Indoor or outdoor sauna: pros and cons

Posted May 11, 2020, Category: Advice

Building a sauna at the same space as your log cabin is a given. It is one of the perks of having your own glulam log cabin – a space where you feel closer to the nature and can enjoy a relaxing hour in a steam-filled, scented room. However, every time a partner comes to us for house kits, the question of sauna always arises. Should they advise their customer to build a sauna outdoors or indoors.

Both options have their own pros and cons, which we will list out here, in this blog post. We will base our opinion on the experience we have acquired over 27 years in glulam house construction. At Eurodita, we have built a vast network of partners all over the globe and we can extrapolate this experience, fit for any climate and location.

Outdoor sauna: pros and cons 

By outdoor sauna, we have in mind any building that is built away from the main log house and with the intention of only serving as a sauna. This can be simple square huts, BBQ huts, timber sauna barrels and similar. So, here are the pros of this choice:

  1. Freedom of placement. Outdoor saunas as separate buildings can be placed anywhere. Take our BBQ huts as an example. They can come in any size and can fit most locations. From extra small to large enough to almost be their own bespoke summer houses, they can fit any garden or other land location.
  2. Close to nature. Independent saunas can be built extremely close to nature and hence become secluded little paradises. People that love being in nature and the peace of it will appreciate this aspect of outdoor saunas. Placed close to a lake, a river, near the woods or in another strategic location, these kinds of saunas will ensure access to nature and provide this sense of being one with the outdoors.
  3. Aesthetic beauty. Outdoor saunas can be stylised in any way, shape and form the customer wants. We already have many types of BBQ huts and timber sauna barrels to choose from and they can be ordered bespoke to match any client requests.

Going on about outdoor saunas, there are also some drawbacks that your clients should be aware when picking a sauna type:

  1. Difficult installation. Unless you are using a wood-burning sauna, you will need electricity to heat it up. And chances are, electricity has not been installed in your chosen location. You or your client will need to choose a portable generator or bring the utility to the location.
  2. Exposure to the elements. Outdoor sauna built that remotely and with no facilities to sleep over in, will mean your client braving the elements after the sauna session. It is up to them to decide whether it is something they are willing to do.
  3.  Additional maintenance. Because the outdoor sauna building it exposed to the sun, wind, rain and other elements, it will require extra maintenance. Just like glulam log cabins require regular staining and maintenance of the outside and inside logs, so will this separate sauna building.

Indoor sauna: pros and cons 

Indoor saunas are usually picked by people that order made to measure log cabins and dedicate space for them specifically. It is possible to order standard log cabins and still have enough space for a sauna, but it may turn out quite small. Nevertheless, let’s go through the pros first:

  1. Easy installation. Because the custom log home is already equipped with electricity, you or your client will no longer need to worry about bringing the utilities to the sauna. You will also have a wider variety of heating options made available for simply because you have easy access to the electricity.
  2. Low maintenance. You will not need to pay special attention to your sauna the way outdoor one will demand. Your maintenance will be contained to the amount of maintenance generally done to the whole log home.
  3. Convenient location. Because your sauna is inside your bespoke residential log cabin, you will not need to brave the elements every time you want to have some time in the steam and heat. Simply heat up, step in and step out.

To be fair, indoor sauna seems to be a much more convenient choice for many log cabin owners. But even with that said, like everything in construction, indoor saunas have their own drawbacks that we will look through now:

  1. Constricted by location. In direct contrast to the freedom of placing, for example, your BBQ hut anywhere the clients wants, an indoor sauna is constricted by location. When building a sauna as part of a contemporary log home plans, there will be only few locations that will suit the sauna. And this comes after taking ventilation and heating into account.
  2. Limited space. Not just the exact location, but your indoor sauna will likely be much smaller than the outdoor one. Because indoors needs to have so much more functional location for other purposes, sauna simply cannot expand too much.
  3. No separation. For some clients, it is important to separate the areas of activities, such as play, work, read and so on. Sauna may be put on that list and with indoor sauna, such separation just does not exist. Consider with your client if it is something they want.

So these are our pros and cons in regards to saunas. We always leave the final decision to our clients and partners. However, if you do decide to go for outdoor saunas, check out our BBQ huts, timber barrel saunas and sauna pods to see if there are models you might like. Good luck!