How to Build a Wood Stove Sauna

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Wood stove saunas provide a relaxing environment with the same smell and feeling of traditional saunas, and they can be built virtually anywhere in your home (e.g., basement, garage, bathroom or attic). Having a shower nearby is an added advantage because sauna heat flushes skin of impurities--one of many benefits a sauna offers--and a shower for cool down will wash away those toxins and maximize the sauna's relaxing effect.

Things You'll Need

  • Cement water sealer, tile and dark grout, or heavy-duty vinyl floor covering
  • Prefab sauna or pre-cut sauna materials kit
  • Hammer
  • Carpenter's square
  • Saw
  • 24-inch level
  • Measuring tape
  • Sanding block
  • Chisel
  • Trimming knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Stapler
  • Pliers
  • Nail punch
  • Circular saw
  • Electric drill
  • Wood stove
  • Sauna stones
  • Choose the sauna kit that is right for your budget and do-it-yourself building experience. A prefab sauna is built at the factory and disassembled for shipping. It is easier to build than the pre-cut sauna option and can be assembled in an afternoon. Walls, floor and other components arrive in modular units you put together yourself. A pre-cut materials kit requires more planning and approximately 16 to 24 hours to complete. The cost is cheaper for an average 5'x7' sauna, saving you between $1600 and $2600 over the prefab model.

  • Construct the sauna floor over the existing concrete foundation of your home or garage, or in your basement. Seal the cement foundation with waterproof sealer, or tile if you are using dark grout. Another alternative is to cover the cement floor with heavy-duty vinyl flooring. This also works well if your sauna is above the first floor or in an attic. Follow your kit instructions to build the duckboards--1"x3" slats with a half-inch spacing--and lay them on the floor. Duckboards are removable for future floor cleaning. If you choose the pre-cut kit, follow the kit instructions and assemble the duckboards using the nails or screws and wooden slats provided in your kit. Continue building the walls and ceiling per the instructions included with your kit.

  • Fasten the wood stove to the floor so that the stovepipe is at least 18 inches from the walls or benches and extends directly to a proper chimney. Place the heater on the same wall as the door to maintain heating efficiency when the door is opened and closed. Consult the instructions included with your kit for installation procedures.

  • Hire an electrician to install wiring and sauna lighting. Place lights beneath the upper bench using fixtures that are certified for high-moisture, high-heat environments. Use up to 75-watt bulbs and do not install any lighting above the stove. Check with an electrician for any special wiring situations.

  • Build benches per your kit instructions, but build them upside down to ensure no nail or screw heads are in areas that will come into contact with naked skin. Metal nails and screws absorb heat. Finally, hang the door using the hardware supplied in your kit. The sauna door must open outward and use a non-metallic latching system for safety.

Tips & Warnings

  • For maximum heating efficiency, the ceiling height should be no higher than seven feet.
  • Many saunas contain no floor drain, so it is important not to pour excessive amounts of water over the heating stones.

References

  • Photo Credit sauna image by Mikhail Olykainen from Fotolia.com
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