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A sauna in the garage that doesn’t cut any corners

light steam graphic


When considering your own backyard sauna, it’s not out of reach to carve a corner out of your garage.

Enter Clint:

A few things I really enjoy about my sauna:

  1. The flow is excellent. You can get to and from any seated position without bothering other people.
  2. The heater is more than adequate. ALWAYS buy more heater than you need πŸ™‚
  3. The shaved front corner allows me to have a sauna that seats 6+ people while still not feeling imposing in my garage.
  4. None of the benches are permanently attached, making cleaning very easy.
  5. I have a 45 degree “drip board” under the spot the I regularly sit, which allows me to shower while the water collects in a plastic tub. It allows me to not have a drain and works great.
  6. The speakers and volume control inside have proved to be a critical component of the sauna.
  7. 2 vents allow for plenty of fresh air when the sauna is full. One is under the heater. The other is under the top bench in the opposite corner (a fairly traditional location).
  8. I chose a larger door window than some, at 1′ x 2′. I love it.
I can honestly say that I don’t think I would do anything differently if I built it again πŸ™‚ This is primarily due to a LOT of planning and thought beforehand. Chaulk on the ground, mock benches, visiting other saunas, etc.
clint garage sauna
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19 thoughts on “A sauna in the garage that doesn’t cut any corners”

  1. I’d throw in the mix that the garage doubles as a more than adequate “changing room” and cool down space. It’s quite fun to enjoy an extended cool down hanging out in the garage, as steam collects on the garage door windows while the wind howls outside during a Minnesota sub zero winter’s night.

  2. Great site. I may donate to the sauna plan cause eventually, but right now I don’t think it’s doable for me to build one. Do you know if there is any practical way to build a sauna that could eventually be taken apart and moved? The only reason I am not building a sauna right now is the fact that I know I won’t be at my current house for more than a few years.

  3. you could also consider a prefabricated kit from one of the major sauna manufacturers. these are shipped with each wall and the roof as a factory-built ‘unit’, complete with interior framing, insulation and siding. benches are premade, doors are prehung, etc. they can be assembled very quickly (in a weekend) and go together with screws that can later be removed for dis-assembly. the trade off is they are more expensive than other kits (ones where only raw materials ship) or something built from scratch. they are also typically limited to indoor use, come in only specific sizes and wood stoves are not available.

  4. I was confronted with the same problem – wanted a sauna more than anything but was unsure about where we would be living as our family grew. Read this blog enough to get the gumption to move forward anyway. Ended up building an 8 by 15 backyard sauna on top of a treated 4 by 6 “foundation” fastened with ledger tights and other heavy duty fasteners. When the day comes to move it, will simply jack the sauna off the ground, brace the structure with some 2 by 6s, and let a crane drop it onto a trailer for me (already got a quote – $250 an hour. Would take two hours max). Hands down, one of the most satisfying and best all around decisions I have ever made. Have been using it 2 or 3 times a week and can’t imagine a life without a Kuuma-powered authentic Finnish sauna in the backyard!!

  5. Thanks for the input fellas. The mobile sauna still won’t work unfortunately because the opening to my backyard is only 4′. However, like Tony says, I might still go for it. I was thinking I could just do a 4’x4′ outdoor sauna and build on a wood foundation (no slab) to keep it on the cheap in case I do move soon and can’t move the sauna (I could at least take the stove). Another thought was putting it in my garage like this post suggests. I would just have to get 240V in there (it’s attached and I do have 120V), and it would be a lot easier not having to build a real outdoor roof and foundation. I found someone selling 300 sq. ft. of cedar tonque and groove from their cedar room for $200 or trade.

    Glenn, do your plans include both indoor and outdoor saunas? I’m thinking I might want to get these soon so I can start researching and planning.

  6. Hello Everyone,

    This post is a few years old so I’m hoping somehow it’s seen by many. I just purchased a new home and would like to put a sauna in my garage. The section of my garage where I am planning on putting it is already finished as an “office space.” I have plans from this site and will be going with a Kuuma stove. I am looking for someone who has experience in designing/building saunas to assist with the layout and some other logistics. I live in Marine on Saint Croix, MN. I appreciate any and all suggestions and am grateful for the endless stories on this site. Thanks to all.

