Let’s talk about sauna ceiling height, bench height, venting along sauna door down to the inch (and centimeter)

sauna bench heights

I thought I was building and advising to build saunas correctly. And for the most part, I am. However, there is one WIDE difference on what many are doing in the US compared to Finland:

Gap along the hot room door.

Finns, the pros, are nuts about fresh air and venting. With a wood fired sauna stove, this is critical yet not AS critical as with an electric stove.


Wood stoves draw air and help circulate air on their own.

But electric stoves suck, in terms of air flow and ventilation. We need to be cognizant of good venting!!


Fresh air and oxygen circulation allow us to enjoy our time in the hot room. Dizziness from time spent in a sauna is more apt to be from a lack of oxygen than too much heat. How do I know this to be true? I took 50 saunas in 12 days in Finland, and I was never dizzy.

Oxygen. Air flow.

How do we design our saunas for optimal oxygen and air flow?

sauna bench heights
sauna bench heights


  1. 43-44″ (109cm) Top bench to ceiling. When sitting on the upper bench, we want to be able to put two fists over the top of our head to the ceiling.
  2. 16-18″ (46cm) lower bench. This is optimal chair height and comfortable for most adults (no scrunching or feet dangling).
  3. 6″ (15cm) raised floor deck. This step up, when entering the hot room, keeps the feet warm when sitting on the lower bench as we have an air gap from the actual hot room floor to where you sit, stand, or walk.
  4. 4″ (10cm) gap along hot room door. This makes the Finns happy. Plenty of air flow.
  5. Vent: opposite wall as stove, eye height while standing. A few inches (10cm) down from the ceiling.

What’s wrong with this design?

I know, I know, while sitting on the upper bench, our feet, resting on the lower bench, are a few inches below the sauna rocks.

If we build saunas with 7’6″ (229cm), we can move everything up 6″ (15cm). This way, while sitting on the upper bench, our feet are at or above the sauna rocks. But this creates a new problem. Now we have 12″ step up from changing room floor to hot room floor. Two steps, 6″ (15cm) each can be quite clunky and cumbersome. Worse, these steps can be dangerous for children or senior adults as they navigate themselves off from the top bench, down steps and out to the lake or cold plunge water feature.

Let’s pick our poison

While sitting on the upper bench, do we want our feet a few inches below the sauna rocks, or do we want 12″ of up and down steps each time we enter and exit our sauna hot rooms? Many (including me) choose to have feet a bit below the sauna rocks and one less step coming and going, over and over.


I have tuned my 7′ tall sauna hot room bench heights as follows, and approve this message:

  • 44” ceiling to top bench.
  • 16” to low bench.
  • 16” to step or raised floor.
  • 5” step to duckboard, height of changing room.

Try that.

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74 thoughts on “Let’s talk about sauna ceiling height, bench height, venting along sauna door down to the inch (and centimeter)”

  1. The answer might be a small step at the bottom. Most of our lower bench heights (where our feet rest) here in the U.S. are way too low according to the “law of löyly”. 7’6″ vs. 7’0″ might be the answer and the “right height” for a sauna. Top bench height would be about 48″ when building with a 7’6″ ceiling. A major problem for us here in the U.S. is that, our favorite stove, (Kuuma) is 33″ tall. That only leaves 15″ drop from the top bench (33″ height for bottom bench). That is a big climb and not a lot of drop from the top bench.

  2. Glenn thanks for this update! I will definitely be changing my drawings for my up coming build.

    I am considering curving the ceiling. 7′ height along the long walls and 7″-6″ along the middle (barrel curve). I feel this will help loyly roll up off the stove and curl across the ceiling more naturally. Your thoughts?

  3. Exactly Jeff!

    With a taller stove, we’ll be building saunas that’ll be like navigating the bleachers at a high school football game. Each step comes with a potential trip and fall (and heckle from the peanut gallery).

  4. Steve: The gambrel ceiling in hot room is a good concept. As you mention, it helps roll the Loyly, and technically it does “de mass” the hot room area a couple few cubic feet.

    You’ll want to make sure your head doesn’t bump into the slope, of course.

    And I built a really great sauna once with a soft pitched ceiling, higher towards the bench side. However, every iteration or alteration comes with an equal and opposite concern. In this case, height from stove to ceiling was an issue. And the Loyly police could take issue with how the steam may settle in the upper triangle formed from a shed slope ceiling.

