If given a choice, most of us would already have a sauna at home.
However, as beneficial as they may be, saunas can be quite costly. Not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spare. And that’s why we came up with this guide to give you a budget-friendly alternative. It includes detailed information on how to build a sauna room from scratch.
We’re going to focus on infrared saunas because their temperatures are more comfortable, and their heat penetrates the skin deeper, leading to more health benefits.
What You’ll Need to Consider When Building Your Own Sauna
1. The Location of the Sauna
You’ll first need to decide where you want your sauna to be. It could be your walk-in closet, extra bathroom, unused laundry room, or any other extra space.
The room needs to be small and have a low ceiling height. That way, there will be less cubic feet to heat up. Ideally, we recommend that you go for spaces that are about 5’ x 5’ or 4’ x 4’ in size. Such rooms are spacious and more comfortable compared to 3’ x 3’ spaces.
However, the size of the sauna you want and the space you have available should help you decide on the dimensions you’re going to use.
Avoid ceiling heights that are above 8ft. If the ceiling is too high, the sauna won’t heat up effectively when the hot air rises. Go for a 7ft or 7.5ft ceiling height to get the sauna to work properly.
2. The Type of Wood
There are different types of wood that you could use. You can choose from cedar, poplar, and spruce, to mention a few. Poplar is a great choice for people who are sensitive to chemicals. It’s also referred to as the ‘cleanest’ choice.
Spruce is a practical and cost-effective option. It’s the preferred material for creating Nordic saunas and darkens slightly over time. Pine is also affordable, but it’s not durable. It might also bend or warp when exposed to heat for some time.
Cedar is popular because of its durability. It can last for thousands of heating and cooling cycles and still remain intact. Aside from its crack resistance, the wood also has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. It’s easy to maintain as well, thanks to its resilience to moisture and decay.
Cedar also won’t get excessively hot compared to other types of wood, and it emits a pleasant smell when heated. You can use it to line the seats, ceiling, and sauna wall.
3. Type of Infrared Sauna
Most people use far-infrared light for their home-made saunas. However, you can still opt for near-infrared, mid-infrared, or full-spectrum lighting.
What You’re Going to Need to Build a Sauna at Home:
- Power: The sauna will need a power strip that can handle its electrical load. It should accommodate all the lights. Choose one that’s long enough so that it doesn’t restrict or inconvenience you.
- Infrared Light Bulbs: You’re going to need bulbs like the Rubylux or Philips infrared bulbs.
- Scissors: To trim the cable ties and cut the cord.
- Lamp clamps: The clamps will hold the infrared bulbs. You can also attach the clamps to a stand. Brooder clamps come highly recommended because they have ceramic sockets. These types of sockets can withstand the heat and power of the infrared bulbs.
- Stand: You’ll need a stand that you can use to attach the lights. You can use a PVC contraption, metal baker’s racks, or build one from wood. If you choose to build one, make sure you avoid sap-filled wood like pine.
- Eye Protection: If you’re using far-infrared bulbs, make sure you have protective eye gear like tanning goggles.
- Infrared Heaters: Choose the voltage based on the power you want them to produce. Remember to wire them to the controller as well, so that you can regulate the temperature in the sauna.
- Thermometer (optional): A thermometer will help you monitor the sauna’s temperature so that it doesn’t get too hot.
- Radio/mp3 player (optional): If you like to listen to music when you’re relaxing, you could include a radio or mp3 in your sauna.
- Additional heater (optional): Some people add 300 to 600-Watt heaters to make their sauna experience feel more authentic. We recommend that you first try out your sauna before making such a purchase. You want to try it out and gauge whether or not its heat is sufficient for you.
Now that you know what you’ll need to get started let’s dive into the construction process.
How to Make a Sauna at Home
1. Once you decide on the room, you’ll need to calculate the number of infrared heating panels that you’ll need. Get the room’s cubic feet then multiply by 15 to get the watts/heating power the room requires.
2. Next, choose the location where you’re going to place the heaters. Space them out and place them such that they’ll be close to your body. You want to make sure that you’re getting heat from all directions, so place the heaters on the front, back, and sides.
3. Afterward, you’ll need to install the wiring. Run a wire to the sauna light and back to the digital controller. We recommend placing the digital controller outside the sauna room if possible.
There should also be a second wire running to the digital controller from the heater junction box. You can purchase a central junction box from your local hardware store.
4. For this step, you might need to consult an electrician. We recommend keeping the sauna running on its own by using a separate breaker. Once you’ve done this, connect the digital controller electronically from the main power box.
5. Next, you’ll need to line the sauna with wood. You can choose the type of wood you want from the options we provided earlier on in the guide.
6. Install a bench that’s 16 to 18 inches off the ground.
7. Lastly, install a sauna door and enjoy your new DIY sauna.
Even though building a DIY infrared sauna can be a productive and affordable project, it does have its downsides. Your sauna’s durability and effectiveness will be debatable. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get the results and benefits you desire.
We encourage you to check out our extensive review of the best home saunas. The review consists of different kinds of saunas, so you can trust that you’re certainly going to find one that’s within your budget. These saunas have also been tried, tested, and proven to give results.