  7. Hi Joel:

    Happy to help. Sending you an email. I built a sauna in my garage in 2003 and it was an inspiration (of many) to start saunatimes and to help others.

    You’ve found the right tree in which to start barking. Happy to help.

  8. Hi, my husband’s 40th is this October and he wants a sauna! This isolation has made him miss his Russian Bathhouse. I LOVE exactly what is pictured in this article as I want to do it in our garage. dimensions and everything are perfect. I’m not handy so will have to hire someone. Would love some help to make this almost 40 year old’s dream come to fruition!
    I did tell him that I was NOT capable of installing the cold plunge pool…

  9. I see you have a rinse off spot in your sauna. Is there anything stopping me from having an electric sauna space that also serves as a shower/bathing space?

    We are converting our garage into a therapy space and guest space. We have an 18 month old daughter who was born with a severe heart defect. She suffered a stroke at four months following a failed surgery. We spent all of last year in cardiac intensive care. She has 12 hours a week of physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, speech therapy, vision therapy etc. I will not be returning to work. Nearly as soon as we got home the lockdown began and I have been doing all of her therapy via Zoom. I don’t see us returning to in-person school, play, or therapy for a long time and I imagine that there will be periodic need to isolate again. Our 6 year old has serious ADHD and anxiety, I have RA, and we ALL have PTSD. So the space will divide up as a gym for Katie’s physical therapy and getting out Vin’s pent up energy, a meditation space for myself that can be a guest room as needed, a library/office/creative space for my husband, and a wetroom.

    My idea is to have a toilet and sink and then a door beyond it into a wet room about 8’x4′. So, it would be a water sealed room with a central drain and plumbing. I’m thinking of cedar paneling and having a wood soaking tub that when covered would serve as a sauna/shower bench. I would have a handheld shower on a pole so it could be used seated or standing. The area would be handicapped accessible for my daughter and for guests. It would be wonderful to have a sauna for my joints.

    Is there anything stopping me from having an electric sauna that also serves as a shower? Is there anything stopping me from having a steam option in the same space? (dry sauna isn’t good for heart conditions, steam can be) Is there anything I would need to consider for my plan?

  10. Crystal.

    Wow. First, thoughts and prayers for all your family healing.

    Now, onto brass tacks: an electric sauna does not work as dual purpose shower. The main issue is that the heating elements and controls aren’t designed for that level of humidity, moisture. If shower is something that’s important, i’d be thinking more along the lines of a steam shower/shower set up.

    Steam is different from sauna, but you mention that dry sauna isn’t good for heart conditions, so this is another reason to be going down the steam room direction.

    Hope this suggestion helps advance your plan in a positive direction.

  11. I plan to build a sauna in my garage using a Kuuma wood stove. I live in south Minneapolis. Anyone have insight whether I need to get a building permit? I’ve read the building code article on here and peaked at the code. There doesn’t seem to be a good answer.

  12. I built a sauna in my garage in South Minneapolis, with a small Kuuma, in 2003. Everything is rocking as good as the day when I first fired it up. The only permit I obtained was a waiver form from my one buddies who talks too much on the bench.

    I too, Lucas, went down a similar path within Minneapolis zoning and planning. I couldn’t find anything specific either. The forgiveness (vs. permission) decision has worked very well for me.

    I’m not condoning/endorsing/or advising… just sayin.

  13. Anyone who’s built a sauna in their garage willing to share. We’re planning to build in a corner (same as in the above photo) looking for any and all direction πŸ™‚

  14. Sophie.. you can do this. just mark out the space with 2×4’s to represent your bottom plate. Get that set, then build your walls.

  15. Totally agree. As it’s said, the best sauna is the one you use. For me, that was my OG built into the existing corner of a shed next to my house. Only the wood stove chimney (and maybe the hanging watering can) gives anything away from the outside. The interior looks about like any other hot room I’ve helped build. It’s small, but still my favorite. I probably would have missed out or moved on from sauna had I waited longer.

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