Barrel Sauna Assembly: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

Barrel Sauna Assembly: A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide

Are you considering constructing a barrel sauna? For those unfamiliar with saunas, the barrel sauna is a groundbreaking innovation since the creation of the log cabin sauna! This large wooden barrel, perfect for your backyard, is both space-efficient and roomy enough for multiple people. Its rustic appearance is sure to draw attention from guests and neighbors alike.

One of the primary benefits of a barrel sauna is its energy efficiency. Unlike traditional rectangular saunas with multiple angles that disrupt airflow, the barrel sauna’s rounded design allows for quicker heating, reducing wait times before enjoying a sauna session.

The DIY barrel sauna kit The Garden & Home sauna is available as a comprehensive DIY kit or pre-assembled. The kit includes everything needed for assembly: premium Nordic spruce interlocking planks, metal bands for secure fastening, two or three sturdy pedestals, the front door, two alder sauna benches, two outdoor seats under the canopy, ventilation grilles, and of course, the sauna heater with stones, roofing shingles, and all necessary assembly components.

Tools and Materials Required:

1.            Level

2.            Drill with various drill bits (10mm or larger)

3.            Screwdriver

4.            Wrench (for adjusting tensioning straps)

5.            Rubber mallet (for aligning planks and walls)

6.            Hammer (for fixing nails on the roof)

7.            Measuring tape

8.            Ladder (for working on the roof)

9.            Saw (could be needed for cutting some wood pieces)


Step 1: Choose the Location and Prepare the Foundation

Select a flat, level surface for your barrel sauna, such as a concrete slab, pavers, or a wooden deck. Ensure the area is clean, free of debris, and has proper drainage to prevent water accumulation.


Step 2: Assemble the Base

1.            Lay out the base timbers (two or more, depending on the sauna length) on the prepared surface, ensuring they are parallel and evenly spaced.


2.            Secure the support cradles to the base timbers using the provided hardware. Tighten the screws using a screwdriver.

Step 3: Assemble the sauna base with seven planks

1.       Begin by placing the primary plank on the base. Ensure that the male connectors are facing outward on both sides.

2.       Add three planks to one side of the primary plank and three planks to the other side. Make sure they are properly connected to the primary plank.


3.       Fix the planks in place by attaching them securely to the base timber using screws.

Step 4: Paint the bottom of the sauna base

  1. Before proceeding with the rest of the construction, set the assembled sauna base aside.
  2. Paint the bottom of the sauna base with suitable paint or wood sealant. This will protect the wood from moisture and help ensure the longevity of your sauna.
  3. Continue with the next step without waiting for the paint to dry completely.

Step 5. Assemble and painting (seal) the Circular Barrel Sauna Walls

  1. Apply silicone sealer in the grooves of the wall staves to ensure a watertight seal.
  2. Assemble the vertical walls separately, including the wall with the door and the back wall.
  3. Attach the vertical walls to the base with the seven planks you’ve previously installed (you can use a finishing plank on the top, but don’t screw it too tight; refer to the pictures for guidance).
  4. Continue adding staves to complete the barrel shape, using the vertical walls as anchor points and ensuring a tight fit. Use a rubber mallet to help position the staves as you add one stave to the right side, then two to the left side, two to the right side, and two to the left side again, continuing this pattern until the entire wall structure is nearly complete.
  5. Install the final plank with edges cut to the outside at the very top of the structure.
  6. Use a level to ensure the walls are straight and even.
  7. Apply a wood sealer to the exterior components of the sauna to improve durability and
    prevent leaks. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate
    drying time before using your sauna.

Step 6: Secure the Structure with Tensioning Straps

  1. Determine the number of tensioning straps based on the sauna length (usually one strap per meter of sauna).
  2. Place two straps at both ends of the sauna, approximately 10 cm from the ends.
  3. Position the remaining straps where the vertical walls are located.
  4. If there are additional straps, distribute them evenly along the sauna’s length, ensuring they are aesthetically pleasing and evenly spaced.
  5. Wrap the tension straps around the barrel sauna walls and tighten them securely to maintain structural integrity and prevent the staves from separating.

Step 7: Paint and Install the Front and Rear Panels

  1. Locate the pre-cut front and rear panels in the package. These panels are simple wooden parts, approximately 40 cm long, which will be attached to the very front and very end of the sauna to provide a finished appearance.
  2. Paint the front and rear panels using a wood sealer to improve durability and prevent leaks. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate drying time before proceeding with the installation. You can proceed with next steps and install the panels anytime later.
  3. Start with the front panel. Position the first wooden piece at the very top and center of the sauna, ensuring it is aligned with the sauna structure. Use a level to check its alignment.
  4. Secure the first piece to the sauna wall using the provided screws. Be careful not to overtighten the screws, as this may cause the wood to split.
  5. Continue attaching the remaining wooden pieces of the front panel to the sauna, working from the top center towards the sides. Ensure that each piece is aligned and level as you progress, and secure them using the provided screws.
  6. Install the wooden pieces until they reach just below the middle of the sauna. This guideline will help you determine when to finish your panel installation, ensuring a consistent and polished appearance.
  7. Once the front panel is complete, install the rear panel using the same process as described for the front panel.
  8. After both the front and rear panels are installed, inspect the installation for any gaps or misalignments, and make any necessary adjustments.

