What is the difference between a sauna and steam room?

29th August 2017 | Debbie Ekins

Do you prefer a sauna or steam room?

At Eagle leisure, we install both saunas and steam rooms.

Usually, people are fiercely loyal to one, over the other. But, what is the difference between a sauna and steam room?

What makes saunas and steam rooms the same?

Let’s start with what makes them similar.

Both are hot.

Both make you sweat. A lot.

Both have lots and lots of similar health benefits.

Read more – Benefits of a Sauna

Read more – Benefits of a Steam room

But how they go about this is a bit different. And it’s that, which makes people fans of one over the other.

cost to run sauna and steamroom

What IS the difference between a sauna and steam room?

We’ve covered the things that make them the same. But what is the difference between a sauna and steam room?

What are they made of?

Saunas are made entirely of wood. We recommend a sustainable Scandinavian wood. And most importantly it must be kiln-dried to ensure the moisture content has been removed. Otherwise, the wood will crack or burn.

Saunas are heated using an electric stove (or wood burning stove), which heats the entire room. Water, infused with a scent, can be drizzled onto the stove stones to increase the temperature, add a scent and increase the humidity slightly.

Steam rooms are made of a non-porous substance, such as acrylic or tile, backed by an insulating board. A steam generator boils the water from the connected water supply and releases steam into the room. The steam generator is essentially a giant kettle. The steam is often infused with a scent such as eucalyptus.

Which one makes you sweat more?

There is a reason the saying is

It’s like a sauna in here

and not

It’s like a steamroom in here

(Although, technically, either would accurately describe a hot room).


If getting your sweat on, is your number one priority, then you might prefer the Sauna.

Saunas are 80-100 degrees Celsius of dry heat. With very little, or no humidity depending on whether you have used any water on the stones. It’s a whole lot of heat.

Steam rooms are cooler, at around 40-70 degrees Celsius of wet heat. Unlike the sauna, the steam room is 100% humidity.  Although much cooler in temperature, the humidity keeps your sweat from evaporating. So it can feel much hotter than it actually is. And can feel just as hot as a sauna.

So, although it may feel like you are sweating more in a sauna, they will both make you feel equally a warm, despite the temperature difference.

What DIFFERENT health benefits do they offer?

Both saunas and steam rooms have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, as they open your airways and improve breathing.

However, many sufferers of asthma and other respiratory problems prefer the effects of moisture as opposed to the dry heat of a sauna. The steam helps with upper respiratory problems associated with asthma. As well as loosening phlegm and mucus for acute breathing problems caused by illness such as colds and chest infections.

what is the difference in cleaning and maintenance?

As saunas are much hotter, and dry, they require very little cleaning. You can get a wood cleaner to keep you benching in great condition. But, apart from that not much else needs to be done.

As steam rooms have a lot of moisture and are not as hot, you will need to clean the acrylic or tiles in the same way you would clean a bathroom.

Beyond that, they are both very low maintenance. And require very little regular upkeep.

What is the DIFFERENCE in cost?

Steam rooms are the more expensive of the two.

In addition, the materials beings used being more expensive e.g. tiles. You also have to take into consideration that you need a water supply and drainage system, in addition to the electrical supply.


Read more – How much does a Sauna cost?

Watch more – How much does a Sauna cost?


Your monthly costs for each will be approximately the same. And will be minimal Running costs are low, and they are both very low maintenance installations. 


Read more – How much does it cost to run a sauna and steam room per month?

Which one do we prefer at Eagle Leisure?

Well, this is a tough question. Because we love the idea of having both.

Indulgent? Yes.

But, both have amazing physical and mental health benefits. And having both means you can switch between them. Or make everyone in the family happy if you have different preferences.

Ultimately, it’s personal preference.

Let us know which one is your favorite in the comments.

sauna cost


If you enjoyed this you might want to check these out:

Health benefits of a sauna

Health benefits of a steam room

Can a sauna boost your rental income?

What does it cost to buy a home sauna in Scotland


Anything we’ve not covered? Let us know.

Get in touch


Eagle Leisure – Sales & Marketing Manager

Mission = to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying decisions.

Fuelled by coffee (and naps). Explorer of Scotland and the world.