electric stove and infrared. Few equipment and accessories are required for good revitalizing sessions with these two types of saunas.

The sauna adapted to your budget

Before buying a sauna, you must also take into account the budget allocated to the transaction. Steam saunas cost the least. The cabin or cottage is the biggest investment. It will be necessary to invest more for an electric stove sauna. If the price remains relatively affordable, the high electricity consumption of this type of sauna will make its operation more expensive. Infrared saunas are the most expensive. The presence of high-end materials such as ceramics or carbon in their cabins can further increase their prices. However, they are the most reliable in terms of security and performance.


The sauna has definitely gained its place in our homes. The many benefits it brings to our health and the ease of its installation and use make it an ideal partner to take care of our body while spending privileged moments with our loved ones. The large number of models available on the market will also allow you to choose the sauna of your dreams at a price adapted to your wishes.

Grotto - Outdoor Sauna, Lake Huron, Canada

Project Grotto Sauna
Location Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Canada
Architects Partisans
Photographs Jonathan Friedman
Project Team Alexander Josephson, Pooya Baktash, Jonathan Friedman, Shamir Panchal, Ivan Vasyliv, Betty Vuong, Nathan Bishop
Construction Jordan Construction, Chantler Barging
Luminotechnical Consulting G2J Design Inc

The blue waters of Lake Huron - located north of Toronto - complement the magnificent surroundings and offer a dreamlike atmosphere in an ideal location for a getaway. When the PARTISANS team met on the ground with a new customer to design and build an outdoor sauna, they knew that their most important challenge was to make a structure with few support points that not only respected but matured from the context.

Located on Georgian Bay, the terrain has a large prehistoric rock formation. A thorough research was conducted, and throughout the process, a cave served as inspiration to compose the project. The caves have historically been known as natural or artificial caves that are embedded deep behind the curves of streams, and are only discovered by those who give themselves the time to explore them.

Understanding the ancient rock intimately was the first step in architecture. Like a waterfall on a granite cliff, the rock offered new possibilities and a panoramic view of the horizon. National Geographic rated the sunset here as one of the most beautiful in the world, and we were determined to preserve and enhance the experience of watching it.

The team scanned the rock using a 3D laser scanner to create multiple digital models at different scales and materials. After that, an unconventional drawing process took place, and all the office staff collaborated in the cave sculpture. Of more than 15 completely different ideas, only 4 eventually made the most sense, and customers - adventurous at heart - selected a scheme that was a great challenge for the team.

The concept chosen for the Cave prescribed a solid of simple presence on the outside, while the interiors followed dynamic movements in curved forms, which required special design solutions. As a result of this, designers proceeded to experiment more with the materials: the wood was selected due to its specific properties.

Challenging the standards of current practices in the construction industry, designers work directly with a joinery and steel fabrication partner in every detail. Together they developed a manufacturing process using 3D technology to explore, model and build the Cave. The process led to an understanding of the properties of materials; creating the illusion of a carved interior, designers conform this space with various cedar wood panels.

As an independent outdoor sauna, the Grotto uses two high performance stoves that guarantee efficiency and control. Exhaust hoods and fans ensure the building's breathability and prevent rot or deformation in the structure. The rest of the systems were based on controlled airflow. Designers use building insulation not only to protect the components from very fast heating or cooling, but also to make it a more energy efficient project.

The specific type of wood, cedar, was then selected based on a number of factors: rot resistance, aroma, color, local sources and quality. The openings are made in Ontario using high performance double and triple glazing panels to ensure energy savings and durability. In addition, the cave's internal structure was hermetically sealed and a layer of aluminum was incorporated into all internal surfaces creating an air chamber between the wood panels and the space that was assembled. This allows the wood to expand and contract according to its uniform expansion movement.

The space behind the wood panels has created convection currents that allow the skin to breathe through the ventilation pores that have been sculpted into cedar panel seats and seams. The result is a sculptured space, a sensual experience and sophisticated exercise in construction science.

Description by architects

Perched on an island’s edge in Georgian Bay, Ontario, the Grotto Sauna is a feat of old-world craftsmanship and newworld sustainability made possible by cutting-edge software and prefab technology. It is a sculpted space, a sensual experience, and a sophisticated exercise in building science.

