Saunas produce a high, dry heat while steam showers produce a lower, wetter heat, but the biggest differences between the two are actually in terms of installation and design.
(PRWEB) January 29, 2014
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Steam showers and saunas are often talked about in the same breath, lumped together as a heat-based, health-beneficial spa. But the similarities between the two essentially stop there: the experience of using them is different, the health benefits are different, and even the installation, construction, and cost vary widely. HomeThangs.com has introduced a guide to the differences between them and factors to consider when choosing between the two.
Saunas are made entirely of wood, with wood planked walls, floor, and ceiling, as well as wooden benches along the walls. The sauna heater is contained inside the sauna room, and produces a high, dry heat between about 150 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, steam showers are typically made of non-porous materials tile or glass, and generally incorporate regular shower functionality into the design. The heaters, called steam generators, are located outside the shower enclosure and pump steam into it, creating a very wet but slightly lower (generally between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit) heat to prevent scalding.
Saunas and steam showers do share many of the same health benefits. Both help promote circulation and muscle relaxation, and both can help ease aches and pains and encourage sweating, which can help the body detoxify and improve skin health. But the higher heat and drier conditions of a sauna encourage more sweating than the steam bath, while the high humidity of a steam bath can help address respiratory issues, improving breathing and clearing out the throat and sinuses.
While the experience of using saunas and steam baths is superficially similar, the practical aspects of installation begin to vary widely. Saunas are designed to be totally freestanding. They don’t require drainage or ventilation, and are sold in easily-assembled kits that only need to be wired (or sometimes plugged in) for electric power. Built in steam showers, on the other hand, need to be built from the subfloor up. The shower needs to be fully plumbed, the floor, walls, and ceiling all need to be well waterproofed, the ceiling of the shower should be fairly low and sloped to prevent condensation, and the whole enclosure needs to be well sealed and steam tight. Plus, the bathroom on the whole needs to have very, very efficient ventilation to ensure the water vapor doesn’t cause damage to the surrounding area.
Another important consideration is how much space a steam shower or sauna is going to take up. Both types are available in a wide variety of sizes, from small stalls just big enough for one to much larger enclosures. Saunas are designed with insulated walls, and that combined with their use of electric heat means they can be quite large (seating six or more people) without taxing the heater, and they’re much more flexible in terms of where they can be installed.
Steam showers, on the other hand, are more efficient in compact spaces. The larger the space, the larger the steam generator needed to fill it and the more water it will use. That said, because steam showers offer the full functionality of a standard shower, they can be installed in practically any bathroom that has room for a freestanding shower. While saunas have to be installed on their own, steam showers can easily be scaled to fit the existing space.
Both saunas and steam showers are available in pre-assembled, freestanding models. With a sauna, buying pre-assembled won’t mean a huge difference in the finished product, but will save time, labor, and electrical work, as they can often simply be plugged in. But pre-assembled steam showers eliminate many of the major drawbacks of built in steam showers. Because they come in a single solid, waterproof, steam-tight unit, they can be installed just like a shower or bathtub stall without the same concern for water damage. The bathroom will still need to be adequately ventilated, but the shower can be installed without any other major construction.
To see some gorgeous steam showers and saunas in action, check out the full article here.
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