Saunas are small rooms with heat and water that deliver a steamy and hot atmosphere for people who want to relax and comfort their muscle pain—wondering how to build a sauna like a pro?
It’s not difficult to build your sauna; it is simple if your selected location is fine and suitable materials are bought. The basic rules in building a sauna are the same. However, the sizes and styles may vary. The following steps will be helpful for the DIY sauna.
How to Build a Sauna?
- Get ready with your walls and subfloors to build a sauna.
- For light, install a wiring system in it.
- Install insulation and vapor barrier.
- Now, start installing paneling.
- Connect any type of heater source that you have selected.
- To create steams, put the stones over the heater to warm up.
- Fix its bench and install the sauna door.
- It’s time to add all the tools to the room.
Table of Contents
- Types of Saunas
- Tools and Materials Required to Build a DIY Sauna
- How to Make a Sauna?
- Where to Build a Sauna?
- Selecting Sauna Heaters
- Choosing Wood for Sauna
- Tips and Accessories in Building Sauna
- Total Cost to Build Sauna
- Safety Considerations in Building a Sauna
- How to Use Sauna?
- FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Types of Saunas
Ahead are the numerous sauna types along with their estimated cost to build one on your own:
1. Wood-Burning Sauna
Wood-burning is one of the traditional types of saunas, and it is also called a finish sauna. It is a dry sauna because this room has very little moisture. It is operated by the wood stove fire that heats the stones.
These stones are responsible for heating the wood-dressed sauna. The heat of the wood-stove ranges from 140 – 200 degrees Fahrenheit. A bucket and spoon are present in every sauna, which is used to pour water on the stove to create steam.
This is the best sauna for outdoor spaces and sole family in an open area, so the neighbors are not bothered by the smoke. The average cost to build a home sauna is around $3000 to $4500 or can go higher in case of installing more luxurious items in this spa.
2. Electric Saunas
The experience of wood-burning sauna and electric sauna is the same, excluding there is no fire to blow. In this sauna, the stove and stones are operated by electricity. The same procedure of pouring water on stones is used to create smoke.
These saunas are best for urban areas because the wood-fired kinds are not appropriate in these areas. These saunas are built-in homes. The DIY sauna kit is its best example, used for three persons. Its cost is $3915.
Larger electric saunas are used for large outdoor spaces like a four-person tub design which costs $4265. The average cost of electric saunas and wood-burning saunas is the same, $3000 – $5000.
3. DIY Infrared Sauna
Infrared saunas are not considered to be original. It is ideal for people who don’t want a heated sauna. Infrared saunas warm up the body directly instead of heating the stones.
This means this sauna will provide the same advantages with a more bearable atmosphere and less hot. They can be installed indoors and are inexpensive. It costs nearly $1300. These models are compact for one or two persons. Also, you have to assemble this sauna yourself.
4. Smoke Sauna Rocks
You may not be familiar with these saunas; followers of finish saunas say that smoke saunas are authentic. They do not have chimneys or stoves to heat the environment.
In these saunas, the pile of rocks is fired. In this way, they are heated. When the fire is burned out, the smoke is circulated in the sauna, and the process begins.
5. DIY Steam Room Saunas
Steam saunas have names like Turkish saunas, hammams, or steam rooms. Humid heat derived from boiling water is used by steam saunas. Dressing of ceramic tile or some other non-porous surface is given to the steam saunas.
Nearly 110 Fahrenheit hot and steamy air in these saunas is very helpful for our lungs. Its price ranges from $4000 – $6000. It would be best to install them by a professional because of the danger of mold and humidity. So, consider these extra charges also.
6. Bathroom Saunas
If you don’t want to enlarge the outsized sauna to the inside of your house and love a steamy sauna, the best solution is a bathroom sauna. In this system, you transform a current bathroom into a steam sauna.
Many options are available for these saunas, such as two-person bathroom saunas or superior models with swirl tubs. The price of two-person steam-showers is $3811, and the cost of the superior model with swirl tubs is $4699.
Some models are available in which dry saunas are combined with steam showers. Their cost is $4999. Professional installation is recommended if you have no experience in plumbing.
7. Portable Steam Saunas
You can build a low-cost portable steam sauna if you can’t afford the costly steam saunas. It will cost $150. Portable steam saunas are soft-sided pieces of equipment made for one person.
When you sit down there, your head looks prominent on the top. However, they provide the advantages of a steam sauna without too much cost.
Tools and Materials Required to Build a DIY Sauna
How to Make a Sauna?
You can build a DIY sauna in several ways, like transforming an internal area of your house with a ready-made kit or constructing a custom sauna completely.
Step 1. Preparing the Subfloor
If you have to transform a current living area into a sauna, uncover the area to show the wall nails and ceiling joists. Also, build any new walls that will be required.
Leave 24 x 82 inches of space for the sauna door. Install a water-resistant floor such as vinyl, tile, or cement. If you want to install a plywood floor, it must be protected by duckboard flooring or tile.
