The Ultimate Guide to Setting up your Personal Sauna and Spa [Infographic]

Posted by My Teak Shower Bench on 3/23/2016

Are you looking for a fun way to relax at home?

Maybe you're trying to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular health.

Or perhaps you just need a space to unwind with friends and family.

Create a paradise in your home by building a sauna and setting up a hot tub spa!

A DIY sauna? In my home?

That's right!

You can enjoy the relaxing benefits of a spa and sauna in the privacy of your own home.

Check out this infographic to get started!

Sauna-Spa Setup1

Having trouble viewing the infographic? Find out what you missed:

Setting Up Your Personal Spa & Sauna

Building a Home Sauna

While many people enjoy using saunas for the warmth and comfort they offer, there are also significant health benefits one gains from saunas. These benefits, which include detoxification, weight loss, and stress release, are part of the reason why home saunas have grown in popularity.

1) Back to Basics

If converting an established space you'll need to strip the walls and ceiling down. You wall studs and ceiling joists should be exposed and bare.

If starting from scratch, build your outer walls and supports, leaving the studs and joists exposed.

2) Wiring

You will need to run wiring for an overhead light, a light switch, and the sauna heater wire conduit. You may also want to wire for controls outside of the room.

If you decide to use a gas heater for your sauna you will need to run a gas pipe. Save money and time by consulting a professional for installation.

Make sure your light and your light switch are wet-rated. Wet-rated features can be directly exposed to rain, so they are water resistant.

3) Insulation

It is essential that you install the right kind of insulation to avoid mold growth. Use R-11 (R represents the insulations resistance to heat) for all interior walls and R-19 for exterior walls. The higher the R value, the better the resistance and insulating power.

Proper insulation keeps the heat and vapor in the sauna. It also acts as a sound barrier, so you can relax.

4) Foil Vapor Barrier

Staple your foil vapor barrier to every interior surface: walls and ceiling. Make sure to overlap the foil by three inches. Foil adds extra resistance to your walls (R-1), so your sauna room, and the rest of your home, is safe from vapor damage.

Another essential item for your walls and ceiling is a foil vapor barrier. The foil will protect your insulation and wood beams from molding and rotting.

5) Paneling

Begin on one side of the ceiling and start nailing the tongue and groove paneling over the foil and insulation. Your panels should be perpendicular to the ceiling joists. Cover the whole ceiling with paneling.

Once the ceiling is done, start nailing the paneling over the walls. The first row of wall boards should be nailed horizontally to your studs - tongue facing up, groove down. As you work, check to make sure the boards are level.

Cut out sections of your nailed boards for electrical boxes, your light switch, and your light.

Most saunas use cedar paneling because it dries fairly quickly.

6) Heater and Vents

Make sure your heater is centered on your wall or in the middle of the room (depending on the type of heater). Follow the manufacturer's instructions for setting up your heater.

You should have at least three ventilation areas in your sauna. One should be above or behind the heater. One should be near the ceiling, and one should be near the floor (ie. under the door).

Saunas are heated in one of two ways: Lava Rocks and Infrared Heat

Lava Rocks: the rocks are heated in a stove and then water is poured over them to create steam.

Infrared Heat: a simple heater inside the sauna.


Place sauna rocks (vulcanite) in the heater. These rocks give off radiant heat, which feels like soft, permeating heat.

7) Benches

Most saunas have a low and high bench. Oftentimes the low bench is wider than the high bench so that it reaches the wall.

If you are building your benches on your own, you'll want to make them 18" deep or more. For extra support use 2x2 supports and 1x4 tops (the place where you will sit).

8) Door and Trim

Your best bet for your sauna door is to purchase a pre-built, pre-hung cedar sauna door.

The standard size for a sauna door is 24" x 82" RO (rough opening). If there are gaps between the door frame and the wall, insert shims to seal.

Lastly, install your handle at a comfortable height.

Add cedar trim to room corners if your paneling left gaps or if there are awkward corner seams.

Setting Up Your Hot Tub/Spa

Hot tubs, like saunas, have many health benefits. The word 'spa' is derived form the Latin term 'salus per aquam' which means "health from water." Spas/Hot tubs are often used for relaxation and therapy. The combination of heat, buoyancy, and hydrotherapy help with back pain, weight loss, arthritis, and more.

1) Check your city's policies to see if you need a building permit for your hot tub.

2) Create a strong foundation for your hot tub.

A full hot tub can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, so having a strong foundation is essential.

The most common foundation is a cement slab - usually a 3 to 4 inch thick pad.

You can also purchase a prefabricated spa pad.

If you're thinking about putting your hot tub on a deck, consult a contractor to inspect the deck and ensure it will hold the weight.

3) Make sure your hot tub is close to an electrical outlet.

You will probably need to have an extra hard-wired circuit because hot tubs take extra power to run.

4) Make a plan to get your tub from the vehicle to it's intended spot.

Empty tubs weigh up to 800 pounds, so they are very difficult to move. Consider any gates or structures that may obstruct your path from the curb to the hot tub foundation.

5) Hook up the electricity.

Because hot tubs have such high voltages, you'll want to install a new breaker just for your hot tub.

In order to keep your warranty, you'll want to hire an electrician to install the electrical circuit.

If you want to install the circuit on your own, there are a few things you need to know:

-The power needs to kept on a single circuit.

-The size of the wire you decide to use must be approved by the National Electrical Code (NEC) and any local codes your city may have.

-Also base the size of your wire on the length of run between the breaker box and the hot tub. Consider the maximum current draw as well.

-Electricians recommend copper wire with thermoplastic nylon insulation. DON'T use aluminum wiring!

-If you decide to use wire larger than #6 (10 mm squared), put a junction box close to your hot tub. Reduce the wire to short lengths between the junction box and the hot tub.

6) Finish setting up your tub.

The final checklist before you start enjoying your spa:

-turn off the electricity

-clean the interior of the tub and make sure all the knobs and jets are in place

-open the air valves

-fill the tub with water

-turn the electricity on and start heating the tub

-pour and mix the recommended chemicals into the water for proper sanitation.