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Build your own sauna: materials list

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By popular demand, here is a complete list of what you’ll need to build your own sauna.   Life is short: you deserve your own authentic Finnish sauna!!

Step one: Go out to your backyard with some string and mark off an 8×12 space.  You can build your own sauna by sticking it against your garage, or tucking it in a quiet corner in your backyard.  When you choose the location for your backyard sauna, keep in mind that you may want to allow for a nice courtyard or patio space.  Bring a couple patio chairs and maybe a picnic bench to complete the simulation.

Step two: Before you build your own sauna, imagine what your own sauna party will be like.  Family, friends, business associates or the whole hockey team?  When you build your own sauna, consider inviting your sauna party friends to help frame it up.

Step three: Go for it, and start enjoying your own authentic Finnish sauna.  Click here to learn how to prep your area for the sauna

8×12 Sauna Building Materials List
rim joist2×6-12′ green2$5.58$11.16
floor joists2×6-8′ green10$3.54$35.40
sub floor3/4” 4×8 AC23$28.00$84.00
wall studs2×4-7′ studs43$1.48$63.64
treated plate2×4-12′ green2$4.58$9.16
treated plate2×4-8′ green2$2.29$4.58
top bottom plate2×4-12′2$2.47$4.94
top bottom plate2×4-8′2$1.68$3.36
wall sheeting1/2# 4×8 CDX plywood13$11.14$144.82
siding3/4x 8-8′ cedar beveled siding26$8.48$220.48
siding3/4x 8-12′ cedar beveled siding26$8.48$220.48
ridge beam2×6-16′1$6.48$6.48
roof sheeting1/2# 4×8 CDX plywood7$11.14$77.98
shingles25 year6$23.65$141.90
felt15# underlay1$21.80$21.80
soffit16”x12′ pro vented soffit5$15.58$77.90
fascia6”x12′ r/s fascia6$10.49$62.94
trim12′ j-trim1$8.23$8.23
insulationR11 3.5x15x40′ 50 sf roll14$10.69$149.66
bubble wrap48”x25′ Reflective bubble stndrd edge6$31.48$188.88
wall cedar1×6-8′ WP-4 cedar (sqft=lftx.42)68$10.39$706.52
roof cedar1×6-8′ WP-4 cedar (sqft=lftx.42)17$10.39$176.63
benches2×4-6′ cedar38$4.86$184.68
sauna floor1/2”x3’x5′ durock4$8.49$33.96
finish nails1-1/4” nail 11b aluminum white1$8.23$8.23
doorE-10 half lite door PH 32×80 LH DB1$194.00$194.00
window24×36 Jeldwen Vnl Rep DH Low-E1$124.00$124.00
lights3 lights: sauna, chnging room, outside3$8.00$24.00
switches3 switches, one dimmer (sauna room)3$2.00$6.00
electricwire, outlet, etc.1$5.00$5.00
sauna stoveKuuma wood1$850.00$850.00
reflective panelsKuuma side and back1$140.00$140.00
water tankstainless steel1$200.00$200.00
pipe36” steel snap2$24.00$48.00
flashing kit14.5”1$89.00$89.00
chimney3′ double ins.1$155.00$155.00
chimney capaluminum rodent seal1$48.60$48.60
total materials……$4,571.41
dealer prep, clear coat BS$33.59
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65 thoughts on “Build your own sauna: materials list”

  1. Alan, you’re on! It’s great to share: i’m always open for ideas, thoughts, opinions. Example: the interior wall can be framed with 2x2s (vs 2x4s) and positioned to allow for a slightly longer or shorter sauna room. Optimally, I like a sauna width that allows for about a 6’4″ sauna bench. 6’4″ is adequate for 3 people to sit, or one person lying flat with a beer balancing on the forehead singing Finnish folk songs. jk

  2. My entire life I have been taking saunas. I have half Finnish and when my parents built out cabin in Northern MN, they built the sauna first. Well, now it is my time to build my own sauna and I plan to do it this summer. I am looking forward to using your website to develop a plan to build. Thank you!

  3. You’re welcome Rhonda! Not sure if you’re in MN, but I’ll be bringing around my 8×12 mobile Finnish sauna to a bunch of events in the Twin Cities this winter. Stay tuned to for an agenda and maybe you can come by and experience it in action. Glad you dig the site.

  4. These guys over at Cedarbrook have a few videos posted on YouTube about How to Build a Sauna in a room and an outdoor one. The outdoor sauna is really their prefab ceiling and walls and roof, I guess. Thought it deserved mention here… I’m hoping it gives some good building tips, especially the indoor videos which would apply to any structure.

