From the mailbag:
Can you please give me your take on importance of opening windows vs. non opening in the hot room? in the change room? I am getting ready to build my windows……..Thanks for all the help.
Hi Jim: A sauna hot room is – or should be – a small space. 50 square feet is a good hot room size. One of the ways to give a hot room a bigger, more open, inviting feel is with well thought out window placement(s).
So you know where you’ve been and where you’re going, I like a 12″x12″ window centered in the sauna door.
The candle window: a window between the hot room and changing room provides some great continuity between the two spaces. Read more about it here.
As far as a window from the hot room to the outside, the use of a fixed transom window is a nice feature as it offers light and vistas to the natural world, while providing some relative privacy compared to a conventional size window. Here’s a good application of a hot room transom window, as viewed from the outside:
Fixed Glass Windows:
The beauty of making your own window, whether an external transom window or a candle window to the changing room, is that you can make it literally to the exact size of your choosing. I recommend firing up the Googlator and typing in your city and the words “glass” and “window” and ordering your custom size 1/4″ double pane glass from a glass company to fit your window opening(s). I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the cost. $30 for a smaller candle window. $50 for a good size transom window. As you’ll be trimming around your doors, etc. you’ll have no problem setting your own window. And this will be super reasonable compared to buying a new window from Pella or Andersen.
Using windows that open and close can have their place in sauna building. In the hot room, one can open the window to help air out the sauna, allowing heat and humidity to escape. This feature is especially useful if the sauna building is being used for other functions, like a guest cabin. That said, sauna hot rooms without a functioning window can be vented pretty well by just propping open the hot room door. In the changing room, I find using functioning windows an asset. Optimal chill out / changing room temperature is about 30-50 degrees f. (my opinion). The window sill becomes a good spot to store a cold beer between rounds on a cold winter’s night.
Trimming around windows is a great expression of craftsmanship.
During the paneling stage, as the amateur sauna builder becomes more and more proficient working with tongue and groove cedar, it is rewarding to extend the craft by trimming out your windows. Ripping trim (table saw), cutting lengths (miter saw), and applying trim (Finnish nailer) start to take shape, and create the “wow” you deserve with our authentic sauna build.