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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 your interior wall for about a 26″x6’5″ sauna door rough opening.
  2. Secure a finish jam around your door opening, leaving approx 24 1/2” x 6’4” opening.
  3. Cut a piece of plywood sheathing 3/4″ less than the height and width of your door opening. This is the basis for your sauna door.
  4. Staple foil vapor barrier to the inside face of your plywood. (And wrap around the ends as this is where plywood can wick moisture).
  5. Tongue and groove panel the inside and outside face of your plywood. Tip: for the hot room side, consider running your siding the opposite direction as your walls, it looks nice. If you want to be resourceful, you may be able to use your t&g remnant cuts from paneling your hot room to make a really cool pattern for your new sauna door.
  6. Secure a door stop to your jam door frame.
  7. Cut the height of your plywood so you’ll have a slat along the bottom of your door for air flow. This is the best way to vent your wood burning sauna.
  8. Door window: while your door is laying flat on sawhorses, you can get a piece of glass, center and pencil mark it on your door, and use a skill saw and jig saw to cut out for a window. Frame around your sauna door window accordingly.
  9. Screw in some hinges and a funky wood door handle.
  10. Hang your door.
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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34 Comments

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

  1. 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”.

  2. 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” ?

  3. 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.

  4. \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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

  17. Hey Glenn,

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

    Thanks,
    Bill

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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?

    Thanks
    Darryl

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. Make sure the plywood sheet is flat to begin with and when sheeting it with t n g make sure it remains so by working on a rigid flat surface, otherwise you may produce a warped door! Another lesson learnt the usual way !

  25. Amen Brother.. this happened to me (too!)..

    I needed to apply some divine intervention. I set the door on the floor with a couple 2x4s and set the sauna stove in the middle overnight.. it straightened it out… but lesson learned! thanks for posting.

  26. Good one. I do both – glue and nails. I think it’s detailed in my ebook. The main gig is that with plywood, your door won’t “rack.”

    And after you secure one face of your sauna door, you can lay your door on the floor and rest upon the door your 160 lb. Kuuma stove (without rocks or firebrick) overnight. Then flip and repeat for day 2.

  27. Are your strap hinges anything special? Everything I am finding is made to mount on the same surface (cold room wall) but I notice that yours are mounted on the door frame instead. Did you just mount them “backwards” in the frame (ignoring the recess for the screw)?

  28. Hi Erin,

    Great question. I’ve built sauna doors both ways (frame mounted and surface mounted). Surface mounted offers more guarantee. And some use hinges with built in springs, so the door closes by itself.

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