Inspired by an Italian grotto, our design pays homage to the rugged extremities of the northern Canadian landscape. To the extent that the objective was to tell an architectural story of escape and refuge, we conceived of a design that marries contrasts to transport visitors into an otherworldly sanctum. A simple but dignified exterior built from charred cedar prepared using the traditional Japanese Shou Sugi Ban method conveys a weathered appearance; it’s as if the building has been hidden in plain sight for centuries. By contrast, the warm, curved interior simultaneously emulates Lake Huron’s waves and mirrors the Precambrian shield—a soft, undulating rock surface that has been worn over billions of years. The luminous glow of the interior wood enhances the sunkissed sauna experience, while the pre-aged exterior veils the intimacy of that experience from the world.

Importantly, the Grotto established a successful methodology for addressing the challenges of building ambitious architecture in remote and environmentally sensitive regions. Prefabricating the sauna components off-site minimized the effects of construction on the environment. Site impact was further minimized by a 3D scan of the landscape, which enabled optimal positioning of the structure in the rock while retaining optimum views of the sunset. We collaborated directly with our fabrication partner to develop new prototyping and milling methods to achieve the aesthetic vision and maximize the available wood.

3D Laser Scans

The remote and rocky site conditions posed logistical and ecological challenges that required inventive solutions. In order to understand and work with the site’s rigorous requirements, we conducted a 3D laser scan of the rock that became integral to design development as well as the fabrication and construction phases. The scan provided a meticulously accurate blueprint from which to generate physical prototypes and digital models; it also facilitated off-site fabrication, thereby minimizing the environmental impact of construction.

CNC Milling

We collaborated directly with our prefabrication partner, MCM Inc., to develop new prototyping methods and with engineers to develop novel software patches for the toolpaths. The latter enabled the fabricators to override the automated limitations of the CNC machinery and ultimately use it as a sculpting tool to achieve the aesthetic vision, all the while maximizing the available wood and milling along the grain so that the pieces would match one another. The successful production of the panels also had to anticipate the method by which they would be sequentially assembled. This required our team to develop a sophisticated installation plan in tandem with the prefabrication process.


Address 950 Dupont St. Toronto, ON M6H 1Z2, Canada
Phone +16478463428

Grotto - Outdoor Sauna, Lake Huron, Canada

Soria Moria - Outdoor Sauna, Lake Bandak, Dalen, Norway

Project Soria Moria
Location Dalen, Norway
Architects Feste Landscape / Architecture
Area 39 m²
Year 2018
Photographs Dag Jenssen
Manufacturers Aurubis, Tinnoset Sag, Øyfjell Sag

Soria Moria outdoor sauna is a project developed by the Telemark regional park in collaboration with Tokke municipality. The project is part of Tales of the Waterway, a global art project for the Telemark canal, where art, architecture and lighting are used to highlight the inherent qualities of the local landscape and traditions.

The characteristic silhouette of the structure is an architectural interpretation of the steep mountains around Lake Bandak. The wood flooring is inspired by local building techniques. Integrated into the cladding are gleaming golden tiles. Gold is a reference to local folklore - mythical and strange - and it also refers to the obvious contrast that emerged between Telemark's uneducated people and luxurious upper-class foreign travelers during the establishment of the nearby Dalen Hotel at the end of then XIX century. There is an outdoor sauna, a changing room and a covered seating area to enjoy the view.

With the exception of Sigurdsevja Inlet, the water along the shore of the upper end of Bandak Lake is very shallow. The project is therefore built on stilts along the entrance to allow bathing in the lake. Sigurdsevja's entrance is a precise and characteristic landscape formation, and the design of the walkway and building that houses the outdoor sauna emphasizes this particular feature. The walkway becomes part of an existing network of trails along the lake, with connections to the nearby Dalen Hotel.

The project was developed by a design team consisting of architect David Fjågesund (Feste Landscape / Architecture), landscape architect Inge Dahlman (Landskapsfabrikken), lighting designer Tobias Olsson (ÅF Lighting), artist Maira Änquist Klyvare and the leader from the Lars Haakanes (Feste Landscape / Architecture) project team. Skorve contractors built the project using mostly local materials.

