When the temperature outside hits 32 degrees Celsius, it’s probably not a great time to build a sauna! However undeterred my wife and I got underway. We had already removed some of the original decking around the site and leveled the ground with some crusher dust.
Step one, we placed the feet and floor panels ready for the walls.
Step two, we carefully put the end walls into the slots and supported the end walls with a wall length 2.7 meter length, slotted on the top. Taking extra care to make sure the doorway is level.
Step three, the 2.7 meter long wall lengths clip onto the end walls and slot together like lego, the manufacturer calls the pieces female to male. To prevent these pieces from falling off, we used a 64mm 16 gauge brad nail every 2-3 lengths. We do both sides and stop nailing once we reach over half way up.
Step four, it’s getting bigger! Finally the wall lengths reached the top, but wait there is a gap. You’ll now see the lengths need a female to female piece to join everything up. Hold on a minute, there isn’t a piece like this in the inventory. Following the instructions we measure the width of the gap. We carefully measure up two lengths, cut them down the middle and screw together to make a female to female piece. This length now slots into place and the barrel is now formed.
Step five, time to put your belts on. There are three steel belts to fasten everything together. Two go over the end walls and the other at the very front of the porch. Using the 16mm rod, attach the washers and bolts. This was tightened to bring all the wall lengths together and make the barrel secure.
Step six , the barrel needs to be waterproof. Without the roof tiles, the sauna will probably leak a little. We screwed the plywood over the middle of the barrel and attached the gutters, tiles and crown. Carefully trimming the ends to make everything neat.
Step seven, time for a floor. Following the instructions, the floor supports go down easily inside. The floor panels are solid and already treated, we decided not to screw these down (a wise decision as a few dropped screws and heads were easily recovered).
Step eight, indoor benches. We screwed three supports to the floor and walls, making sure everything was square and level. The bench seat tops are already put together, so just simply screwed on. We took care not to damage the LED lights underneath and left the wires out for the electrician to find later.
Step nine, Outdoor porch floor and seats finished off. Again nothing to cut, just a simple assembly job (the floor should be nice and level compared to your doorway, as you made sure of this earlier!).
Step ten, put the door on! The door frame and door has pre-notched spaces for the hinges and was a simple job to put up. The door handle and lock went on at this point.
Day two, not as hot!
Step eleven, a wall support. A long piece of dressed timber is bolted to the back end wall. A 10mm drill bit did the job.
Step Twelve, we were getting closer. The sauna needs good ventilation to ensure a good result. A hole is needed behind the heater and on the door end panel. We used a 95mm core drill to achieve this. The brown vents supplied are screwed onto the outside, an integral mesh should stop big bugs getting in.
Step thirteen, a couple of pieces of 90×45 dressed timber to ensure the heater sits in the right place, are screwed to the back wall, under the wall support.
Step fourteen, The sauna heater can be attached to the supports at this point. We allowed a 100mm gap underneath for safe ventilation.
Step fifteen, our electrician wired up the heater. Do not attempt this yourself!
Step sixteen, we applied oil to the outside walls.
Step seventeen, we gave the stones a quick wash, allowed to dry and carefully stacked them up inside the heater.
Step eighteen, attach thermometer and timer to inside walls.
At this point, you are ready to roll! We had to tidy out the decks and landscape around the saunas. Using solar lights, we’ve lit the under side of the sauna and plants nearby.
We found that the sauna got better with use. Timo the manufacturer said it would be about 15 times! The heater doesn’t have a temperature setting, instead it’s a power setting. We found a certain setting gave us 80 degrees and have stuck to that. It also takes a little experimenting with the adjustable vent to get the right personal settings.
To recap, the St Albans sauna can certainly be built by a home DIY enthusiast (we aren’t pros!), but you will need an electrician (it took my guy about 1.5 hours) and remember not to build your sauna under the red hot sun.