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Want to Build Your Own Sauna? Here is What You Need to Know First

Aug 17, 2007
It is easier than you may think to build your own sauna. With some basic carpentry skills and a little specialized understanding you can be relaxing in your own home sauna in no time at all.

There are a few important decisions to be made to be sure you end up with the sauna that best fits your situation. One consideration is how much work you want to put into the building of your sauna. There are prebuild units that are delivered to your door and literally take only a few minutes to set up. You can also get precut kits that take longer to construct but give you a more custom sauna when finished. The ultimate is to build your own sauna from scratch. Even this method is not as difficult as you might expect. The costs tend to go down considerably as you add more and more of your own elbow grease.

Another concern is the location. Should your sauna be inside or out, attached or freestanding? This may depend on whether you are in a rural or city environment. Locating near a water source is also important. If you are outside this can be a lake or pond to jump into. For indoor saunas a nearby shower can be used to rinse off. In either case before you start building think about getting water to your sauna. Along with a convenient way to rinse off it is nice to have an area to change into and out of sauna apparel. Benches for sitting on while removing clothes and hooks for hanging them are a great feature.

Deciding how you will heat your sauna is a major decision. Conventional saunas are heated with either wood, electric or gas heaters. Any of these can be used dry or wet depending on whether you sprinkle water on the heated rocks or not. Some people like it dry and some prefer wet, it comes down to personal tastes. Before deciding which kind of stove you want think about getting fuel to your heater. Wood may be difficult to acquire in the city but electric or gas hookups may be impractical in more remote areas. Costs can vary greatly depending on the brand and type of stove you get. A relatively new (compared to the 2000+ year history of saunas) type of sauna is the infrared sauna. These use infrared emitting lights to penetrate and heat your skin. It is a little like your microwave oven in that the food (you) is heated but the surrounding air is not. Infrared saunas are always dry. Because of the complexity of installing and correctly positioning the infrared wave emitters I suggest you buy a prebuilt model if you go with infrared.

There are a few special concerns that distinguish building a sauna from other conventional frame construction. Moisture is a concern. There should be a vapor barrier to keep the heat and steam from escaping. Any electrical connections need to be protected from excessive moisture. Ventilation is necessary to keep the oxygen level up and if done right it will also help to evenly distribute the heat.

All in all building a sauna is not an overwhelming task. If you can do some basic framing and simple finished woodworking you are well on your way to building your own sauna that can be enjoyed for years to come.
About the Author
Mike Hirn is a longtime sauna enthusiast. His website supplies a wealth of information about the construction, use and health benefits of home saunas.
www.the-home-sauna-center.com
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