Feste Landscape / Architecture

Address FESTE GRENLAND AS, Pb. 120, 3921 Porsgrunn, Norway
Phone +4735930210
Address FESTE NORDØST AS, Hyttestua, 2540 Tolga, Norway
Phone +4762480355
Address FESTE NORDØST AS, PB 113, 2858 Kapp, Norway
Phone +4761168300

Soria Moria - Outdoor Sauna, Lake Bandak, Dalen, Norway

Applesauna - Earth Sheltered Sauna, Saltusio, Bolzano, Italy

Project Applesauna
Location 39010 Saltusio, Bolzano, Italy
Architects noa* - network of architecture
Area 85 sqm
Year 2016
Photographs Alex Filz

It's all about the apple at Apfelhotel Torgglerhof in Saltaus in the Passiria Valley, northern Italy. Applesauna and the wellness area are part of the farm complex. For architects, the starting point and key element of the project was the apple cycle throughout the year: The new outdoor sauna area is the resting period.

Immerse yourself in nature

"It was essential for us to use the charm of the garden and nature as an interpretation of the architecture ... The new sauna merges with the surrounding landscape." Christian Rottensteiner

The whole outdoor sauna area is dedicated to the rest period and is to immerse yourself in nature in the true sense of this word. The project consists of an outoor sauna with changing rooms and a shower, as well as a relaxing space. The exterior structure is completely green and is seen as a hill that evolves into a mystical and intimate space within.

About noa* - network of architecture

Address Viale Druso Drususallee, 231, 39100 Bozen, Südtirol, Italy
Phone +3904711880941
Address Zionskirchstraße 56, DE-10119 Berlin, Germany
Phone +493027979722

Applesauna - Earth Sheltered Sauna, Saltusio, Bolzano, Italy

ELDMØLLA - Small Wooden Outdoor Sauna, Vang, Norway

Location Vang, Norway
Architects Arkitekt August Schmidt, NTNU-Trondheim Workshop, Arnstein Gilberg, Ina Samdal
Area 5 sqm
Year 2017
Manufacturers Kvismo / Benga Bruk
Team Julie Allémann, Ana Bay, Quentin Desveaux, Roger Escorihuela, Rahel Haas, Ignatova Anastasi, Feliks Ulvåen Isaksen, Agathe Ledoux, Louis Meny, Sebastià Mercadal, Thuy Nguyen, Pierre-Louis Passard, Kristinn Pálsante, Benoît Perrier , Pedro Simões, Ninni Westerholm
Accessibility PHD student - Kata Palicz
Video Benedikt Profanter
Client Knut Lerhol
Course Typology / Topology / Tectonics, NTNU

The project consists of an outdoor small sauna with locker room and a resting space on the Leirhol summer farm in Vang, Valdres. It has a primary layout of approximately five square meters and a height of approximately four and a half meters.

For its main concept, the project is inspired by the local typology "Kvern-hus", which is a small, traditional mill in conjunction with a stream or river where water is channeled into the grain mill structure.

The organizational heart of the project is the position of the outdoor sauna on top of the building. Thus, the lower level can be opened and the room is neither fully enclosed nor fully exposed to the elements, but relates to the water rushing under the building and the impressive mountain views that can be revealed through the building structure. Hot air rises to the top, where the inner and outer casing blocks other elements, ensuring an authentic sauna experience.

The bridge extends through the crack in the rock allowing visitors to cross the water stream. The complete expression of the project is a structure that relates to the high and open spaces between the mountains and the water that falls in the valley below.

The small wooden outdoor sauna was designed and planned by a group of international students at NTNU from February to May, culminating in a two-week construction period in which students, along with teachers and the owner, experienced the challenges of building in a remote location and learned how to solve unforeseen problems that arise when drawings and reality conflict. The building was made of wood with slender structures. The bridge was built from solid wood elements manufactured by the students on the spot.

The owner was interested in a structure that could benefit the site's natural surroundings, its proximity to hiking trails, to build something that can be enjoyed by tourists and farm workers in both summer and winter.

About August J. Schmidt architect

Address Kjøpmannsgata 51, 7011 Trondheim, Norway
Phone +4792468399

ELDMØLLA - Small Wooden Outdoor Sauna, Vang, Norway

Electric Indoor Steam Sauna

The electric indoor steam sauna remains a bestseller in the range of relaxation and well-being products. Its authenticity and charm make it the most popular sauna and the best known. A pause of a few minutes in absolute silence nothing better to relax and remove the tensions accumulated during a whole day. Its heat is obtained by a stove. For its installation, it is preferable that the chosen room is suitable for a humid environment. Its cabin is very aesthetic thanks to its composition in wood, embellished with accessories such as bucket, ladle, hourglass, lighting. Rustic in sauna design is traditional. The heat can reach 90° C, the wood gives off a very pleasant aroma and gives a deep relaxation. Let yourself be tempted for a cabin usually of 1 to 5 seats.

