Build an Outdoor Sauna with Cedar Wood

Build an Outdoor Sauna with Cedar Wood

The Soothing Allure of a Homemade Sauna

Ah, the soothing warmth and scent of cedar wood – the perfect recipe for an outdoor sauna retreat. As the winter chill sets in, there’s nothing quite like escaping to your very own cozy sauna to melt away the stresses of the day. And let me tell you, building one from scratch is an incredibly rewarding experience.

I’ll never forget the day I first decided to tackle this project. It was a blustery January evening, and I was curled up on the couch, daydreaming about summer getaways. That’s when it hit me – why not create my own little oasis, right in my backyard? So, I grabbed my laptop and started scouring the internet for inspiration and guidance.

Choosing the Perfect Cedar

Now, when it comes to building an outdoor sauna, the type of wood you choose is crucial. After extensive research, I landed on cedar as the clear winner. Cedar is renowned for its natural resistance to moisture and decay, making it the ideal material for a structure that will be exposed to the elements. Plus, the warm, earthy aroma of cedar is simply divine, transporting you to a serene forest with every breath.

As I dove deeper into my planning, I discovered that there are a few different varieties of cedar wood to consider. Western red cedar and eastern white cedar are both popular choices, each with their own unique characteristics. Western red cedar is known for its rich, reddish-brown hue and tight grain, while eastern white cedar has a lighter, more golden tone and a slightly more open grain structure. Ultimately, the decision came down to personal preference and availability in my local area.

Designing the Perfect Sauna

With the wood selection sorted, it was time to start planning the actual design of my sauna. This is where the real fun began! I pored over countless sauna plans and tutorials, trying to envision the perfect layout for my backyard oasis.

One of the key decisions I had to make was the size and shape of the sauna. According to the sauna enthusiasts on Reddit, the average DIY traditional sauna costs between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the size and features. I knew I wanted something cozy and intimate, but not too cramped. After much deliberation, I settled on a rectangular design, measuring roughly 6 feet by 8 feet. This would provide ample space for up to four people to comfortably enjoy the sauna experience.

Next, I had to consider the layout and placement of the key components – the benches, the heating unit, and the door. I wanted to maximize the use of space while ensuring a seamless flow and easy access. After consulting the experts at Timber Building, I decided on a classic layout with two tiers of benches, a centrally located heating unit, and a sturdy, insulated door to keep the heat in.

Tackling the Construction

With the design firmly in place, it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I’ll admit, the prospect of building an entire sauna from scratch was a bit daunting at first, but I was determined to see this project through.

The first step was to prepare the foundation. I chose a level, well-drained spot in my backyard, ensuring it was sheltered from the wind and elements. Then, I carefully laid a sturdy base of pressure-treated lumber, securing it firmly to the ground with concrete footings. This would provide a solid, level platform for the sauna structure to rest upon.

Next came the framing. I meticulously measured and cut the cedar wood to size, assembling the walls, ceiling, and benches with precision. It was important to ensure the structure was square and sturdy, as this would be the foundation for the insulation and finishing touches.

Speaking of insulation, I couldn’t skimp on this crucial step. I used a combination of high-quality rigid foam insulation and a reflective vapor barrier to maximize the efficiency and heat retention of the sauna. This would help maintain the perfect temperature and humidity levels for an authentic sauna experience.

As the walls and roof started to take shape, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. With each hammered nail and sanded surface, I was one step closer to my very own backyard oasis.

Bringing the Sauna to Life

With the structural framework in place, it was time to focus on the finishing touches. I carefully selected and installed the cedar benches, making sure they were comfortable and secure. For the door, I opted to build it from scratch, using more of the beautiful cedar wood and incorporating a large window to let in natural light. The result was a stunning, functional entryway that perfectly complemented the sauna’s rustic charm.

As the final pieces fell into place, I couldn’t wait to fire up the sauna and take it for a test run. I carefully followed the instructions for the heating unit, ensuring it was properly vented and positioned for optimal heat distribution. The moment of truth had arrived – I closed the door, took a deep breath, and felt the soothing warmth envelop me.

The experience was nothing short of magical. The soft glow of the cedar wood, the gentle hiss of the heating unit, and the gentle puffs of steam – it was like stepping into a cozy, tranquil sanctuary. I could feel the tension melting away as I slowly inhaled the earthy aroma, letting the heat soak into my muscles.

Sharing the Sauna Experience

With my outdoor sauna complete, I couldn’t wait to share this wonderful experience with friends and family. I quickly organized a small gathering, inviting a few close pals to come over and test out my handiwork.

As they stepped through the cedar-framed doorway, the look of pure delight on their faces was priceless. They marveled at the attention to detail, the warmth of the space, and the sheer tranquility it exuded. One of my friends even commented that it felt like a slice of Finnish hygge, right in my own backyard.

We spent the next hour or so alternating between the sauna and the crisp, refreshing air outside, allowing our bodies to fully embrace the contrast of hot and cold. The laughter, the storytelling, the shared moments of pure relaxation – it was exactly the kind of experience I had envisioned.

Embracing the Sauna Lifestyle

As the winter months rolled on, my outdoor sauna quickly became a cherished refuge. Whenever the stresses of daily life felt overwhelming, I would retreat to my little cedar oasis, leaving the worries of the world behind.

Whether I was enjoying a quiet solo session, complete with a good book and a mug of herbal tea, or hosting a lively gathering with friends, the sauna never failed to deliver a sense of tranquility and rejuvenation. It’s amazing how just a few minutes in the warmth can reset your mind and body, leaving you feeling refreshed and centered.

And the best part? I get to enjoy this idyllic escape year-round. As the seasons change, the sauna takes on a new character – a cozy, intimate sanctuary in the winter, a refreshing oasis in the summer. It’s a testament to the versatility and timeless appeal of cedar wood, and a testament to the power of DIY passion and perseverance.

So, if you’re like me, craving a little slice of serenity in your own backyard, I highly encourage you to take on the challenge of building an outdoor sauna. Trust me, the journey and the rewards are well worth it. With a little bit of elbow grease, some cedar wood, and a whole lot of determination, you can create your own personal sanctuary, where the stresses of the world melt away, and the soothing warmth of a homemade sauna awaits.


Get the latest updates on timber construction trends, sustainable practices, and exclusive offers from Timber Building. Subscribe to our newsletter for insights delivered straight to your inbox.

Stay Informed with Timber Building

Contact Us


Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved.