10 Tips for Great Outdoor Sauna Building

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If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit a Nordic or Icelandic-style spa, you know the numerous benefits of fully relaxing in an outdoor sauna. Sure, a stretch in the sauna at your local gym is a great way to reward yourself after a strenuous workout but to capitalize on the experience of a hot/cold therapy cycle (a dip in a cold pool, then the hot room, then repeat) an outdoor sauna is the only way to go. For the process of outdoor sauna building, you won’t need a passport, or even a bathing suit, because, with these 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to sweating it out in your very own outdoor sauna!

1. Can you Build it?

It’s your home, your name is on the deed, you pay the property taxes, but before your shovel hits the dirt, you’ll need to contact your city and determine whether or not you’ll need to obtain a building permit. Additionally, they’ll also provide any requirements outlined by your city’s building code. Do your homework!

Whether you make it as basic or complex as you want, your outdoor sauna may be built in any way. An outdoor sauna is simply an insulated building with a heat source in its most basic form. Buying a pre-assembled outdoor sauna kit is considerably easier than creating and installation one from the ground up.

Although outdoor sauna building kits are easier to access and maintain, they lack in terms of customization. If you want to construct your own unique and individualized outdoor sauna space, where do you begin? You can create your sauna design or look for different DIY sauna plans on the internet.

2. Location for Outdoor Sauna Building

 Your new outdoor sauna needn’t be big. For two people, a space of 6’ x 6’ x 7’ is large enough for one bunk for lying down. If you intend on entertaining in your new outdoor sauna, however, you’ll want to break ground in a larger area. With that said, there are a few key things to consider when choosing a location: easy accessibility to electricity, plumbing, and heating. Now you could plan to have these vital utilities installed, but choosing a location with already running water and power will not only simplify your build, but it will also expedite it!

3. Materials for Outdoor Sauna Building

 The sweet smell of cedar is synonymous with saunas, the reason being, aside from its aromatic properties, is this particular wood’s ability to endure in extreme humidity. White spruce is another outdoor sauna-approved material, but maybe more costly and not as widely. Whatever you choose, do go for tongue and groove lumber for your inner sauna, it will eliminate the need for nails, which can get hot and be dangerous.

Try Home Depot for outdoor sauna building supplies

The materials for your outdoor sauna, from the foundation type to the wood for the structure to the insulation and heating source, are the most important factors in your construction. When it comes to obtaining building supplies, there are several factors to consider and many different options to choose from.


The ground must be flat and level in order to successfully finish the project, so choose your site with care. You’ll also need to make sure there’s enough room for the base and foundation.

If you don’t already have a cement deck or patio, there are several alternative options for building your outdoor sauna foundation. Concrete, gravel, and wood are the greatest alternatives.

Concrete Foundation

The most common and costly foundation for a backyard sauna is a concrete one. It has greater stability and durability, as well as is rot-resistant. Concrete saunas, on the other hand, are more permanent than other choices because they have a more secure foundation. If you decide to take your sauna down in the future, you’ll also have to deal with the big, pesky square slab of concrete.

Keep in mind that to do the task correctly, you’ll most likely need to hire a professional contractor or rent some hefty equipment. This may not be the finest choice based on your budget, material cost, and sauna’s location.

Wood Foundation

If you don’t want to construct a permanent structure, wood decking is an excellent choice. It is indeed temporary, so you won’t have to worry about building code inspectors coming to your house, regardless of where you reside.

Gravel Foundation

Gravel is a cost-effective, versatile material that looks great and has a distinctive texture. Its system of sourcing stones allows you to choose your own pattern if desired. Gravel foundations are quick to prepare, level, and drain water effectively. A sauna base made of class 5 gravel is ideal.

Pier Foundation

Because it is created of numerous holes, this sort of foundation requires digging several holes at sufficient intervals. Each hole will then be filled with concrete and encased in a pole, which is generally made of wood or steel. All poles should be level and positioned at the same height as each other. You can then put your building on top of the pier base.

4. Heat for Outdoor Sauna Building

Obviously, you’ll need some heat for your outdoor sauna to function; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a sauna. A sauna is heated using a small stove or heater that can be electric, gas, or wood-burning.

A large pile of rocks, specially chosen to withstand high temperatures without breaking and exploding, absorbs and continues to radiate the heat throughout the sauna’s interior.

