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I want my own sauna, where do I start?

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I get a lot of emails, folks thanking me for  This warms my heart.  One day I may do the affiliate marketing gig, and one day soon you’ll see some of my sauna related products/inventions off to the right hand side of this page.  Yet for now, here it is, free relevant sauna information.  For we are kindred spirits.  We recognize the health & wellness benefits to sauna.  We recognize the importance of having our own authentic escape vs. a light bulb infrared closet or a hot tub petri dish.

Lots of noise out there

“The other sites I’ve come across are mostly trying to promote their kits, without much useful info.”  He’s right.  And everyone has their self interest.  Mine is to diffuse the noise and be straight with you.  Compounding the noise is the fact that ‘sauna’ is becoming a bigger story. So people are getting in the game.  Infrared hucksters are packaging high margin kits and are working hard to try to sell them to you.  So, here you are, reading this with a keen interest in cutting through the noise in an effort to getting your own authentic sauna.  Welcome.

So, where do I start?

I’ll make this easy: inside or outside?  Not sure?  You are on a hike in the woods and you approach a fork.  To the left is a more used trail, easier in navigation, looks to be less work.  To the right is a less used trail, thicker trees, somewhat more rugged.  Pick a trail, and I’ll walk with you.

  • LEFT TURN: You chose a sauna heated by an electric stove, most likely in your house.  You can carve out about a 6’x6′ – 6’x8′ space, maybe in your basement, maybe convert a closet, maybe go to town and incorporate a sauna as part of your bathroom remodel.
  • RIGHT TURN: You chose a sauna heated by a wood stove, very likely outside your house or cabin.  My 8′ x 12′ design is a great starting point, and in most cases will be your ending point as many have adopted this design and nobody that I know of has regretted anything about it.
Two design concepts for a 6’x8′ hot room within an 8’x12′ building

OK, I know my sauna turn, now what?

CAVEAT:  I’m a right turn guy.  I understand the realities if you chose left turn, and I don’t begrudge your decision.  You deserve your own sauna.  Nice job so far.  If you chose an electric sauna in your house, get a piece of chalk and mark off your space, we’ll come back to you later.  If you chose a wood burning sauna, find 4 sticks and 50′ of carpenter’s string, and let’s mark off an 8’x12′ spot on your property.  Keep in mind:

  • Slope: If your spot has slope, you’ll most likely want your sauna building so that the 8′ run is into the hill, the 12′ run along the slope of the hill.
  • Exposure: Very important.  Imagine your 8′ x 12′ sauna at different times of the day, relative to sunrise, sunset, etc.  Ideally, I like the 12′ wall with exterior door facing South, but East or West can work just as well – it depends, of course, upon:
  • View: Your most critical consideration.  You want the door of your sauna to spill out in a direction that makes most sense, relative to your property.  This is obvious stuff, but the fun thing is after you mark off your 8′ x 12′ sauna/changing room, you can mock up a door, and then think patio, fire pit, a little lawn furniture, and if you need an outdoor shower.

This is how you get started.

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9 thoughts on “I want my own sauna, where do I start?”

  1. I am looking at building a sauna in a closet off master bath. My concern is in making sure the suana is sealed tight so that I don’t get any posiblilly of mold accuring in the house . I live in s/w Florida.. I use to enjoy a sauna in my old house up north in Michigan..


  2. We live in St. Paul and my husband is partially disabled. We’ve been doing his showers on our back patio but I am trying to think of a solution for when the colder weather comes.
    Our shower/bath is on the second floor and he can’t currently climb stairs. We were thinking about the possibility of building a sauna/shower on the patio. I could send you a photo of the area if you’re interested in seeing it.
    What are the considerations for a shower and sauna in one outdoor space? it
    would have to be small-ish because it needs to stay accessible from our back door. Would it need to be insulated somehow? It definitely doesn’t need to be fancy(don’t need speakers or anything like that)just functional and practical. My husband is very handy but can’t physically build things now. We do have friends and guys that still work in our shop who would be able to build it though. What do you think?

  3. S.K.: Here’s what I think.
    1. Get a piece of graph paper and draw out your property. Backyard at least.
    2. Pencil in where/what you’re thinking in terms of sauna building. (size, location).
    3. Invite me to come over to your house. Meet you and your husband, and talk this out.
    4. Invite a couple friends/guys from your shop to join our meeting. (If you wish).
    5. We finalize the plan.
    6. I will help you finalize building materials list.
    7. You arrange for building materials delivery and work schedule for your team.
    8. I will help manage this project for you and your crew.

    There is no reason why your husband won’t be taking a sauna well before the snow flies.

    #3, #5, #6, #8 will be my contribution to you. (ie, no charge, happy to do this).


  4. Hi my name is Sheila I have been trying to figure out how to turn a barely used for storage closet into a sauna I seen a video from a scientist discussing the positive effect of a sauna on the coronavirus and I live with my 91 year old grandpa who is at great risk… can someone please help me figure out how I can turn my closet into a sauna on a low budget…

  5. Sheila:

    Start with the sauna heater. 220v is what you’ll need for wiring an electric sauna heater. And given that you’re on a low budget, you could consider an infrared light bulb closet. It is NOT a sauna and it does NOT get up to serving temperature, but given your constraints, a plug and play solution to get your toes wet towards the authentic may be the way to go.

  6. I’d like to turn an unused closet on the second floor of my home into a small sauna –on a budget. Is there an issue with the subfloor being plywood/particleboard? What would be best to put over that? Also, if I don’t use any water in the sauna, is there any reason I couldn’t use an electric oil radiant heater as the heating unit? Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

  7. JB:

    If the subfloor is plywood, this is better. If it is particleboard, then we gotta be more careful. Humidity and sweat and all that is not good. And if it gets really hot, there’s the thinking about glue and all that. So, sealing off the subfloor is best with Durock or tile underlayment, and i’d skim coat, but that’s me as i’m a nut for this product. Seals and easy to work with. The A job is tile.

    As far as an electric oil radiant heater, i can’t endorse this at all. A sauna by definition involves a stove that heat rocks, and we toss water on the rocks and that’s a sauna.

  8. I have a cedar closet with a hardwood floor in my house. Would the cedar planks have to be taken down and then insulated underneath first?

  9. Yes. You will need to take the paneling down from the existing cedar closet and insulate the common walls behind. As well as foil vapor barrier. Danger: do not use the cedar from the cedar closet. This is “Eastern Red Cedar” – too pungent. Please search this term on this website for more.

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