We’ve had a few questions lately along these lines, so I thought i’d copy and paste this email. I hope some of these tips can help you out.
“Love your website!! We are building our own sauna and having a great time following along with your ebook. We are hoping you could help us with ideas on how to save money with the wood paneling. We’re doing good, but cedar is super expensive. We’ve been able to save a lot building our own, many thanks for what you do! – Charles and Diana.”
SPECIES: Here in Minnesota, we use Western Red Cedar. In Scandinavia, many saunas are paneled with White Spruce. Both these species are not cheap, but definitely, definitely stay away from Pine. I will fill you in why another day. Don’t be tempted with compromising on wood species. SHS Roofing, or any other home improvement experts for that matter, can help you understand the importance of using good and durable materials when building a structure. They can provide you fiscally responsible and good quality suggestions for construction. Focus more on reducing your required square footage instead of using cheap materials.
Tips on reducing the amount of premium paneling needed for your hot room (save cost):
- HOT ROOM SIZE: Don’t make your hot room too big. 6’x8′ or 7’x7′ are ideal sizes for hot room. Any larger and you’re just being American with a bigger car. Bigger is not better. I can fill you in why another day.
- DURAROCK AROUND STOVE: Code requires non combustibles within a lot of inches around your sauna stove. Applying durarock over studs and vapor barrier in the stove corner – plus on the ceiling around the chimney – helps reduce your wood paneling square footage. I have tiled and I have skim coated on top of this. Either way, it looks great and is safe and durarock is cheaper than wood paneling.
- CHEAPER WOOD UNDER BENCHES: It’s darker and quiet down there. You could screw in some primed plywood or get more creative if you need to. It’s not the end of the world, few will see what’s going on down there.
- CANDLE WINDOW: I am a huge fan of the candle window. It creates collusion with your changing room, gives a feeling of openness, and as an added bonus: cost: the glass window can be free or cheaper than wood paneling (recycled or surprisingly it’s not a rip off to get glass cut to size from a local glass company).
- TRANSOM WINDOW: Lately, there’s been a sauna building trend towards putting windows in the hot room to the outdoors. A transom window – a longer rectangular window set up higher along the wall – is the best option. A transom window allows the sauna bather to have a more panoramic view of the outdoors. Those outside peering in may only get a glimpse of the sauna bather’s head vs. *gasp* a pair of boobs or gosh knows what else! (insert the horrors of nudity in American culture here). Again, a custom piece of 1/4″ tempered glass can be cut for a surprisingly reasonable price from a glass company).
- #3 GRADE: Because Western Red Cedar is a premium species, there is often lots of #3 grade product out there at lumber yards and wholesalers. A guy can save some coin here.
- SHORTER RUNS: The introduction of windows, doors, durarock cut down on the amount of wood needed for a sauna hot room. What’s more, now you will be using lots more shorter boards to fill in. Short runs means that a guy has lots of flexibility when using #3 grade or recycled product, cutting out bad areas, warped boards, etc.
- RECYCLED PRODUCT: Out of all the ideas, using recycled cedar paneling is probably your best tip. There’s Craigslist and there is a ton of remodeling going on right now. It’s amazing how many thousands, millions of premium grade cedar board feet are being ripped out and tossed in dumpsters. Don’t believe me? Hop on a bike and cruise around a tony neighborhood in your town. I literally cry when I see cedar tossed in construction dumpsters. When I see or smell cedar, whether dressed in shorts or work attire, I will stop my car, put on my flashers, and am unabashed about climbing into the dumpster to get that beautiful wood out of there and into my car for reuse another day. This ethos, I know, is shared by all reading this which is another reason why we are a tribe of kindred spirits.
And I predict a movement where all those lame ass infrared light bulb closets will be sledge hammered, bolstering the secondary market for cedar paneling for the benefit of all of us building authentic saunas.
These are my tips, and you may let us know if you have any more tips along these lines. Just start typing below here.