The barrel sauna is by far the most popular type of sauna found in private gardens. There are a whole bunch of companies on the market that build such saunas, but not every company provides reliable information about them. In particular, no one writes about their disadvantages. Of course, there are also advantages, so I decided to summarize what to keep in mind when choosing such a sauna.
Lack of insulation in a sauna
I have not yet met a barrel sauna that has an insulating layer. Usually it is a 40mm wood, without any mineral wool. Combined with other features, this often results in the inability to reach temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius when the temperature is below zero outside.
No higher bench
By their shape, saunas - barrels usually do not have two levels of benches inside. There is simply no room for it. In traditional saunas, there should always be 2 (or more) levels, so that you can choose the right temperature for the person. In a sauna - barrel, all users are at a similar temperature. What's more, loyly (the Finnish word for steam) rises to the top and there you can feel the effect of pouring water on the stones the most.
Simple sauna installation
Easy to deliver, easy to install. By their shape, barrel saunas are very simple to construct. The barrel sauna, as the name suggests, is similar to a barrel, so it consists of two circular walls, and specially milled beams, which by their shape closely (at least in theory) adhere to each other, forming the roof, floor and walls. The whole thing is fastened together with a special metal clamp. Simple.
Easy transportationEasy transportation is definitely a plus. The barrel saunas are less than 2.5 meters wide, so there are no problems with transporting them on an ordinary trailer or on a special HDS vehicle.
Barrel saunas in the rainy/snowy climate are quite problematic. Rain, snow, freezing rain, hail, expansion of wood, shrinkage, moisture - all this causes the boards from which the barrel saunas are made to lose their tightness after time. This is the natural effect of wood 'working' when it is subjected to such conditions. Often you see sauna-barrels temporarily covered with a sheet, so as to prolong its life.
But can't we afford to do more? After all, some wooden buildings are hundreds of years old, and they are doing just fine.
In an ordinary sauna whose body resembles a cube, we can give a window practically everywhere. This gives us more freedom in choosing the optimal views we would like to have from our sauna. In a barrel sauna, we can actually only place a window in an extreme wall. When, for example, this wall faces the neighbours behind the fence, it is not the best idea.
Changing room/resting area
In a barrel sauna, there is usually quite limited space for relaxation. Even if there is a changing room, the floor area is quite small. Actually, we are not able to use such a space to sit and relax when we sauna with friends.
Certainly this is not a complete list, but I wrote it based on my own observations and experiences. I am by no means against barrel saunas, but I think it is worth keeping the above points in mind when choosing a sauna type.Personally, I prefer wood frame construction, which is why all the sauna projects I design are in this technology. It gives me more freedom in design.