    One thing I want to add to the discussion is IF you build an outdoor sauna in the Southern US … everything wants to move in, especially ants. I have found that if you can put diatomaceous earth under your floor plate and inside the walls atop the base plate, you can stop the critters from coming in for good. This non-toxic earth acts like knives to ants and cuts them up. Most will touch it with their antennae and then back-off, cause they know they have no defense. Ideally, you should not breath the diatomaceous earth either. While non-toxic it’s just not good for your lungs. You can also put it around the base outside, but you’ll have to do it every so often.

  5. In northern climates our issue is more BTU’s than bugs. We find a changing room space critical as it’s a buffer between 180 degree f. sauna and 8 degree f. outside air temp.

  6. I have searched the net for hours trying to find construction plans for a DIY dry sauna. There are plenty of sites showing phases of construction, but nothing that is a step-by-step process. How to frame your door, window, etc. I am not a carpenter, but most definitely a handyman and can do about anything. I just want plans that are laid out to just measure, cut, nail, this goes here and that goes there, these are the materials you need, etc. I honestly cannot find anything like that. Seems someone would have made these type of complete plans. Even if you buy a sauna kit, you still have to frame your walls etc. I can build it, I just need the blueprints. Pls. help.

  7. Stephen:

    On my 2014 to do list is to package my “How to Build Your Own Health and Wellness Retreat” ebook. I have it all done:
    1) 9 full chapters in a step by step instruction guide.
    2) photos to correspond to above.
    3) blueprints.
    4) complete building materials list – down to the light switch cover.

    For now, I have this in an easy shareable google doc. Please email me. Thanks, g.

  8. Glenn
    I’m planning on building a sauna this summer and would love to have a look at your plans if you don’t mind sharing them.

  9. We are moving to Washington State and really want to do a DIY sauna. We have an old wood stove that was made from a old steel barrel. We’d like to save $$ on an authentic sauna stove. What are the pluses/minuses of a steel barrel with rocks piled up along the sides? If water gets on the hot steel can it crack? Thanks!

  10. Hi Glen,

    I picked up my Kuuma stove in Tower this week and was hoping to get your comprehensive 8×12 plans so I can order the wood etc.


  11. Hi Glenn,
    Are you still distributing your eBook? I’d love to get a copy as I’m g going to start my sauna next month.

  12. Hello, I have a closet in my unfinished basement that I would like to convert into a sauna because it’s located right next to my bathroom which I am also trying to renovate but I don’t have a clue where to start. Help! lol

  13. Hey Glenn,

    I was just ball-parking how much of my money has been donated to Home Depot and Menards so far, and it looks like I’m around $4200 already– and that’s without the stove, interior or siding. I think your materials list prices are a little out of date 🙂 Granted my sauna is 4′ feet longer (12×14), but still 🙂
    However, still nice to see a comprehensive list of things needed to do the build.


  14. I ordered your e-book. Was helpful. I am struggling trying to get the hot room laid out. I have a 7′-10″ X 20′- 3″ trailer to put the hot room, chill room and porch on. I was thinking of about a 7′ X 7′-10″ hot room. Trying to place the wood stove seems most difficult. Kuuma says it need 48 inches in front of the door to combustibles. I was hoping to get the stove near the door so the mess from wood carrying wouldn’t be on the floor but it seems it would be four feet into the hot room and then the back of the stove with shields appears to need about 15 inches to combustibles. So stacked benches, 22 inches and 18 inches plus 15 inches clearance, then 18 inches for the stove and then 48 inches for the stove door and I get real big sauna, 10′. How do you fit a Kuuma stove in when it needs 48 inches of clearance on the door side?

  15. a Sauna made with cedar wood and wall insolation?cedar start rotten inside a Sauna and wall insolation can bring cancer dust problem’s.
    I have build my outside sauna with hemlock wood 4\x6\x16′ hemlock floor ect.wood stove haeting

  16. Hi! You might have the info I need to build something my late son and I thought about and drew up on napkins recently. I just purchased a 24′ x 8′ triple pontoon boat that I am about to prep for constructing a FLOATING SAUNA with a changing/napping room plus cardplaying/dancing/drinking porch! Do you think your eBook would be helpful? Any thoughts on things to consider? I am planning on towing this thing to anchor points and intend to have a climbable roof to dive off for a deep cold plunge into a northern Minnesota lake. Our place is in Aitkin County. I know it’s not a new idea but a floating one solves a lot of issues with setbacks and the fact that I have grown to love the utility of the old boat house that came with the place.

