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I mentioned a few posts ago that my husband has always wanted a sauna. And I have to admit, the thought of a sauna in my house seemed really pretentious at first. Picturing giant glass doors, steam rooms and white subway tiles made me a tad queasy, especially when I thought of the price tag.

Then I spotted a few photographs of old, authentic Finnish saunas (like the one above at Hotel Alaska), and boom: My heart was won over.

We’re building the most DIY sauna possible, a super-inexpensive, cedar-lined sauna with a teeny little heater and wooden bench. It’s tiny, but just our size, and building it was so much easier than I had ever imagined.

Here’s how we did it:

1. After plumbing your space properly, install a basic liner for the shower floor.

2. Insulate the space, adding a vapor barrier to ensure a mold-free zone.

3. Mix, pour and trowel concrete. I think husband installed a few rebars in the floor at this point, but I was too busy mixing concrete with a hoe to notice. Yes, I mixed concrete with a hoe. My father would be so proud.

Note: To ensure the water drains properly, we troweled a 2-inch slope around the drain.


4. Let concrete stand for 10-12 hours, then caulk and prep walls for cedar paneling.

5. Install cedar paneling (tongue and groove works just fine) and admire your handiwork.

We still have some finishing touches to add (we ran out of cedar!) on the remaining walls including trim, a custom bench and, of course, the sauna heater, but it’s looking good at the moment. Who knew a sauna could sound so luxurious, but be so easy to do yourself?

Raise your hand if you’ll be tackling this job in 2011. I double dog dare you!

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