How much does a sauna cost? Well, here’s your answer (down to the dollar)

A lot of people ask me “how much does a sauna cost?” or “I’m thinking of building my own sauna, about how much is it going to cost me?”

The usual answer to these questions, unfortunately, is another question, which is usually:

  • What size sauna building are you thinking?
  • Are you talking inside your house or a free standing backyard sauna?
  • Are you going to hire out the labor or do some or all of the work yourself?
  • You’re thinking changing room, too, right? (read: Do I really need a changing room?)
  • Just checking… no infrared light bulbs, right?

Well, these numbers are fresh off the press and are current as of December 2018.  These numbers relate to a method and model that I particularly recommend for those seeking to realize their authentic sauna dreams.  Below details an 8’x12′ backyard sauna with an 6’x8′ hot room, and similar sized changing room:

Steve’s 8’x12′ “shed,” built, delivered, assembled by a shed company, then immediately converted by homeowner into an authentic backyard sauna (with a ton of snow).

Material cost:

  • $2,800: Shed company to build 8’x12′ structure, including exterior door, window openings.
  • $2,200:  Small Kuuma Stove, window, aluminum side water tank, double heat shield, ash pan.
  • $2,400: T&g cedar, insulation, foil vapor, 2 windows, interior framing, durarock, chimney stove components, fixed glass hot room windows.
  • $7,400: Total material cost.

Labor cost:

  • 100 work hours.
Steve’s 6×8 changing room

After the shed was outsourced, purchased, and assembled in Steve’s backyard by the shed company, he took over the build.  In my ebook, we call this the “shed build stage.”  From there, it took him about 100 work hours to complete.  I have built more than a few of these same 8’x12′ saunas.  100 work hours is right on.  These 100 hours take into consideration the “amateur builder quotient” meaning that there is about an 80% efficiency rate to these labor hours.  (I can attest to this: with my later sauna builds, I completed building these saunas with about 80 labor hours).

Conclusion:  How much does a sauna cost?  $7.5k plus 100 labor hours.

And keep in mind, for what I think is a reasonable $16,000, you can have a really well built and designed mobile sauna delivered to your backyard, cabin, or driveway.  Click here to learn more.

Closing comments from a new sauna enthusiast.  Enter Steve:

“We have been out there 10 out of the last 11 nights.  After dinner, I’ll go fire up the stove, and then we go for our walk.  After an hour or so, we arrive back home. Then, the sauna is about 140 degrees (f.), I’ll pull the coals forward, toss on another couple logs, and tone down the stove damper.  Then I’ll go inside, make ourselves a martini, slip into our bathrobes, and out back out to the sauna we’ll go.”

Q: Steve, your wife Amy, from 1-10, how into the sauna is she?

A: 11.

Steve’s 6’x8′ hot room

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17 thoughts on “How much does a sauna cost? Well, here’s your answer (down to the dollar)”

  1. Hi Glenn, love the blog! You helped my family when we were building our sauna a few years ago.

    I have a random question about saunas in Montana (Missoula/Bozeman/Butte): do you know anyone there who has a mobile sauna (ideally wood-fired) that they would potentially be willing to rent out on short-notice?

    Many thanks!!

  2. This is very useful. So what “optional” parts of the Kuuma stove are really mandatory, or at least very highly recommended? The window is for ambiance only I take it, so that has to be optional (even if a good idea). The hot water tank has to be optional. But what about the heat shields and ash pan? Is it really that much of a pain to empty the ashes from the previous use with a fireplace shovel before starting the next fire? Or is the ash pan necessary for air flow? Are the heat shields necessary if using durarock?

  3. Hey Glenn,
    It was great chatting with you at the Home and Garden show.
    I was the guy who built a sauna in his backyard this winter but had not completed the benches yet. You gave me some solid advice on design that I will definitely put to use.
    Thanks for the info, I hope the show was a success!

  4. Ash pan is needed! It provides great airflow for starting. $150. Worth it.
    Window is fabulous!
    Water tank with a spicket is nice to have all year round.
    I would think your ok with no heat shields and durarock as long as the stove is 6 inches away from wall.
    Do get the ash pan and window right away, you will not regret it, add the other stuff later.

  5. Sorry I couldn’t help you Alex. One day soon there will be many mobile saunas for rent in Montana. Save this as proof that you and I are thinking ahead of a curve.

