HOW TO SAVE MONEY BUILDING A SAUNA – TOP 5 TIPS

how to save money when building a sauna

The top five money saving tips when building a sauna are to optimize your dimensions, choose the right type of timber for your build, use recycled timber if available, source a good quality second-hand stove, and go for an infrared sauna. These tips will slash the cost of your sauna build.

HOW TO SAVE MONEY WHEN BUILDING A SAUNA

Building a home sauna is a great idea and can be done well on a small budget if you follow these tips. Discover how you can save money when you build your own sauna by following these simple steps.

1: DIMENSIONS

Size is critical when it comes to a sauna build. If you want to save some money make sure you get your dimensions right.

Do not build the sauna any bigger than you need it. If it is only going to be used by one or two people – build a one or two-person sauna. No bigger. A bigger sauna will cost more to heat and cost more in building materials.

Ceiling height is key – make sure you get the height of the sauna right. Aim for one inch higher than the tallest person who will be using it. For example, if you are 6 feet 2 inches, design a 6 feet 3-inch ceiling.

You don’t want any extra height space above your head as heat rises and accumulates in the ceiling area. If the sauna is too high you will struggle to heat the whole cabin and spend unnecessary money trying to achieve a satisfactory temperature.

Also, when you’re designing your sauna make sure you factor in some good quality insulation. Spending some money upfront to make sure your sauna is properly insulated will save you money many times over when you start using it.

2: CHOICE OF TIMBER

legs in a sauna

The choice of timber used for your sauna build will have a big impact on your overall costs. There are many different types of timber out there and the quality and prices of each vary greatly.

Check to see what your local timber supplier has on offer and ask them if they supply sauna cladding – as this will make your job a whole lot easier.

Depending on where you live the types of timber available to you will vary. The most popular timber choices for building a sauna are spruce, hemlock, western cedar, pine, basswood, and abachi.

Some timbers are a lot more expensive than others, especially the most popular choices and the fabricated cladding options. For example, hemlock wood is up to three times the price of spruce.

The price of timber varies greatly by region but to give you a rough idea – you can expect to pay about $60 for six lengths of spruce sauna wood cladding, (95x9x1895mm).

The same amount of sauna cladding in hemlock will set you back in the region of $150. 

If you want to save some money, shop around and take a look at the different types of timber available to you. Use good quality timber for the walls, ceiling, and benches. Then use something more affordable below the benches.

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3: RECYCLED TIMBER

Out of all the money saving tips for a sauna build – the best is probably to use recycled timber. The savings are significant and you’ll be helping the environment by repurposing some previously loved timber.

The rate at which premium-grade wood is being torn out of old houses and tossed in dumpsters is astonishing. May homeowners and builders are more concerned with getting rid of old floorboards and beams than selling them.

Still, take a look online for recycled timber. You’ll be amazed at the amount of premium second-hand timber out there. Cedar is particularly popular and is a great choice for building a home sauna.

Check out your local resale sites, Facebook groups, and even craigslist. There are some excellent opportunities to save money using recycled timber. Salvaged cedar can be picked up for as little as $300 for 400 square feet. 

4: SECOND-HAND STOVE

One of the most expensive parts of any sauna build is going to be the heating unit. Prices range from $300 for basic units to $1,500 for more advanced heaters.

The type of stove ranges from convection heaters such as electric, gas, and wood-burning stoves to radiation units used in infrared saunas. Either way, it’s going to be a significant investment and eat up a chunk of your budget.

Our tip is to go second hand. By buying a second-hand sauna stove you can save a bundle of cash with units routinely listed for $100 and below. There are some great deals out there. Check out your local listings,eBay, craigslist and even contact your local gyms and spas.

When it comes to money saving tips for building a sauna – choosing to go with a second-hand stove will save you a lot of money. Just do some due diligence and make sure the unit is in good working order before you commit to a purchase.

5: GO INFRARED 

One of the best decisions you can make when it comes to building a home sauna is to go for an infrared sauna. It will save you a ton of money over the lifetime of the sauna and it comes with a whole range of added benefits.

Infrared saunas are much cheaper to run compared to traditional saunas. They are highly efficient when it comes to energy consumption and will save you a lot of money over the years. Especially if you plan to use it frequently.  Infrared sauna is the economical choice.

An infrared sauna heats the body directly using an infrared light source. It does not heat the air around the body. A traditional sauna heats the air inside the sauna cabin which in turn heats your body.

As infrared saunas heat the body directly they run at much lower temperatures and achieve the same effect as traditional saunas. Infrared saunas run at 120°F, while traditional saunas run at 190°F. 

This all means lower running costs when it comes to heating your sauna, enhanced relaxation and therapeutic effect, and a more comfortable sauna session. Not to mention, saving you lots of money!

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RED CEDAR WOOD FOR A SAUNA BUILD

red cedar for a sauna build

Red cedar is an excellent choice of wood for building a home sauna. The timber is strong, doesn’t shrink or warp when exposed to sauna heat, and has outstanding heat distribution properties – meaning it doesn’t get too hot to touch. Its pleasant aroma and attractive reddish color help make it a very popular choice for a sauna build.

Red cedar, and especially western red cedar, is the most popular choice of wood for a sauna build. It has many qualities that make it the first choice of timber for home sauna cabins in North America.