Step 8: Prepare the Roof for Bituminous Felt Shingles

  1. Locate the small triangle-shaped parts included in the package.
  2. Place these triangles about 10 cm beneath the middle of the sauna on both sides, with the sharp angle facing upwards. Position one triangle at the beginning, one at the end, and space the remaining triangles evenly about 40–50 cm apart in the middle.
  3. Ensure all the triangles are aligned in a straight line.
  4. Fix a small plank, the same length as the sauna, onto the triangles. There should be two such planks included in the package.
  5. This plank placement creates a barrier to prevent rainwater from leaking from the roof to the sauna walls and improves the overall appearance of the roof shape.

Step 9: Assemble the Barrel Sauna Roof

  1. Begin assembling the roof from the bottom, working on both sides of the sauna simultaneously, ensuring that both sides of the roof meet at the top of the sauna.
  2. Place the very bottom line of roof staves upside down to create a straight line.
  3. Position the second and all remaining lines of roof staves with the straight side up.
  4. Follow the provided images or diagrams to determine the exact spots to fix the nails.
  5. Cut the sheets of every second line in half to allow for an interchange between the lines of sheets. This technique ensures a secure and watertight roof assembly.
  6. Once both sides meet at the top of the sauna, apply bitumen tape to seal the joint and complete the roof installation.

Step 10: Install the Interior Benches and Terrace (if applicable)

  1. Take the first bench leg and position it about 50 cm from the vertical wall.
  2. Use a level to ensure the leg is properly aligned, fix it firmly to the floor and the wall.
  3. Keeping the same line with the level, attach the bench-holding planks to the vertical wall.
  4. Continue installing the remaining bench legs, maintaining the same level, and spacing them approximately 50 cm apart.
  5. Place the bench itself on the legs and secure it with screws.
  6. If your sauna has a terrace, install the pinewood benches in the same manner as described above. Use black elder wood benches for the sauna interior.

Step 11: Install the Terrace Floor (if applicable) and Sauna Floor

  1. If your sauna has a terrace, begin by placing a 40-cm-long moon-shaped plank at the very front and fix it to the sauna.
  2. Attach the preassembled floors to the moon-shaped plank with screws or leave them unscrewed if preferred.
  3. For the sauna interior, lay the premade floors on the ground without fixing them to the sauna. This will allow you to move the floors for cleaning and adjustment as needed.
  4. Make sure the floors in the sauna are stable, without any movement or rocking.
  5. Drill a hole in the middle of the floor on both the terrace and the sauna itself to prevent water from collecting. Use a 10mm or larger drill bit to ensure debris does not block the hole and impede water drainage.

Step 12: Install a Simple Ventilation System

  1. Utilize the pre-made gap at the bottom of the sauna door for natural air intake. The door is already designed to allow sufficient airflow into the sauna.
  2. Determine the appropriate location for the exhaust vent. The exhaust vent should be located near the top of the wall, close to the door and away from the heater.
  3. Drill a hole for the exhaust vent according to the size of your ventilation hole cover. Use a hole saw or spade bit to create a clean, properly sized hole.
  4. On the outside of the sauna, attach the aluminum ventilation hole cover to the exhaust vent hole. This cover helps to protect the vent from the elements and prevent debris from entering the sauna.
  5. On the inside of the sauna, attach a wooden ventilation hole cover to the exhaust vent hole. This cover maintains the aesthetic of the sauna while allowing for proper airflow and ventilation.

By utilizing the pre-made air intake gap at the bottom of the door and providing an exhaust vent, you will help to ensure proper air circulation, which is essential for maintaining a comfortable and safe sauna environment.

Step 13: Install the Sauna Stove (Electric or Wood-Burning) and Sauna Stones

  1. Choose the appropriate sauna stove for your preferences: an electric stove (no chimney required) or a wood-burning stove (chimney required).
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and any necessary safety precautions.
  3. After installing the stove, place the sauna stones in the stove. Start by adding larger stones at the bottom and gradually placing smaller stones as you move upward. Ensure there is enough space between the stones for air circulation.
  4. The amount of stones needed may vary depending on the size of your stove. Generally, you have enough stones when they fill the stove compartment and form a pyramid shape, covering the heating elements (for electric stoves) or the firebox (for wood-burning stoves). Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific quantity of stones required for your sauna stove.