    And one more thing, Saunaseura (Finnish Sauna Society) #5 is nicknamed “The church” because of its gambrel roof design. So, if they are doing it, i’m sure it is orthodoxically approved by the sauna evangelists.

  5. Hi Glenn
    I have noticed I get a bit light headed. As you may remember I have the Kuuma stove and a 1″ gap under the door and a separate combustion air intake into the hot room. I could remove another 1″ from the bottom of the door and raise the height of the duck board by another 3/4″ without needing to move my benches higher. Do you think it would be worth the effort?

  6. Hi Ceri:

    Tough call. A Finlander would say, cut the door. Maybe try Running your sauna as normal, then one round, open the door with the slightest crack/opening. Run your hand along the door, with the slight opening from below and all the way up the door and see if you’re getting air flow coming in. Maybe get a candle even and identify air flow/pressurization. This may tell you whether your hot room wants more venting (intake).

  7. Instead of steps, consider building a ramp down into the dressing room with a non slip surface.

  8. Thanks for this Glenn.

    I think our final elevations are:
    Ceiling: 96″
    Upper Bench: 52″
    Lower Bench: 34″
    Base Platform: 17″
    Steps: Three 6.3″ steps from changing floor to base platform.

    Stove is a Himalaya so taller than most. Top of the rocks is about 41″ so feet will still be about 7″ below the top but hopefully not too huge of a temp differential.

    We’re changing the door gap to 3″ from the standard 1″ that our supplier does. We’ll see how it works and can cut off more if necessary. They were going to place the exhaust vent on the same wall as the door and heater but we’re having them move it to the opposite wall.

    Question: Should the vent go to the outside or is an adjacent room OK? We’ve a conservatory above our sauna and I’m toying with running the vent in to there.

  9. Walker:

    Good one. I am not sure if a sauna builder in Finland (or one with multiple of the same consonants next to each other in their last name, ie. an ancestor from Finland) would advise against “vent to the outside” but truth be told, I did exactly what you are thinking with my backyard sauna. The upper vent feeds into our den/lounge above the hot room.

    While sitting upstairs between sauna rounds, our feet have been able to benefit from the principle of convective heat transfer (heat rises). Our hot room is benefiting from good air flow. Intake: fresh air via a vent a couple inches above the floor and the generous gap along the hot room door.

    So, we’ll see if any readers with last names like Hankkannen or Heikkinen advise against an upper vent not to the outside, but i’m cool with this adaptation for “recycling” our heat.

  10. Hi Glenn. I’m about to build out an 8′ by 12′ shed very close to your ebook plan. My shed has 8 foot side walls so I actually have 92″ to work with and will go as high as possible. I was planning on a 4″ door gap… But now musing with the idea of floating my entire center wall by 2″. Any thoughts?

  11. Matt: Best gig is to gap your hot room door, as you mention, and build common wall per usual. That’s plenty of intake venting. As you plan your benches,I suggest working from the edges: As you sit on the upper bench, two fists above your head to the ceiling, and as you stand on the floor, consider duck board or a raised step, giving a reasonable step down from hot room to cool down room.

    7’6″ is a great ceiling height, for all this to work, as detailed above.

    The Finnish police may issue a frown if, as you sit on the upper bench, your feet are at a height below the sauna stove rocks, but we have to balance this against the vertigo of that extra step or two within a smaller footprint home sauna to get up that high.

  12. Good morning,

    I recently ordered your book on building saunas. And I was able to download the eBook, but the problem is there were no photos with it and the link that was attached was unopenable. Could you please advise on how I will be able to download the photos? They will help me a lot with my build.

    Thank you for your help

    Troy Gregg

  13. Glenn,
    I’ve been trying to listen again to the pod from Finland where you discussed the 8’ ceiling… I thought it was with either Jarmo or Risto but I must be mistaken. Can you direct me to the proper episode? I’m very interested in the higher ceiling concept if I can figure out safe steps…

  14. Sorry Glenn! Just found my post where I asked the same thing a couple weeks ago! My 54 year old brain is getting the best of me!

  15. Glenn: I am still designing my sauna space, so this is a timely discussion. A couple Qs, one of which is unrelated to this string:

    Q When you refer to a four inch vent “along the sauna door” do you mean the 4″ vent is built into the bottom of the door, say a 4″ x 10″ built 3″ up from the bottom of the door? Or are you referring to a door substantially shorter than the jamb?

    Also, I have seen other designs which locate the lower vent in the wall, directly under the electric sauna heater. Which location is better, in your opinion?

