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 really capitalize on the experience of a hot/cold therapy cycle (a dip in a cold pool, then hot room, then repeat) an outdoor sauna is the only way to go. 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!
2. Location Location Location
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, it will also expedite it!
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 may be 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 your building supplies
4. Hot Hot Heat
If you’re a sucker for authenticity, there’s no question you’ll want to install a heater with lava rocks. However, an infrared sauna, meaning your heat source is built into the structure is also an option, particularly if you’re hoping to shed lbs. The benefit of infrared is consistent heat; the downside is that it will likely use more power and may not work if you live in a climate that experiences extreme cold temperatures. An electric source with rocks may heighten the experience but you’ll also be spending more time dunking your ladle. Ah, tough choices!
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 to 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 lose 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; hold boards together, hold 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 the 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 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!