It’s easier than you think to Build Your Own Sauna – The basics part two
In the first part of how to build your own sauna, we looked at how to choose a location and get it ready by installing any necessary plumbing or electrical connections. You are now ready to build the actual sauna!
If there is no existing framework you will have to install your own framing. Framework can be made from 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 lumber, spaced every 16 inches.
The room needs to be insulated once the framing is in place. Insulation is placed between the framework studs in both the walls and the ceiling. You want to keep the heat in the room and save energy. The insulation is covered with a vapor barrier to prevent moisture build-up in the insulation. If you are building indoors the vapor barrier will also keep the moisture from affecting the rest of your house. Foil vapor barriers are common because they can also help reflect heat back into the sauna.
Now it’s time to start building the walls. If you use tongue-and-groove lumber you will avoid exposing metal nails in the sauna. Exposed nails can burn the skin in the high heat of the sauna. Saunas in Finland are often constructed with Nordic white spruce. Cedar is another good choice.
Begin at the floor and start nailing the lumber to the studs in the framework. Angle the nails through the tongue portion of the wood so that they are hidden. Try to use boards that run the full length of each wall. If you have one person cutting the wood and another person installing it, work will move a lot faster.
Continue adding rows of lumber and every few rows check to be sure that they are still level. After each wall is constructed this way, the ceiling can be finished off. Sauna doors are notorious for warping problems due to the constantly changing heat and moisture in a sauna. The easiest thing is to install a pre-hung door designed for saunas rather than trying to build and hang one yourself.
Molding will give it a finished look. After this, the benches can be installed. You can build your own or you can buy benches from a sauna dealer (check online). Make sure there are no nails or exposed metal parts in your benches to burn you.
Once all the woodwork is finished, you can install a ceramic floor. This is a matter of gluing ceramic tiles to the sub floor and filling the spaces in between with grout. Be sure to allow time for the ceramic cement to dry before applying the grout.
When the ceramic work is finished, you need to build wooden flooring panels called “duckboards” to place over the ceramic floor. They need to be removable so that you can clean them and the floor. Duckboards help avoid excessive heat and moisture on the floor.
With all the interior work finished the sauna heater can be installed. You will also want to panel the exterior walls of the sauna and arrange a changing area outside the entrance.
And you have built your own sauna! Turn the heat on and let it warm up for about ½ and hour while you get ready to enjoy your own sauna!