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The Best Sauna Flooring Options: A Review

by Max
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The Best Sauna Flooring Options - A Review

To create the perfect sauna oasis, you must choose the right flooring. The best sauna flooring options blend comfort, moisture resistance, and durability. And they provide the ideal foundation for your wellness haven.

Sauna environments are high in temperature and humidity. Therefore, the sauna flooring material should meet four criteria: anti-slip, non-absorbent, airtight, and easy to maintain. Some choices for sauna flooring include wood, rubber, and concrete. These can withstand the conditions within saunas while offering other benefits like comfort underfoot. Remember to consider your sauna type when choosing the right flooring for your sauna.

So, what are the best sauna flooring options available? We’ll dive into that in this post. In addition, we’ll guide you to choose a suitable flooring material for your sauna.

Sauna Flooring 101

Sauna flooring is one of the most crucial aspects to consider when introducing a sauna into your space or upgrading an existing unit. Perhaps you want something aesthetically pleasing that matches your sauna’s walls and ceiling. However, functionality is key.

Since a sauna is prone to high temperatures and moisture, you must use a suitable material that can withstand such conditions. Temperature isn’t a significant concern. This is because heat rises in a sauna. So, while the floors can be somewhat warm, they’re rarely scalding.

What matters most is that moisture doesn’t build up within or on the sauna flooring. If it does, it’ll be unsafe to walk on. Additionally, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and result in funky odors. That’s why carpets are a no-no for sauna floor construction.

In addition, your sauna flooring should be built in such a way that heat doesn’t escape. That way, you can enjoy the full therapeutic benefits of your sauna.

The type of sauna you have will also play a role in your flooring choice. For instance, a traditional sauna with a wood-burning oven needs flooring that can withstand high moisture. This is because water is poured over hot rocks to create steam. So, that environment is not as dry as in an infrared sauna.

As a result, the best sauna flooring options must meet four criteria:

  • Anti-slip
  • Water-resistant
  • Airtight
  • Easy to maintain (quick return to service after cleaning)

The Best Sauna Flooring Options

There are various sauna flooring types, the best of which include wood and concrete. Let’s explore each option and their advantages and disadvantages below.

Wood

Wooden sauna floors are standard in steam saunas and infrared saunas. This is because wood is a natural, renewable material that creates a visually warm atmosphere.

Additionally, wood absorbs, stores, and radiates heat well. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about walking on cold floors after your sauna session. Yet it doesn’t become so hot that you can’t step on it.

The wood used for sauna floor construction is typically natural or manufactured. Some of the best options include:

  • Cedar: The best sauna flooring option due to its durability and antimicrobial properties, making it mold- and bacteria-resistant.
  • Redwood: Outdoor saunas are typically built with this wood because it’s durable, heat-resistant, and naturally resistant to pests and moisture.
  • Aspen: This light-in-color wood with a smooth texture is revered for its heat resistance and natural antimicrobial properties.
  • Thermally-modified wood: This wood is manufactured to withstand high temperatures and moisture and has a unique appearance that can elevate your sauna’s interior.

If your sauna already has wooden walls, it might be best to match the flooring. However, remember that the maintenance and usage will be similar to the walls. This means moisture will penetrate your wooden floors, so they must be aired out and scrubbed regularly.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Comfortable under the feetAbsorbent 
Relatively more affordable than most flooring materialsRequires regular maintenance to prevent warping and rotting
Aesthetically-pleasingMore susceptible to dirt

Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles

Ceramic or porcelain tiles are another one of the best sauna flooring options. They come in various styles, including glass, stone, and mosaic. And they’re durable, so they can withstand foot traffic.

Suppose you’re building an at-home sauna in your bathroom. In that case, you might extend the existing tile flooring into your sauna for a cohesive look.

However, consider the nature of your tile’s installation. The grout doesn’t share the same characteristics as the tile itself. That means that it’ll be more porous and harder to clean. Still, you can use an impregnator to make it water-resistant.

