BoulderSauna  Do-It-Yourself Kits

There are a handful of manufactures in North America that offer semicustom kits for outfitting the interior of your sauna, whether it's free-standing or a converted space inside your home. The kit typically includes a framed door, heater, heater control panel, light fixture, and all of the cedar lumber required for outfitting the interior, from the wall lining to the benches to the water bucket. The kit manufacturer rough cuts the lumber to fit the size of your particular space, so you get to trim and sand and otherwise tweak as you install. It's nice because the manufacturer calculates just what you'll need and very little is wasted.

You can save some money by ordering what you need from a lumber yard, but a kit is a tremendous time saver and awfully convenient. This is a standard kit from a (less-than-reliable) Canadian firm called Saunafin.

Perpendicular ceiling panels and nice 2x4 lumber for the benches.

Your kit manufacturer should provide a form that collects important details about your space, where the door is going to be, and how many benches you want. It should also ask which way to run the lining on the ceiling: parallel or perpendicular to the door. Perpendicular panels (running from the front to the rear of the sauna) makes the space look larger. Of course, you'll need to have made this decision way back when you were designing because the ceiling joists will have to run in the opposite direction.

When shopping around for a kit, be sure to consider not just price, but design. For example, the bench lumber in some kits consists of clear cedar 2x4s, whereas other kits use 2x2s. Either is fine, but you may have a preference. There is also quite a bit of variation around what sorts of doors and heaters are available. The best heaters, for example, include a water reservoir for continuous steam. Finally, think about your accessories: is there wood planking for the floor? A sliding door for your air vent? And most importantly, how about a water bucket?

Most kits, if they include a heater, will give you a choice between analog (shown here) and digital controls. Paying a bit more for digital buys you silent operation (no ticking sound), single-degree precision, lighted controls, and programmability like delayed start times.

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