  17. Hi Glenn,
    Just bought your book. My husband and I are planning to start this project in October to build a sauna in our backyard in Minneapolis. I’m sure we’ll have lots of questions. Look forward to receiving it!

    Thank you,
    Julie & Geoff

  18. Hi Julie & Geoff:

    Great, as you probably know, I’m in Minneapolis too. My backyard sauna reminds me of our sauna on Lake Vermilion, but it’s only 17 steps outside my back door. This is what you can create with a small footprint in your own backyard: an up north backyard health and wellness retreat. Fall is a great time to build and i’m on your team.

  19. Glenn-
    I purchased your book a couple of years ago and put up an 8×12 in beautiful Makinen, MN! It’s now time to put my skill to work in Duluth, however, Im thinking a little different plan. I have space for an 8×10 and was thinking 6×8 hot room, with a 4×8 (roughly) porch with no changing room (but adding canvas walls for a faux changing/chill space). In your opinion, am I better off with a 4×8 changing room or an open style porch. Im torn!

  20. i’m torn too. I see where you are going. A 4×8 changing room is a tight space, especially after one introduces a bench or a couple chairs.

    That said, in Minnesota climate, a temperate space (changing room) is critical for good hot room performance. (read attached as to why). Yes, you could get that performance from a canvas wall gig, but you’ll be getting no view and may feel as compromised as a boundary waters trip in the rain.

    Is there any way you could build an 8×12 structure vs. your planned 8×10? As you know, with a small building, the thickness of the walls encroach, and before you know it, you’re dealing with a tight space. My vote is to carve out an 8×12 footprint and advance the ball in that direction. 8×10 has compromise written all over it. But read here, maybe there’s some enlightenment, but dunno what it is..

  21. Hey Glenn,
    When will I receive the e-book? We are anxious to get started. Did I miss a step in the process, or have you already sent it? Thanks again!

  22. Hi There,
    My question is regarding the foundation for my 8×12 sauna building on a sloped backyard. Should I build it on concrete footings 3-6 inches off the ground, or should I just rest it on the ground on some Class 5 gravel with the back propped up on blocks? Or maybe there’s a third option, a floating concrete slab. My concern is for a floor drain and insulating the floor. Everything that I’ve read says you need to insulate the floor for any Minnesota outdoor sauna. How can I accomplish this the most effectively? Thanks so much for any thoughts you have.

  23. Tony: We go into this topic big time in the Sauna Build: Start to Finnish Ebook. My vote: just rest it on the ground on some Class 5 gravel with the back propped up on blocks. It’s easy and it’s a small enough structure that you can rebalance it any time you need to.

  24. Hi Glenn,

    I would love to hear your ideas on building a sauna on the cheap. My middle school-aged son is interested in building a sauna for a school project. The project emphasis is on process maybe more than product, so the simpler the better. any thoughts?

  25. Hey Glenn,

    My space doesn’t allow for 8×12’, does your ebook happen to cover saunas of other sizes, for example 5’x7’?

    Thank you!

  26. Brad:

    The ebook covers all reasonable sized hot rooms. To me, a 6×8 or 7×7 hot room is an ideal size. Anyhow, the book will help you, Brad.

  27. I second Dusty, I bought mine from him and he was awesome. Through in a couple of extra pieces so I could panel the outside wall of my hot room too.

  28. Hi Glenn,

    One thing not mentioned in your materials list is a good wood sealant for those of us that wish to go that route. We just assembled the Dundalk cedar barrel kit and would like to apply an outer sealant, what would be your recommendation (Polyurethane? Chabot clear wood protector?…etc).


  29. Hi Travis:

    Are we talking the sealing of 2x t&g cedar that makes up your barrel sauna? If yes, i’d ask like 2-3 different pros in your area. You’ve got some regional considerations like sun, moisture, temperature ranges to consider when trying to find the right product.

  30. The book does not detail lighting per se, as it is dealer’s choice as to which way to light.

    LED rope lighting is sold at big box (Menard, Depot, Lowes). I suggest purchasing the LED light system you like best and hard wiring it to your switch box that you’ll install just outside your hot room door.

