Barrel saunas aren’t just good for your health; they can also boost your property’s value. Having a sauna is like adding a fancy bonus that could make your place more attractive to future buyers. If you’re thinking of adding one, maybe consider building it yourself instead of buying a pre-made one.

For the construction of a barrel sauna, you will need wood such as cedar or redwood. Also, insulation is a must to retain the heat within the sauna. An external sealant will protect against the weather and other elements.

If you’re all about DIY and fancy giving a barrel sauna a shot, go for it! It might take you a few weeks to a couple of months to finish the project, but it’s doable.

In this article, we’ll walk you through different materials you can use to build your sauna. With this information, you’ll be all set to create your own personalized sauna that matches your tastes and vibe perfectly.

full front glass barrel sauna in garden-2

Wood: The Heart and Soul of a Barrel Sauna

The main thing that makes a barrel sauna what it is, is its wooden frame. It’s what gives it that cozy feel, adds personality, and makes sure it stays strong and sturdy. That’s why picking the right wood is important—it not only affects how the sauna looks but also how well it holds up against all the hot and steamy conditions it’s going to face.

Western Red Cedar

If you’re dealing with pesky bugs or harsh weather, going for Western Red Cedar to build your barrel sauna is a smart move. This wood naturally fights off decay and bugs, so your sauna stays in good shape. Plus, it’s got a cool reddish-brown color, smells sweet, and has a sleek grain pattern that adds a touch of class to the whole setup. Cedar is great at keeping the heat inside the sauna steady, making your sauna sessions even more enjoyable.

Nordic Spruce

This wood gives off a rustic vibe with its light yellow-white color and bold grain. But to make sure it holds up against the elements and doesn’t decay, it needs a bit of treatment with a sealant.

Canadian Hemlock

Hemlock might not be as common as cedar or spruce, but it’s still a solid choice if you’re on a budget. It’s sturdy and easy to work with, so it gets the job done without breaking the bank. And with a bit of sealing and TLC, it can deal with

the steamy sauna conditions.


Redwood costs a bit more than cedar, but it lasts longer and needs less fuss to keep it in shape. Whether it’s worth the extra cash upfront depends on how you see it paying off down the line.

Redwood gives you the same perks as cedar, like keeping the sauna cozy and withstanding all that heat and steam like a champ.

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you dig the appearance and smell of redwood more than cedar.

sauna woods

Keeping the Heat In

Aside from the wood on the outside, good insulation is key for keeping the heat in and saving energy in a barrel sauna.

Good insulation means you stay cozy while using less energy, which means lower bills in the long run. You’ve got plenty of options for insulation materials to make sure your sauna stays nice and toasty.


Fiberglass insulation, crafted from tiny glass fibers, is a go-to for lining the walls and ceiling of barrel saunas. It’s lightweight and flexible, making it a breeze to install and mold seamlessly to the curves of the barrel without messing with airflow. This insulation traps heat effectively, keeping your sauna cozy and welcoming.

Mineral Wool Insulation

If you’re aiming for a quieter sauna experience, mineral wool insulation could be your ticket. Made from natural minerals like basalt or slag, it’s dense and great at keeping the heat in while muffling sound. This means your sauna stays warm and peaceful.

Oh, one more thing about mineral wool insulation. It is fireproof and doesn’t attract mold or moisture, so it’s a safe and healthy option for your sauna setup.

Reflective Foil Insulation

Reflective foil insulation, which has layers of aluminum foil wrapped around insulating material, is a common choice for keeping barrel saunas warm.

It bounces the heat back into the sauna, making sure the temperature stays even and minimizing heat loss through the walls and ceiling. This stuff is light, simple to set up, and does a great job at making your sauna more energy-efficient.

full front glass barrel sauna in garden-3

External protection and aesthetics

Alright, we’ve covered what materials to use inside and how to insulate the barrel sauna. Now, let’s talk about sprucing up the outside to keep it safe from the weather and make it look good too.

There are tons of ways to finish off the exterior of your sauna. You’ve got everything from natural oils to protective stains, all serving to make sure your sauna lasts long and looks great at the same time.

Tung Oil

Tung oil, which comes from the seeds of the tung tree, is a favorite for sealing wood because it’s tough and water-resistant. When you slap it on the outside of a barrel sauna, it sinks deep into the wood, shielding it from moisture and UV rays for ages.

As a bonus, tung oil brings out the wood’s natural color and grain, giving it a shiny finish that makes it look even prettier.

Exterior Stain

Exterior stains, coming in loads of colors and styles, are a super simple and awesome way to jazz up and protect the wood on your barrel sauna.

You’ve got options like see-through, semi-see-through, or solid stains, letting you tweak your sauna’s look to match its vibe while keeping the wood strong.

On top of that, some stains even have UV blockers in them to stop your sauna from fading or looking dull over time. It’s a win-win for making your sauna look awesome and keeping it in top shape.


Though not as popular as oil or stain, paint can bring some fun and personality to your barrel sauna.

Acrylic or latex paints meant for outdoor use give a tough and weather-resistant layer that can put up with the elements. Whether you’re into bright colors or more subdued tones, painting your sauna lets you show off your creative side and make it uniquely yours.


Building a barrel sauna is a real passion project, mixing skill with creativity to craft a cozy retreat for unwinding. From picking out top-notch wood to making sure the insulation and outside touches are just right, every part of building a sauna matters for how it looks and feels.

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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!