The health benefits of a dry sauna, such as relaxation and detoxifying your body, seem to be maximized when you can use an infrared sauna for deep tissue warming. Building your own infrared sauna is not a complicated project and can cost much less than buying a sauna kit or a prefabricated infrared sauna.
Decide on the location of your sauna and whether it will be freestanding or built into an existing wall. Though infrared saunas utilize dry heat, you will need to ventilate the sauna appropriately.
Build a frame for the sauna using 2-by-4s. First, make a floor frame, and attach standard five inch floor planks to cover the floor. Treat the floor only with wood sealant to make it fireproof.
Nail upright 2-by-4s every 16 inches along the floor frame to use for attaching the walls later. Starting at the floor, nail the pre-cut tongue-in-groove planks to the wall frames so that they fit from one corner of the wall to the other. Angle the nails in from the top to hide them within the wood and avoid any exposed metal surfaces inside the sauna.
Leave a space to frame the door as you build the walls. Check regularly to make sure the wood stays level. After completing all the walls, attach cedar pieces to the upright frame to enclose the ceiling.
Hang the door tightly in the door frame. Install the door so that it swings out from the sauna. Install a bench between the walls to complete the interior.
Make sure the electrical outlets will support the power needs of the sauna. For a small, one-person sauna, you’ll need to support 120 volts. A larger sauna will require 240 volts. Install the infrared emitter on the wall beneath the sauna bench by mounting it to one wall of the sauna in a corner.
Place the wires of the emitter through the reflector holes. Clip the emitter to the reflector and screw the wires to the terminal block. Hire a licensed electrician to complete or update the wiring you need for both the infrared emitter and an interior light if you install one.
You don’t have to insulate an infrared sauna between the frame and the interior walls, but if you do it may increase the energy efficiency of your sauna.
Test the sauna before its first use by heating it up for 30 to 45 minutes. Allow it to cool down to make sure the emitter is wired properly and to allow the wood to breathe.