    Q. I am building a 4’6″ x 5′ sauna, so I will need lots of 5′ boards. I have located a source of clear cedar T&G, and they have tons of 5 foot long, 1 x 5 boards, and they are priced reasonably because (I assume), 1×5 is not too common, and nobody wants just 5′ boards. The reveal is 4 1/4″ and the thickness is 19/32″. My question: will these boards tend to warp, given the width and thickness? I am not sure if the grain is flat or not; will that affect your answer?


  16. Hi Don.

    1. door 4″ shorter than the jam. Simple opening along the bottom.. you got it.
    2. cedar won’t warp. you’ll be good!

  17. Hi Glenn,

    Thank you for your response last month. Still loving your role in the sauna universe!

    I think I have collected a couple questions and distilled my thoughts. I now have my external structure built (mostly). After percolating on your suggestions and content for months, I worked myself up to a bigger building to really allow for a quality changing/cool-down space that will serve as a hangout for my family and friends. With the help of a super-skilled craftsman friend this weekend, we put up a 9’x16’ building made of 2×6 framing. Meaning I have plenty of space inside for an “ideal” hot room with my desired measurements including ceiling height. Which brings me to my questions:

    1. Accounting for what I think of as your recent “Finnish Directive”, I was thinking a 7’6” hot room ceiling height allowing for the raised floor and therefore higher benches in relation to the top of my heater. (I’m going electric, possibly a Tylo 8kw heater.) Is 7’6” from actual floor to ceiling paneling the way to go? The heater is only 26” tall before a recommended mounting 7” off ground, so 33” to top). Would you still recommend getting the bonus height with a false floor and the 7’6” room?

    2. The width across the back wall will be just shy of 8’ once I get the cedar paneling in. Here’s my big ponder: Where to put common wall? 7’ so I have 7x8x7.5? Or maybe 6.5” deep so I don’t let the volume balloon out? The heater I was looking at is rated up to 440 cubic feet, but I don’t want to build too big. I have tried to take to heart your cautions about going too big in the hot room. Picking the ideal dimensions up front is what keeps me up at night…..

    3. This is really a part B of the previous question, but if I do an A+ job insulating with high R-value in my 2×6 walls and especially the hot room ceiling, I ought to be able to get the hot room heat cranking even if I’m around 400 square feet, right? I’m in Oregon, so outside temp will seldom be below 30 even in winter.

    As you can see, I’m heavy into the over-thinking phase right now.

    Super appreciate what you do, Glenn! I will probably be back at you for more expertise as I get this thing finished on the inside.


  18. An electical back-up generator will be required if the power is ever disrupted during a sauna session.
    Just sayin..ya know.

  19. Chris: It’s ok to be in the over-thinking phase. Sauna building isn’t like building a deck, where anyone at any lumber yard can point you in the direction of joist hangers and deck screws. Thanks for numbering your questions and let me try my best:

    This 7’6″ has thrown me for a bit of a loop as well. I’ve always built and enjoyed 7′ ceilings for many reasons, primarily in that once we step down from the bench, stand on the hot room floor, we are on one level: hot room, changing room, outside deck, etc. I like one level living. I like hosting saunas with one level living (especially in the day when we had many party saunas with lots of coming and goings). But the “feet at level of sauna rocks when sitting on the bench” seems to be as important in Finland as coaches telling forwards to back check. So, this is what prompted the drawing and post above. I don’t have an exact answer for you, but what I would probably do is settle on your stove, get your stove and measure height from floor to your rocks, and set your low bench there (albeit virtually). Then work up and down from there. This way, if you end up taking a sauna with a Finnish hockey coach, he won’t blow the whistle on you.

    2. COMMON WALL: I can suggest what to do, but I find the best thing is as follows: make a cardboard template of your stove footprint and “mock up” your common wall location (use a 2×4 cut to length, which will end up being your bottom plate). I have done exactly this and have never regretted taking ownership to this important decision on site (not on graph paper). Feel your hot room. Feel your changing room. Nudge the 2×4 until you have it exactly how you want the two rooms sized. Once defined, pencil mark your 2×4 and build your common wall. Guarantee: when you’re done and taking a sauna, you will remember this tip, and will be glad you did it.

    Please search “electric sauna stoves” on this website. Jeff guest posts. Jeff is the most knowledgeable, objective electric sauna stove expert in the US NOT in the sauna stove selling business. Hands down. We are lucky to have him as an advisor on saunatimes. I am pretty sure once you read his guest posts, you will have your answer. As far as insulation goes, R19 with foil is totally more than enough, even in Alaska (and Northern Minnesota, where my sauna walls are 2×4 with R13).