If you’re installing brand-new sauna floor tiles, it’s best to choose those with warm tones. This is because bright tiles aren’t as inviting and might not match your sauna’s wall and ceiling.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Easy to cleanIt can be slippery when wet
Moisture resistantGrout is porous and hard to clean
Aesthetically-pleasingIt takes longer to heat up

Concrete

Concrete is another popular flooring choice for saunas. Many sauna installations already have a concrete subfloor. However, other types of flooring are added on top of the concrete floor.

It’s a great idea to keep your concrete floor as is (after sealing it, of course, to ensure it’s waterproof). This is because it’s durable and easy to maintain. Plus, concrete comes in different colors and textures, so it can match your desired style or design.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
DurableIt might be chilly underfoot
Low-maintenanceIt may require a non-slip coating to prevent falls
 Not as aesthetically pleasing

Rubber

Rubber is another excellent choice for sauna flooring. Since safety is paramount in saunas, you must use a material that provides good traction. And rubber is the ideal option.

Moreover, durability is guaranteed. Therefore, as you and other bathers come and go, the quality of your flooring won’t significantly deteriorate.

Rubber flooring for saunas typically comes as tiles. Some even have a perforated design that allows for proper drainage and ventilation.

For instance, Smabee offers floor mats with such a design that are suitable for installation in wet areas like bathrooms and steam rooms. GreatMats also offers various rubber sauna flooring options.

Moreover, rubber tiles for saunas are easy to install. So, if you’re not super handy, opt for these, as all you’ll have to do is interlock them. Additionally, you can trim most rubber floor tiles to fit odd squares.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Slip-resistantSome rubber flooring may have a strong odor
Durable; can withstand heavy foot trafficIt may not be as visually appealing as other flooring options
Easy to clean and maintain 

Duckboard

Duckboard is a pre-cut wooden tile with slates similar to wooden sauna floors. It gives your sauna a more luxurious and classic appearance. However, it’s not fixed to the ground, so you can remove the tiles for easier sauna cleaning.

This popular sauna flooring type is typically elevated with rubber feet or a rubber base. It ensures a comfortable, cushioned surface for bathers to stand on. And it prevents the wood from being consistently immersed in water.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Complements the natural look of the saunaRequires regular maintenance to prevent warping and rotting
Energy-efficient construction 
It does not absorb dry dirt 

Microcement

Microcement is a cement and polymer-based coating that is thinly applied to sauna floors. It’s one of the best sauna flooring options because it’s waterproof and offers extraordinary resistance to environmental humidity.

Furthermore, microcement is incredibly durable, withstanding scuffs, stains, and scratches. Plus, you won’t have to worry about cracks like concrete flooring.

It’s also much more comfortable to stand on without shoes. So it’s excellent for a sauna.

The Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Very durable and crack-proofIt may require professional installation
Water-resistantIt may not be as slip-resistant as the other best sauna flooring options
Smooth surface, thanks to no joints 

Choosing the Right Sauna Flooring for Your Needs

Now that you know the best sauna flooring options, you may wonder, “How do I choose the right flooring material for my sauna?” Well, it comes down to the following criteria:

  • Sauna Type
  • Material
  • Budget
  • Durability
  • Maintenance
  • Aesthetics

Let’s dive into each to help you choose a suitable flooring for your sauna.

Sauna Type

The most significant factor that’ll guide your choice in sauna flooring is the type of sauna you have or plan to build. Each sauna type will require different flooring materials.

Traditional saunas are moist environments because you ladle water over hot stones to create steam. Therefore, water-resistant flooring is best.

In contrast, infrared saunas use heating panels to create heat. So the air is dry, and there’s no humidity. That’s why any flooring, even a carpet, can work in this case.

Indoor steam saunas require moisture-resistant materials to prevent mold and mildew growth. As a result, concrete, duckboard, wood, ceramic, tile, and other solid materials are suitable.

Outdoor saunas, on the other hand, are exposed to the elements. Therefore, the flooring material must be resistant to moisture and pests. Some of the best options include cedar wood and solid wood planks. In the case of a barrel sauna, wood, tile, and concrete are appropriate. 