Ensure proper clearance between the stove, benches, and walls, following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Wood-Burning Stove Installation:

  1. About 20cm from the wall, choose the appropriate location for your wood-burning stove.
  2. Install a fireproof, heat-resistant base for the stove to protect the sauna floor from heat and potential fire hazards.
  3. Position the stove on the prepared base according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  4. Install a chimney or stovepipe following local building codes and the stove manufacturer’s instructions. This will require cutting a hole in the roof of your sauna for proper venting. Leave a minimum of 7cm around the chimney.
  5. Attach the chimney to the stove, ensuring a tight seal to prevent smoke or fumes from entering the sauna.
  6. Install a heat shield or protective barrier around the stove if required by the manufacturer.
  7. Follow the steps from the revised Step 13 to place sauna stones in the stove.

Electric Heater Installation:

  1. Choose the appropriate location for your electric heater, adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe clearances from combustible materials and proper ventilation.
  2. Consult a licensed electrician to ensure your sauna’s electrical system meets the requirements for the electric heater and complies with local building codes. This may involve installing a dedicated electrical circuit with the correct voltage, amperage, and wiring.
  3. Mount the electric heater on the wall or floor according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. About 10cm above the floor.
  4. Connect the heater’s wiring to your sauna’s electrical system, following the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. It is highly recommended to hire a licensed electrician to perform this step for safety and proper installation.
  5. Follow the steps from the revised Step 13 to place sauna stones in the electric heater.

Please remember that the installation of a wood-burning stove or electric heater should always comply with the manufacturer’s guidelines and local building codes. If you are not familiar with these installations, it’s recommended to consult with or hire a professional to ensure a safe and proper setup.

Step 14: Install the Sauna Door Frame

  1. Position the pre-assembled door frame in the pre-cut opening, ensuring there are even gaps on both sides. The gaps will be covered with finishing wood and will allow for future door adjustments, as wood can shift over time.
  2. Use a level to ensure the door frame is properly aligned.
  3. Secure the door frame to the wall staves using long screws, leaving the gaps for future adjustments.
  4. Adjust the door to ensure it opens and closes smoothly.
  5. Attach the finishing wood to cover the gaps on both sides of the door frame.

Step 15: Inspect, Clean, and Seal Your Barrel Sauna

  1. Inspect your barrel sauna for any loose components or gaps in the staves. Tighten or adjust as needed using a screwdriver.
  2. Clean the interior of the sauna to remove any dust or debris.

Step 16: Protect the Wood with Sealer and Sauna Oil/Preserver (Optional)

  1. Optionally, for added protection and to maintain the interior wood, apply a special sauna oil or preserver to the interior components. This step is not mandatory but can help prolong the life of your sauna.

Step 17: Apply Silicon Sealer to the Connections

  1. On the outside of the sauna, focus on the connections between the vertical wall and the barrel, particularly at the bottom part.
  2. Carefully apply a layer of silicon sealer to these connections, ensuring that it covers all gaps and potential entry points for water.
  3. Ensure that the silicon sealer is applied evenly and thoroughly to create a watertight seal.
  4. Allow the silicon sealer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before using the sauna.

By applying silicon sealer to the connections between the vertical wall and the barrel, you will create a protective barrier that prevents rainwater from entering the sauna, reducing the risk of mold growth, and maintaining the structural integrity of the sauna.


Step 18: Maintenance and Care


  • Periodically check the tensioning straps to ensure they remain tight and secure. Adjust as necessary using a wrench.
  • Inspect the sauna for any signs of damage or wear, such as warping, splitting, or loosening of components. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  • Regularly clean the sauna interior to remove dirt, sweat, and debris. Use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner and a soft cloth to avoid damaging the wood.
  • Keep the sauna well-ventilated during and after use to prevent the buildup of moisture and reduce the risk of mold growth.
  • Reapply wood sealer or sauna oil/preserver to the exterior and interior components as needed to maintain the wood’s appearance and durability.
  • Check the silicone sealant around the connections and reapply if necessary to ensure a watertight seal.


Safety Tips:


  • Always consult the sauna manufacturer’s guidelines for proper use and safety precautions.
  • Do not use the sauna if you are pregnant, have a medical condition, or are taking medications that may affect your ability to tolerate heat. Consult with a healthcare professional before using a sauna.
  • Limit your sauna sessions to a maximum of 20 minutes and be sure to hydrate before, during, and after your session.
  • Avoid using alcohol or drugs in the sauna, as they can impair your ability to gauge your body’s response to the heat.
  • Never leave children unattended in the sauna, and ensure they are supervised at all times.
  • Always keep a thermometer and hygrometer inside the sauna to monitor temperature and humidity levels. This will help you maintain a safe and comfortable environment.
  • By following these steps and safety tips, you can ensure that your barrel sauna remains a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable space for relaxation and well-being. Remember to take care of your sauna and enjoy the numerous health benefits it provides for years to come.

Congratulations! You have successfully assembled your barrel sauna. With proper care and maintenance, you can now enjoy your new relaxing retreat for years to come.