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Anyone built a sauna /wet room?

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sunnybob

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I'm considering converting a small shower room as it is in need of a full "tiles off the wall" rebuild.

Looking for info on dry heat units, and also the fixed head waterfall / monsoon shower valves.
But mainly (and the bit thats relevant here) is it worth using wood for walls and seats under these wet conditions? or stay with tiles or plastic.
Shower area 6 ft x 3 ft, main room another 8 ft x 6 ft.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Yes, I built one about twenty years ago that's still in use. It's about ten feet square, all timber lined. The one it replaced leaked heat so badly it took the paint off the upstairs skirtings, the one I built necessitated additional heating put in there for the winter. :D
 

Just4Fun

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I took the opposite approach and stuck with tiles. I'm not saying a wood-based approach would not work, just that I thought it would be easier to be water-tight using tiles.
 

AJB Temple

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I would appreciate you posting this when you do it, as I am considering doing the same fr one of our bathrooms that I intend to rip out and replace.
 

sunnybob

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At this stage, its an idea that needs to be considered because I'm going back to bare walls and maybe even taking out part of one wall and an unused closet to make the area bigger.
So far though, I havent found a heating system that will run on single phase, so the sauna might be a non starter.
 

sunnybob

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I used those panels over 20 years ago on a shower room in the UK and was very pleased with them. They still looked good when I left 15 years later. I wanted to use them again because they are warmish to touch on a cold winters day, but theyre not sold here because of the extreme temperature fluctuations during the year. Inside temp can be anywhere between mid 40's c in summer to single digits in winter.

I think tile is best option for that reason, but I only have a single phase house supply so unless i find something that works off that it looks like it will be a shower only, which would be a shame as I am literally starting from blank.

Still no suggestions about a wooden seat?
 

Phil Pascoe

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So far as a shower goes you would need to use iroko or similar as there isn't the heat to dry it and a softwood would deteriorate quickly. In a sauna pine is fine, but obviously for it to last any time you need to design to take account of the huge movement because of the heat. Most of this happens quickly.
 

sunnybob

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I think this a case of me having champagne taste and a beer pension. :roll:
With just the two of us using it the install costs would never come back.

I think I'll stick with a walk in shower. Thats going to be tough enough because i will have to move the drain over 2 ft across the room, and the floor is tiles on top of reinforced concrete, with all the pipes buried before the concrete was cast :shock: :shock:
 

Sgian Dubh

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One material you might consider for a sauna is aspen that's been through a high heat treatment, i.e., up to ~240ºC. It's sometimes chosen for this purpose and other places where high relative humidity conditions are expected.

This specialised treatment process imparts several characteristics, some of which include:
• A reduction in changes in the wood’s volume in service with changes in moisture content.
• It reduces the EMC of wood through reduced water uptake into the wood’s cellular structure.
• It makes the wood more brittle and the higher the temperatures used the more brittle it becomes.
• Improved durability of wood (for use externally) due to chemical degradation of the wood’s components.
• 5-15% weight loss which may have an impact on transport costs and the weight of structures built with the material.
• Annual rings visible on wide faces of the wood may delaminate, particularly if they show as an arching pattern. Slainte.
 

sunnybob

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I think the price of a few hundred board feet of that shipped to Cyprus might just exceed the value of the house :shock:
 

Sgian Dubh

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sunnybob":1gejk97b said:
I think the price of a few hundred board feet of that shipped to Cyprus might just exceed the value of the house :shock:
Board feet? Is that a common timber volume measurement in Cyprus? I've not heard that term used before outside North America, and can't ever recall any European timber merchants working in anything other than linear measure for machined solid wood, or cubic metres/feet for rough sawn stuff.

There are several European based suppliers of such heat treated materials (aspen, alder, for e.g.) designed for building saunas, and they mostly quote prices per linear metre or per unit, e.g., the people at this link: https://shop.nordic.co.uk/products/ther ... 18-lengths

In the end though, I can fully understand using a supplier such as the one linked, may just result in greater cost than you're willing to pay ... but all the same ... board feet, in my experience, is a very unusual measure to use in these parts, ha, ha. Slainte.
 

sunnybob

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Blame utube. :roll:
However much americanisms annoy (and mostly, they do annoy me), theres no denying they get more said with fewer words (hammer) (hammer) (hammer)
 

Sgian Dubh

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Board foot or cubic foot/cubic metre. Just two words in each case to describe a volumetric (wood) measure, but there are 12 bd ft per ft³, and roughly 424 bd ft per m³. So, I'm not really convinced by your argument that Americans say more with fewer words, ha, ha. Slainte.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Interesting comments on timber treated for the purpose. The sauna I rebuilt was done with a good grade redwood about twenty years ago - we did it that way because it half the price of one built from specialist timber which had lasted less than ten years before falling to pieces. That said mine was better designed so could be maintained and repaired more easily. (It's open 12 hours a day all year, so not like a little domestic one.)
 

Sgian Dubh

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phil.p":2rur2671 said:
Interesting comments on timber treated for the purpose.
Actually, the high heat treatment isn't undertaken to specifically produce wood suitable for sauna building. Primary purposes were mostly aimed at improving durability characteristics in non-durable wood species, along with improved stability of the wood in service for use in the construction, joinery and furniture industries. So, the uses the wood is put is fairly wide, and using it for saunas is just one.

Incidentally, one characteristic I forgot to mention as a result of the high heat process is significant darkening particularly noticeable in light coloured species, and the higher the temperature the greater the colour change. Some years ago I worked some birch that was treated this way, which was a rich chocolate brown as a result of the treatment. It was a little harder to work than untreated birch but, interestingly, the colour was relatively fugitive, and faded quite a bit over a fairly short period of time - just a few months. I don't know if the piece of furniture continued to fade significantly after it eventually left the exhibition, and went to the new owner, and I've never seen the piece since then, which was about eight years ago. Slainte.
 

sunnybob

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I got some offcuts of "thermally modified rippled sycamore" from Custard early last year. (ta muchly sir), the depth of colour is amazing. I have used it on some small items but by chance they are mostly well away from sunlight and so far they still have their rich brown sheen.
I hate to think what a few planks of that would cost. :shock: :shock:
 

Mr.Mika

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To answer the question: yes, I built or actually renewed our sauna last year. Having read this thread I want to share some ancient wisdom about how saunas are built - I'm from Finland, and we have a sauna per every 5 or six people so I've been in a few... :D

First of all, the material to use for pretty much everything except the floor, is wood. Yes there are trendy saunas built with glass or tile walls, but personally I think it's like, well five-o-clock coca cola or something.

There are good reasons to use wood. Large stone or glass surfaces absorb (or leak) heat, so you need a lot more heating power, or end up with a luke warm sauna, which is absolutely terrible. For seating and walls that you lean against, wood is good because other materials may feel too hot against bare skin. Light (as opposed to dense) wood is preferable.

Durability is not an issue. The most common species used here are spruce, aspen, alder, or sometimes pine. The important thing is that everything has to be well ventilated, so that the wood dries after use. Otherwise your sauna will start stinking like a sweatty buttocks well before any wood rots.

Panels are joined with tongue & groove and nailed on framing with thin nails, so movement won't be a problem either.

Someone mentioned heat treated aspen, and that's actually what I used for walls & ceiling, because of its colour. There are products suitable for colouring wood in sauna, but I don't like the idea... at typical 80-100 degrees it's bound to emit some nasty vapours. At least you'll smell the chemicals for weeks.
 

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