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Long ago, humans discovered the warmth and healing comfort of the home sauna. By 2,000 B.C., people began to dig hillside shelters featuring a wood-fired sauna with an animal hide covering the entranceway.
Today, millions of people in the modern countries circling the northern world — Estonia, Latvia, Finland, and Russia — install saunas in their homes as a standard feature. Homeowners across the globe have also awakened to the easy renovation of a bathroom, spare room, or basement to install a sauna.
Choosing Your Sauna
If you’re interested in a sauna, you can choose to hire a contractor to add onto your home with a bump-out design. Since a sauna is only a small room, it will not require much space. You will need to put down a concrete slab for the addition. This will mean getting permits from the city. It also means using a construction crane mat system to protect the ground during construction.
On the other hand, you could put your new sauna inside the house and probably avoid the permit process. Plus you could build the sauna using DIY kits. Check out the tips below.
Power and Budget
The typical modern sauna is powered not by a wood fire with chimney exhaust but with electricity, using a standard 110-volt or a 220-volt outlet. Therefore, you need to ensure you have sufficient power wherever you want to install an indoor sauna.
Of course, the amount of power affects the overall cost. To conserve energy, you need to include sauna insulation in your budget. It may cost more up front but it will save money over time.
Another factor that influences the final price is the style. Home saunas range from the inexpensive tent-like enclosure fit for a small apartment to the custom-built cedar chamber for larger houses with a spare room and maybe a sizable basement.
Aside from the cost, consider how you want to use the sauna when determining the project’s scope. Smaller saunas suit single users and homes with less square footage, requiring only a 4’ by 4’ space. Larger households may opt to go bigger for multi-person use with enough space for houseguests or even a yoga group.
Pre-Built or Custom-Made
Once you consider the scope of the area, consider whether to purchase a pre-built model or spend more to custom-build a sauna to your own specifications.
For those who value convenience, prefabricated models offer the full range of sizes for indoor and outdoor installation alike. These modern infrared heat saunas need only a stable flat surface with room for ventilation, requiring only light assembly and proximity to a power source.
Although you can place prefabs upon any flat surface, custom-built saunas should only be on surfaces like stone, ceramic tiling, wood, or even concrete.
How to Install
You can install the sauna on any indoor surface, including wood, stone, tile, and even carpeting. The wood should be tongue-and-groove cedar or even a soft and light option like North American Basswood. Remove drywall and ceiling materials on the building site, demolishing down to the bare joists.
Working top to bottom, nail the tongue-and-groove boards and then cover the gap at the top of the wall with trimming pieces. Most sauna heaters come with specific instructions regarding installation and placement within the room.
Most commonly, you should equip the sauna with two wooden benches supported by 2×4’s and nailed to the flooring and wall, one large and one smaller. Lighting is often installed beneath the benches, though such details may be tailored to individual taste.
The typical indoor sauna should have R-11 fiberglass insulation at a minimum, which comes in either 16- or 24-inch wide rolls. Special sauna foil goes over the insulation layer and beneath the wood paneling to reflect as much heat as possible.
Enjoy Your Sauna
With those considerations in mind, you can start planning your new home renovation project and enjoy the luxury of an indoor sauna.