Saunas are best loved for their rejuvenating powers. One version or another has been utilized by more or less every culture from the Mayans to Native Americans to the Greek culture and right through to today. The deep heat cleanses the skin, relieves tension, and helps improve and increase circulation.
Common saunas are wooden rooms with wooden benches for seating that are insulated and heated to between 160 and 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is provided by rocks, usually granite, which can absorb the heat without cracking. The rocks can be heated by a variety of sources but a wood stove is the most economical.
Building a sauna on your own is a fairly ambitious project, but there are many kits on the market that make the job much easier. Some kits can be completed in as little as just one day. Before you pick either an outdoor or indoor sauna, you must first choose the type of foundation that you will need.
The building of the sauna begins with proper planning of the project that includes checking out any local building codes that may put restrictions on your project. As well, unless you are a licensed electrician, one will need to be hired to hook up the heat source.
In order for your sauna to stand the test of time, the foundation needs to be stable and solid. You want it to be permanent and strong so you should use materials that will not deteriorate once the sauna is in place. This is especially important if you live in climates where frost could shift the soil in colder months.
Keep in mind that small buildings tend to shift more than larger ones so you will need footings between 12 inches and up to 48 inches, depending on the climate. The colder the climate, the deeper the footings will be. In warmer places, railroad ties on a level bed of sand and gravel will be secure enough to hold the sauna. Remove the grass from the area that will be the floor of the sauna and fill the area in with course sand and gravel. This gives a base to float the floor which is known as “floating slab” foundation. The sand acts as drainage so there will be no water collecting under the slab, and therefore there will be no freezing to worry about.
If you decide on a concrete foundation, make sure that you think about sloping the floor for drainage purposes. Railroad ties can be used to frame in this foundation. The ties need to be laid into trenches to secure them, and then nailed at the corners where they meet to secure them together. The inside of the frame is lined with a porous fabric liner and then covered with gravel. Let the gravel settle a few days and then add the concrete pavers on the gravel. This can also be the base of a wooden floor. If a wooden floor for the foundation is desired, sloping for drainage is a must, but you also have to make sure the wood is sealed to prevent wood rot.
The foundation is the most important underpinning of sauna construction. Having a solid foundation with quality support is essential to building a sauna. If you are unsure about your abilities to build a solid foundation, you should enlist the services of a qualified professional. It could actually save you a lot of money in the event that you had to bring someone in to repair your own damage.