  31. Can Todd or you email me with as I have a question

    I’m considering putting a sauna in my basement, there are three block walls on the back, and both sides as we look to build a 9x5x7 sauna. The house is built in 1962, I was thinking of putting 1/2 in pink foam board glued to the block, then frame (with green treated/pressure treated and put r-13 between the studs all the way around and r-30 on the ceiling, and then the heat barrier and then the cedar tongue and groove… on the block over 13 years theres been very small amount fo efflorescense over the years, but I’ve never seen it wet. It’s painted block. Some of the paint has peeled (maybe 5-10)

    Thanks so much, I’m in MPLS area

  32. David: I’d do much like what you outline above, additionally, i’d prime the 2x2s. i’d use 1 1/2″ rigid pink cut on table saw to fit nicely between your 2×2 studs glued and cement screwed to the block of your exterior wall. and 9×5 is a tricky dimension, i’d probably go maximum 8×5,

  33. Hey Glenn, I live in Minneapolis, MN and I have space under our front porch that I’d like to convert into a sauna. The space is 5×7 and three of the four walls are existing masonry CMU walls. Love to get your thoughts on the best way to use the space. Also wondering if I should build it myself or go the pre-cut kit route. I’ve been looking at companies like Finnleo, Cedarbrook, Finlandia, and Scandia as possible suppliers of pre-cut kits.

  34. Luke:

    I’ve got a few thoughts for you, primarily that these pre-cut kits don’t allow for you to deal with your existing masonry walls. The easiest route would be to purchase one of these kits and tuck it in there, but the B+ to A job will be to isolate this slab (via 2x2s and 1.5″ rigid insulation, then foil then t&g, but this would entail some ground up DIY behavior.

  35. Hey!! My Outdoor Sauna shell is a 8×16 Mille Lacs re-purposed skid fishhouse I gutted. Nice exterior. The 2×4 stud walls have 2” hard Thermax pink board between them and 4/Mil visquene stapled over all the inner surfaces. I intend to line the ENTIRE interior with 1” foil-faced 4×8/ft Dow-Corning Sheets and tape the seams before the Cedar goes up. I will divide the Bldg into 1/2 HOT ROOM sauna and 1/2 only warm. Q #1. Should I fur out the existing walls for the new Foil-faced with horizontal 1×2’s or just nail up my new foil-faced to the existing studs? Q#2. I want a ‘Dry Sauna’ fired with a free standing vented propane stove but with a cast-iron tea-kettle Simmering atop it for humidity. Am I missing something with these ideas??

  36. Hi,

    First, i’m all in on your idea of 1″ foil faced. Tape seams, yes. And yes, fir out with 1×2’s is exactly what i’d do, especially if you have enough hot room space. the 3/4″ air gap between cedar paneling and the rigid foil foam is good, but a mathematician can tell us that we’ll be decreasing our hot room by 1 1/2″ on both dimensions. Not a big deal, but can be if we’re talking a small hot room.

    I’m not much for experience with a free standing vented propane stove and tea kettle simmering. I do know with a kick ass authentic sauna stove, you need no extra shenanigans. This I do know.

  37. Hi Glenn,

    Love your website. You’re doing good work for the world. You don’t mention fasteners, so just curious if you recommend using screws vs nails? Considering the elements/heat and cooling of a sauna wondering if screws are essential to account for warpage from drying ect. Also wanted to ask if you have any strong opinions on doing a shed style roof vs a A frame style?

  38. Hi Ian,

    Glad you dig saunatimes.

    Fasteners: I don’t see the need for screws for framing or t&g paneling. For benches, on the other hand, definitely screw. And get a really good wood glue as well. The bench design and instructions detailed in Build Your Own Sauna ebook are very much nuanced towards long lasting. My cabin sauna benches, as example, go back to the stone age (1996) and have many a large buttox region upon them (not mine, of course). These benches are holding up really well.

    More on nails: lots of people ask about galvanized finish nails. I’ve not used these. When we nail into the tongue, the nails are hidden and so the excessive moisture isn’t making our nails weep or rust.

    More on screws: I use a lot of screws when building common wall, or when setting drip edge. I’d frame my entire structure with screws but it gets to become a pain in the you know what, as nails make framing go so much quicker.

    Roof, shed or frame style: Well, i’ve built saunas both ways. I like the 8×12 reverse gable, with 5/12 pitch. I think it looks great. That said, there’s lots of new look happening with a soft shed pitch.. modernesque. And in a few years, the ultra steep 12/12 may come back into vogue, so there you go.. for roof style, i’d say… dealer’s choice!

    Keep in touch, Ian.

  39. Hi Glenn,
    I’m starting the process of building an outdoor barrel sauna and there doesn’t appear to be any full fledged guides on them. A barrel sauna appears to be on the easier side comparatively from the youtube videos I’ve been able to find but I was wondering if you think enough of the advice in your guide would be applicable that it would still be a good purchase?

  40. Hi Steven:

    For building a barrel sauna, I don’t think my ebook will be of great use for you. You can read more about my take on barrel saunas here.

    Bottom line: Tough to get uniform good heat in cold climates (where we live).

