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His Dad built a sauna in Germany, now he is hooked on having his own backyard wellness escape in Canada

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Guest post series continues. Please welcome Gerhard as he walks us through his extensive backyard banya style sauna build. Welcome Gerhard!

Ok, so I’m located in Reinfeld, MB in Canada. My Sauna is a shed Combo. I built a 12’ x 24’ shed in 2014 not thinking of ever building a sauna in it. Now 14’ of its length has been remodeled into a sauna and the other 10’ is now storage for my lawn mower tractor, tiller, garden stuff, etc.

Gerhrad’s sauna building

My Sauna resembles a typical Russian Banya layout. A three room layout consisting of a change room, shower room and a hot room. I’ve been to Russia beginning of this year and bought some sauna accessories and souvenirs that I put into my sauna to make it look somewhat “Russian”.

3 room Russian banya style layout plans, exactly what Gerhard built

I was born in Russia and when I was 4 years my family moved to Germany where we lived 13 years before moving to Canada. My Dad built an electric sauna into our garage back in Germany, where I’ve been enjoying sauna for the first time. After I got married in Canada in 2006, my father in law built an outdoor wood burning Sauna/Banya on his yard a couple years later, which we have been enjoying for quite a while and still are.

This was my first wood burning Sauna. And I loved it and wanted nothing else than a wood burning sauna myself. In 2018 I started building my own sauna. It was a lot of fun, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

What Compelled you to build your own sauna?

When I first experienced an authentic wood burning Sauna I was hooked to the idea of having a backyard wellness escape. Especially because of our long winters up here it seemed like the perfect idea. I love the heat, I love burning wood and the social aspect of having a Sauna with our guests seemed to be reason enough to start building my own Sauna. And on top of that, It’s healthy.

Gerhard’s cool down room

How did you find saunatimes and give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out?

Since I made my decision to build my own sauna in fall 2016 I found Saunatimes through google search. I ordered the e-book. What really helped me was the idea of the sloped floor. I ended up using the “Ben-Square” alternative. Another thing I did was waterproofing the entire floor with Mapei Aquadefense and then painting over it in the hot room and mosaic tiles in the shower room.

Gerhard’s shower room

What 1-2 challenges were biggest for your Sauna build?

Building my own Sauna Wood burning Stove (Although, it was the most fun aspect of it). Making the sloped floor in the shower room with all that tile work etc. (The kind of work I don’t really enjoy, but it had to be done properly) My Dad helped me a lot with the sloped floor. He also helped with the bench design, wood paneling.

Gerhard’s sauna changing room

What aspect to your sauna are you most proud of?

My DIY wood burning Sauna Stove. I like how it looks with the massive amounts of stones. It heats really well and the heat is very soft and comfortable.

Any regrets or do overs?

I don’t like my bench design after all, having that little corner makes no sense, as nobody can lay down or sit properly. I should’ve gone with a straight bench. I used a few boards of “White Cedar” for the benches. White Cedar seems to have a bad odor to it. It’s not overwhelming as I used only a few boards, but I would avoid White Cedar completely the next time.

Gerhard’s hot room

If  you could have a mobile sauna anywhere in the world, where would you bring it and enjoy a sauna?

Somewhere along the shores of Lake Louise, Alberta in Canada.

Any final words of inspiration or perspiration for others interested in authentic (real) sauna/banja?

I wanted to have my sauna posted here on saunatimes to inspire more people to build a backyard Sauna. Great place to relax after a busy week, great place to socialize with friends and guests, great place to warm up and escape the long winters for those of us living in northern climates.

Gerhard’s friend, welding custom sauna stove
Burning Gerhard’s custom made sauna stove

EDITOR’S NOTE: For those interested in a detail photo log of Gerhard’s sauna build, “from start to Finnish” please click through to view his entire photo library here.

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13 thoughts on “His Dad built a sauna in Germany, now he is hooked on having his own backyard wellness escape in Canada”

  1. Gerhard, great stuff. Moving to new house in Winnipeg soon and planning a new build. Would you have any interest in making another one of those stoves? She’s a beauty.

  2. Elliot,
    I’m making a few improvements to the stove design, like adjustable feet, etc. on my Programm. I am pricing one out for another person who is interested in that stove as well. Once I have my design finalized and a final price I will let you know.

  3. I like the stove, but don’t have the resources to create my own, plus I really like the kuuma stove. In particular I like the massive amount of stones on this custom stove, since the heat and the loyly is super rich and deep with that many rocks. I’m not sure why it’s different but it definitely adds something (particularly noticeable in a savusauna). One thing that I’ve wondered is if Lampa has ever considered an add-on for more rocks? Have you ever discussed that with Lampa?

  4. Hi Erik. Yes, matter of fact. Daryl and I, along with Dale and Daryl’s son Garrett, have discussed add on for more rocks. There is merit to more stones for sure, my opinion, yet there is the reality of “diminishing return.” ie. the small Kuuma stove is 400 lbs. (180 kilos), including fire brick. The small Kuuma holds 2-300 pounds of rock (when loaded the right way), so what we have is a thermal mass monster, within a relatively small footprint to ideally service a well proportioned hot room. More rocks provide us softer loyly (ie less harsh), but at some point after inflection point, arguably “weaker” loyly. And I believe that the design of the Kuuma is such that we are enjoying the inflection point

    The best analogy I can come up with is a kick ass sound system. It sounds great when the volume is low, and sounds really great when the volume is turned up, yet at some point, any more watts or sub woofers will not sound better but will just blow out your windows. This is the stage I feel that we are at with a well built sauna hot room with a kick ass wood burning sauna, like the Kuuma.

    The volume nob goes to an 11 (and no higher).

  5. I have no doubt that it’s pretty well tuned for quality loyly, no concerns there. The other thing is that it would just take longer to heat the extra rocks up properly.

    Thanks for the reply!

  6. A few specs on my stove:
    350lbs of rocks to fill the stove and another 100lbs roughly to fill the cage around the pipe. In total I used about 450 lbs of rocks. There’s a picture of all the boxes of rocks that I purchased on my google photos link. 12 x 20kg boxes in total, but I only used 10 of them. The loyly is generally soft and not all that long, but enjoyable. If the temperature is higher, it is harsher but not too bad. I agree, it does take a little longer to heat, but in return the heat also stays longer.

  7. Having said that, I would love to try out a Kuuma stove one day to compare the loyly or as we say it in german: Aufguss. That is, if I can find a cottage for rent that has a sauna with one in it. There’s not too many cottages on Airbnb that have a sauna.

  8. Nice sauna there! I’m from Winnipeg and built my first sauna on a trailer a year ago. Trailer because I didn’t have room at our old house for a permanent sauna. We’re moving to our new house next week and I’m planning on building a stationary backyard sauna there next spring.

  9. That’s awesome! Would be interested in seeing how it turns out. What size are you looking at building?

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