IS RED CEDAR A GOOD CHOICE FOR BUILDING A SAUNA?

legs in a western redcedar sauna

Yes, red cedar is an excellent choice for building a sauna. It is the most popular type of wood in North America for both traditional and infrared saunas. Here’s why…

STRONG & LIGHT WEIGHT

Red cedar is a lightweight and strong wood. Properly maintained it will last for decades. Native Americans treasured it for its strength and durability and used it for most of their construction needs. 

With a bending strength of 7,500 psi, cedarwood saunas are built to last. It is easy to work with and will provide solid structural strength for your cabin. 

TIMBER STABILITY

Red cedar timber has excellent shrinkage and warp resistance when exposed to heat. This makes it an ideal choice for use in a sauna. It holds its shape and integrity. 

The timber boasts better shrinking and swelling resistance compared to other types of wood. And it is resistant to fluctuations in moisture content – a great quality for a wood being used in a sauna.

THERMAL INSULATION

It is an excellent thermal insulator. This means it will help keep the heat inside your sauna and prevent it from escaping. 

Good insulation means your sauna will heat up more quickly and retain the heat for longer. Red cedar is the best thermal insulator among the commercially available softwoods and even outperforms concrete, brick, and steel.

EXCELLENT HEAT DISTRIBUTION

It has excellent heat distribution. This means it won’t get too hot when the sauna heats up. Red cedar won’t overheat, it will be comfortable to touch and sit on at all times.

GREAT TO WORK WITH

Redcedar timber is a great wood to work with. It contains no resin and is naturally straight-grained. It’s easy to work with using both hand and machine tools, and it glues and finishes well.

MICROBE & MOISTURE RESISTANCE

Red cedar is microbe and moisture resistant. It contains natural compounds that are toxic to fungi, bacteria, and termites. It is renowned for its high decay-resistance and is classed in the highest category of decay resistance for any softwood.

APPEARANCE & AROMA

Cedar has an attractive reddish-brown, rich tone. This warm color is aesthetically pleasing and ideal for sauna construction.

Cedar is also noted for its pleasant aroma. It has a very distinctive scent that’s popular amongst sauna and furniture makers. To protect its natural aroma it should be left untreated.

is red cedar good for sauna benches?

IS IT GOOD FOR SAUNA BENCHES?

Yes, it is an excellent choice for sauna benches. Due to its thermal properties and low-density profile, it does not become too hot when the sauna heats up. This means it’s comfortable to touch and sit on.

WHERE DOES RED CEDAR COME FROM?

Red cedar is a tree native to North America. Although there are two types, western and eastern red cedar, western red cedar is the type used for a sauna. They are completely different species and should not be confused. 

The western red cedar tree comes from western North America, especially British Columbia and the surrounding areas. It is a large, slow-growing, softwood tree. It can also be found in western Europe and Australia.

Eastern red cedar is a species of juniper and is found in eastern North America stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It is a dense, slow-growing coniferous evergreen tree and no relation to the western redcedar.

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?

The heartwood of western cedar timber has a warm reddish-brown color, while the narrow sapwood has a pale yellow and sometimes white tone. 

It is an evergreen coniferous tree that grows up to 70 meters tall and has a trunk diameter of 7 meters. It’s a big tree!

Its foliage is green with faint white bands on the underside. The cones are slender and quite short, growing to just 0.7 inches in length. The tree has a life expectancy of over 1,000 years.

 

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RED CEDAR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

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APPEARANCE 

Cedar has a crisp reddish-brown color which can sometimes have streaks of darker red. Narrow sapwood cedar is pale yellow and almost white. Its appearance works well for many different styles of furniture and décor.

TEXTURE

Cedar is an evergreen coniferous tree with a straight grain and a uniform medium to fine-grain texture. This makes it a good timber for working with – easy to cut and saw with common tools.  Red cedar wood for a sauna build is a good choice given its texture.

DENSITY

Cedar is a lightweight softwood. It is one of the lightest commercially available softwoods in North America. It has a density of 21 pounds per cubic foot when oven-dried. And it has a specific gravity, (also known as relative density), of 0.32. Its low density makes it an excellent insulator.

DURABILITY

Maintained correctly, western redcedar will last for decades. It has long been a highly valued construction timber by Native Americans. It is prized for long-lasting build qualities and is a popular choice for construction needs. Red cedar has a crushing strength of 4,560 lbf/in2 and a Janka hardness rating of 350 lbf (1,560 N).

STABILITY

Red cedar has excellent stability qualities. It displays very low shrinkage values and outperforms all other coniferous timbers in resistance to warping and twisting. It is resistant to moisture and therefore suffers virtually no change to its original dimensions, making it a great choice for dimensional stability.

WORKABILITY

Western red cedar is a great timber to work with. It is a straight-grained wood that contains no resins and is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. The timber dents and scratches easily due to its soft nature, so care should be taken to avoid handling errors.

ODOR

Red cedar has a pleasant and distinctive aroma. Many people choose redcedar for building a sauna because of its unique scent. Sealing should be avoided if you intend to keep its unique odor.

In fact, sealing should always be avoided for a sauna build to prevent the release of volatile gases when the heat builds up.

FLAME SAFETY

Red cedar flame safety and flame spread ratings compare well against other similar softwoods. This makes it a popular choice for interior finishing and general building applications. And its good fire prevention score is a very favorable quality for sauna construction.

MICROBE & INSECT RESISTANCE

Red cedar has a natural resistance to microbes and insects such as fungi, bacteria, and termites, It produces chemicals that are toxic to these organisms and protects the timber from them. This protects the wood making it more durable and increasing lifespan.

Is Red Cedar Wood for a Sauna Build?
Yes, it’s a great choice!

 

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