Sauna Design & Construction
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The low-down on sauna design and construction.
We just wrapped up a handsome remodel of a mid-century modern home near Seattle (more on this in a future post) and the project includes a sauna that we’re quite proud of. You might think, with an item as specialized as a sauna, that you need to buy a kit or have a specialty contractor do the install. This isn’t necessarily the case as we’ve been finding. We’ve designed and built saunas into a couple of projects now and we’ve put together a kit-of-parts for a basic sauna design and assembly. If you follow the BUILDblog you know that we like to get good design out there in the world because a rising tide raises all boats. Today’s post includes details, photos and some specifications from our most recent sauna package.
The proper function of a true Scandinavian sauna is dependent on several key dimensions and specifications.
1. Heater size relative to floor area dictates the temperature capacity of the room.
2. The ceiling height and bench locations are critical for the temperature range.
3. Proper location of vents allows for correct airflow.
4. The vapor barrier and floor drain are critical to protect against moisture.
We’re big fans of the Finlandia website which spells out many of the critical factors behind sauna design. Saunas in Scandinavia tend to be minimal, simple and beautiful; they are everything they need to be an nothing more. It’s a design aesthetic that’s right up our alley and we keep the design as simple as possible. Here are the interior elevations for the project above:
These elevations are specific to a particular project and you’d want to modify things a bit depending on the situation, but you get the gist. The detail below covers the bench and wall assembly.
For the heater we like the look of Finlandia’s FLB series – they fabricate a super clean looking stainless steel version that compliments the look of cedar quite nicely. It’s also a wet/dry heater which makes it an easy choice. You’ll want to consult their heater chart to spec the correct size heater for the space.
[Photo by Finlandia]
Because there is so much moisture inside the sauna, we like to construct a fully tiled pan at the floor. It’s basically the same thing as a shower floor, sloped to a drain at the center. There are a couple of options for surface coverings. Sauna mats are cost-effective, easy to install and available in a range of colors.
[Photo by Finlandia]
Another flooring option is to build a floating cedar deck. The sleepers lay on top of the pan without attachment for two reasons; it’s important not to penetrate the pan and it allows for the floor to be pulled out like pallets for access to the tile floor below. We like the cedar deck floor because it keeps the composition visually warm and gives it a custom look.
For wall mount lights we like to use the Thomas SL-875, can lights with vapor proof trim also work nicely for recessed ceiling lights. For the door, our preference is a solid wood frame with a clear glass panel. It creates a warm glowing affect from outside that says come on in and get some clean Scandinavian modernism.
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All photos and drawings by BUILD LLC unless noted otherwise