I’ve built a dozen saunas have helped many dozens build their own.
Not those indoor closet saunas made out of 2×2’s, but authentic saunas. Saunas that while looking up at the moon between rounds you say out loud: “shit, I can’t believe how good this feels” type saunas. And another thing, I’ve sat in another 100 or so saunas and can’t help analyzing and critiquing. I love saunas, and I enjoy learning and sharing new ways to build better saunas. Yes, I know, I am a nut.
“What are the most common mistakes people make when building their own sauna?”
I”m burning with optimism’s flames:
- If you are building a sauna – Please take these into consideration.
- If you’ve already built a sauna – I can help you fix any of these.
1. Lame benches. Sauna benches should 24″ wide. They should be built stout, solid, with dimensional cedar. Also, there’s some consideration to how to support your sauna benches. Don’t allow yourself to feel compromised. Feel like a King, instead of perched upright, uncomfortable, compromised, and creaking away, like in Grandma’s dining room. Click here for more information on how to build good sauna benches. Use 2×4 cedar, don’t use 1x material.
2. No or not enough attention to changing room. Every proper sauna needs a chill out zone. A space outside of the hot room and inside the outdoors: a temperature buffer (grocery stores all have double sets of doors). Secondly, one needs a private space to nude up. Third, a changing room is where you can solve many of the world’s problems. When one is cooling down and chilling out, if you allow yourself, you will find mental clarity. You deserve a comfortable space to allow this to happen.
3. Too many cubic feet in hot room. Like those 4,000 sheetrock palaces in the exburbs, many are enamored with square footage and the materialistic false belief that more is better. Imagine all the wasted energy heating overbuilt houses. Don’t let this happen with your sauna. 8′ ceiling? Don’t do it. All proper saunas should have a 7′ ceiling. That extra foot up there is where all the good heat goes, and a key reason why your hot room takes so long to heat up. When designing your hot room, think about wasted standing around space. Maximize your bench location so it can hold a few people comfortably and no more. Health club saunas and spas have to account for many bodies. Your home sauna does not. If you’re having a sauna party, think about flow: not everyone is in the hot room at one time. Some will be and should be chilling out in the misty garden and others should be debating Proust in the changing room. Especially when practicing Marty’s Law of Reverse Cycling.
How to fix these issues if you’ve already built your sauna:
1. Lame benches. Time to replace your benches. Use your old ones to make a cool seating area around your outside patio.
2. Changing room. Consider how you can improve this space, or carve out a space where you can chill out between hot room sessions. A sauna session isn’t complete until you’ve completely cooled down. Yes, when it’s not bitter cold we can chill out in the misty garden all wet with rain, but we need a temperate changing room.
3. Too big of a hot room. An 8′ wall in a hot room can easily be dropped down to a 7′ wall. consider framing a drop ceiling with 2×6’s, insulating the heck out of the cavity, applying a foil bubble wrap vapor barrier, and tongue and grooving the ceiling. It’d take a day to do it, even for (us) amateurs. Boxing around the chimney may be figured out with a couple scratches to the back of the head. An overbuilt sauna can be knocked down by reframing one of the walls, especially if one is tackling #1 at that same time.
You don’t need to bring a tape measure with you when you are checking out saunas. Your outstretched arms, finger to finger, measure how tall you are. A dollar bill is 6″.
The big sell.
I can help you with all of this and more. I’ve written my book “How to Build Your Own Health & Wellness Sauna Retreat” and would love a shorter title and even more, to get it in your hands for $20.00. It’s in a Google Doc format for now. I’ve refined the content over a few sauna builds and welcome input from authentic Finnish sauna enthusiasts. Send $20.00 to my paypal firstname.lastname@example.org and i’ll send it to you.
- Complete 10 chapter step by step instructions, start to Finnish.
- 100 detailed photos that follow along with instructions.
- Complete building material list, down to the light switch (Corresponding Home Depot SKU numbers).
- Amateur blueprints.
I get fueled by helping folks realize their authentic Finnish sauna dreams.