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DIY Sauna on a Budget: How to Build a Sauna Without Breaking the Bank

by Max
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DIY Sauna on a Budget - How to Build a Sauna Without Breaking the Bank

Long gone are the days when saunas were considered a luxury of the rich and famous. Anyone can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of a sauna, even on a budget! With the health and wellness aspects of a sauna becoming more popular, it’s easier than ever to build a DIY sauna for an affordable price.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about building an affordable sauna. From budget considerations to tips for keeping costs low, you can have your own DIY sauna up and running in no time!

The Benefits of Having a Sauna at Home

There’s a good chance you’ve seen or tried out a sauna at spas, gyms, and hotels. But did you know having a sauna at home can offer a range of benefits? So while you can build a DIY sauna on a budget, it’s important to remember that the results and benefits are worth every penny.

Here are just some of the benefits that come with having a sauna at home:

Stress Relief

One of the most well-known benefits of a sauna is stress relief. Relaxing in a warm, quiet environment like a sauna can help reduce stress and tension. This makes it a great way to unwind after a long day or week – you’ll soon feel refreshed and invigorated!

Increased Circulation

Saunas help to relax blood vessels, which increases blood flow throughout the body. When your circulation is improved, your body can more efficiently transport oxygen and other important nutrients to organs. As a result, you may experience improved energy levels, better skin, and overall increased vitality.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Our cardiovascular system refers to our heart and blood vessels, which play vital roles in our health. Research has proven saunas can help reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart problems, such as heart disease. The heat from a sauna can help improve your cardiovascular health by stimulating the heart rate and providing a low-impact workout for the body.

Body Detoxification

Toxins can build up in the body over time, and saunas can effectively flush them out. As your body heats up during a sauna session, toxins are released through sweat and carried away from the body. This helps promote better health overall and can even help reduce symptoms of chronic illnesses.

Better Privacy

Aside from the obvious health benefits, there are many more reasons why owning a sauna is a good idea. If privacy is important to you, having a cheap DIY sauna in your home is the way to go. You can relax in the comfort of your own sauna without sharing your personal space with strangers.

Saves Money

One of the biggest DIY sauna budget benefits has to be the amount of money saved in the long run. Having a sauna at home means you won’t have to shell out for expensive spa treatments or gym sessions constantly. This means you can reap the benefits with a cheap DIY sauna – without the hefty monthly fee!

5 Things That Can Affect Your DIY Sauna Budget

Now you know the benefits of having a cheap DIY sauna, it’s time to look at the bigger picture – your budget. Saunas have many elements, each of which can affect the overall cost.

Some of the things you’ll need to consider when setting your DIY sauna budget are:

1. The Size of Your Sauna

The bigger your sauna, the more expensive it’s going to be. Building a smaller sauna and taking it in turns with friends and family can be one way to cut down costs. However, you must consider how much it will cost to keep it running for an extended period. You must weigh up the potential running costs over time versus the initial cost of a larger sauna.

It may be best to consider how many people will use the sauna and select a size that suits your budget.

2. The Sauna Location

There’s a good chance you already have a space in mind for your cheap DIY sauna. But before you go and buy the materials, there may be some underlying costs you haven’t thought about.

While an outdoor sauna can make a fun addition to your property, it may need some serious groundwork before you can start. The cost of preparing the ground, such as electricians, plumbers, and even a building permit, can add up quickly.

3. The Design (Prefab vs. Custom Built)

Prefab kits, with all the components already included, are an affordable way to build a cheap DIY sauna. They can be easily assembled; you don’t need to worry about sourcing materials. You can find many excellent prefab kits on the market, and they may be the most cost-effective way to get started.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative and want to customize every element, then you might want to consider a custom-built sauna.

You have two options when choosing a custom-built sauna – either build it from scratch yourself or hire a company to design it for you. Doing the work yourself is the cheapest choice, but it may take longer.

However, sourcing and buying the materials may work out more expensive than the prefab options.

4. The Labor Costs

Deciding you want to build a cheap DIY sauna is just the beginning. You must hire a professional if you don’t have the required skills, like plumbing or electrical. While saving money is essential when working on a budget, we don’t want you to compromise on safety.

If you do need to hire a professional, make sure you do your research and find someone who is qualified to do the job.

5. The Heater Type

When you hear the word ‘sauna,’ you may have a different idea of what it looks like compared to someone else. The type of heater you select will help define the look and feel of the sauna and the total cost.