Infrared heaters are also becoming increasingly popular for saunas. An infrared sauna uses infrared light to generate heat rather than hot stones. Infrared saunas are thought to provide a better sauna experience due to this heat source. Infrared radiation penetrates deeper into bone and muscle tissue than sunlight, offering all of the advantages without sunburn or risk of cancer.

If you’re a purist, you’ll want to use a wood-burning stove for your outdoor sauna, but it has drawbacks: it takes longer to heat up the space and constantly monitor and stoke the fire. Electric and gas saunas are simpler to keep running and warm. Infrared heaters, for example, consume less electricity, heat up quickly, and are more simple to maintain than other saunas, making the infrared sauna more efficient than others.

Try Sauna Core for outdoor sauna heaters

5. Do not do the Dew

While it’ll mostly be nirvana in your new sauna, that steamy heat could cause subsequent damage to your little piece of paradise. Therefore you’ll want to install a few precautionary items to keep your dew from becoming a dew not! A vapor barrier: insulation in the frame of your structure to keep moisture away. A ceramic floor: above the heating system but below removable wooden floor tiles, you’ll want to install, easy to clean ceramic tiles. Ventilation system: a place for steam to escape. While it may seem like an oversimplification, these elements are fundamental in keeping your sauna fit for enjoyment for many years!

6. Room with a View?

Chances are your backyard does NOT have an unobstructed view of the Aurora Borealis. Chances are you ARE looking at another home or some other less-than-desirable and less-than-private space.  So given your individual circumstances, you may or may not choose to include windows in your new outdoor sauna. If you do have a clear-cut view of sunsets and starry nights, a window(s) is a great way to enhance the serenity of your spa. Keep in mind though; this will decrease the privacy of your structure and its energy efficiency. But like, who cares when it’s all toasty nights snuggled under snowy skies, am I right?

7. Size Matters

Seems pretty obvious that your new outdoor sauna will need an entry and exit point. But what may be less obvious, is that a sauna door should be smaller than an average door in order to decrease the amount of heat lost when it is opened. Your door should (and I mean legally speaking) also open towards you upon entry and away from you upon exit. This is, of course, precautionary because while the heat is wonderful and relaxing, there is always the risk that a spa-goer may overheat and may need to fall out of the sauna.

8. Ask for Help

If your financial reach can get you, Mike Holmes, do it! If you still think you can go it alone, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. This can include your children helping measure; holding boards together, holding the ladder, etc., or professional-grade help from architects or contractors in the rendering of plans and erecting of your structure. I would also look to blogs and an online community of people who have built their own saunas and can offer additional tips and tricks to ease the construction.

9. If you Fail try Pre-Fab

There are numerous websites and stores that sell, ready-to-go outdoor saunas. If time and handiness really aren’t your things, this may be the best route to get you relaxing in your spa in no time!

Try Cosco for ready-built outdoor saunas

10. Relationships take Work

Once you have built your dream outdoor sauna, it’s time to unwind. But just like the care you put into building your little piece of heaven, you will need to continue its upkeep. This includes wiping the excess moisture from floors and other surfaces, ensuring ventilation is working adequately, and making sure all waterproof seals and barriers are doing their job of keeping mold and mildew out. Prepare to love your sauna for years and it will love you back!

What are the Benefits of Outdoor Sauna Building?

Outdoor saunas offer both physical and mental health advantages. They are, after all, the first and foremost thing on our minds when we want to unwind.

When you’re in the outdoor sauna, your body produces natural painkillers called beta-endorphins and norepinephrine. These chemicals are released to provide a sensation similar to that of running. The rate of blood circulation increases, breathing speeds up, and the pulse quickens when you’re in the outside sauna. As a result, saunas are similar to mild exercise or a cardiovascular workout for your heart that improves general health. And, yes, sauna treatments make you sweat and burn calories as well!

General Safety Rules in Outdoor Sauna Building

It’s crucial to remember that not everyone benefits from the heat of a sauna. There are things to consider before, during, and after a sauna session.

Do not take drugs or alcohol. When you’re first starting out, don’t stay in a sauna for more than 20 minutes. If you feel dizzy, faint, or short of breath while in the sauna, get out immediately.

Try Sauna Steam Bath for sauna approved cleaning products

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