    Good questions, and glad you shared on here so others down the same path can hopefully benefit (and chime in where/when desired).

  20. Glenn,
    I have a question about waterproofing under the wood stove. I have your e book and am going to use the paving stones like you suggest. Do they sit directly on the plywood or do you need some sort of waterproofing underneath?

  21. Hi Mike: I glue the paver stones directly to subfloor. Then skim coat everything with vinyl cement. This has worked great for me for many builds over many years. Good luck, keep it up!

  22. Glen-

    QQs on venting and house wrap. I am having a shed build by Tuff Shed and plan to finish it out myself. The questions that I have for you are…

    Do I need to put a vent in the attic if I am using house wrap, and foil wrapping the lower room? The shed will have a metal roof, if that matters.

    Also, the question came up from the builder as to whether I want/needed to house wrap it, and there seems to be some zoning concerns where I am at in Chanhassen, but from what I have read, it seems advisable.

    Kindly let me know your thoughts.


  23. I like a vent in the hot room to the outside and yes, a vent in x room is good too.

    Keep it up Brent. The Sauna Talk episode with Steve is a good one (building a sauna from a shed).

  24. i would recommend the house wrap, not sure why that would be a zoning issue? maybe some type of building code issue but i can’t see why zoning would care. as for the vent, i believe you are asking about a vent in the attic to the exterior, like a ridge vent on the rooftop or a gable vent on the side. this is also advised, helps vent heat/moisture from that area. if it is simply enclosed, you run the risk of mold or similar developing in there. to function properly, you really need soffit vents as well to establish good airflow.

    you definitely don’t want to vent the hot room into the attic, even if you have an attic vent to the exterior. even venting from the changing room to the attic is not a good idea.

  25. Regarding the “feet above the stove” rule; what about a foot rest? I’ve been in a few saunas over the years with a comfortable foot rest/stove guard made with an angled board that is very comfortable and warms up your feet nicely after a dip in a cold lake.

  26. Erik: Totally. The foot rest has fallen a bit away from use over the past couple decades. Old school functional saunas (those dotted along shores of crisp cool lakes, and by rural farms and fields in rural hinterlands) featured foot rest/stove guards as you mention. They are ergonomically comfy and foot warming functional, as you mention. I’m a huge fan of these for these two reasons. Some call them “drunk fences”. 🙂

  27. Building a heat shield: two questions about making spacers for a 1 ¼” air gap out of layered 1/4” cement board, 1) do you laminate the cement board? If so, what type of adhesive is used? 2) what type of fasteners do you use to hold heat shield to the stud wall? And how do you protect from heat transfer down the fasteners to the stud? Thanks.

  28. Hi Arthur:

    Not sure about “layered cement board.” I / we have always used durarock. Could be same stuff, just different terminology. No adhesive, just crews. Need not be fancy screws, but they do sell screws for cement board/durarock with a wider head to them. Heat transfer isn’t that big of a deal. My experience.

  29. Hi Glenn,

    I recently purchased your e-book and am planning an outdoor sauna build. I had hoped to have a 5’x7′ x7′ tall (7 cubic meters volume) hot room but am limited to an electric heater in the range of 3-3.5KW (i’m in Europe with a 230v 16A circuit). I understand from manufacturers websites that these smaller heaters are only designed for spaces up to 4 cubic meters.

    My question is can anything be done in the design/layout of the hotroom so I could get away with using a smaller heater without losing too much bench space?
    I’d thought of things like boxing off the space under the benches (to reduce room volume), lowering the ceiling to 6’6″ and using thicker insulation and perhaps no windows.

  30. Hi Alex:

    I take it that you are constrained by unmovable reasons for needing to build a smaller hot room. Yet, you are planning an outdoor sauna build, couldn’t you nudge the walls a bit in either or both directions, giving you a 6’x7′, say? My backyard hot room is 6’4″x6’3″ and it works! Granted it has a kick ass wood burning Kuuma inside, but from a human body standpoint, we are able to get three on upper bench and one or two low bench Larry’s at a time. Yet if you have the empty canvas try for larger.

