How to Build an Outdoor Sauna

Are you contemplating adding a touch of luxury and wellness to your garden? Building a sauna might be the perfect project! Embarking on the journey to build an outdoor sauna for two can transform your backyard into a haven of relaxation and health. This article offers insights into creating this intimate retreat, whether from scratch, converting an existing structure, or assembling a pre-built model. Tailored to fit the needs of couples or individuals, we'll navigate through the essential steps, from planning and design to construction and customization, ensuring a seamless and rewarding sauna-building experience.

Can I Build a Sauna in My Garden?

Absolutely, you can build a sauna in your garden! It's a fantastic way to add a touch of luxury and wellness to your outdoor space. However, success in this endeavor requires careful planning. You'll need to consider factors like available space, local building regulations, proper ventilation, and insulation. Choosing the right materials and heater type, whether wood-burning or electric, is also crucial. With these considerations in mind, your garden sauna can become a reality, offering a private oasis for relaxation and health.

two-person outdoor sauna

What is a 2-Person Sauna?

A 2-person outdoor sauna is a compact structure specifically designed to fit two people comfortably. These saunas are typically built in the backyard or garden, providing a private and tranquil setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. Unlike larger public saunas, a 2-person sauna offers an intimate experience, perfect for couples or individual use. The sauna can be designed for either dry or wet heat sessions, depending on personal preference and the type of heater installed.

Building a sauna from scratch is an exciting project for DIY enthusiasts. This comprehensive guide will take you through the process, from choosing the right type of sauna stove to the final touches on your custom sauna.

3 Ways to Build Your Own Sauna

Let's explore these methods: 

Building Your Own Sauna -DIY from Scratch
Transforming an Existing Outbuilding into a DIY Sauna
Building a Sauna Made Easy with Pre-Built Kits

Building Your Own Sauna -DIY from Scratch

Materials Needed to Build Your Own Sauna

In the process of building your own sauna from scratch, the following materials are used:

1. For the Sauna Stove:

  • Wood-Burning Stove (if chosen)
  • Electric Stove (if chosen)

2. General Building Materials:

  • Concrete cubes
  • Bricks
  • Metal sheets
  • Styrofoam panels
  • Insulating foam sealant

3. For Laying the Foundation:

  • Tools and materials for ground preparation (e.g., tools to remove debris and level the area)

4. Building the Hearth (for a wood-burning sauna):

  • Concrete cubes for the base
  • Bricks for the walls
  • Scrap metal for the top layer
  • Masonry cement

5. Constructing the Frame and Adding Insulation:

  • Materials for framing (wood, nails, screws)
  • Paper-backed fiberglass insulation
  • Vapor barrier

6. Interior Work:

  • Wood planks (cedar, fir, or pine) for interior paneling
  • Nails and screws for paneling
  • Materials for ventilation (vents)
  • Pine 2X4s for benches

7. Finishing Touches:

  • Materials for wooden stage floor (if not using concrete)
  • Plywood, Styrofoam insulation, and car siding panels for the door
  • Wood for crafting a handle


1. Choosing Your Sauna Stove: Wood-Burning vs. Electric

  • Wood-Burning Stove: A traditional choice, wood-burning stoves offer a simpler setup compared to electric stoves. They provide a natural heat source and a unique ambiance. However, they require regular maintenance and access to firewood.
  • Electric Stove: An electric sauna stove is a modern alternative, offering convenience and precise temperature control. It's essential to involve a certified electrician in the installation process to ensure safety and compliance with electrical codes.

2. Gathering Your Materials

Before you start building, it's important to assemble all necessary materials. These include concrete cubes, bricks, metal sheets, Styrofoam panels, insulating foam sealant, and more. Ensure you have a comprehensive list to avoid delays during construction.

3. Laying the Foundation

  • Start by preparing the ground. Remove any debris and level the area.
  • Design a blueprint of your sauna. This plan will serve as a roadmap throughout the building process.

4. Building the Hearth

  • The hearth is crucial for a wood-burning sauna. Use concrete cubes for the base and bricks for the walls. The top layer should be secured with scrap metal and masonry cement.
  • Install the sauna heater at this stage, ensuring it's properly measured and securely placed.

5. Constructing the Frame and Adding Insulation

  • Frame the sauna and decide on chimney placement, whether through a sidewall or the roof. Opt for a double-wall metal chimney for safety.
  • Insulate the structure using paper-backed fiberglass and a vapor barrier to retain heat effectively.

6. Interior Work: Paneling, Vents, and Benches

  • Use wood planks like cedar, fir, or pine for interior paneling. Attach them with appropriate nails and screws.
  • Proper ventilation is key. Create two vents, one on the front wall and another on the ceiling.
  • Build benches from sturdy materials like pine 2X4s, attaching them securely to the paneling studs.

7. Finishing Touches: Flooring and Door

  • If not using a concrete floor, construct a wooden stage floor.
  • For the door, use a combination of plywood, Styrofoam insulation, and car siding panels. Craft a wooden handle for a rustic finish.

