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How to Build Your Own Sauna Door

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build your own sauna door

My 10 Steps to Build a Sauna Door

  1. Frame and your interior wall, frame for about a 26″x6’5″ sauna door.
  2. Cut a piece of plywood sheathing 3/4″ less than your height and width. This is the basis for your sauna door.
  3. Tongue and groove panel the outside face of your plywood.
  4. Staple foil bubble wrap insulation to the inside face of your plywood.
  5. Tongue and groove cedar the inside of your door, on top of the foil wrap. Tip: run your siding the opposite direction as your walls, it looks better. If you really want to be resourceful, you may be able to use your cedar t&g cuts from your walls to make a really cool pattern.
  6. Nail in a door stop to your door frame.
  7. Screw in some hinges and a funky wood door handle.
  8. Hang your door.
  9. Leave a slat towards the bottom for air flow. This is the best way to vent your sauna.
  10. Door window: It’s easy to use a skill saw to cut out for a window.
24″x80″ cedar sauna door. 12″x12″ tempered glass window. Leading into hot room along 8′ wall.

The Best Hardware for a Sauna Door

Authentic sauna enthusiasts are sometimes inconvenienced by folks who keep the sauna door open, or forget to close the door on their way out. Are these the same people who drive slow in the left lane? Drivers on the Autobahn in Germany have no patience for this social ignorance. They’ll get right on your bumper and flash their lights, until you get your shit together and move out of the way.

The “flash the high beam” equivalent for sauna is this $3.19 spring, available at Home Depot and most hardware stores here in North America.

This simple piece of hardware, one end screwed to the top of your sauna door and the other to the door jam, gives the sauna host an assurance that one of the few sauna rules, -“close the door!” – is being followed.

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28 thoughts on “How to Build Your Own Sauna Door”

  1. The plywood door is a great idea I think.
    Does the edge of the door need to be finished in some way as the plywood, bubble insulation and cedar will all be exposed?

  2. I don’t know Glenn. The screen door spring seems such a crude solution to the problem of the sauna door.

    Yes, you’ve stemmed the draft and loss of heat, but with a sharp slam from the door hitting the jamb under the tension of the spring? And for all users, even those who know better. I don’t think that this is the solution.

    I’d personally approach this with more subtlety, perhaps hanging a nicely embroidered sign that says “Sulje hiton ovi”.

  3. I’ve had good luck with these springs. I installed one at my cabin sauna, and the door closes with a soft tap. I just installed two here in Minneapolis – one for the OH sauna and one for my backyard sauna. At first the door banged a bit, but this spring has a nice feature: close tension can be adjusted from one end (vs redrilling the hook) to provide, as New Order says, The Perfect Kiss.

    Because the spring has an inner spring opposite to the outer spring, the door actually closes more softly now vs. the manual treatment from some of the amateur brute fringe members of Twin City Sauna Club.

    Come try it out!

    $3.19 at Home Depot, but if you’re working on nicely embroidered signs, can you make one that says:

    “throw your empties in the garbage” ?

  4. Installed a similiar spring with wool felt weatherstripping around the door frame to make a nice seal and hush the slam. Money well spent ! with two kids and the a few low bench friends.

  5. \I like the closures, simple is best, what kind of handle did you put on this door?\

    Rick from Prime-Line here.

    First off, thanks for the mention Glenn. TR2, we sell a kit that has the spring, hinges, handle, and a door latch you can install inside the door for privacy. (Click my name to see product)

    I would think that a handle like included in the kit would work fine. Or you could pick out a fancy knob at your local hardware store. It doesn’t take a whole lot of force to open a door like in the photo.

  6. I am not in the favor of these sauna spring doors. If you have children in your home, then i will suggest you to not to install these doors in your home as children may get harmed while playing.

  7. We are building a sauna in the eves/pitch of or loft conversion.
    We need to make our own door due to the unconventional shape of entrance (it’s sort of triangular at the top).
    We want the door to be more glass that wood ideally.
    Please can I possibly have some advise on how to build one and what sort of glass we need. we want clear glass. As much detail as possible would be great. Thanks

  8. Rachel: Instructions on how to build a sauna door build are detailed in my ebook. Basically, it involves sandwiching paneling between a sheet of plywood cut to size. Happy to help, g.