    Anyhow, your question: design of hot room to reduce room volume:
    1. Benches. Yes, box out your benches. This will lead to a cleaning challenge, however. Consider removable benches atop your box. (and search “bake breathe method” on this website).
    2. Ceiling. Consider gambrel ceilings in hot room. (fancy term for framing angles in your corners). I’d think 30-45 degree, about 1′ length will give your ceiling the desired “church” effect, and helping roll the loyly.
    3. Walls. If severely constrained by square meter/feet for some reason, you MAY consider using 2x2s vs 2x4s for walls. If you go this direction, consider blown in insulation in the cavity as it is more efficient and foil for good seal and reflecting of heat.
    4. Roof. Why not just raise your roof, instead of lower your ceiling? Use 2×6 vs. 2×4 and R19 vs. R13. This is perhaps the best of all the ideas as heat rises and if you do a great job containing your heat from above, you’ll have a better shot at your electro stove doing an adequate job. If you can’t raise your roof, i’d look at making firing strips and beefing up your rafters only slightly to give you a 6’x8″ minimum hot room height.

  31. yes. Someone out there could really go to town with Electric sauna stoves. There are untapped kilowatts out there.

  32. Hi Glenn,

    Thanks so much for your reply. This website and the ebook are such a fantastic resource!

    I’m thinking that framing with 2×6 all over instead of 2×4 would both nudge the walls in a few inches and allow me to double up the cavity insulation behind the foil seal. The idea about increasing the roof insulation makes a lot of sense. The only issue I have here is that I’m limited to keeping the total building height under 8ft2 for compliance with building rules and so to end up with 6’8 headroom height in the hotroom i’d need a flat/pent roof design and that should just about leave room for an insulated subfloor and 2×6 roof framing.

    The angled ceiling corners sounds like a great idea, but does it matter which sides are angled? if the ceiling is only 6ft8 there wouldnt be much headroom left when sat up on the high bench and the side with the door/heater wouldnt have much height left above the door frame.


  33. Hi Miller,

    I need to check this with my electrician to be sure! but I believe that the guage of SWA cable from my house cant take a load of more than 20 amps total. Its also buried deep under a large patio and paths so not so easy to dig up and replace with something heavy duty 🙁 the cable already supplies my outdoor gym (lighting circuits and a small elec heater) and I guessed i’d have to play it safe and take a 16A breaker off this for the sauna when I get around to building it!


  34. Hi, Glenn. Really loving your site and all the good sauna talk. Hoping you can help with a question about the outlet vent. I see a lot of advice saying to put the outlet/exhaust vent where you’ve mentioned, like a foot below the ceiling, or eye height, etc. But I also see a lot of advice saying to put it under the top bench, so you’re not venting out the really hot air. Why the difference in methods? Is one better for wood-fired heaters and another better for electric? Or is it personal preference? Or no diff?
    I’ll be paneling my basement closet sauna conversion in a week or two, so would really love to hear your take on this issue!

  35. Mike: late reply to your vent question. I think one can overthink venting, but then again, if one is this into it (which I think is a good thing) my advice is to vent the sh** out of your hot room. I mean, why not? Every Finn sauna pro i’ve gotten to know is crazy for ventilation, as one of the top characteristics to good sauna. After 50 saunas in 12 days, i’ve become a ventilation nut myself. Try this:
    1. a 10 cm gap along bottom of hot room door. (that’s a lot more than I used to build).
    2. a vent behind the stove, say, 12″ from floor.
    3. a vent between low bench and upper bench, with open/shut control hatch.
    4. two vents 12″ from ceiling, opposite corners, with open/shut control hatches.

    The sauna user can tune their ventilation, creating optimal air flow for experiential goodness.

    Also, as saunatimes joins the monetization dark side, we”ll soon be offering open/shut control hatches for sale, along with simple “after market” instructions on how to install vents. (10 minute project with a hole saw: zip, zip, two screws, and then, breathe, breathe).


    I’m a ventilation nut, just like you.

  36. Thanks, Glenn. This nut is planning to do two adjustable outlets, and to relentlessly test high only vs. low only vs. half/half, and everything inbetween. 🙂

  37. How close can the benches be to the stove? I’ve ordered a kuuma stove and am planning my layout. I’d like to have my bench as close as possible without fire risk. I didn’t order the heat shield. Maybe I should have…

  38. And here are two more that have the exhaust down low before up high, and I think the answer about why some show venting low and some show it high. The tylohelo site gives an especially good explanation.


    Both mention forced exhaust ventilation (i.e., a fan), and this seems to be the key: “if the sauna room isn’t fitted with forced ventilation. In this case, the exhaust valve is installed min 1m higher than the inlet valve.”

    So, a low exhaust location is suitable if you use an exhaust fan, and if not then place the exhaust at least 1 meter higher than the inlet.


