Are you planning to build/get built your own sauna? Congratulation, it will be one of the wisest decisions in your life, for your health and your overall happiness. Before you heat up your own sauna the first time, there will be lots of planning necessary to prevent mistakes. It is my goal that you will be extremely happy with your own sauna. I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions, even before you take paper, pencil and measuring tape to draw your sauna project:
Shall it be an indoor sauna or a outdoor separate building?
In a basement, on a deck, in a garage, or in a workshop?
In case of building a dedicated sauna building, should it be wood fired or be heated with electricity?
If wood fired, are enough distances available from any other insured buildings?
Does the municipality/Town/City allow for wood fired furnaces?
Saunas are best enjoyed in peace and tranquility. Ideally place your Sauna to maximize privacy and minimize distractions. Usually, electric heaters are preferred for their ease of use, unless a suitable electrical connection is unavailable.
Do you plan to use the sauna alone, or as a couple?
Do you plan to use it as a family or as a small group, meaning a medium sauna, or do you simply like a little more space to feel less crowded?
Are you looking for a large sauna, to be used by larger groups, semi-commercial or simply for a large family, requiring a large sauna?
Ideally your Sauna should be sized so that you can comfortably accommodate everyone who wants to participate on a regular basis. A sauna is too big when it loses some of its natural intimacy, or when you begin to avoid heating it up because "it's just not worth it" for only the one or two people who regularly use it.
What should a Sauna include?
Aside from the physical Sauna, you should carefully consider what else you would like to include in the space to enhance your experience.
A nearby shower can be used to cool off or wash off your body after coming out of the sauna.
A plunge tub can be used to quickly cool off, especially if running water is not available.
A room for relaxation nearby can deliver a spa-like atmosphere for mental and physical rejuvenation.
A Log-style Sauna building is the traditional Nordic preference. These Saunas are built with interlocking wood, typically northern pine, with overlapping corners. Such Saunas are suitable for regular use (up to daily), but if you prefer a higher humidity sauna they should be allowed to naturally dry (rest) at least once per day.
A stud-frame sauna with insulation and a vapour barrier are a more typical North American construction method. These saunas are sometimes built with Cedar interiors especially for continuous or commercial buildings, but Cedar contains a natural preservative oil that some people are sensitive to.
Avoid building a sauna too small, leading to claustrophobic, cramped feelings
Avoid direct access from the Sauna to outdoors, resulting in instant cold drafts whenever the door is opened.
Avoid a high ceiling, resulting in a poor atmosphere in the sauna and excessive temperature variations
Avoid a completely sealed Sauna, resulting in humidity buildup and poor air quality
Avoid too thin wood paneling inside the sauna, resulting in little thermal mass in the walls and high heat loss