With careful planning and attention to detail, building your own sauna can be a rewarding DIY project. Not only does it enhance your craftsmanship skills, but it also provides a personal retreat for relaxation.

two-person outdoor sauna

Transforming an Existing Outbuilding into a DIY Sauna

Repurposing an existing outbuilding in your backyard into a sauna is a fantastic way to add value and functionality to your property. Structures such as a shed, small cabin, or a portion of a garage can be ideal candidates for this transformation. Below is a detailed explanation of how to convert these outbuildings into a personal sauna:

Ideal Outbuildings for Conversion

  • Sheds: Often the right size for a small sauna and usually require minimal structural changes.
  • Small Cabins: Provide a charming, rustic setting for a sauna, often with good insulation and space.
  • Garages: A section of a garage can be converted while maintaining its primary function.

Steps for Conversion

1. Insulate Walls and Ceiling

  • Use rolled fiberglass insulation, which is effective for high temperatures and helps retain heat.
  • Insulation should be carefully installed between wall studs and ceiling joists.

2. Install a Moisture Barrier

  • Use heavy-duty aluminum foil as a vapor barrier. The shiny side facing inward reflects heat, enhancing the sauna's efficiency.
  • This barrier prevents moisture from penetrating and damaging the structure.

3. Wall Paneling with Cedar Boards

  • Cedar is preferred due to its resistance to moisture and its pleasant aroma when heated.
  • Install the boards horizontally for easy installation and an aesthetically pleasing look.

4. Wood-Burning Stove Installation

  • Choose a stove designed for sauna use, ensuring it's the right size for your space.
  • Install it adhering to safety guidelines, maintaining proper clearances from combustible materials.

5. Ensure Adequate Ventilation

  • If the existing ventilation is insufficient, add vents near the floor for fresh air intake and near the ceiling for exhaust.
  • Proper ventilation is crucial for air circulation and to control humidity and temperature.

6. Flooring Considerations

  • Only replace the floor if it’s unsuitable for sauna use.
  • For existing wood floors, sealing gaps with resin and fiberglass strips can be effective.
  • Alternatively, pouring a concrete floor with a drain, topped with slatted, raised wood flooring, offers durability and ease of cleaning.

Additional Considerations

  • Check Local Regulations: Ensure compliance with local building codes, especially concerning the wood-burning stove installation.
  • Safety Measures: Install a fire extinguisher and smoke detector for safety.
  • Finishing Touches: Add benches, a door with a heat-resistant handle, and optional accessories like a thermometer or hygrometer.

Converting an existing outbuilding into a sauna is a rewarding project that not only recycles an unused structure but also provides a personal wellness retreat. With careful planning and adherence to safety standards, you can enjoy the benefits of a sauna right in your backyard.

Building a Sauna Made Easy with Pre-Built Kits

Embarking on a DIY sauna project with pre-built models is an efficient and manageable approach for homeowners. These models offer the convenience of a ready-to-assemble kit, reducing the complexity of building from scratch.

Building your own sauna using DIY pre-built models can be simplified into the following steps:

1. Select a Pre-Built Sauna Kit:

  • Choose a kit that suits your space requirements and design preferences.
  • Consider factors like size, material, heater type, and design.

2. Prepare the Site:

  • Ensure the selected area is level and stable.
  • The location should be suitable in your garden or yard.

3. Assemble the Frame:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions to construct the sauna frame.
  • Carefully attach panels and other structural components.

4. Install the Door:

  • Securely attach the door to the sauna, ensuring a proper fit and seal.

5. Electrical Installation (if applicable):

  • For electrically heated saunas, hire a licensed electrician.
  • Ensure all wiring complies with safety standards and regulations.

6. Add Personal Touches:

  • Install lighting for ambiance.
  • Add a thermometer to monitor the temperature.
  • Consider aromatic cedar accessories for an enhanced sauna experience.

By following these steps, you can efficiently build a high-quality sauna with the ease of a pre-built kit, creating a personalized relaxation space in your own backyard.

sauna interior

Benefits of Building An Outdoor Sauna in Your Own Backyard

  • Health and Wellness: Saunas are known for their health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, relieving muscle tension, and promoting relaxation.
  • Privacy and Convenience: Having a sauna at home offers the luxury of enjoying it anytime without the need to travel.
  • Increased Property Value: A well-built sauna can be a selling point and add value to your property.
  • Customization: When you build your own sauna, you have complete control over the design, materials, and features.
  • Family and Social Enjoyment: It can become a focal point for gathering, offering a unique and relaxing experience for guests and family members.

Safety and Compliance

It's crucial to be aware of and comply with all local building codes and safety regulations, especially concerning electrical installations and heater safety. Proper ventilation, non-flammable materials around the heater, and safe wiring are essential components of a safe sauna.

Wrapping Up

Building a two-person outdoor sauna can be a deeply rewarding project, blending the joys of DIY with the luxury of personal wellness. Whether you opt for building from scratch, converting an existing structure, or assembling a pre-built model, each approach offers its unique benefits and customization possibilities. By following detailed steps and adhering to safety standards, you can create a tranquil and intimate sauna space, enhancing both your home and lifestyle.

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