  41. Hi Glenn,

    I’m thinking of building my sauna with a low pitch, shed style, mono-slope roof like Ian above using 2x6s. I’d then nail the cedar ceiling the same slope. What are your thoughts on this – having a sloped ceiling in the hot room? What would you insulate the roof with?


  42. Steve,

    Good thoughts on this. If possible, best to set the stove on the low slope, and benches on the upper. And not too much slope. R19 between joist cavities. Foil and tape seams well.

  43. Thanks Glenn. Yes, very low pitch. I was thinking the same thing with benches on high side and stove on low side. Would Rockwool be a good choice for roof insulation?

  44. Hey Glen,
    I’ve been reading your content and listening to your podcast for several months. After checking out the cedar and stone set up last weekend in Duluth, I’m committed to getting a sauna finished before next winter. However, With 3 kids were in need of a shed for storage as well. After checking with city code, I’m thinking 12×20 with a 6×8 hot room and a Kuuma stove. Any ideas or feedback you might have would be truely appreciated. As well as tips to reduce cost (I was scouting some windows and doors at BMO today). Thanks again for all your doing!

  45. Hi Jason,

    Glad you’re enjoying saunatimes, and good sauna!

    I think you’re on the right side of good thinking here. For a 12×20 multi-use structure, you can go 7×7 or 8×6 hot room. I made a 7×7 hot room within a 12×16 structure and it came out really great. This build was the foundation for my ebook.

    And for the shed portion, you could look to access the shed part of your structure from the outside via double doors that swing open. Isolating your shed this way, will keep lawnmowers and messy shit like that separate from the cool down area, which can be more relaxing and chill.

    I’ve designed a couple saunas exactly like this, and the cabin owners love it.

  46. Hi, does your e-book include multiple blueprints for various sauna sizes? I’m trying to build a 5×7 ish exterior sauna with a lean to roof and an L-bench. I have scoured the web for complete plans with materials lists and have not found anything. Your e-book looks great but I hesitate to buy it if it doesn’t contain multiple blueprints (or a blueprint for the size I need) because I’m running out of construction weather and want to get going asap.

  47. Celena, if you buy my ebook and you don’t get a several multiple return on your investment, I’ll be happy to refund yhou.

    Blueprints: You don’t need blueprints. Go with my 8×12 plan as a starting point, and you can easily work off that or modify.

    Sauna on!

  48. Hey Glenn! I’m looking to get your book. Our idea was to build a larger building/sauna, maybe 8×20, with 8 feet being the sauna, connected to the 12 foot “changing area” that could be used as a guest room. Would we be able to build this sauna, and if we just wanted to use guest room section, just use the wood stove without adding water, as a wood burning furnace? Thanks!

  49. Hi Glenn! We are thinking of building a mobile sauna trailer. Wondering if your ebook has any guidance on that? What do you think good dimensions are for a mobile sauna in MN?

  50. Hi Laura.

    The Sauna Build Start to Finnish e-book 2nd edition has a new chapter on mobile! When you get the book, shoot me a “hello” on email, and I’ll send you a link for the 2nd edition.

    Good dimensions for a mobile sauna: I like 7×12 or 7×14 even a tad better. Common wall right down the middle. Stove over the axle.

  51. I am in the process of building a mobile sauna and was planning on using 2×4’s for the framing but calculating the weight it seems like the weight is getting to be a bit much. I was then looking into metal studs but the metal studs that I found at Menards say they are not load bearing studs. Do you have a suggestion on where to get metal studs from or would the Menards ones work just fine?

  52. Hi Storm:

    I understand exactly your issue here!

    I like getting away from stick framing for mobile because of weight, as you point out. Before dismissing stick build completely, you could frame with 2×3’s, but the weight gain there may be minimal.

    I’ve not built a mobile sauna with metal studs from Menards, but I know others who have. I wish I had a more definitive response for you on which way to go. But please drop us a line on here with your discoveries and which way you go. The advantage of stick frame aluminum is the ability to spray foam, and this secures the structure very well, as you know. (New rabbit hole about using foam here.).

  53. Thanks Glenn! I like the idea of using 2×3’s. I would rather work with wood over metal as that is what I have the most experience with but with the weight gain using metal it is making it hard for me to commit to wood.

  54. Good move Storm. I have a good friend who is in the commercial mobile sauna building business who has also elected to go with wood studs vs. metal. It’s for much of the same as you mention above. Now comes the art of how to de-weight-ify your mobiles using std. materials. Eg. skinning the outside. There are some interesting non-wood materials out there. High tech airplane style composites. Lightweight and super strong. And a guy could be tempted to join the dark side with spray foam.

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