Here are a few of the most popular types of sauna heaters:

  • Wood-burning stove: A wood-burning stove is an excellent choice as you don’t need additional wiring or plumbing installed. However, you need a chimney to make the sauna safe and a steady supply of wood to burn.
  • Electric stove: An electric stove is a great alternative to a wood-burning stove, as you don’t need to worry about running out of fuel. The result is very similar to a wood-burning sauna, but there will be additional wiring and electrical costs.
  • Infrared sauna: Infrared saunas have become increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency. They heat up much faster than traditional saunas, but the infrared panels can come at a premium price.
  • Steam sauna: A steam room is a great way to relax and unwind, but it can be expensive. You’ll need to factor in the cost of plumbing and installation for the steam generator.

Every decision you make when building your budget DIY sauna will ultimately affect the total cost. Always research each element thoroughly rather than just looking at the initial outlay. While a wood-burning stove may seem like the most cost-effective choice, the price of wood to burn over time may make an electric stove a better option.

These considerations will help you save money in the long run and build a sauna you can be proud of!

Cheap DIY Sauna Tips and Tricks

The main components of any sauna are the heat source, an enclosed space, and adequate insulation. However, how you assemble them will have a massive impact on your budget.

There are many ways you can cut costs, which will save you money and make your sauna-building experience much more enjoyable. You can build a fantastic sauna on a budget with the right tips and tricks. Just remember the more you cut back, the less your DIY sauna may look like a traditional one.

Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for building a budget-friendly sauna:

Repurpose an Existing Space

Do you have a room in your home that isn’t used for anything? Or how about an outhouse or unused shed? If so, you may be able to repurpose it into a sauna. You could use the existing walls of the space and then insulate them to create the enclosed area you need.

Using an existing space is one of the smartest ways to save money when building a budget sauna. You wouldn’t need to source the materials to build the structure or lay the foundations if building an outdoor sauna.

Research and Compare Prices

The internet is your best friend when it comes to researching prices. Make sure you compare multiple options and manufacturers before committing to a purchase. This is especially important if you’re going for a prefab sauna. Prices for a prefab sauna usually start from $1500 and then rise massively, depending on the size and total features.

You should still research and compare prices even if your heart is set on a prebuilt sauna. Depending on the materials, you may find building a sauna from the ground up could work out cheaper.

Pick a Cheaper Cut of Wood

If you’re building your DIY budget sauna from scratch, you must consider the wood you’ll use. Tongue and groove cedar is the classic choice – but also one of the most expensive. Yes, it looks and smells beautiful, but there are cheaper options. Wood prices change constantly, and unexpected events or harvesting cycles can cause prices to spike or drop.

Pine or spruce are much cheaper alternatives to cedar. They often have knots and imperfections, but they’ll still give you a beautiful finish for your sauna. Some other affordable wood options are basswood, hemlock, and aspen.

Just be sure to check whichever wood you use is suitable for sauna use. You want your chosen materials to withstand the heat and high humidity of a sauna.

Make it Small

Who said your cheap DIY sauna had to be commercially sized? Unless multiple people will be using your sauna at once, there’s no need to make it larger than you need. Smaller saunas heat up quicker, use less electricity, and cost less to build.

Reclaim or Reuse Materials

If you’re really on a tight budget, you can reclaim materials from old saunas or other building projects. Some great things you should consider reusing for your cheap DIY sauna are:

  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Flooring tiles
  • Door handles
  • Wood planks

You can also ask friends and family if they have any unwanted materials you could use for your sauna. While you may not use these reclaimed materials inside your sauna (as you need to use heat-resistant materials there), you can repurpose them for the framing or the external structure.

Consider the Existing Amenities

If you’re repurposing a room in your home or an outhouse, you can use any existing amenities, such as water pipes and electricity, to save money. You may need to rethink the layout of your DIY sauna to fit around what is already there – but the money-saving benefits could be worth it.

Skill Swap with a Friend

Not everyone is a DIY expert, and some skills needed can be quite specialized. For example, we never recommend anyone do their own electrical work if they’re not qualified.

So if you have a friend who is willing – and, more importantly, has the necessary qualifications – why not ask them to help you out? You could offer something you’re good at in exchange, like painting or plumbing work. Skill swapping can be a fun and economical way to build your budget sauna!