It’s much easier to track dirt in an outdoor sauna. This can be from your garden or yard. Therefore, you should consider a material that won’t be easily stained by dirt and is easy to clean.

Material

Since saunas can be wet and slippery, the flooring material you choose must be slip-resistant. Additionally, it should be non-absorbent because absorbent materials can trap moisture and bacteria, creating an unsanitary environment.

That’s why it’s best to stick to concrete, sauna floor tiles, rubber, and microcement. Those materials are non-porous, so they won’t absorb the moisture in your sauna. Wooden sauna floors also offer the same benefits, specifically cedar and redwood.

Budget

How much you have to spend is another vital consideration when choosing the best sauna flooring option for your needs. After all, the cost of different sauna flooring types differs significantly.

If you’re working with a low budget, sauna mats made from foam rubber might be suitable. Rubber flooring for saunas is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of materials.

The options for a mid-range budget include concrete and ceramic. In contrast, wooden sauna floor materials and microcement are the most expensive. 

Therefore, consider your budget before you start shopping for your sauna’s flooring.

Durability

Chances are you’ll be using your sauna for years. Therefore, your flooring should be able to weather moisture and withstand heavy foot traffic.

The most durable choice is concrete. It’s especially ideal for outdoor saunas since it can withstand the elements and consistent pressure.

Alternatively, wood is very durable. As long as it’s cared for properly, it can last years without needing repair or replacement.

Maintenance

Maintenance is another crucial factor when choosing the right sauna flooring. This is because saunas are exposed to high temperatures and moisture. Therefore, the materials within are prone to wear and tear. And your space can become a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in unhygienic conditions.

Therefore, to prolong the life of your sauna flooring, you’ll need to maintain and clean it regularly. Proper maintenance also prevents safety hazards such as slippery floors, fire hazards, and mold growth.

Additionally, regular maintenance ensures your sauna functions efficiently by being clean, well-ventilated, and debris-free. Plus, it prevents the accumulation of sweat, dirt, and bacteria on the sauna floors.

As a result, the sauna flooring type you opt for must be easy to maintain and clean. The easiest sauna floors to clean are concrete, rubber, tiles, and duckboard. Wooden sauna floors require more attention to prevent moisture buildup, warping, and splitting.

Aesthetics

If you’re going to use your sauna regularly, it won’t hurt if its interior is aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, aesthetics is another vital consideration when choosing the right flooring for your sauna.

An aesthetically pleasing interior can enhance the overall comfort of your sauna experience. Plus, it can boost the overall beauty and ambiance of the space. It’s also the perfect opportunity to personalize your sauna and add your own taste or style.

Installing Sauna Flooring

Suppose you’re building your own sauna and taking a DIY approach to installing the flooring. In that case, ensure you do it properly. Correct flooring installation in your sauna ensures:

  • Safety: Prevent safety hazards such as slippery floors, fire hazards, and mold growth.
  • Durability: Prolong the life of your sauna flooring. Proper installation ensures the material withstands foot traffic and moisture without cracking, warping, or deteriorating.
  • Efficiency: Improve the energy efficiency of your sauna. Proper installation ensures that heat doesn’t escape through the sauna floors and increases energy costs.
  • Aesthetics: A level, clean, and aesthetically pleasing floor can elevate your sauna experience and the interior appeal.

By following the steps below, you’ll ensure that your sauna floor withstands the rigors of a hot and humid environment. But you’ll also add to your sauna’s overall comfort and aesthetic appeal.

1. Select the Sauna Flooring Material

Choose the best sauna flooring option for your space, whether wood or concrete. Starting with this step ensures you know how to prepare the existing flooring where you’ll install the sauna. Remember to keep your sauna type, budget, and ease of maintenance in mind when choosing a suitable material.

2. Prepare the Subfloor

Since you’ll need a leveled floor, such as a concrete slab, to place your sauna flooring material atop, prepare the subfloor. This step is not one to neglect as it significantly influences your sauna floor construction.

