What do we think about Outdoor Barrel Saunas?
Where do we start? We think Barrel Saunas look very nice as a garden feature.
But in our opinion as sauna manufacturers they do not offer a true sauna experience and there are a lot of downsides to them.
To combat heat loss through the roof of our saunas we have up to 250mm of rockwool plus 38mm of wood section plus a durable waterproof mineral felt to finish off.
Please see below a cross section of our Outdoor Sauna Roof showing the build quality.
A Outdoor Barrel Sauna has a roof section of between 35mm to 45mm. The heat loss as you can imagine is quite high resulting in high electric costs with the sauna struggling to reach the correct temperatures even with the stove running at full power.
Types of wood
We use kiln dried selected spruce wood from slow growing spruce trees in sustainable forests, this has a very close grain resulting in one of the hardiest and best wearing woods for outdoor saunas.
Barrel type saunas use wood ranging from spruce to cedar, spuce is ok if it is slow grown and selected for its grain.
Cedar is not good, cedar is used for roof shingles in Canada because it is impregnated with cedar oils.
This makes any rainwater run off so it can be used for the outside of a sauna but it is in our opinion unsuitable for the inside of a sauna. This is because when the heat is applied from the stove the oils in the cedar can give off fumes which can effect anyone with breathing difficulties.
Wear and Tear
The way we build our Outdoor Saunas is with the wall panels going vertically and 30mm off the floor on a base frame this is to allow rainwater on the outside to run off and any moisture on the inside to run down to the floor.
All Barrel Saunas have their wood panels running horizontally this is to enable them to produce the round of the barrel.
The problem with this is that if the barrel has no outside waterproof covering any rainwater will slowly collect in the joints between the panels or on the inside the moisture and steam will also collect on the inside joints and at the bottom of the barrel curve.
This over a period of time creates a musty background smell with a dark mold forming on these areas.
When having a session in a Outdoor Sauna you do need the option of sitting on the top bench in the hottest part of the sauna this is essential in the cold winter months, and if you like your saunas to be the correct temperature.
Most Barrel Saunas have only one mid level bench these have comfort issues:-
1. When you want to sit with your back against the curve of the wall you are always leaning forwards.
2. You are heating up a large space above your head with a lot of the heat escaping through the thin roof section so the heat at mid level is not the hottest in readiness for our cold winters.