Step-by-Step Guide on Building Your Own Barrel Sauna: Tips and Tricks for a Perfect DIY Project

Are you looking for a unique and relaxing addition to your backyard? A barrel sauna may be the perfect solution. Not only is it a functional space for relaxing, but it also adds charm and character to your outdoor area. Best of all, with this step-by-step guide and some tips and tricks, building your own barrel sauna can be a fun and rewarding project.

Before you get started, it’s essential to know what a barrel sauna is and how it functions. The traditional barrel sauna design features a cylindrical-shaped structure with wooden staves and hoops to hold it together. The curved shape of the barrel provides better heat circulation and a more relaxing experience.

Once you have an understanding of the basic design, it’s time to gather the necessary tools and materials. Depending on your DIY skills and experience, you can customize your sauna based on your preferences and budget. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced DIYer, this guide will help you every step of the way, from selecting the right wood to adding the finishing touches.


Welcome to our step-by-step guide on building your own barrel sauna! A sauna is a great addition to any backyard, giving you a relaxing space to escape and unwind. Building your own sauna can seem daunting, but it’s a fun and rewarding DIY project that can save you money compared to buying a pre-built sauna.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to build your own barrel sauna, including tips and tricks for a perfect DIY project. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right materials and tools to assembling the sauna and adding the finishing touches.

Whether you’re an experienced DIY enthusiast or a first-time builder, this guide has everything you need to get started. So, let’s get started on building your own barrel sauna!

Choose the Right Location

Before you start building your barrel sauna, it’s important to choose the right location for it. You’ll need to consider a few factors when choosing your location:

  • Flat surface: Your sauna needs to be on a flat surface that can support its weight.
  • Privacy: Your sauna should be in a private area where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Accessibility: You should be able to easily access your sauna, without having to walk too far or climb any steep hills.
  • Drainage: You’ll need to ensure that your sauna is in an area with good drainage, so that rainwater doesn’t collect around or underneath it.

Once you’ve found a suitable location for your sauna, you can start planning the build process.

Get the Right Tools and Materials


To build a barrel sauna, you will need a variety of tools, including:

  • Electric drill
  • Circular saw or jigsaw
  • Chop saw or hand saw
  • Square
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Nail gun (optional)
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Make sure that all of your tools are in good working order and that you have any necessary safety equipment, such as goggles and gloves.


Here are the materials you will need to build your barrel sauna:

  • Barrel sauna kit
  • Insulation (if not included in kit)
  • Vapor barrier (if not included in kit)
  • Roofing material (if not included in kit)
  • Wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Nails
  • Staples

Make sure to purchase high-quality materials that are appropriate for your climate and that will withstand the wear and tear of regular sauna use. If you are unsure about which materials to choose, consult with an expert or do some research to find the best options for your needs.

Plan the Design

Before you start building your own barrel sauna, it is important to plan the design. You will need to decide on the size, shape, and style of your sauna. Consider your available space, as well as your personal preferences and needs.

Some things to think about when planning your design include:

  • The number of people who will be using the sauna at once
  • The type of wood you want to use for the walls, benches, and flooring
  • The location of the chimney and stove
  • The shape of the sauna (e.g. round, oval, or rectangular)
  • The type of door and windows you want

Once you have a clear idea of what you want, you can start to create a detailed plan. This should include accurate measurements, sketches, and a list of materials you will need. You may also want to consult with a professional to ensure that your design is safe, practical, and functional.

Build the Foundation

Before you start building your barrel sauna, you need to build a solid and level foundation to prevent any future problems. Here are some steps to follow:

  • 1. Choose the location: First, choose the location where you want to build your barrel sauna. It should be a flat and well-draining area with enough space for the sauna and room to move around it.
  • 2. Clear the area: Clear the area of any rocks, debris, or vegetation. Make sure the ground is level and compact, and use a level to check the placement.
  • 3. Dig the foundation: Excavate the site and dig a foundation trench that is at least 6 inches deep and as wide as the sauna’s diameter. The trench should be deep enough to reach the stable soil beneath the surface.
  • 4. Fill with gravel: Fill the bottom of the trench with a layer of 2-3 inches of gravel. Compact it with a plate compactor or hand tamper to create a solid base.
  • 5. Add a layer of sand: Add a layer of sand on top of the gravel, about 2 inches deep. Use a rake to level it and create a smooth surface.

Once you have completed these steps, your foundation will be ready for building the sauna. Keep in mind that the foundation is crucial for the stability and longevity of the sauna, so it’s important to take the time to do it right.

