This awesome DIY floating sauna is something you would only see at the cottage

Updated: November 12, 2019

floating sauna raft Photo by Nevil Knupp

When it was time for Nevil Knupp to demolish the garage on his Crystal Lake, Ont., property, the sauna inside had to come down too. “I knew we needed another one,” says Nevil. “But I couldn’t fit one in the new garage, and I didn’t want to clutter the shoreline with another building. I also didn’t want it to be a major trek from the water.” That left one solution: build a sauna on the water. “No permit necessary, as long as I kept it under 16 square metres,” he says. (Readers should check with their municipality about permits before starting a build.) 

Nevil started building in the winter of 2014, right on the ice. He used pressure-treated lumber for the dock frame, cedar for the deck and the sauna interior, pine siding for the exterior, and weatherproof DekTek sheeting for the roof. “I used standard deck railing, but the posts are 12′, going all the way down through the dock to improve stability,” he says. “You can stand on them, they’re so secure.” He left a gap in the railing for climbing up a ladder to the roof platform and another gap on the back for leaping off into the water. The overhang puts jumpers safely over the water on that side with nothing to clear on the way down. 

Inside the sauna, Nevil installed removable L-shaped cedar benches. “When they start to lose their smell, I can sand them down until they’re good as new,” he says. Dock floats keep the sauna buoyed with extra flotation under the stove and the benches so the structure doesn’t dip when people sit inside. 

In the spring, the sauna just dropped into the water. Nevil had it tied to shore, so he could pull it to the dock where a brick mason laid the stones behind the stove. Then he anchored the sauna 100 feet from shore with 3⁄8″ chain and two 100 lb cement blocks on each corner. 

The sauna is now the family’s gathering place. “The kids and teens and, heck, even adults—everyone loves jumping off the tower,” says Nevil. “But it’s also a haven for someone who wants some quiet time.”

inside of diy floating sauna
Photo by Nevil Knupp. A wood-fired sauna stove heats things up in about an hour.

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