The electric steam sauna

The electric steam sauna uses an electric stove with lava stones on which you can pour water and generate steam at your leisure. The steam sauna is designed to heat the air in your cabin, which will then warm your body.

It is thanks to Finns that the use of the steam sauna has spread. The indoor steam sauna is an invitation to replicate their ancestral rituals. Their ancestral religion recommended the use of the steam sauna to purify the soul, mind and body.

Today, the steam indoor sauna has an electric stove that heats lava rocks. You pour water on the hot stones to generate steam. You can add herbs or essential oils.

The heat of the air is higher in temperature than in an infrared sauna, it can reach 90° C. With moisture, it allows to take a real steam bath. However this heat can not be suitable for all. Heart patients should ask medical advice.

In the steam sauna we will talk about antitoxin sweating and invigorating. Finnish people interrupt their sauna session while bathing in cold water. Indeed, it is recommended to refresh your body several times or to take relaxation breaks outside the sauna if you want to prolong your session.

Drink plenty of mineral water before, during and after the session. Preheating lasts 20 minutes.

Electric indoor steam saunas can be heated by a high performance electric stove of 3500, 4500, 6000 or 8000 W depending on the capacity of the indoor sauna.

Electric Indoor Steam Sauna

Home Indoor Infrared Sauna

The undeniable advantage of an infrared sauna is that it can be installed in any room of your house and the rise in temperature is very fast. Its cabin is refined wood, it will integrate perfectly with your interior. It only takes one electrical outlet to connect infrared sauna. Indoor infrared saunas can also be equipped with lights with color scheme, integrated speakers with radio and USB socket to listen to the music.

Plus, with an indoor infrared sauna you will have less uncomfortable sensation than you can get from a hot steam from a traditional sauna. This does not mean that the infrared sauna heats less but differently. With a steam sauna where you feel the heat faster, sweating is faster but the heat effect is only on the surface.

Indoor infrared sauna is equipped with heating panels distributed in the cabin. Contrary to popular belief, infrared is not dangerous These panels diffuse the heat and it penetrates by radiation directly and stays longer in the body, which is more invigorating.

Infrared sauna, unlike a gas sauna, wood-burning sauna and electric sauna, does not heat the air in the cabin, but the body.

The heat is produced by plates, sheets or thermal radiators and penetrates by radiation into the body.

According to the manufacturers, this process is not dangerous because it does not produce ultraviolet and gives a feeling of intense and beneficial heat.

In addition, the infrared sauna consumes less energy than other saunas, which allows for significant energy savings: the consumption is about 1.5 kWh against 7 kWh for an electric sauna.

Choose a location near a water point

Remember that it is important to take a shower before each sauna session and use a towel!

If you want to install your indoor sauna in the basement or cellar, it is better to add a dip tank, a tank filled with cool water that can go from hot to cold when you leave the sauna .

On the other hand, be sure to respect the ceiling height and the space between the bench seats and the stove. A space that is too small will not allow the installation of a standard cabin. Plan on average an area of ​​5m² for your indoor sauna.

Set up a good ventilation system

Installing a sauna indoors requires some preliminary installations such as ventilation, in order to renew the ambient air of the sauna and avoid dizziness due to carbon dioxide.

For this, it is not necessary to have an electric ventilation system. Natural ventilation between the sauna and the room can suffice:

  • an air inlet: the best is under the door but not the shower side if you have one, it would send moist air
  • an air outlet: on the wall in front of the air inlet but a little higher

Have a standard electrical system

Unless you are a sauna builder, it is recommended to hire a professional to install the sauna.

Be sure to check beforehand that your electrical system complies with the specifications given by the manufacturer before delivery.

Home Indoor Infrared Sauna

Apartment with Sauna, Stockholm, Sweden

AddressÖstgötagatan 50, 116 64 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone+46 8 644 58 63

Best Sauna Design Ideas - Home/Infrared/Steam/Indoor/Outdoor