Remove the old flooring to expose the subfloor if you’re building your sauna indoors. Also, check the subfloor for any unevenness or damage. If it’s uneven, sand it to create a level surface.

In addition, clean the subfloor to remove debris, dirt, or dust. This is especially crucial if you’re installing tiles or any other material that needs to adhere to the subfloor.

However, if you’re building your sauna outdoors, you’ll need to construct a leveled foundation. This is typically made from a wooden frame, which you’ll insulate to prevent heat loss.

3. Install the Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier is a must to prevent moisture buildup and protect your sauna flooring. When choosing a vapor barrier material, opt for one that’s heat-resistant. Aluminum foil is a popular choice as it’s durable and reflective.

To install the vapor barrier, you’ll typically adhere it to the subfloor. Ensure that it covers the entire surface area. Also, overlap the seams by at least 6 inches and use high-temperature foil tape to seal them.

4. Install the Flooring Material

Once you’ve installed the vapor barrier, you can put in the flooring material. If applicable, ensure you install it properly by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

For instance, use tongue-and-groove boards with wood flooring and leave a small gap between the panels to allow for expansion and contraction. While with concrete flooring, pour the cement over the subfloor and level it with a trowel.

5. Sealing and Finishing

Finally, where applicable, seal your flooring. This will protect it from moisture and dirt. In addition, it’ll ensure the sauna’s longevity, safety, and aesthetics.

When choosing a suitable sealant, opt for one that’s heat-resistant, waterproof, and non-toxic. Some popular choices include polyurethane, tung oil, linseed oil, and hemp oil.

Additionally, apply the sealant according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, if you add polyurethane, apply a thin layer with a brush or roller. Also, ensure it dries completely before applying additional coats.

In some cases, it might be best to sand the floor lightly between coats to ensure the sealant adheres appropriately. This can also remove any imperfections.

Applying a finish to the sauna floor can also provide similar benefits as sealants. In this case, some of the best options include wax, varnish, and oil.

Common Sauna Floor Installation Mistakes to Avoid

When installing your sauna’s flooring, you must avoid using the wrong type of insulation. If you do, it can lead to heat loss and energy inefficiency.

Additionally, don’t use materials that contain chemicals or release toxic fumes when heated. Those can pose a significant health risk to bathers.

And finally, ensure you install the right flooring for your sauna. Also, make sure it’s waterproof and can withstand heavy foot traffic.

Sauna Flooring Maintenance Tips

After installing your sauna flooring, you must maintain it. This will ensure the longevity of the material you opted for. Therefore, keep the following tips in mind to keep your sauna floors clean:

  • Clean concrete, tile, and microcement sauna flooring regularly with mild detergent. Also, avoid acidic or abrasive cleaners, as those can damage the surface.
  • Clean the floors regularly with a soft brush or cloth to maintain wooden and duckboard flooring.
  • To clean rubber tiles, use a gentle setting on a pressure washer or wash them with water and a brush.
  • Use a vacuum or broom to sweep any dry debris from the tile surface in a dry sauna.
  • Use a damp mop with hot water to clean wet sauna environments.
  • Regularly clean tile grout lines to prevent dirt buildup.
  • When removing soils or stains, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the material. This will ensure you don’t damage it.
  • Leave the door open after using your sauna to facilitate drying. This will help prevent mold and mildew from forming and make it easier to clean your sauna.

Takeaway

Heat, humidity, and relaxation converge in the internal environment of saunas. Therefore, your choice of flooring is essential. Looking beyond aesthetics, the best sauna flooring options create a functional yet comfortable space.

From the practicality of tile flooring to the classic appeal of wood and the sturdiness of concrete, each option has its advantages. Duckboard is a popular choice amongst bathers, offering a stylish look with easy maintenance. And sauna mats made from rubber provide comfort and convenience.

When installing sauna flooring, proper preparation is essential. This includes subfloor evaluation, vapor barrier installation, and adequate sealing and finishing.

As you embark on your sauna floor construction journey, remember that the best material should suit your space. It should also elevate your sauna experience and withstand the sauna’s internal environment.

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