House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

5 DIY Sauna Stove Plans You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

barrel sauna in the backyard

Saunas are normally heated to temperatures ranging from 150 to 195°F. Characteristically, they usually feature temperature controls, relative humidity, and unpainted interiors.

Speaking of, if you’ve ever used one before, you must have realized it had interiors that were made of wood. The reason for this is, unlike other materials, wood is notoriously known for releasing more heat into the atmosphere.

The interiors aren’t painted as the paint will affect how the wood “breathes.” That is to say, it won’t be able to efficiently absorb or slowly release heat and humidity.

Saunas have several health benefits. According to health experts, they can potentially lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, reduce muscle soreness through increased blood circulation, promote relaxation, and even improve your cardiovascular health.

We want you to enjoy some of those benefits, so we made this list of sauna stoves you can build on your own, today.

divider 1

Top 5 DIY Sauna Stove Plans

1. Wood-Fire Sauna Stove

Difficulty level: Moderate

The wood fire stove is not as common here in the United States as it is in Europe. Even though those countries are as advanced in technology as we are, they believe some things need not be changed. If you ask them what makes the wood-fire sauna stove so special, they’ll talk about the sound, scent, aroma, and softer heat that can only be generated by this type of stove.

How does the stove work? The same way as a gas or electric stove, save for the fact that it requires a chimney to facilitate ventilation. Speaking of ventilation, because you’ll be working with fire—an element that requires oxygen—you’ll have to find a way to draw air from the outside.

The size of the stove is not a critical factor, if we’re talking about the amount of heat that it’s capable of producing. How hot the stove burns will hinge on the type of wood you use. If you go for pine, you likely won’t be able to get to the required heat. But if you choose to work with maple or ironbark, you’re guaranteed an experience of a lifetime.


2. Electric Sauna Stove

Difficulty level: High

Almost every sauna that you’ll visit will have an electric heater, if you’re a US resident. It’s not that we don’t like wood-fire stoves. Some of us do, but it takes time to heat a sauna. Both of them heat using convection, but the electric sauna stove is more efficient in that it works with resistive elements.

That resistance is what causes the energy produced to be transformed into heat energy, thereby heating the particles of air in the room. You’ll notice a few stones stacked up the heater if you’ve ever been close to one. Other than ensuring that adequate heat gets stored for the next user, they also facilitate the efficient transfer of heat around the room.

When building an electric stove, you’ll need galvanized metal, aluminum, or stainless steel. Materials that are known to offer high resistance to corrosion and several other elements. Painting is highly discouraged as it could affect the functionality of the sauna. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll just be wasting your time, as it will eventually detach due to the high temperatures.


3. Gas Sauna Stove

Difficulty level: High

From an economic standpoint, gas stoves are cheaper than electric stoves. What’s more, experts have proven that they are a lot “cleaner” than their counterparts, owing to the fact that they contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions.

Apart from being cost-effective, gas sauna stoves are known to be flexible. You could hook it up to propane, liquefied petroleum gas(LPG), or natural gas. The only thing you need to remember is, propane or LPG stoves have to be supplied by an external gas bottle.

How powerful your gas stove is will mostly depend on its size. Propane and LPG stoves are not as powerful as the natural gas stove, because they are relatively smaller. But this does not mean that you should build something that looks like an exaggeration. If you decide to go too big, you might end up building something that heats the air but doesn’t do anything to the benches or stones meant to store the heat.


4. Far-Infrared Stoves (FIR)

 

Difficulty level: Moderate

Are you wondering why you’ve never heard of or seen this type of stove? Well, it’s because it’s still a relatively new concept. And the way they operate is so different from what we’re used to. Instead of heating your space using convection, they’ll do so through radiation heating. That is to say, they’ll heat your body directly, instead of heating the room.

Infrared light should not be confused with ultraviolet light. The latter is capable of causing cancer and has a shorter wavelength in comparison to visible light.

Since you’ll be absorbing all the heat being radiated, nothing will be lost in the space around you. But you have to position the heater in a way that allows the heat to travel directly to you—infrared heat only travels in a straight line.

