Building a home sauna need not be an arduous or difficult task. In fact it is within the reach of most do-it-yourself home improvers and, just like any project, the key is good planning and a methodical approach to the location, design and build of the sauna.
The first thing to decide is where to locate your sauna. This will determine its maximum size and the availability of energy sources and ventilation. With electric, gas and wood burning stoves, plus new infra red heaters, there is plenty of choice. These options make the locating of a home sauna possible in an unused bedroom, study, bathroom, loft, cellar, garage or separate outbuilding or cabin.
Sauna size may affect the choice of location. Unused bedrooms are often selected and these can usually meet most home sauna requirements. If however the sauna is only intended for one or two users at a time it may be possible to partition off a section of a bathroom.
It is important to have a budget in mind. Materials like the timber wall and ceiling linings, plus bench seating, can be estimated by the square yard (metre), so the bigger the more expensive. Additionally, a large sauna will require a more powerful heater, or multiple heaters/stoves.
4. Heat source
Decide on the kind of heater required. All fossil fuel burning stoves require a flue, so saunas situated within the home can be fitted more easily if they use an electric stove, or an infra red heater. In the case of a stove, an electric unit will simulate the hot stone effect of a conventional wood or gas stove, but without fumes, gases and toxins. Infra red heaters use safe radiation to warm the surface of the skin (similar to sunshine) and do not increase air temperature.
5. Materials and kit type
Obtain all of the sauna materials required. This can most easily, cheaply and effectively be done by buying a sauna home fabrication kit. These kits can be purchased based on sauna size, desired heater type (and power output) and room fitting requirements. Sauna kits come in two forms.
5.1 The first is a package of lining materials, benches, a door and a heater and it is ideal for converting a room within a house into an integral sauna. The kit materials use the existing walls, ceiling and floor as the surrounding structure and the sauna lining is assembled directly on to these structural elements. Some cutting, drilling and gluing is required, but everything necessary to build the sauna is included in the kit.
5.2 The second option is a prefabricated sauna kit which is a more pre-assembled version of the basic kit and which requires only minimal assembly. This type of sauna kit is self supporting and does not require walls or a ceiling to attach to. Furthermore, a prefabricated sauna kit can include weatherproof walls, a pitched roof, a solid floor and windows, making it ideal as a free standing cabin or annex in the garden or yard. This kind of kit is more expensive and less of a project for the “home makeover expert”, but it is fast and easy to erect and provides an operational sauna in a matter of hours.