Although barrel saunas are steeped in tradition, they’re still one of the most popular outdoor sauna designs today. They’re great at adding a luxurious touch to your garden whilst increasing the value of your property. But, if you’re still not sure a barrel sauna is right for you, we’ve provided a comprehensive guide for you below.
Barrel sauna benefits
- It heats up faster
- It’s longer lasting
- It requires little to no maintenance
- Fast construction time
- Evenly distributed heat
What is a barrel sauna?
A barrel sauna is the common name for an outdoor sauna cabin, typically made of wood, thats barrel shaped (in other words cylindrical).
Saunas have been used for thousands of years for healing, socialising and relaxation. They are cosy wooden rooms that are heated up to very high temperatures (typically 65°C to 90°C) – at which point people gather inside to ‘bathe’ in the heat.
The word Sauna (pronounced ‘saw-nah’) means bath or bathhouse in Finnish. It’s believed that the first saunas in the world were discovered in Finland (dating back as far as 7000BC). In Baltic countries such as Estonia, saunas were (and still are) believed to be spiritual places that have many uses included: giving birth, smoking meat, wash spaces, and a place where you would go to recover from illness.
Why barrel saunas are so efficient
Many people considering buying an outdoor sauna research various shapes and designs. Aside from the beautiful aesthetic of the barrel – a key reason why the design of barrel saunas has remained popular over the years, is because of how efficient they are. Here’s how:
The curved walls help to create a natural convection current that circulates the hot air throughout the space. As the air heats up, it rises to the top of the sauna, where it is then drawn back down to the bottom of the sauna by the cooler air. This helps to distribute heat evenly throughout the sauna.
Barrel saunas have a relatively small volume compared to other types of saunas, which means that they can be heated up more quickly and efficiently. This also helps to reduce energy costs, as less heat is required to warm up the space, and it means you can start enjoying your sauna session sooner.
Most barrel saunas are constructed using high-quality wood, with the best being made with thermally modified wood, that is highly insulating. This helps to retain heat within the sauna, reducing the amount of energy needed to maintain a comfortable temperature.
What to Consider When You
Buy Barrel Sauna Kits
There are a few essential things to consider when you buy barrel sauna kits. We’ve highlighted some commonly overlooked, but essential things to think about below so that you can make an informed decision.
1. What Material Barrel Sauna is Made From
Barrel saunas are manufactured by many suppliers nowadays, but the quality of materials can vary greatly. Wood is the most popular choice due to its renewable nature and excellent insulation properties. Cedar, spruce, and pine are common wood types used for barrel saunas. For those concerned about durability and maintenance, thermally modified timber is recommended.
Aside from the main body of your barrel sauna, you may also want to consider adding a glass wall. These not only add a modern twist, but if you have a pleasant view or garden to enjoy, they can really uplift the whole sauna bathing experience.
2. Choosing an Appropriate Size of Barrel Sauna
When choosing a barrel sauna, it’s important to consider its size. This is usually determined by the number of users and available space. Compact saunas, (such as our Malmö) with a size of 1.6M, can fit on most terraces. However, larger models offer the added benefit of a second room or outdoor seating. While length is a common consideration, barrel saunas also come in varying diameters, so it’s important to check all dimensions before ordering. A larger diameter barrel sauna is especially important for taller individuals who require extra headroom or those who want multiple benches.
3. Selecting the Right Sauna Stove
Choosing how you will heat your sauna will often depend on what resources you have available to you. Wood burning sauna stoves remain the most popular choice. However, some areas are too built up to allow for burning wood so you may want to opt for an electric heater. Be sure to check that your heater is powerful enough to effectively heat the sauna room. Any good sauna retailer will be able to help advise on the appropriate size/power of heater you will need.
Once you have the key elements of your sauna decided, you may also want to think ahead about how you’ll use it day-to-day. If music is a key part of your life, you, an integrated Bluetooth music system would be a great feature for you. Or perhaps you want mood lighting or even a counter-sunken sauna bucket. It’s often harder to retrofit these elements so try to think ahead.
5. Barrel Sauna Kit vs Pre-Build
When weighing up the decision to purchase a flat-packed barrel sauna kit versus a fully assembled one, there are various factors to consider. Although opting for a flat-packed sauna may save you on initial outlay (particularly when it comes to delivery fees) it’s important to be mindful that you’ll need to assemble it. While building a barrel sauna isn’t overly complex, it does need a little time and DIY know-how. Apart from DIY skills, you’ll also need the right tools and at least another set of hands to help you, to ensure a high-quality finish.
One of the reasons why many customers choose flat-packed saunas is that they are ideal for those with limited access to their garden.
