How to build a home sauna

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Saunas are considered good for your health while they afford a relaxing spa experience. That is why an increasing number of "do-it-yourself-ers" are learning how to build a home sauna. Depending on which type of kit you select, you could be enjoying your home sauna in just days. Read on to learn how to build a home sauna.

Decide on the location. Most rooms or spaces can be converted into a home sauna including a walk-in closet, basement, garage or bathroom. Outdoor saunas can be built near water or close to a swimming pool. When choosing a location, be sure to account for the extra costs to run plumbing and electrical wiring.

Adjust accordingly. If you are building a steam sauna, plumbing and drains may be needed. Avoid moisture damage to your house by insulating the room and installing a vapour barrier.

Know the requirements. Learn about any local laws restricting size and location. Build your home sauna at a safe distance from the property line. Foundations that go underneath the frost line are recommended for outdoor saunas. This will help keep your sauna from moving when the earth thaws.

Burn wood. Wood burning saunas are considered the most natural means of heating. They also are the most labour-intensive, especially if you chop your own wood. When burning wood, anticipate 60 to 90 minutes before your sauna is heated. Electric installations heat up in about half the time. Ask if local building regulations prohibit a wood stove and if you are covered by your home-owners insurance.

Gas it up. Gas is less expensive than electric, this clean fuel source is easy to maintain. Be sure to test for carbon monoxide.

Electrify it. Its availability makes electricity a convenient source of heat. These heaters are available in sizes ranging from 2 to 18 kilowatts. When determining the proper size for your home sauna remember for every 1 to 1.5 cubic metres (45 to 50 cubic feet) of space you will need one kilowatt. Small heaters (100-volt) are recommended for small saunas. Twice the voltage is needed for larger sizes.

Install properly. Only a certified electrician can install your heater to ensure proper sizing. An undersized heater can trip out the controls; oversized can produce a searing, burning heat.

Install wiring. Wiring, rated for 90 degrees C (194 degrees F), should be placed on the wall's cooler side. Next install an aluminium foil vapour barrier and insulation. The barrier will prevent moisture from collecting in the walls.

Insulate properly. Conventional 40 cm (15 inches) wide fiber-glass insulation batts are recommended. An insulation's "R" rating denotes its capacity for preserving heat. Sauna walls require a rating of 13; ceilings require a rating between 22 and 26.

Circulate heat. A system to circulate the air also will spread the heat out evenly and see that the air is odour-free. An intake vent should be located in close proximity to the floor below the heater. You also want to install an exhaust vent on the other side to stimulate air movement, evenly dispense heat and keep oxygen at an acceptable level.

Select a size. Sauna sizes range from 90 by 120 cm (3-by-4 feet) for one person to 3 by 4.25 metres (10-by-14 feet) to accommodate six to eight people. A 2.15 metres (7 foot) ceiling permits the best levels of soft, even heat.

Add a door. Standard door size is 60 by 182 cm (24-by-72 inches). This minimizes the amount of heat loss due to opening the door. Sauna doors always open out. Ready-made doors are recommended and can be purchased from most sauna vendors.

Construct seats. Seats should be constructed with 5 by 5 cm (2-by-2 inch), 5 by 7 cm (2-by-3 inch) or 5 by 10 cm (2-by-4-inch) cedar planks. All knots should be cleared and screws fastened underneath. Seats generally set up bunk bed-style, one on top of another. Length should be long enough for a bather to stretch out. Install lower level 45 cm (18 inches) above the floor; upper level 116 cm (46 inches) from the ceiling. Sauna size will dictate how many benches will fit.

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