An infrared stove is an incredible option for those who find the air in a traditional sauna too humid to breathe. The degree to which it affects the humidity and temperature of the room is insignificant if you compare it to other stoves.


5. Steam Generator

Difficulty level: High

The latest entrant into the market is the steam generator. It’s also used to heat the room by filling it with steam, but the other difference is in its application. You see, unlike other heaters, this particular one can be used in showers.

Your steam generator should operate the same way as a hot water system. The ones that we’ve come across were relying on electricity to power up, but we’ve heard of others that solely rely on gas.  So you can go with an option that suits your needs.

divider 1Different Types of Saunas

We’ve looked at the stoves, and now it’s time to look at the structures housing these stoves, along with detailed instructions so you can make one at home.

1. Barrel Sauna

wood barrel sauna
Image Credit: Piqsels

Funny thing is, even though this type of stove is cylindrical in shape, it can easily fit into any square space. The other good thing is, compared to your typical sauna, this one comes with less unused air space and an even heat distribution. That curvature will automatically push down the hot air rising, enabling the heat to flow evenly throughout the space.

The barrel sauna is the best option for people who live in cooler climates, and consider themselves outdoorsy. It has a sturdy structure that cannot be compromised by any amount of snow, even if it precipitates for weeks. You could use the Western Red Cedar to ensure it has a high resistance to rot and water.


2. Portable Sauna

You can obviously tell that this is the plan for anyone thinking of living in a van or on the road. It’s a pod design that’s small enough to go with you anywhere, without looking conspicuous. Well, unless you’ve managed to construct a portable sauna that’s so pretty it can’t go unnoticed.

The point is, you don’t need a large vehicle or an RV to haul this type of stove across the country if that’s one of your concerns. Portability means even a bicycle can drag it with ease. Also, don’t let its size fool you. Just because it looks small from the outside, doesn’t mean that only one person can comfortably sit inside this sweat pod.

Depending on the size of the individuals going in, it can accommodate up to six people, before that space starts to feel crowded. The heating system is also efficient, sustainable, and the pod has a chimney to keep smoke at bay.


3. Backyard/Outdoor Sauna

Outdoor sauna in the garden with deck chairs
Image Credit: jennyfriedrichs, Pixabay

Is there anything better than having a sauna in your own backyard? Basically, you’ll be getting the best of both worlds—enjoying an outdoor experience while relieving stress through perspiration.

To top that off, the backyard sauna is very easy to construct, doesn’t require a lot of materials, and always looks great in the backyard.


4. Shipping Container Sauna Box

With some time and patience, it’s possible to turn a shipping container into a sauna. We now have what the market is referring to as “the sauna box,” and it’s been designed to mimic the conventional wood-burning steam room.

“Wood-burning” means it comes with a wood fire stove, and the “conventional” is meant to tell you that it’s as watertight as the sauna you’re used to. The other thing that makes the sauna box different is the fact that it’s powered by solar panels. What’s more, it’s been custom-built using a material that has been fabricated from corten steel. Hence, making it resistant to corrosion.


5. Panoramic Barrel Sauna

If you’ve already fallen in love with the barrel sauna stove plan that we’ve described above, you’ll fall in love with this one more.

The panoramic barrel sauna has everything the barrel sauna has, and then some. It’s aesthetically pleasing, made of wood, cylindrical in shape, has a wooden stove, and a huge observation window.


6. Indoor Bathroom Sauna

The indoor bathroom uses an infrared or wood-fire stove. The whole plan is designed for homeowners looking to spend more time at home and save money. Building it is not all that difficult, seeing as you have the walls and everything else already set up. The only thing that you’re advised to do is to ensure the space is well-insulated, and all the fixtures and fittings removed.

If you want to make it look a little more traditional, you can incorporate cedarwood into the design. Or any other type of wood that won’t expand too much once it has been exposed to the heat.

divider 1

Conclusion

We would really like to know what you think about the plans that we’ve just shared. Did you like them? Or did you find them too complex to understand?

Also, if you get the chance, kindly share this article with your friends and family members. Educate them on the benefits of using saunas, and the kind of fun that you get to experience while building one.


Featured Image Credit: Aaron Finn, Shutterstock

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools

woodworking

Garden

Automotive