How to Build Saunas

Saunas are small interior spaces that are heated and fed with water to create a hot, steamy environment where people can relax and ease muscle pain. Building personal saunas is relatively simple if a good location is selected and the adequate materials are purchased. Although styles and sizes of saunas vary, the basic principles of sauna construction are the same, and these steps will give you a general outline of how to build a home sauna.


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    Choose a spot for your home sauna where plumbing, heating and electricity are easily accessible. Clear a space that is removed from overhanging trees and running water.
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    Install any necessary pipes, wires, or gas lines.
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    Dig a space for rocks if you are using lava rocks to heat your sauna. If using infrared heating, make sure you have enough power for the heating system.
    • Personal saunas are generally heated in two ways: lava rocks, which are heated in a stove and over which water is poured to create steam, or infrared heating, which uses a heater inside the sauna.
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    • Lay a simple foundation for your sauna and build the inner frame.
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    This should be a simple structure consisting of wooden boards. Leave room for three ventilation points: one in the ceiling, one on the floor, and one above the heater. Add spaces for benches and windows as desired.
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    Insulate the inner frame with fiberglass and add a vapor barrier to keep moisture off the fiberglass and help it last longer.
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    Build a simple outer wall about a foot (or 30 cm) outside the inner frame.
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    Roof the sauna with simple wood or tile and remember to keep a ventilation spot open for steam to escape.
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    Install your heating system, following instructions given with the system, and leave a wide space for the sauna heater.
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    Place the first layer of flooring using ceramic tile. This goes over your heating system and will collect moisture.
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    Lay a second layer of flooring using unsecured boards. You should be able to easily remove these and clean the tiles.
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    Install the sauna heater.
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    Add any benches, windows and other fixtures as desired.
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    Test the sauna by turning on the heating system and observing the functioning of the ventilation points before using.


  • If possible, use tongue and groove lumber for the outer wall. This eliminates the necessity of using nails, which will heat up when the sauna is in use and can cause injury.
  • Personal saunas should always be made with wood, as wood can take on and release humidity and heat better than other materials. Cedar and white spruce are two popular woods for saunas, given that they tend not to expand or contract too dramatically.
  • Each home sauna will vary greatly based on location, size and personal preference. The style and shape you give to your inner frame and outer wall will depend on how many people you wish to accommodate.
  • Many countries require a building permit to make significant changes to the outside of your home and some will require additional permits for the plumbing and electric work, so be sure to check with your local authorities in advance.


  • Personal saunas requires constant upkeep. Remember to remove the floorboards to clean the ceramic tiles, clean the sauna heater, check the wood for any excessive bulging, and keep the ventilation points clear.

Things You'll Need

  • Access to plumbing, heat, and electricity lines
  • Sauna heating system (rocks or infrared)
  • Sauna heater
  • Wood boards
  • Roofing material
  • Ceramic tile

Article Info

Categories: Build Design & Remodel Own Home