Step 2. Wire for Lighting
The wiring system of the interior light of the sauna space should be a sauna heater water outlet, outdoor controls, and a light switch. Install the gas pipe if you have selected a gas heater.
For mechanical aid, you can call an electrician to do the wiring job or a plumber to install a gas line.
Step 3. Installing Insulation
To install insulation, select the inside walls with R-11 and external walls with R-19 fiberglass insulation. Make sure that you have bought the correct insulation width. Select 24 or 16 inches in width, depending on your nail spacing.
Step 4. Installing Vapor Barrier
Inside the sauna, the foil vapor barrier should be stapled to the walls and ceiling. Seams must be overlapped by three inches.
Step 5. Install Paneling
The cedar paneling should be nailed to the ceiling joists at a right angle starting from one side of the ceiling. The complete ceiling should be covered, and cut a hole for the lightbox if required.
The tongue and groove boards should be installed horizontally and start from the wall’s bottom. While installation, the grooves must be leaning downward, and tongues must be upward.
The paneling of the boards must be installed in full rows, and every fourth row of the boards must be checked with a level. To make room for electrical wiring, cut holes as required.
Step 6. Fit and Mount the Sauna Heater
Read all the directions to install the heater. Normally they need permission from the walls and floors, and hardware is also required.
In case of any difficulty, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You can call your electrician for the heater’s wiring to the power supply.
Step 7. Add Sauna Rocks
To even out heat and to create steam, sauna rocks are used. To get rid of foul-burning dust particles, wash your sauna rocks before putting them loosely all over the heater element. The sauna heater grill must be secured to the upper part of the heater.
Step 8. Set the Sauna Bench
Bring together the sauna benches. Normally one high and one low bench kit is designed. The measurement of the benches should be 18-inches deeper.
Apply a minimum of 2 x 2 lumber for supports and 1 x 4 lumber for the tops if you custom-build your benches. If you want to install bench lighting, you can install them in this step.
Step 9. Install the Sauna Door
You should install the pre-hung door to your sauna. Use screws to secure through the door column into a rough opening. Square up the door frame by using shims. All the gaps must be closed before tightening everything in place. Now, install the handle of the door.
Step 10. Trim it Out
The interior of the sauna corners must be added with trims. Add all other tools now, such as backrests and handrails.
Where to Build a Sauna?
You cannot build a sauna anywhere. There should be level ground, and the space should be enough that making 6 feet wide and 7 feet long room is easy. Having a sauna at a good distance from your house is also comforting. If you use a wood-burning sauna, the fire hazard will be away from your house.
Selecting Sauna Heaters
A sauna is a particular room warmed up to 150 – 195 degrees Fahrenheit, where sparkling water on the stones in the heater controls the humidity and temperature. The Turkish-style steam bath has 100% moisture, while the traditional finish sauna has 10% – 60% moisture.
Heat Source of Wood Burning Sauna
Although all the saunas have a similar structure, different kinds of saunas are determined by their heat source. The most old-style type of heat used in a sauna is a wood-burning stove.
In this source, rocks are placed above the stove, where they heat up to achieve 140 – 200 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. These are normally igneous rocks – when the molten rock solidifies, they are formed.
Water is sprinkled on these rocks to form steam. Building wood-burning saunas separate from your home is recommended because there is a risk of fire.
If you are building a sauna far away from your home without electricity, you have the only option of building a wood-burning sauna. Before preparing the sauna, the woodstove needs a lot of extra work, and you will also have to clean the mess created by the ash.
Heat Source of Electric Sauna
Electric saunas produce a similar experience but don’t require additional work to turn on. Sauna stoves powered by electricity need the wiring of 220-volt. In the electrical box, they are hard-wired.
Electric saunas are a good option for urban areas, and you can easily install them inside your home. You can easily convert a store room or basement into a home electric sauna.
You can also build an electric sauna separate from your house, but they require planning to connect it to electricity.
Heat Source of Infrared Sauna
In infrared saunas, infrared heaters produce different heat than traditional saunas. So, the body is heated by infrared lights, unlike heating by steam.
Choosing Wood for Sauna
The wood type you use in your sauna’s base will be important. You must consider many factors while selecting wood for your sauna’s frame, such as thermal comfort, fragrance, resistance to decay, and appearance.
Cedar wood is the best option for building a sauna. It is long-lasting and resistant to moisture. It can warm up quickly and is a good insulator. But, it is expensive, and you must think before deciding to use it.
Natural Canadian Hemlock, Basswood, or Poplar are other options you can use to build your sauna, but they have advantages and disadvantages.
A hemlock is a cost-effective option, but it does not withstand decay, and if you have installed it recently, it will have a sour smell because the fresh wood of Hemlock has a bitter smell. Select a wood according to your requirement and budget.
A sauna must be enjoyable and relaxing but also look good. If you have picked a backyard sauna with a beautiful natural view, windows can be a nice addition.
