Building Plan for Outdoor Saunas
Consider the dimensions of the building to be used first. Let the sauna occupy an area of less than 10′ X 10′ so as to avoid having to acquire a building permit as is the case if a hundred square feet are exceeded. However, verification of this information with your local building-inspection authority can be done so as to be sure. The best dimensions to use are 8′ X 12′ which will allow you to have three rooms in your sauna: the entry as well as storage room for your wood used as fuel for the sauna, a changing room as well as the sauna itself. Let the sauna’s height be less than seven feet to avoid wastage of heat. Having a smaller room ensures more efficient heating as well as allowing the use of a smaller heater and smaller circuit breakers within your panel.
The layout of the room is also very important. For a better layout of the benches to be used, have the heater and the door on a long wall adjacent to each other. Allow six feet in at least one direction of your sauna if you like lying down in it The bench layout is normally 19″ for the depth and height is 38″ for the upper bench and 19″ for the lower bench. Shorter doors, with an opening of 26″ X 78″ encompassing both frame and door, are also used for the purposes of conserving heat within the sauna. The doors should also always to the outside of the sauna, never to the inside.
The sauna’s interior should be made from cedar, which does not discolor as opposed to many other types of wood although a sealant is still recommended. Cedar is also stable as opposed to other types of wood which swell and shrink under different temperatures. Using wood with knots could possibly cause burns in a sauna and thus it is important to obtain clear wood for your sauna’s interior.
Outdoor saunas also require to be well insulated and have a good source of heat energy. Insulation with a minimum R-Factor of R-11 for the walls and R-19 for the ceiling can be used Using fibreglass bats is essential. Do not use polystyrene foam board since gases such as formaldehydes will be given off by the boards when exposed to the sauna’s higher temperatures.
Heat energy in outdoor saunas tends to be provided by a wood-burning sauna heater. Ensure the chimney is well installed and passes the inspection by the local authority for proper dissemination of smoke from the wood. Also, it is not advised to buy an outdoor infrared heater if you plan on using your outdoor sauna all year round since they, the outdoor infrared heaters, do not work in winter.
Proper flow of air is a necessity in a sauna so as to ensure the users have a good supply of oxygen and also to prevent the fire from burning itself out This requires introducing fresh air which can either be supplied by leaving an air space of about 1″ between the floor and the bottom of the sauna’s door or by installing a non-adjustable vent in the wall under the heater. An adjustable exhaust vent should also be installed on the wall opposite to the vent holding incoming air so as to ensure proper air circulation and equal heat distribution. The exhaust vent can be installed anywhere from 48″ to 54″ from the sauna’s floor. The exhaust vent should have sliding doors to control the amount of air allowed into the room. It is advisable to place this vent within arm’s reach of your upper bench so you can adjust air circulation from the bench as you relax.
Using aluminium foil vapour barrier, rather than conventional polyethylene in residential constructions is also advised. Seal the aluminium foil vapour barrier by using aluminium foil adhesive duck tape for good results. Drape the foil loosely around the corners as it will shrink with the heating and the cooling. Don’t stretch it out like conventional polyethylene.
A drain in outdoor saunas tends to be unnecessary since only enough water to be converted to vapour is required to be poured on the rocks. If water pools on the floor then excess water is being used However, a drain can be installed if you plan to wash down the sauna often.
The lighting in outdoor saunas, as well as other saunas in general is specifically made so as to function in high-moisture, high-temperature environments. The use of conventional lighting methods should not be done. Additional light fixtures can also be mounted to increase illumination in previously dark areas. An additional light is usually mounted 3″ below where the upper bench meets the wall in the sauna. These lights tend to be operated by dimmer switches thus can be adjusted according to the users’ moods.