"I think there is beauty in everything. What 'normal' people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it."—Alexander McQueen

"I think there is beauty in everything. What 'normal' people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it."—Alexander McQueen

Female in the sauna

Building Your Sauna from Scratch

If your home has a pool, it’s now part of the more than 10 million households in America that have one. You probably spent somewhere between $30,000 to $62,000 to build it, ensuring that you have the best pool-coating and water treatment systems.

But why not take it a step further and create a full spa experience by building a sauna in your home?

Sauna Overview

In existence for more than 2000 years, Finnish immigrants brought the sauna to America in 1638. But it was only in the early 1950s right after the Olympics in Helsinki that it entered America’s mainstream consciousness. American athletes, upon their return, raved about the use and benefits of the sauna, which means “bath” or “bathhouse” in Finnish.

By the 1960s, manufacturers started making saunas for U.S. consumers. As it is known today, the sauna is a small room that can accommodate two or more people to experience a heat session. An electric device heats a pile of stones, causing bathers to sweat. Gyms and hotels often have bigger rooms for several people.

Building One

Relaxing in the sauna

Today, you can buy saunas as a kit and assemble one just slightly bigger than an old British phone booth. You want a complete spa experience where at least four or five people can enjoy the sauna experience.

  1. Benefits. Those American athletes were raving back then because they understood the benefits of the sauna in relation to their training. Here are some of the benefits of a sauna:
    1. It relaxes the muscles.
    2. It helps clears the mind and relieves mental and physical stress.
    3. It’s good for the heart as it helps in keeping the blood vessels healthy.
    4. It mimics metabolism achieved through exercise.
    5. It triggers the release of beta-endorphins and norepinephrine, which helps to relieve pain.
  2. Selecting a location. You need some ceiling for this project. The minimum measurement is about 7 feet high and 6 feet wide. So you need to find a site with this much space available. If you have the entertainment space outside, that should be an excellent place to put it. Others take into account the view when building a sauna and the distance away from the house, especially if the heat would come from a wood-burning stove rather than heated stones.
  3. Materials to use. Cedarwood is commonly used when building a sauna because it’s quite resistant to moisture. You will get more years from using cedarwood compared to other woods. Cedar also has better insulating qualities that don’t burn your skin. As in any structure, you would need to build the foundation, then the walls and the roof. The flooring can be concrete, tile, or wood. A vital component of this build is the insulation. Use fiberglass and aluminum vapor barrier for your insulation.
  4. Heating the room. The heat source would complete the cedar wood room into a proper sauna. People who preferred to be heated and “smoked” use firewood as a heat source. But for quick heating and easy maintenance, choose gas or electric. Another option is infrared, which simulates the heat from sunlight. Scout for the best suppliers.

You’ll need a bucket and a ladle if you’re using stone to add some steam. Depending on how much you want to splurge, building a sauna can set you back between $2,000 to $10,000. But all the heat will be worth it.

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