  6. Hi Glenn,

    Firstly thank you for all of your useful information it is greatly appreciated.
    I have a quick question, I know cedar is the preferred option when it comes to saunas, but I have opted for a redwood tongue and groove pine, should this suffice? also do you recommend a jointing compound for between the grooves??

  7. Conor: Thanks for the kind words. Cedar is like Trout and Redwood is like Salmon. They are very close species. But i’ve not heard of redwood pine. If that’s like salmon catfish don’t use it. If it’s like Copper River salmon, then definitely use it. We want soft woods on our walls. White Spruce is another species which is very nice.

    No jointing compound at all. Just tap the tongue into the groove and on you go.

  8. Hi,Glenn.
    This is Ray, a member of JAPAN SAUNA INSTITUTE.

    I want you to see some pics and an article of Japanese sauna.
    and want you to introduce them on your website.

    Actually, it’s a National Sauna Day on march 7th in Japan.
    So we took some beautiful pics of Japanese Sauna, and somehow want to introduce them to peaple who love sauna all over the world.

    If you get interested in, I can send pics and an artictle about Japanese sauna to you right now by email.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


  9. Hi Glenn:

    I downloaded your “Build Your Own Sauna” publication. I have an indoor 6 x 8 sauna drawn into my architectural plans, and an electric heater is my only option. There are so many sauna heaters on the market, and it is hard to distinguish them from one another. I want quick start up, efficiency, and wi-fi control capability. Suggestions?

  10. Hey Glenn, Love the site! Can’t wait to start in on the podcast! I was wondering if you could go ahead and send me your E-book. Made my donation earlier this morning. Cheers, Ryan

  11. Glenn (and Steve),

    Man, so I am planning out my build for this summer, using Steve’s approach by having Tuff Shed build me a shed. However, I am not getting a quote anywhere near the $2,800 listed above for the shed structure. Using Tuff Shed’s online quote configurator (as instructed to use by Jon at Tuff Shed in Savage), a 8×12 reverse gable pro ranch tall with a man door is coming to $4,600. That doesn’t include any upgrades or anything (paint job, vents, etc). Am I missing something here, or have construction costs just shot up by 40% in the last year? Hard to believe that’s the case.

    Some other questions I am pondering…

    Did you go with the standard 7 ft sidewalls or 8 ft? Tuff Shed said I’d need to do the “tall” version since I’d want a man door, but your picture looks like you just squeezed a man door in with 7 ft. sidewalls.

    Insulation: Did you have Tuff Shed apply house wrap? They insist on doing this if you plan to insulate it, which of course I’ll be doing. Not sure if it’s necessary tho.

    Venting: Did you have Tuff Shed install any vents to the outside (either in the gable or changing room section of the shed)?

    That’s all for now. I’d also be open to connecting about Steve’s build either over the phone or on the bench.


  12. it all depends on options. i was just fooling around with the site and priced a premier tall ranch for $3600. this is bare-bones with unpainted vertical wood siding, 3-tab shingles, single six-panel residential door, etc.

    that $2800 price is from december 2018, still a big jump though.

  13. Yeah… I’d be nice to get what the exact order was for above, so I can I provide that to Tuff Shed to get confirmation on price increase. It’d probably be a good idea to update this post, if indeed, the price as jumped up that much since December 2018.

    Glenn – Any way you could have Steve provide exact specs for his order from Tuff Shed. He could email me at nicholaspetercampbell(at)gmail.com.

  14. Hi Nick:

    Better thinking: please call the Shakopee MN Tuff Shed, and explain who you are and where you saw all this (saunatimes) and ask for the “Auerbach Pro Ranch” it is/used to be on file, and many have used this spec for their own shell, including Steve. If they don’t have this one on file anymore, ask them to pull Steve’s project from their build record.

    And if all this pricing is North of reality, there’s always someone willing to do a shed build at a (more) reasonable price. If you are by chance in Minneapolis/St. Paul area, please email me, saunatimes@gmail.com, as I’ve got a reputable builder in mind who could do a shed, or complete build or anything in between.

    Good sauna to all.

  15. Hey Nick!

    Just sent you an email about my experience with Tuff Shed and ultimately going with Dakota Storage Buildings. Hope it helps!


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