  39. Mike, My first thought: really great, yet possibly overthinking. I feel it to be a beautiful balance between feeling and designing. Living and planning. The best saunas are those that are well used. And well used saunas allow us to make perfect saunas. Perfect saunas happen when we use our saunas, and need not be perfect starting with the first sauna we take in the sauna we just built. Ventilation is an example.

    If there’s anything I learned from 50 saunas in 12 days in Finland, as well as my 30 years taking sauna 3x/week, is that good ventilation is critical to good sauna.

    I am reminded of my visit to Rajaportinsauna, in Tampere, Finland. While sharing a post sauna beer with Director and staff, we toasted to “Rempalia” – not more than it needs to be.

    At Rajaportinsauna, the ventilation (and heat, and Loyly) is consciously perfect. The window on the way up the stairs is old, and loosely fit, and circulation of air happens here.

    From my notes, Viekko Niskavaara, manager, and Ilmari Lyyma, stoker: Asiat on Sopivasti Rempallaan. “The state of things is comfortably almost there. If you don’t need to fix it, it is perfect.”

    Rajaportinsauna has provided beautiful, well ventilated wood fired sauna since the early 1920s. No forced exhaust ventilation. No diagrams. No measurements.

    asiat on sopivasti rempallaan. Things are suitably laid back.

  40. Hey Glenn! I’m just getting started building a sauna here in NE Mpls based on your e-book specs. I’m excited. Shed builder is arriving in a couple of weeks, then it’s off to the races for me. Couple of questions:

    1. The changing room ceiling — do you build out the ceiling throughout the entire space (hot room and change room) at 7′, or do you do something else in the change room?
    2. Changing room floor — duraock and skim coat?
    3. I plan to do 2 fixed transoms in the hot room, 48″x16″. Insulated 1/4″ tempered. Any concerns on heat loss with this much glass?
    4. Any concerns with cold air coming up through the floor drain — or is it a good source of airflow couple with the door gap?
    5. I notice that sometimes you specify a reverse gable — does it really matter which way the gable is constructed on the shed, running the 12′ length vs the 8′ length?
    6. You’re pretty adamant about a 7′ ceiling height — yet the folks at Kuuma say their small size stove could handle an 8′ ceiling space with no problem, and that extra height sounds luxurious. Am I crazy to do an 8′ ceiling height?
    7. Is the double layer of durarock with 1″ gap behind the stove truly necessary?

    Thanks for all the great info i your book and on this site — i’m super pumped to get this thing up and rolling by December.

  41. 1. Hot room ceiling. You can go 7’6″ drop ceiling in hot room. Two plans, either A) 2×6 hot room ceiling joists and R19 insulation between the cavities, or B) 2×4 hot room ceiling joists and run R13 between the cavities and consider a second course of R13 laid atop your hot room ceiling rafters, cross wise. I’ve done both, and probably would prefer B. As far as x room goes, i like to box in the triangle above hot room, recessed 16″ which becomes a shelf above hot room, and let x room be cathedral.

    2. Yes, Durarock and skim coat x room floor provides a water tight good medium for duckboard or a floor mat or carpet or anything. good.

    3. Heat loss with tempered: As long as you’re going with a good stove, like the Kuuma, you’ll have relatively minimal heat loss with these two windows.

    4. Cold air through floor drain: A very good source of fresh air. It’s a good thing. If big on sauna and a cold beer, consider resting your beer or nICE mug next to your hot room floor drain.

    5. Reverse gable. I’m a fan for two main reasons 1) x room door opens along 12′ wall and overhang allows for better hanging out in rain. 2) cathedral in x room is more cathedral. Third reason is that i think it looks better, less shed and more cabin.

    6. 8′ ceiling. Not crazy at all. 7’6″ may work too. This allows for a raised floor above crack in the hot room door, a step up from changing room to hot room. preferred by Finns and gets ones feet at stove rock level when sitting on upper bench. Please search “bench height” on saunatimes for deeper weeds on this.

    7. Double layer durarock: not necessary at all. I recommend cultured stone applied to your durarock which will provide really nice Lampomassa to your hot room, as well as some “wow” ambiance as the wood, rock, fire, water, air, all start interacting in a sophisticated cave man kind of primal sort of way.

