What to think about when building a sauna

Can you feel it? The winter winds creeping upon us. It’s time to bulk up with woolly jumpers and turn the heating on. Another way of getting warm and cosy, verging on sweaty, is locking yourself up in a sauna. It’s good for your skin, relaxing and lowers your blood pressure. The Finnish have known the benefits for centuries, and it might now be time for the rest of us to discover the beauty of home saunas.

So, what should you think about?

Firstly, decide if you want a pre-built sauna (for example a small modular one), a customised sauna by a professional or if you want to DIY.  If carpentry isn’t your forte, then hiring a carpenter to build the sauna from scratch is probably the best idea. Also bear in mind whether you want an electric or wood burning stove. An infrared sauna is also a possibility, which differs from the traditional sauna in that it directs the heat directly towards you. This means that the air around you is less hot.

A wood burning heater would be the best choice for an outdoor sauna, but you won’t be able to regulate or set the temperature as easily as an energy heater.  If you don’t have easy access to firewood, it might also be a costly issue.

In comparison, an energy heater is energy efficient and therefore a money saver. Of course, the bigger the sauna, the bigger the heater, the bigger the cost. However, what people normally don’t realise is that running an electricity-driven sauna isn’t expensive; you can expect to pay around 45p per hour.

The sauna needs to be placed on a water-resistant surface, for example vinyl or ceramic tiles. It’s also best if it’s placed close to a bathroom or shower room as easy access to water is essential. Firstly, because you’ll want to use a ladle and sprinkle water over the heater to raise humidity (and clear the air) and secondly, because you want to cool down quickly after.

Regarding the interior you might want to consider splinter-free wood, as well as how many layers you want in the sauna. The top bench will be for the hardcore sauna fans (as hot air rises) and the lower bench for the less tolerant. If space is limited you should think about how many people can fit without making it too uncomfortable. Remember, the already hot conditions can make it a challenge!

Unless you want to dabble with DIY, find a carpenter, get in a Part P qualified electrician and sort out that sauna now. Post your job for free on and up to three quality, local tradesmen will get in touch and quote. Read their ratings, pick the one who’s right for you and when the job’s completed – don’t forget to leave a rating.

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