  9. Dear stable gate…
    I think your children should wear helmets. My spring works just fine. Thanks for your concern.

  10. Would it be acceptable to use a standard six panel door as a sauna door. The side of the door being used for the interior of the sauna will be lined with a vapor barrier then I will use red cedar to finish the door face. I will build my own for jam with red cedar and use stainless steel hinges on the exterior. Thoughts?

  11. Brendon:

    You get my vote on using a standard six panel door as a sauna door. As long as it’s not all shellac-ed up and oozing paint fumes, i think you’d be good to go. the cool thing about sauna building is that one can be resourceful and use (and reuse) things to create character and one’s own cool vibe.

  12. So I did build this door and I’m pretty happy with it. I installed the hinges on the door face instead of edge since the edge is rough. also, to keep the door closed, i used a magnetic cabinet latch on the top inside edge. my 10″x24″ tempered shelf glass window is held in place by a 1/2″ overhang of the cedar t&g nailed to the plywood and a bead of silicone caulk on the outside edge to keep from rattling.

  13. Hi Glenn. Just purchased your e-book and looking forward to perusing the building tips. I’ve been a “lurker” on this site for awhile. We are in the process of building an outdoor sauna and have just completed the site and foundation. I found the excellent information here you posted on windows for an outdoor sauna but nothing on door selection. Do you have any suggestions for a good sauna door? Definitely want to have a window in the door.

  14. Hi Kim: in the ebook, there are step by step instructions on how to build a really good hot room sauna door. Custom sauna doors are the way to go for a bunch of reasons, one of which is that the recommended door size is 24″x6’4″ or so, a size nobody makes.

  15. Bubble wrap doesn’t do anything in the context of a solid plywood sheet door. It isn’t an effective insulator. It works out to maybe R-1 at best. Google it. I’d rather have hollow spaces in the door filled with fiberglass insulation or the solid foam blocks.

  16. I have a creek that runs through my property so I’m building a sauna on a custom trailer frame, local codes and common sense won’t allow permanent structures near the creek , but want it near my swimming hole, my question is, is spray foam insulation a bad idea in a wood fired sauna?

  17. David,

    If you listen to the spray foam council trade organization (it exists, really, and I called them!), they will tell you that the dreaded off gassing occurs only at time of install when the two parts meet, but once sealed up, there is no off gassing up to (and I forget the exact temp but it’s well North of 250f). Now this stuff is flammable, relative to conventional batting, so if that’s the concern, well, we just insulate and vapor barrier and go to sleep at night after that, when the sauna stove fire is out.

  18. Hey Glenn,

    I’m building my hot room door right now and wondering if you use weather stripping to seal the door?


  19. Hi Bill:

    I don’t use weather stripping to seal the door. I like the ball catch system or the spring door system.

    Best hardware for a sauna door is detailed here. Hope this helps.

  20. messed up a bit when I framed my door, my rough opening is 24″ but since the door is all the way to one side i didn’t give myself ebough room for door trim. I was thinking of just adding another 2×4 jack stud, so my door would just be an inch and half narrowor than standard 22″ door. Does any see any issus with that? Im planning on building my own door either way so can make it any size i want. Love the site by the way and the ebook was a valuable resource!

  21. Hi Ryan…

    If you’re still at the framing stage, I suggest getting out the Sawzall, popping out those studs, and reframing it how it’ll better work for you.

    You only get this chance right now, otherwise you’ll be looking at your compromise every day hereafter.

    Glad saunatimes is helping you along, makes me happy to help you, Ryan!

  22. Hi Glenn
    I have a Barrel sauna and need to replace the door. Is using plywood suitable for this application. Because it will be exposed to Canadian weather I’m worried the plywood might swell. Your thoughts?


  23. i’ve built plenty of doors with plywood, sandwiched by cedar paneling inside and out. you could apply foil vapor barrier on either side of this plywood and cut it just a tad less up and down and left and right to avoid any “wicking” of moisture, and maybe wrap the plywood with foil, like a Christmas present, to hide the ends of the plywood, which may be prone to wicking moisture in the Canadian harsher climate.

  24. Taylor:

    You can use this thick plywood if you’ve got it, but i’ve used 1/2″ most commonly. Using the 3/4″ is just fine, just get some more “robust” hinges.

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