However, you must use double-paned glass to maintain the warmth and insulation. You can use any door in building a sauna-like the one that slides, wood option, or a glass door.
In electric saunas, the heater also creates a beautiful appearance. The style and finish can easily affect the vibe of your sauna. Select the one that you like.
Choosing Size for Sauna
The sauna should be wide enough that 2 – 3 people easily come into the room; its width should be at least 4 feet by 6 feet. You can make it wider, according to the person using it. Make it 10 – 12 feet wide if you want a social sauna.
Tips and Accessories in Building Sauna
- The ideal size to build a sauna is 8’ x 12’.
- Adding windows in the changing room will add to its beauty.
- Consider the most suitable place to build the sauna.
- Think how much size you want your sauna.
- Find out the materials that you will use to construct it.
- The heater type depends on the sauna size. The room will become dangerous if you use a powerful heater in the small sauna.
- A too-small heater will not provide enough warmth to the whole room.
Many handy sauna accessories are available that make your sauna more useful. You can buy water buckets, spoons, head, and footrests, and custom door handles. If you want to DIY the sauna and you don’t want to make supports and benches, you can purchase them.
The sauna kit comes with accessories that require a day or two to assemble and make a sauna. Depending on your experience and budget, you can buy any style of sauna that you want to build.
Total Cost to Build Sauna
If you use reused materials and local wood, the cost estimate for building a sauna will be nearly $ 2000. Installing double-paned windows and a door of oak will cost $10000. This price includes the professional’s cost to build the sauna.
The biggest factor in finding the cost of a sauna stove is the size of the sauna. The stove’s heat in the sauna is between 150 – 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger the sauna, the more powerful the stove will be required.
4’ x 6’ wide sauna doesn’t need a large heating source because it’s smaller. A 6’ x 8’ or 12’ x 12’ sauna will need a powerful heat source to heat a large room. Hence, the prices will vary according to the stove output.
The expected price for a sauna stove is between $800 -$3000. This cost depends on the sauna size and heater type you choose.
Safety Considerations in Building a Sauna
Building a sauna inside your home is completely safe, with proper installation and planning. You must select an area with no risk of flood and less humidity.
To ensure that all the electrical wiring is done correctly, you must appoint a professional for updates. After completing the sauna, you must maintain it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check the heating source frequently for any discoloration, burning, or charring.
Stop using it and contact the company if any problem occurs. Do not leave the clothes and towels you are not using inside the sauna. Saunas building outdoors also needs safety consideration during setup and planning.
It would be best if you built a sauna in that place which is ideal according to the weather. Don’t build in a place that has extreme weather. The foundation must be level and solid. For steam saunas, good drainage is dangerous.
How to Use Sauna?
If you want to create your sauna, the last thing you must learn is how to use a sauna. You must follow its method to take advantage of the hot room. First, your sauna must be clean, and everyone should take a shower before entering this room.
If you have to sit in the sauna undressed, you must keep a towel on the bench before sitting. The recommended time for a sauna period is to heat inside it for 10 – 15 minutes.
Then you have to cool down outside the sauna by jumping under the shower or in a nearby freezing lake. Jumping in the freezing lake helps circulation and provides relaxation. Sprinkling water on hot stones or rocks is also a fun activity.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Price to Build Your Sauna?
The average cost to install a sauna is $4500. The total cost of its installation charges and other additional cost include $3000 – $6000.
Can You Adopt a Diy Route to Build a Sauna?
Using a small storeroom or bathroom, you can build a sauna at your home. You can also build it in your basement or roof if there is a 240-volt service. To build saunas indoors, electric and infrared saunas are the best options.
Can You Make the Sauna Step by Step?
You can build a sauna by a DIY approach, but if you have difficulty, you can buy a sauna kit from the manufacturer. You will only need to assemble the parts to build the sauna.
The steps to build a sauna are:
- First, you should prepare the surface.
- Install wiring system for light in the sauna.
- Use fiberglass insulation in the inner walls.
- Install vapor barrier in the walls and ceilings.
- Installation of paneling.
- Fix and frame the sauna heater.
- Adding rocks to sauna heater.
- Set the benches.
- Installing the door of the sauna.
What are the Drawbacks of Saunas?
Due to overheating your body, you start swelling, which decreases the number of fluids in your body. When the fluids you are taking become less than the number of fluids you lose, you become dehydrated. Thus, dehydration can occur in the sauna.
Does a Vent is Required for the Sauna?
For safety, sauna ventilation is not required. However, it provides comfort. Unsuitable air circulation can slow down the heater task. The ventilation of a sauna is different from the ventilation of a shower.
This article has taught you the easy ways to build a sauna like a pro. With proper materials and tools, you will have no difficulty installing this. If you are not feeling comfortable building a sauna yourself, you can hire a professional.
Remember all the safety considerations and follow all the tips and tricks. Select a place appropriate for the type of sauna you want to build. If you plan to build a sauna far away from home, installing an electrical wiring system won’t be easy.