How to Build a Sauna – Research & Pre-Planning are Key

Wondering how to build a sauna but not sure where to start?

You can build your own traditional sauna from scratch or from a precut kit. It’s actually more cost effective than buying a pre-built sauna and, if you can at least build a frame or get a friend to do it for you, you’ll save thousands over the cost of a full modular sauna.

Want to to Build Your Own Infrared Sauna Instead?

What are the Sauna Building Steps?

Home Built Cedar Sauna -  © Photographer: K. Urbantke -

The basic instructions for how to build a sauna are fairly simple. Seeing all the parts and wood panels laid out mind remind you of constructing a child’s dollhouse, although you won’t be able to get out the glue gun for this “little” project. This will still require a few tools, but at least you won’t have to saw anything.

Here are the major points to consider for your project:

If you don’t know how to build a sauna from scratch, you can purchase a pre-cut sauna kit that comes in standard sizes such as 4’x 4’, 4’ x 6’, 8’x 6’, 10’ x 6’, and 12’x 8’.   With the money you save you can consider building a larger sauna, say a 6-seater, and really stretch out and enjoy the room!

Once the frame is built, you can set up the pre-cut kit which comes supplied with tongue and groove (T&G) boards, benches, trim, a pre-hung door, light fixture, thermometer, duckboard flooring, and the appropriate size sauna heater.

Another cool advantage when you build your own sauna is that you are not limited to your choice of wood. You can choose from the best soft woods including cedar, spruce, or hemlock. 

Cedar saunas are a popular choice for several reasons:

  1. the wood will not heat up like other woods, so the benches will not get hot
  2. it looks beautiful and lasts forever
  3. the wood has a repellant against insects and termites, and
  4. the wood is natural and fragrant. If anyone in your family has sensitivities to cedar then you’ll find that hemlock fir is a perfect alternative.

Plus, if you build your own sauna, you won’t have to be concerned about dealing with high-pressure sales tactics from dealers, or the very expensive delivery costs of a modular unit.

UPDATE: If you are looking for a high quality sauna kit, we have found a great resource.  Check out the complete sauna room packages from Saunacore, with high quality heaters, western cedar planks and everything else you need.

Note:  Choose "Sauna Talk" on the contact form or mention us on the phone for special discounts on your DIY sauna kit!

How to Build the Sauna the Right Way

Cedar Sauna Cabin -  © Photographer: K. Urbantke -

There are very few disadvantages, other than appreciating how building a sauna is best learned with a bit of research and pre-planning.

Trial and error construction techniques are not the way to learn general carpentry skills if the sauna project is to be the first thing you’ve ever built.

Here are just a few things to consider:

  • The sauna needs to be built near a shower, pool or some type of water source. The sauna doesn’t need water itself but part of the sauna experience requires an immediate cool down period as well as showering to wash off the sweat.
  • If you are building your own outdoor sauna, choose a design that blends in with its surroundings. A proper foundation and shingled roof is a must.
  • Even if you can do the carpentry work yourself, in order to build your own sauna you need to comply with local building codes, which may mean hiring an electrician to hook up the heater and lights.

Also read: A Swim Pool, Spa or Sauna Enhances the Value of Your Home

Do a Professional Job

Sauna Interior

If you are assessing the challenge of how to build your own sauna, deciding how to design one can seem daunting when faced with all the specs and requirements for roughing in and framing the space, the details of wiring, installing the sauna ventilation system, and so on.

Just don’t lose sight of the fact that a sauna is a personal space that you’ll want to be quiet, cozy, attractive and inviting. Make sure you learn everything there is to learn on how to build a sauna before you start the project.

Since a permanent installation adds value to your home, you’ll want to do a professional job.

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