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Construct the Barrel

Step 1: Assemble the Staves

Arrange the sauna staves in a circular fashion, making sure that the tongues and grooves align perfectly. Use clamps to hold the staves together, and check that the circles are level before proceeding.

Step 2: Cut the Bevels

Mark the bevels on each end of the sauna staves, and cut them using a saw. Be careful to avoid splinters and jagged edges. Sand and smooth the bevels as necessary to ensure a tight fit when assembling the barrel.

Step 3: Install the Bands

Place metal bands around the assembled sauna staves, starting from the top and working downwards. Make sure that the bands are tight, and use screws or bolts to secure them in place. Trim any excess metal using a metal saw or grinder.

Step 4: Make the Door Frame

Measure and cut pieces of sauna stave to create the door frame for your barrel sauna. Make sure that the frame fits snugly into the opening of your sauna, and that the hinges are securely attached.

Step 5: Install the Benches

Measure and cut sauna staves to create benches that will fit inside your barrel sauna. Install the benches using screws or bolts, ensuring that they are level and stable. You may wish to add padding or cushions to the benches for added comfort.

Add Plumbing and Electrical Requirements

Before building your barrel sauna, it is important to consider the plumbing and electrical requirements. While these may not be necessary for all barrel saunas, they can add to your overall sauna experience.

If you plan to add plumbing to your sauna, you will need to install a water supply and drainage system. This can be done by installing a sink or shower inside the sauna. Additionally, some saunas have a hot tub feature, which will require a separate plumbing system.

For electrical requirements, you will need to install proper lighting and heating inside the sauna. The lighting should be installed high up on the walls to prevent it from getting wet. Additionally, a heater should be installed to provide heat. It is important to choose a heater that is specifically designed for sauna use and can hold up to the humidity levels.

It is also important to hire a licensed electrician to install the electrical requirements. Safety should always be the top priority when it comes to adding electrical components to your sauna.

Overall, adding plumbing and electrical requirements can enhance your sauna experience. However, it is important to plan and install these components properly to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Install Benches and Stove

Once the walls and roof of your barrel sauna are in place, it’s time to focus on the interior. The first steps involve installing the benches and stove.


Start by deciding where in your sauna you want your benches to go. It’s typical to have higher benches against the walls and a lower bench closer to the stove. Measure and mark the locations where you want to install the benches.

Cut your bench boards to length and attach them to the walls using L-brackets, making sure they are level. Then attach legs to the front of each board. For the lower bench, attach legs to the bottom of the support boards and place them where you marked your measurements.

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Your sauna’s stove is the heart of the space, so make sure you choose a high-quality model that’s appropriate for the size of your room. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the stove in the center of the room, making sure it’s a safe distance away from the walls and benches.

Install your stovepipe and chimney, making sure it’s properly ventilated and up to code. Now your sauna is almost ready to use!

Seal and Waterproof the Sauna

One of the most important steps in building your own barrel sauna is to seal and waterproof the entire structure. This is essential to prevent moisture penetration and prevent damage to the wood. You can use a variety of sealers and waterproofing materials, but it is recommended to use a product specifically designed for saunas.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior of the sauna. This will ensure a smooth and even finish. Next, apply the sealer or waterproofing material according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to apply several coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next one.

Pay particular attention to the areas where the walls of the sauna meet the floor and the ceiling. These areas are especially prone to moisture penetration and must be sealed properly. Use a sealant or caulking material to fill any gaps or cracks.

Finally, test your seal and waterproofing job by spraying water on the exterior of the sauna. If the water beads up and rolls off, your job is complete. If the water penetrates the wood, you may need to apply another coat of sealer or waterproofing material.

Enjoy Your Handcrafted Barrel Sauna

Congratulations on building your own barrel sauna! Now it’s time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your handcrafted sauna:

  • Get the temperature right: Start by heating your sauna to around 170°F (77°C) and adjust the temperature as needed to suit your preferences. Keep in mind that the heat will increase as you add more water to the rocks.
  • Add some fragrance: Adding a few drops of essential oil to the water on the sauna rocks can enhance your sauna experience. Choose fragrances like eucalyptus or lavender to help you relax and unwind.
  • Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your sauna session to keep your body hydrated. You can even bring a water bottle into the sauna with you to sip on while you sweat.
  • Take a break: Remember to take breaks between sauna bursts to allow your body to cool down. You can step outside for some fresh air, take a quick dip in a nearby pond or swimming pool, or simply sit in a cool area for a few minutes.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to start enjoying your handcrafted barrel sauna. Invite friends over for a sauna party or simply relax on your own. No matter how you choose to use your sauna, it’s sure to provide a soothing and rejuvenating experience.

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