  42. Hi Glenn

    Question, I am building a 8 by 14 wood fired sauna with hot room and dressing room about equal size. I am thinking about using western red cedar decking nailed or screwed tight together so no gaps between them. This deck flooring will go on top of mosquito screen then below the screen will be the 2 by 6 framing, then rock below that. No drains in either room. Water from washing, cooling off etc. will run through the tight cracks in the decking down to the rocks below. Also the building will be on 4 by 6 inch skids and sealed all the way around the building to prevent wind from blowing under building. The Kuuma stove will have its own separate base. Your thoughts.
    Thanks Glenn

  43. I’m reading about the [email protected] gap under the door for venting but I don’t want snow drifting in it mice chipmunks, red squirrels moving in from outside. Yes, the wild is directly outside my door. How about a louvered vent on door or in adjacent wall?

  44. The Finns are talking about this type of generous gap along the base of the door from hot room to changing room. Finns, and most all authentic sauna builders/enthusiasts build their saunas such that there are two rooms, minimum: hot room and cool down room (often referred to as changing room). So the gap described is from hot room to changing room. If you have a sauna or are building a sauna that is hot room only”, I suggest not gapping under your hot room door, but instead being generous with venting. One or two down low, and one or two at eye level.

  45. Hi Glenn,
    I’m building an outdoor sauna and am now to the stage of deciding ceiling height. I’ve read all the comments above and its great info. My question is the 6″ floor step up. I plan to do a vinyl cement floor to a drain. Then what is good for the raised floor area?
    I know it may seem obvious, but I thought initially it would only be 1″ boards, but if I raise the floor to 6″, a larger construction is necessary. So question:
    flooring to meet 6″ height, then 7’6″ from there? or 7’6″ from cement?

  46. Mary, the key pseudo fixed measurements are wood floor + 18″ bench + 18″ bench + 42″ upper bench to ceiling. I say pseudo because some people prefer slightly shorter for one or both benches and some prefer a bit more room from the upper bench to the ceiling.

    Cement floor to wood floor is variable. Outside of the U.S. this is determined primarily by the sauna heater being used so that wherever your feet rest when sitting on the upper bench is about even with the top of the rocks. In our case this resulted in the wood floor ideally being 23″ above the cement floor for our 40″ high Himalaya heater. So from the cement floor: 23″+18″+18″+42″

    We ended up with 17″ though since that was as high as code would allow given the space we had available for the 3 steps from the changing room up to the wood floor. That will leave our feet about 6″ lower than ideal but given the way the Himalaya works (tall tower of rocks vs lower rocks) the folks at Helo in Finland believe it might still work OK. If it doesn’t then we may create a bit of a sunken space in the cement to lower the heater down a few inches.

    FWIW, every sauna I’ve been in in Finland, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe required a few steps up from the changing room to the hot room so that’s quite normal.

  47. Typically, my bathing guests heights will range between 5’9”and 6’4”. Should bather comfort mostly be a consideration of height of heat source and needs of long-legged bathers like myself, or is the pure Physics of Thermodynamics and IN/OUT ventilation of PRIME importance when deciding on bench height. 7×6 Hot Room. 91” from the tiled floor to ceiling. Propane heat with vented chimney. Thoughts anyone??

  48. 91″ from floor to ceiling offers a great opportunity for the triple bench layout, as detailed above. 44″ from ceiling to top bench is great, otherwise, “you’re leaving a lot of heat on the table.” – Mike Norsdog, Opposite of Cold.

    And you can tune upper bench to middle bench, whether 16″ – 18″ is optimal, given the long legged bathers vis a vis thermodynamics, as you mention.

    Love tuning these dimensions. Every sauna has its own soul, and you can listen to your sauna’s soft voice to guide you through your own field verification.

  49. Currently, 1 movable Cedar bench of 2×6’s is in place, at 27.5″ above the tile floor. No Cedar duckboard/step of 2×6’s on edge nor angled footrest near stove’s front yet. Now comes the Meditation and Inner-tuning phase while the Wolves howl outside. Busy, busy. Must read the great book in it’s entirety when I have time. Locomotiveman

  50. I have a basement where I want to build a sauna. With a could of pipes in the way, height is just under six feet.
    once framed, it will be a couple of inches lower. Is that too low for the 4 x 6 single bench sauna that I would like to build?

  51. yes, under 6′ is tough for a proper sauna height. But barrel saunas are low, and i’m trying to be open minded to the idea. And those pipes above, you’ll want to be well insulated.

  52. My sauna has a 67/5″ peaked ceiling. I have an 8kw heater and its hard to get it over 140 degrees f for some reason. I would like to get it hotter. Wondering if the low /peaked ceiling is a problem?

