Janet submitted this amazing DIY sauna!
“My husband, Carl, and I are both of Finnish descent and grew up with saunas. He loves them, so in our 18 years of marriage, we’ve had a conversation on and off about getting one. When the conversation started again earlier this spring, I figured I could probably build it. With my free labor, maybe we could swing it. We came up with a plan. I talked to the well company and they ran a water line off our well to a spigot where the shut off is 8 feet underground so the line won’t freeze. I went to a local lumberyard and they drew up an official plan from my drawings so they could order trusses. I ripped out the garden that used to be in sauna site July 4th weekend. The soil is little sloped but we (when I say we, my husband lent a hand with some grunt work but he doesn’t know building stuff) dug it down more and filled the area under the future steam room with pea rock. Then we dug out the footings, I did the cement, posts and built a deck. Then I built the sauna with my husband occasionally lending a hand–bracing walls, hoisting up the trusses, getting the sheathing on the roof. We had hail damage and needed a new roof on the house. The guys who replaced our roof said they would shingle the sauna for free for giving them the house job. They were done in a day! Then came wall insulation, vapor barrier, rafter baffles, blowing in the ceiling insulation, and finish work. I built the barn door out of the siding door cut out. I had a window to install in the changing room and built the steam room door out of scraps. It was so fun working in the steam room because the cedar smells SO good. The lumberyard did not know about saunas so I bought a stove from a sauna company. The stove is wood burning with a water tank in front that heats the water (usually to boiling!) (A person would mix hot water with the cold from the spigot and showers from a bucket. We have a few large buckets. Yes, it’s rustic) Per the advice of the sauna company, I did a double layer of cement board with an air gap behind the sauna stove for fire proofing. I could not believe how many different pieces there were for the stove pipe! At least the store provided a diagram and I read the instructions enough times until it finally made sense to me and got it together. I used real shiplap (you know, with actual half lap joints) in the changing room. My brother-in-law and nephew wired it for lights.
October 10th was my oldest daughter’s 17th birthday. My husband left to play soccer and she and I got the section of black stove pipe cut and shimmied the stove into place. It was HEAVY! She was excited to take the first sauna! I worked on unfinished things for another month and then then it got too cold. I still have some finishing work to do come spring.
I know this is not your average entry but it really is my best DIY project. I am self taught and have developed quite a passion for woodworking but am otherwise just an average Mom. I have enjoyed the occasional sauna but I was never building it for me. My husband LOVES it and uses it a few times a week. One day it was -15 degrees outside and 185 inside! A 200 degree swing! It’s too bad 2016 is over because for a bit there, I was Wife of the Year. Maybe it makes up for the tools and half done projects I leave around all the time.”