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Clear the Steam Ep. 3 – How Tall is Too Tall?

84” Height – an industry standard

                One question I hear frequently is “What is the best height for the sauna room?” Many DIY sauna kits include material for 84”, and I would like to explore where this came from. There are companies out there who say the ceiling should be less than 7’. There are also infrared cabins, which naturally have lower ceilings so these kits can be put together in a smaller room. For DIY kits, a drop ceiling is often installed, to allow room for proper fiberglass insulation. Many electric heaters have a minimum clearance of 78”, meaning lower ceilings would void the warranty on the heater, and may be a fire hazard. To fit most applications, DIY kits are typically made for 84” height, and additional material can be quoted to raise the ceiling if desired.

Considerations for height

An important feature of traditional saunas is the steam, or loyly that is created by pouring water over the rocks. One source of heat loss is through the door, especially with a taller door. This is the reason most Sauna doors are shorter than standard doors. The goal is to create a heat bubble, or loyly pocket above the door opening. Your head should be in this space to enjoy the heat! So the question is – what ceiling and bench height is ideal to maximize this benefit? A traditional 84” sauna room would typically have benches around 17” bottom and 35” top. Raising the ceiling, we would want to make sure the benches are raised by the same amount. I propose that an ideal height for the top bench be measured from the ceiling, and a distance of 44-48” from the top bench to the ceiling would be ideal. For 96” saunas, we provide benches that have a 24” bottom, and 48” top for 2-tier benches. 3-Tier benches is a strong recommendation when working with this ceiling height.

What if I want higher ceilings?

If you raise the ceiling, the benches should also be raised to around 48” to keep you in the heat. A 96” ceiling height will also allow for 3-tier benches, which is ideal for enjoying the heat. Here is a great article from SaunaTimes regarding the law of loyly. This is a traditional saying that your feet should be above the sauna rocks, and this is possible with a 96” ceiling and 3-tier bench setup. However, not every build is able to incorporate this ceiling height, and compromises have to be made. One solution is the new style of “Tower” sauna heaters, which have a much larger rock capacity, including rocks to the floor. Below is an image of a recent build with a HUUM Steel heater. The customer is more than happy with the heat provided, despite many criticisms about his bench height. Ultimately, higher ceilings will allow for better enjoyment of the heat, provided the construction takes into account taller bench heights, but it is not absolutely necessary to raise the ceiling to have an authentic sauna.

Clear the Steam – A Sauna Blog by Robert Furlong