Can You Build Your Own Sauna?

Posted by on Jan 08, 2023

Print this Post

Pexels / Filipp Romanovski


A home sauna may seem like a luxury that only belongs in a mansion, yet a steam room can be more affordable than you expect. While not always a simple build, there are numerous ways you can create a home sauna — not all of them cost several thousand dollars. 

With the right tools, an experienced woodworker can transform an unused space into a steam room, either inside your house or in the backyard. There are also ways to work with existing structures, like upscaling a wood shed into a hot house. You can even transform a tent into a portable shvitz if you just need somewhere to clean out your pores. 

Building a traditional steam sauna often requires more effort than building a modern, infrared one. A traditional sauna typically has wood walls and is heated with a coal or wood-burning stove. The wood walls are insulated to ensure maximum heat retention. 

If you click around the web and explore the traditional sauna range, you’ll find various options, such as wall and ceiling materials, wood-burning stove sizes and shapes, seating styles, and accessories. Here are some major options to consider when creating a home sauna, from complete wood construction to plastic tent adaptation.

Standalone Backyard Sauna

If you decide to build a new standalone wood sauna, you’re probably going to need plans. Plenty can be found or bought online and will definitely help if you need to think through the entire construction from the foundation up. 

Fabricating a standalone sauna brings a lot of the challenges that come with any permanent structure. You’ll likely have to pour a concrete foundation or columns to establish a strong setting. A wood joist will sit on top of the foundation and form the floor of the building. You’ll also need to build a frame, insulate the walls and top it with a roof. Ventilation is important if you don’t want to develop a mold problem. 
You have several heating choices to consider for a traditional sauna. Typically, an electric, wood or coal stove heats a basket of rocks, which are then based with water to create an intense, moist heat. Depending on your budget, this can be one of the biggest purchases of the project, ranging from the low three figures to low four figures, depending on the quality and style of the stove you choose. 

Electric heaters are a popular choice, but builders should know they often require a dedicated plug (between 20 and 40 amps, depending on the model). An infrared heat source costs a little less, on average, than the traditional stove, but its dry heat isn’t known for having the same health properties as steam. 

In the above video by High Intensity Healthy, the host says he built the structure for about $8,000, which is similar to what you’d pay for many new ones (not including any installation costs).

Building a Sauna Kit 

Even if a sauna kit supplies the wood and connectors to build your dream steam room, you still need to make several choices and some DIY work. 

First, you need to decide where the sauna will be placed. Indoors or outdoors? Flush to the house or standalone? An inside sauna may require rewiring and redesigning a room. An outdoor option may require some landscaping and installing electricity to support the sauna’s heater. Of course there are aesthetic choices such as size and shape of the sauna as well as the preferred wood lining. 

Carefully read what is and isn’t included in the kit. Depending on the project, you may also need to frame the structure and install insulation. You’ll also need to plan out ventilation and drainage. Watch the above video to get a sense of the effort involved in a kit build. There’s still a lot of building done, but less sawing and you are able to follow directions.

Portable Steam Room

While most people envision sitting on a wood bench in a sauna, you can get a head full of steam in a much simpler way. Many people build personal steam rooms in portable changing rooms or tents. These nylon structures don’t hold heat as well as wood ones, but if you don’t have the space or money for a full sauna, they do a noteworthy job of raising your body temp. 

Steam machines can be connected to these personal saunas. Some DIYers buy cheap deep fryers, fill them with water and then place them inside the tents to create personal steam rooms. (Buying a steam machine is probably a safer choice.)

Log-in to Post a Comment: Craftfoxes shadow Google shadow