  53. Just starting the plans for a sauna, looks like my limits for the internal dimensions will be are
    72′ L x 40″ deep x 72″ H. I have ceiling limit. It will be mostly for one person, my goal was small size, but I wanted the length to be long enough to lay down so, the 72″. I expect a higher bench along the long dimension and a lower seat on a short wall. Now, we know without the door opening presented the hot air rises and there is little circulation. Has there ever been a duct from high to low with a fan in it? this would circulate air giving you a slight hot breeze and you could still have the low heater side vent and the high cross ventilation vent for fresh air. Yes, it may take a special fan to withstand the high temperature.

  54. Hello Glenn,
    I see your Kuuma wood stove in the above diagram is sitting on what looks like some sort of platform 6” off the hot room floor? Is this correct to start with, could you please explain? ( if this was a previous question I must have missed it, this is a popular section…)
    Thanks, DARAN

  55. My ceiling is about 7’4” + or . I have the heat guard side and back with the small wood kuuma And will give the recommended distance Is that high enough for a wood ceiling and a lower guard around the back and side like the photo on the Lamppa “ wood burning sauna stove “ brochure? Is that a metal heat guard rather than the cement board and What is the flooring for the sauna in the photo? Thanks Daran

  56. Hi Daran,

    To prep the base for a Kuuma, i’ve had good success with 1 1/2″ stone pavers. They are 12×12 or 8×12. And then I skim coat on top of the paver pad. Then when I set the Kuuma, i stick 4 thin wood shims so there’s an ever slight gap between the Kuuma steel base and the cement. It seems to be a good thing in terms of air flow and steel protection. But this isn’t totally necessary, just me being weird about thermal transfer dynamics while in my sleep, probably.

  57. 7’4″ is right on the edge in terms of UL setback requirements to non combustibles for the ceiling. Both my saunas, small Kuumas, have wood paneling above the stove. 1996. 2003. But when building saunas for others, like the 612 Sauna with a 7′ ceiling, I’ve installed a 3’x3′ cement board to the ceiling.

    Metal heat guards vs. cement board:
    The best gig is cement board, then aluminum skin over the cement board (vs. metal heat guard as its own thing).

  58. Glenn,
    I only have 36” between wall and water tank on stove. How close can the lower bench be to the tank. Kuuma still recommended 10” from tank!
    My walls are non-combustible on opposite side of stove @ back and are only 5” from the stove w/o heat shields.

  59. I know. And at Lamppa Mfr. we are reciting clearances dictated by UL certification.

    And here is where I tell you about my saunas, 1996 and 2003 each with water tanks and each with low benches that can slide on “cleats” along the side walls (as detailed in this book). Being able to slide the lower bench offers a few key benefits, like ease of cleaning, but also for complying to UL certification yet allows one to pull out closer to water tank when in use without waiver form.

    And this is where I tell you NOT to do this, so i’m not liable, but I could show you a photo of my lower benches that show no sign of heat stress. Love the water tank!

  60. I purchased you book last year and have followed it for some great pointers. I did end up making the lower slide bench. Bench height of 50&32”, now I’ve gotta try designing a step system to get on benches with my small remaining are opposite side from stove. I’ve got a 6×8 room, like your common design.
    Is there a way I could share pic?

  61. I purchased your book and have referred to it for some great pointers in my build. The slider bench is what I ended up doing for lower bench.
    I’m doing the 6×8 room like your design. My bench heights are 50”& 32”, with the limited space, opposite of stove, any advice on steps to get up on benches without taking up too much floor space? Can we post/share pics in these blogs?

  62. Hi Glenn
    I have some squares of cedar shakes left over from a roofing job. Would it be possible to use the shakes for the interior walls and the sloping ceiling of a 5’x7’ sauna room? I haven’t seen any examples of this construction but thought I would ask anyway.
    All the best

  63. My feeling is that cladding can be of any decent sort so long as what’s behind it is high temp, well sealed foil vapor barrier.

    The shakes are not used in sauna much as probably because it’s not comfy for leaning against, obviously, but we don’t lean against walls much anyway, unless we’ve outdone ourselves with too long of a sauna session, and shouldn’t be in there anyway.

    And for behind the benches, we can install a fixed backrest system.

  64. I built an indoor wood fired sauna in an old coal bin in the basement of my house years ago using cedar shakes. They worked perfectly. The texture of the shakes wasn’t a problem. I looked for some to use in my new build but couldn’t find any that were affordable.

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