Sauna Buying Guide

Confused about the difference between a Heartwood Sauna and a Barrel Sauna?
We are here to help.


In the UK there are two common outdoor sauna designs available.
Often, saunas are imported as off-the-shelf kits from overseas manufacturers and come in two shapes — a cabin-style with a pitched roof, and a barrel shaped sauna. 

Insulation vs. No Insulation?
Handmade or Kit?

Heartwood Saunas are designed and made here in the UK and have been thoughtfully engineered to work efficiently in temperate and cold climates.
Barrel saunas can work in temperate and colder climates where snowfall is more common as the snowfall can act as insulation (something which barrel saunas do not come with).
Single-walled barrel saunas which come as a kit are easy to assemble but as they do not come with insulation, lose heat more readily. The also do not come with a vapour barrier, as the climate they have been designed best to work in often sees higher pressure days a lot more regularly than we do, here in the UK. 

All Heartwood Saunas are handmade in our workshop — no kits and instructions! — and each sauna goes through a scrupulous check with our Director before loading takes place and we deliver your complete outdoor sauna to your home or site.  

Every Heartwood Sauna has layered walls to ensure a snug, energy efficient sauna. From outside to inside: External cladding, breathable membrane, the finest 100mm Thermafleece real sheep’s wool insulation, vapour barrier, a ventilation layer and finally, the internal cladding. 

Longevity and Maintenance

Due to the design of barrel saunas; with a single wall made up of lengths of board oval lap jointed together, leaks can occur between the boards when it rains, or when snow melts, which means that in the winter months, a barrel sauna must be covered when not in use, or even be situated beneath a second roof, to prevent continuous maintenance. 
The difference in the temperature outside to inside, with only a single-layer between the two contrasting temperatures, can create issues for the longevity of barrel saunas. 

Heartwood Saunas have been engineered and handmade to be an investment, and stand the test of time. The timber we use for our saunas is handpicked by our Director and each timber carefully selected for the job it is required for. This is one of the reasons why we will always use knot-free timber. Knots in timber cause weaknesses in the wood and in an environment where temperatures and the air’s water content rise, when the sauna is being used, and fall, when it is not, this expansion and contraction can affect any timber which is not close-grained. If it's a barrel sauna you are after, it is a good idea to check with the manufacturer that the timber used is knot-free. In addition to well-chosen wood, Heartwood’s stainless steel fixings ensure that no part of a Heartwood Sauna should show signs of use for very many years. 

Space and Bench Heights

Due to the cylindrical design of barrel saunas, there is a space and height restriction and only one internal bench height. In a Heartwood Sauna you have the choice of two bench heights due to the pitched roof, which creates more space for an upper (hotter) tier and lower (cooler) tier. It is possible, due to the height restriction and semi-circular ceiling, barrel saunas can feel quite cramped and claustrophobic. 

Choose Your View

Heartwood Saunas pitched roofs and end glass walls help to create a feeling of expansiveness and relaxation and a view of natural surroundings can evoke feelings of well-being and peacefulness.
A natural landscape as focal point is one of the luxury features of a Heartwood Sauna which modern glazing has made possible, where it would not have been in the days of the original traditional-style cabin saunas.