How to DIY A Home Sauna

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Imagine returning home, after a long, tiring day, and relaxing in your own private retreat. A room, bathed in a soft glow of ambient light, and air infused with the soothing scent of essential oils. 

As you sit, relaxed, you feel the stresses and worries of the outside world slowly slip away, replaced by a sense of tranquility that permeates your mind and soul.

Nice, right?

Fortunately, it is possible to create such a place…all it takes is some time, some materials and a plan.

But first, why build a sauna?

Saunas provide many health benefits. Regular sauna sessions can help relax muscles, relieve tension, and reduce stress. The heat from the sauna promotes sweating, which aids in detoxification by flushing out toxins from the body. 

Additionally, saunas can improve blood circulation, boost metabolism, and promote better sleep.

Before we dig into the details of building your own oasis of relaxation, let’s talk about the different types of saunas.

What are saunas?

Saunas are small rooms or spaces designed to generate high heat, creating an environment for dry or moist heat sessions. 

There are different types of saunas available; from traditional saunas that heat the space using rocks or stoves, including traditional saunas that use heated rocks or stoves, infrared saunas that use infrared heaters, and steam saunas that produce steam by pouring water onto heated rocks.

Types of saunas

Traditional wood-fired 

The wood-fired sauna, commonly referred to as a smoke sauna, is the most conventional type of sauna. Heat is produced in a wood-fired sauna by burning wood in a stove, which warms the room’s air and rocks. 

Although the heat in these saunas is stronger and the feeling more authentic, they often take longer to heat up.


Modernized versions of the traditional sauna, electric saunas rely on electric heaters to warm the room’s air and rocks. Electric saunas often heat up more quickly and are simpler to install and maintain than wood-fired saunas. 

However, some people enjoy the atmosphere and extreme heat of a wood-fired sauna.


Instead of heating the air inside the sauna, infrared heaters are used in infrared saunas to generate heat, which is then directly absorbed by the body. 

People who are sensitive to heat should consider infrared saunas since they are frequently smaller and more portable than other types of saunas and because they can be used at lower temperatures.


For those who want to benefit from a sauna but lack the room or resources for a traditional sauna, portable saunas are a practical solution. Portable saunas are often built of lightweight materials or are inflatable, and they are simple to set up and take down.

How to DIY a personal sauna

Once you’ve decided on the type of sauna you want to build (we’re going to discuss an electric sauna), it’s time to create a plan.

First, you’ll need to figure out where you’re going to put it. Will it be an indoor sauna or an outdoor one? Possible locations for your sauna include a spare room, basement, or even a backyard shed. 

Determine the size and layout of your sauna, keeping in mind safety considerations and any necessary building permits.


Once you’ve decided on a location, measure the area to determine the size and layout of your sauna. Don’t forget to include enough space for seating and proper ventilation.

Next, it’s time to source your tools and materials. 

Tip: To make your DIY project easier, look for sauna kits, many of which come with detailed plans.

Tools and materials

To build a sauna that’s heated by electricity you’ll need the following materials:

  • ⬥ Sauna-grade wood panels (such as cedar or hemlock)
  • ⬥ Insulation (rock wool or fiberglass)
  • ⬥ Vapor barrier
  • ⬥ Electric sauna heater
  • ⬥ Electrical wiring and outlets
  • ⬥ Sauna benches
  • ⬥ Lighting fixtures
  • ⬥ Thermometer and hygrometer
  • ⬥ Other sauna accessories (such as a sauna bucket and ladle)

The tools you need include:

  • ⬥ Circular saw
  • ⬥ Drill
  • ⬥ Measuring tape
  • ⬥ Level
  • ⬥ Screwdriver
  • ⬥ Hammer
  • ⬥ Pliers
  • ⬥ Safety goggles and gloves

Frame and Insulate

Start by framing the walls and ceiling of your sauna using the sauna-grade wood panels. Ensure the framing is sturdy and properly aligned.

Once the framing is complete, insulate the walls and ceiling with the chosen insulation material, making sure to leave space for ventilation.

It’s important to opt for materials that can withstand high temperatures, retain the heat while also providing moisture control. Two commonly used types of insulation for saunas are rock wool (mineral wool) and fiberglass. 

Tips (Note: these tips apply to whatever insulation material you use):

  • ⬥ Install a vapor barrier between the insulation and interior sauna walls to prevent moisture buildup.
  • ⬥ Ensure proper insulation coverage on walls, ceiling, and floor to maintain consistent heat.
  • ⬥ Pay attention to any air gaps or seams in the insulation, as they can impact heat retention.

Ultimately, the choice of insulation for your sauna may depend on personal preference, availability, and budget. Consider consulting with sauna experts or suppliers who can provide specific recommendations based on your sauna design and requirements.

Add a vapor barrier

Next, install a vapor barrier on top of the insulation to prevent moisture buildup. This barrier will protect the wood from excess humidity. 

Add the paneling, benches and accessories

Once the barrier is in place, install the sauna-grade wood paneling to create the interior walls and ceiling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.

Build or install the sauna benches according to your desired layout. Choose comfortable and heat-resistant materials for the seating. Consider adding a lower bench for cooling down or resting.

Don’t forget to include a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity levels.

Add electrical

Hire a licensed electrician to handle the electrical work for your sauna. Have them install the necessary wiring, outlets, and controls for the electric sauna heater and lighting fixtures. Be sure to position the light fixtures strategically for ambiance and visibility. 


Proper ventilation is essential to maintain air circulation and prevent excessive humidity. Install a ventilation system, such as a vent or fan, to ensure fresh air intake and the removal of stale air. Consider adding a carbon monoxide detector for additional safety.

Final touches

Add the final touches to your sauna, such as a sauna bucket and ladle for water infusion. Test all electrical connections, switches, and the sauna heater to ensure they are functioning correctly. 

Building your own DIY sauna is an exciting and rewarding project that can bring many benefits to your home and well-being. With careful planning, the right materials, and adherence to safety precautions, you can create a personal oasis of relaxation and health. So, why not embark on this journey and experience the joys of having a sauna in the comfort of your own home?

Remember, always consult professionals or experts if you have any doubts or concerns during the construction process. Good luck with your DIY sauna project!

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