The Basement Sauna Project
I grew up in a cabin in the backwoods of Montana. We had no electricity and no running water. We used an outhouse to do our business and bathed in a sauna. The Cabin was built by my great-grandpa Matti Hill, who had come to America by way of Finland and a Russian navy ship. Matti and his wife Ann received 120 acres from the Homesteading Act of 1862, and built a cabin and sauna on the property in 1917 and 1918, respectively.
When my sister and I started going to school, we started getting teased by the other kids because we smelled like goats. Since we had a whole bunch of goats, and they did smell, there's a good chance the kids were right. My sister and I told my parents, and they bumped the saunas up from once a week to twice a week.
I have many fond memories of the sauna in Montana. It has a huge 55-gallon stove; made from an oil barrel. A tub of water sits on the top of the stove and throughout my childhood, I developed the ability to make the water sing with a blazing fire. I've always loved that sauna, as well as most saunas. My parents built one in their basement in Oregon, but that went away last year when they my Mom retired and they moved back to Montana.
I've always wanted to build a sauna in my own basement. When my parents visited for a few weeks this past February, I finally began the project. The prep work, installing a drain and getting 220-volt electricity installed, in the basement was the hardest part. Not from a "doing it" perspective, but from a "stomaching the cost" perspective.
By the time my parents left at the end of February, the main infrastructure was completed. The framing was done, the stove was installed and the insulation was mostly finished.
Over the next couple months, I spent a few hours here and there finishing the cedar walls, building benches and trimming to make it look good. We hired someone to do the tile work and build a custom cedar door. One of my favorite things we did was have a custom piece of glass made with the Montana Sauna's picture sandblasted in it.
I can't take credit for how good it looks in the end. That praise goes to Trish and her tile design, as well as her decorating of the dressing room. My favorite thing is the shower in the sauna. It's great for rinsing off after sweating the day's stresses away. When it gets up to 112°C (233°F), stress goes away pretty fast.
I'd like to thank my parents for raising me with a sauna and my Finnish ancestors for inventing the idea. I think Jack summed it up best when I asked him, "Isn't it great having a sauna in our basement?" His reply: "No Dad, it's not great ... it's AWESOME!". Well said son.
More Pictures » Flickr Set or Facebook Album.
Congrats, the sauna looks great!
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