Make Your Own Wood-Burning Stove

If you want to create a classic sauna experience, you may want to consider a wood-burning stove. The heating source can be one of the most expensive parts of a sauna, but it is possible to build one yourself!

We’ve seen people make wood-burning stoves from old oil drums or even metal buckets. While this may not be the most conventional way of doing things, creating a working wood-burning stove with a few tools and some metal-cutting skills is possible. You could also shop around online to see if you can find any cheap second-hand wood stoves.

Use Near-Infrared Bulbs

Infrared saunas are often heated by panels which can be pretty pricey. If you’re using a small, enclosed space for your sauna, you could consider using near-infrared bulbs as a cheap alternative. Near-infrared bulbs cost as low as $20 per bulb.

The results may not be as powerful as a traditional infrared sauna, but they could help create the desired effect on a budget.

Balance Upfront Costs with Long-Term Savings

There will be some unavoidable costs, like your heating source. These things can seem very expensive, and you may be tempted to choose the cheaper option. But it is very important to remember that spending more upfront may save you money in the long term.

For example, a cheaper stove may need replacing after 3 years. A more expensive yet better quality stove may last for much longer. The same goes for energy costs – an energy-saving heater or sauna stone may cost more upfront, but they could save you money in the long run.

Consider the Final Touches

There are so many fun, creative ways to make your cheap DIY sauna stand out! However, they aren’t always the most budget-friendly. While a separate dressing room or a shower may add to the experience, they can also cost more than you had planned.

If you have a tight budget, you may want to consider other ways to spruce up your sauna. You could try adding some plants, painting the exterior walls, or incorporating dollar store accessories.

Alternatively, you could always choose to make the most of the space – for instance, adding some towel racks or DIY benches.

Things You Shouldn’t Skimp on When Building a Cheap DIY Sauna

While saving money is the goal, there are some things you should never compromise on when building a sauna.

Let’s take a look at 3 things you should spend your money on when creating a DIY sauna:

1. Safety Features

No matter how tight your budget is, cutting corners on safety features is never a good idea. You must ensure that your sauna is built to the necessary safety standards. This includes installing adequate ventilation and wiring up any electrical components correctly. It is absolutely essential to use a professional electrician for any wiring and heating work if you are not qualified.

2. Insulation and Vapor Barrier

This is a critical component of any sauna. Without adequate insulation, you may find yourself in an icy room after just a few minutes of heating! You should adequately insulate and put up a vapor barrier on every wall and the ceiling of your sauna.

Not only does this keep the heat in, but it helps prevent water damage. An inadequate vapor barrier can lead to mold and mildew in your sauna – which could be a costly repair!

3. Quality Heating Source

The heating source can be one of the most expensive components of a sauna. If you have the skills, you can absolutely make a quality wood-burning stove. But if you are buying one, it is essential to check it is of good quality.

Cheap stoves may be tempting but may not last very long. Buying a good-quality stove is an investment upfront, but it will pay for itself over time.


Is it possible to build a DIY sauna on a budget?

If you gain anything from this article, it should be how it is possible to build a cheap DIY sauna! You need to be creative and pay attention to the details, but with careful consideration, you can create a budget-friendly sauna.

How much does it typically cost to build a DIY sauna compared to buying a prebuilt one?

The answer to this entirely depends on the size, space, and materials used. You can build a sauna for as little as $1000 using low-cost materials and existing amenities. Always research and compare prices to ensure you get the best deal.

Are indoor or outdoor DIY saunas better?

This is a tricky one. Ultimately, the best type of sauna depends on the purpose it will serve and your personal preferences. Indoor saunas can be cheaper to maintain and more comfortable in colder climates, while outdoor saunas may offer a more spacious and natural feel. You could also make a portable outdoor sauna – providing the best of both worlds.

Are budget DIY saunas hard to maintain?

Consistent maintenance is essential to keep your sauna in good condition. This includes:

  • Regularly checking for wear and tear
  • Cleaning the benches and walls
  • Ensuring your stove is in good working order

Working through this list isn’t hard and will soon become part of your regular sauna routine!

Final Thoughts on Budget DIY Saunas

There’s no doubt you can build your dream DIY sauna without breaking the bank. It is all about being creative and finding the right materials. You should also never compromise on safety features, insulation, or the quality of your heating source. If you choose wisely, you can save money and still get the same great sauna experience!

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