Barrel saunas provide a unique and stylish way to enjoy the benefits of sauna therapy. But it’s not simply a matter of plunking the sauna wherever you feel. Before you begin installing the sauna, it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements to ensure a successful setup and optimal performance.

Installation requirements for barrel saunas vary but typically include a flat, level surface such as concrete or gravel. Adequate ventilation and clearance around the sauna are crucial for safety. It’s also essential to have proper insulation and weatherproofing to keep you warm and comfortable.

Installing a barrel sauna incorrectly can lead to various consequences, ranging from safety hazards to performance issues and potential damage to the sauna itself. We don’t want you to suffer that kind of trauma! So, let’s take you through how to properly install your sauna.

barrel sauna with full front glass in garden-

Find the right spot

You wouldn’t build a house anywhere. As they say in the real estate industry, it’s all about “Location, location, location.” The same approach needs to be taken when installing a barrel sauna. Choosing the right place for your barrel sauna is the first step in the installation process. Ideally, the site should be level, well-drained, and easily accessible.

A level surface helps to maintain the structural integrity of the sauna. Also, you don’t want the sauna to rock and roll whenever you’re inside it. Save those thrills for your next ride on a rollercoaster. Placing your sauna in a well-drained area will prevent water and moisture build-up.

Having the sauna nearby makes it a breeze to hop in for a relaxing session whenever you fancy. When it’s just a stone’s throw away from your place or your favorite hangout spots, you’re way more likely to make it a regular part of your self-care routine. Who wouldn’t want that kind of easy access to some well-deserved relaxation?

Preparing the foundation

We mentioned that having a level surface is important for the installation of a barrel sauna. That means you need to roll your sleeves up and create an ideal foundation. But, don’t panic, here is how it’s done.

Clear the Area

Remove any vegetation, rocks, debris, or other obstacles from the location. This will provide a clean surface for the foundation and prevent uneven settling.

Excavate the Site

This does require a bit more work than the previous step. You may need to hire a small excavator unless you want to dig up the ground yourself. Also, talk to your local government as you may need a permit first.

The depth of the excavation will depend on the type of foundation you choose and the local soil conditions. Typically, a depth of 4-6 inches should be sufficient.

Level the Ground

Use a level and a straightedge to ensure the excavated area is flat and level. Make any necessary adjustments by adding or removing soil until the surface is uniformly flat.

Add Base Material

Lay a base material such as crushed gravel or compacted sand at the bottom of the excavation. Both gravel and sand provide a stable base for the sauna. Also, these materials allow for proper drainage, are easy to compact down, and can adapt to different environments.

Compact the Base

Use a plate compactor or hand tamp to compact the base material thoroughly. This will help prevent settling and ensure a solid foundation for the sauna.

Install a Vapor Barrier (Optional)

Depending on your local climate and soil conditions, you may choose to install a vapor barrier over the compacted base material. This will help prevent moisture from seeping into the sauna’s wood and causing damage

Build the Foundation

Depending on your preference and local building codes, you can choose from various foundation options such as concrete pads, gravel pads, or wooden platforms. Follow manufacturer guidelines and local regulations for the specific type of foundation you choose.

Allow for Proper Drainage

Ensure that the foundation allows for proper drainage away from the sauna to prevent water accumulation and moisture damage. This can be done by adding a slight slope away from the foundation.

For locations where water accumulation is an issue, install drainage pipes to direct the water away from the location.

Let it Settle

With all that hard work done, you’re keen to start installing your sauna. Slow down, tiger! Let the area settle for several days. This will ensure that any settling or shifting occurs before the sauna is placed on top.

Stick to these steps, and you’ll set up a rock-solid foundation for your barrel sauna, guaranteeing it stays sturdy, lasts long, and works like a dream. If you’re feeling a bit lost along the way, reach out to a seasoned pro or contractor for some helpful advice.

let the barrel sauna settle

Let the installation commence

Now that your foundation’s all set, it’s time to put together your barrel sauna. Usually, you’ll get clear instructions and all the parts pre-cut that will make assembling the sauna a breeze. Don’t rush the process. Familiarise yourself with each part of the sauna. Read the instructions a couple of times before you start the build.

If you’re into visualization, then picture yourself building the sauna. After that, start the assembling. The process may overwhelm some people. When that happens, there is no shame in asking for help.

You need to ventilate

Good airflow is key to keeping your sauna cool and cozy. Most barrel saunas come with vents on each end to let the breeze flow and keep things from getting too steamy. Just make sure those vents stay clear so the air keeps circulating, and you won’t feel like you’re getting roasted!

You may want to install a skylight or some windows for extra ventilation – it’ll make your sauna feel like a breath of fresh air.

Keeping warm and dry

Keeping the heat in is key to getting the most out of your barrel sauna and saving on energy bills. Your sauna probably already has some insulation included in the kit such as fiberglass or foam board, to keep that heat locked in tight. But if you’re in a chilly area, you might want to add extra insulation.

And don’t forget to weatherproof – seal up any gaps and slap on some exterior finishes to shield your sauna from the elements and keep it serving you well for years to come.

Adding power

If your barrel sauna is equipped with electrical components, such as heaters, lights, or sound systems, it’s essential to ensure that the electrical system meets all safety standards and requirements. Consult with a licensed electrician to determine the appropriate wiring, circuitry, and outlets for your specific setup. Additionally, consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electrical hazards, especially in outdoor environments.

Turn on the heat

Barrel saunas can be heated using various methods, including traditional wood-fired stoves, electric heaters, or infrared panels. Each heating option has its pros and cons in terms of cost, convenience, and heating efficiency. Wood-fired stoves provide a traditional sauna experience and can be more cost-effective in the long run, but they require regular maintenance and supervision. Electric heaters offer precise temperature control and convenience but may have higher operating costs. Infrared panels emit radiant heat that penetrates the skin more deeply, offering therapeutic benefits, but they may not provide the same traditional sauna experience.

barrel sauna heater

Staying safe

Safety should always be a top priority when installing a barrel sauna. Ensure that all electrical components are installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes. Keep flammable materials away from the sauna, especially if using a wood-fired stove. If you plan to use the sauna and night, provide adequate lighting both inside and outside the sauna to prevent trips and falls.

Looking after your sauna

A sauna is an investment that you want to have delivering returns for many years. Therefore,

regular maintenance is essential for keeping your barrel sauna in top condition and extending its lifespan. Clean the interior and exterior surfaces regularly to remove dirt, debris, and mildew buildup.

Inspect the vents, seals, and insulation periodically to ensure they remain intact and functional. Lubricate door hinges and latches as needed to prevent sticking or rusting. Additionally, consider applying a protective sealant or stain to the exterior wood surfaces to maintain their appearance and durability.

Remember, prevention is always better than the cure!

Finnish pine barrel sauna with front glass door


Setting up your barrel sauna is a bit of a project but it’s worth it for those awesome sauna vibes vibes and health perks. By following the tips in this guide, you’ll have your little oasis in no time – perfect for kicking back, de-stressing, and soaking up all those sauna benefits.

Whether you’re a sauna pro or a newbie, putting in the work now means you’ll be soaking up the goodness for years down the line. So get ready to relax and enjoy your sauna haven!

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Welcome to our blog! I’m Sylvia Wang, your guide to saunas, ice plunge tubs, hot tubs, and accessories. With years of industry experience, I share valuable insights to enhance your relaxation. From manufacturing in China, we offer expertise in relaxation science, health benefits, and maintenance tips. Let’s relax together!