Our Outdoor Barrel Sauna Range
At Neptune Saunas, we offer a range of high-quality thermowood barrel sauna kits that can be customised to suit your needs. How can you get the best barrel sauna experience? By buying your sauna kit from a trusted brand. If you still have questions, why not get in touch with our friendly team, or browse our popular barrel sauna kits below:
They heat up faster
A barrel sauna will heat up faster than a ‘conventionally’ shaped sauna. This is both because there is less space in the sauna to heat, and because the air circulates better than it would in a square-shaped space.
Barrel saunas last longer
Barrel saunas are built in a unique way, with ball and joint cladding and (obviously) a circular shape. This makes them better at withstanding the constant expansion and contraction a sauna endures because of changes in temperature.
They require very little maintenance
The cylindrical shape of barrel saunas, means there aren’t any flat surfaces that gather water. Since all of our outdoor saunas are also made from thermowood, they have a particularly high resistance to water penetration.
Fast construction time
How long it takes to construct a barrel sauna will of course depend on its size and how diy savvy you are. It does also help if you buy a barrel sauna kit rather than trying to build from scratch. It’s a much more cost-effective route than you might think, and all our kits include easy-to-follow instructions. Our smallest barrel saunas can be built in as little as an afternoon.
Better sauna experience
The unique barrel sauna shape allows for even heat distribution throughout the sauna. This means that you can enjoy a more comfortable sauna experience without any overly hot or cold spots.
The unique shape and natural wood finish of a barrel sauna will add charm to any backyard or outdoor space.
Many barrel saunas are designed to be portable, which means that you can easily move them to different locations on your property or take them with you when you move.
Barrel saunas take up a smaller footprint than traditional square or rectangular designs and rarely need special foundations.
Frequently Asked Questions
A barrel sauna is an excellent investment for anyone looking to improve their health and well-being or add value to their home. With their unique shape, even heat distribution, and range of materials and features to choose from, there is a barrel sauna to suit every need and budget. We hope this guide has helped you make an informed decision about your sauna journey. Here are some frequently asked questions, but if you have any of your own, feel free to reach out to us.
Barrel sauna prices can vary enormously. Usually this depends on:
- Materials used: Pay attention to the type of wood used, how many glass panels there are, and is your timber thermo-treater or not.
- Scale: This may sound obvious, but it’s particularly important to check the scale of your barrel sauna kit when buying online. Sometimes two saunas can look identical in photos but have completely different diameters (the measurement across the circular side) and lengths.
- Heater: Many sauna retailers don’t include a heater in their price, since there are so many options available and people tend to have their own preferences on heater (e.g. wood-fired, infrared or electric)
- Fully assembled vs kits: A large factor when considering price, is whether or not your sauna is going to arrive fully-assembled or as a kit. Barrel sauna kits are generally much more economical, not only because they require less labour time, but because you’ll also make a huge saving in delivery costs.
Barrel saunas (like all saunas) do have weight loss benefits. However, it’s worth noting that this only comes from regular use, and in line with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. Any effects you see from a single sauna session are likely to be a loss of water weight which will come back quickly after you rehydrate. Find out more about the health benefits of saunas when combined with exercise below.Health benefits of sauna after exercise
You should never use harsh chemicals when cleaning your barrel sauna. The interior can be kept clean by simply wiping it down with a damp cloth between uses. For more information on sauna maintenance, check out our guide below.Sauna maintenance
- Most barrel saunas can’t accommodate two-tier benches.
- They can let a lot of heat out when entering and exiting. Although it’s worth noting that this can easily be overcome if you opt for a 2-room design.
- If you’re tall you may find the height of the sauna a little restrictive. Some barrel saunas, such as our Deluxe Luxembourg Barrel Sauna boast up to an extra 26cm diameter which means this shouldn’t be an issue.
Many people looking to buy a barrel sauna are worried about assembly. In reality, it’s a relatively straightforward process for any frequent DIYer with the right tools. Some tools you’ll almost certainly need are:
- A rubber mallet
- A spirit level
- An electric screwdriver (you can use a hand screwdriver but this will take a much longer time)
- A couple of spanners
It is a two-person job, so be sure to get a friend or relative to help if you’re doing it yourself.
Most kits will have some parts pre-assembled where reasonably possible, to make the job as simple as it can be. The bottom of the barrel, front door area, and back usually come in sections that are pre-assembled, with the main work being the circular hull of the barrel. If your barrel sauna retailer isn’t forthcoming with installation instructions, that can be a warning sign that it’s an unnecessarily awkward procedure or they haven’t pre-assembled any elements at all.
A barrel sauna’s lifespan can range from anything from 10-35 years. This will depend on what wood it’s made from (and in particular if it’s thermally modified wood), the outdoor conditions it’s exposed to, and how well it’s maintained.Learn More About Sauna maintenance