Three cheers for transom windows

When designing and building our own saunas, it’s important to be thinking about windows.

In the “ole country” (Finland), with the exception of the candle window, few sauna hot rooms were built with windows.  Who knows why.  Maybe it was cultural timidity, or structural platitudes, or heat loss concerns.  Whatever the reason, today, the hot room window concept is “opening up!”.

Like music in the sauna, traditionalists may scoff, but any sauna bather of any origin sweating it out on the upper bench will smile that much wider being able to gaze out of their hot room and take in a bit of nature.

A transom window offers:

  • a great vista from the sauna bench.
  • privacy while standing.
  • natural light without being a fishbowl.

What size transom window?  Let’s start with 18″ tall by 36″ wide, cut in about 8″ below the 7′ ceiling.  A sauna with a hot room transom window and a common wall candle window feels airy and nICE.  Don’t have these windows?  No big deal.  We can make it happen with a sawzall or with your next sauna build.

Dual transom windows in Josh’s floating sauna (under construction).
Wisdom Woods sauna hot room


we need more of these authentic kick ass saunas.

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8 thoughts on “Three cheers for transom windows”

  1. I absolutely agree, transom windows in the sauna add another level of pleasure-the view outside. It was mandatory (X2) in our sauna build!

  2. Thanks for this informative article. The use of a transom window in a sauna is a nice feature, since it offers light and vistas to the natural world, while providing some relative privacy, compared to a conventional sized window.

  3. Hi Glenn —

    I will be putting a transom window in a sauna with two L benches (room dimensions The height of the ceiling is 84″ (i.e. 7 feet), and the top bench will be at 36″. I have a 48 3/4″ x 30 3/4″ push out awning transom from a friend that would be great to use and free. Unfortunately, due to the existing room and orientation, the window will have to be behind the long bench.

    Is it common for windows in saunas to get too ho /reflective and make the backs of anyone sitting on the upper level bench uncomfortable?

    It’s a great window, I just don’t want to accidentally carve a 4 foot portion of a 9 foot bench into a “hot seat”, and not the good kind.

    What do you think?


  4. With a window behind where people sit, what will happen is that people will generally not lean back against the glass. And when they do, you’ll be cleaning your glass. Yes, it’ll get hot, especially up top, but it is what it is, as people will generally conform to the situation, my experience.

  5. Any rules of thumb, like always leaving 18″ at the ceiling, for use of tempered glazing in the sauna? I have an 8.5w x 9d x 7h with a view. The stove will be located in the center of the room in front of the window wall. Am planning taller windows on either side, shorter window behind the chimney. Granted the wall will not be thermally efficient even with insulated glazing units, I presume the impact is more significant the higher the window.

  6. Right on, Matt. As you say, windows don’t insulate as well as well insulated walls, so we need to balance this. A kick ass wood burning sauna stove is a good way to fight back against the non thermal efficiency of glass. Re: electric stoves, my instinct and empirical whining from the bench is that more KW stove can get you there, but the fight gets harder and harder, and the lämpömassa more and more constrained.

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