Log bathhouses

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Logs were and still are one of the most popular building materials for houses and especially for bathhouses. A log bathhouse perfectly matches the natural landscapes and it creates a cosy and safe atmosphere. A bathhouse built from live logs stays alive, breathing and energetically useful. A log wall doesn’t require additional insulation and usually noise isolation. It means that you can simplify interior and exterior finishing. Timber has the quality to absorb heat, keep it for a long time and then slowly return it without overheating the premises. That’s why a massive slowly heated furnace is more suitable for a log bathhouse that an electrical fastly heated charcoal-burner. Even though we can use many modern technologies and materials such as glass and stone when building log houses and modern engineering solutions, we adhere to all the house building requirements when building bathhouses as well. If you’re not building an exceptional bathhouse, be conservative and you can have a great bathhouse for less money. Choose skilled workers to build it as fixing of even a small mistake will cost a lot.

The most common building material is pine ant it’s great for bathhouses as well. But you should choose the less sappy timber. Specialists say that aspen and linden is better than pine, but spruce, alder, larch and cedar is good as well. Attention has to be paid to the preparation of wood. Timber used for bathhouses are cut down during winter so minimum sap is present. The logs have to dry to 18-20% humidity before building season. It’s best to dry them naturally outside. We check so the wood isn’t damaged by sap-rots, is rotten or fractured at fixation points.

Walls

If you’re not planning to use your bathhouse every day during winter, you can build it from thinner logs that are cheaper. If you heat it well and bathe not for a long time, you won’t feel the heat loss. But will save money! The same can be said about additional heat insulation – a bathhouse doesn’t need one except the roof of the sauna. The situation is a bit more complicated with steam isolation. Formerly it didn’t exist and the bathhouses were not only hot but lasted for more than 100 years. Nowadays we noticed that without isolation the walls get moist and start decaying. The reason is simple – today few people lay a brick furnace that accumulated enough heat to dry out the walls in winter time. Usually everybody build small metal furnaces that get cold quickly after they’ve been kindled, so they leave the moist walls to deal with the cold. The moisture becomes ice and accumulates. So if you wish to use the bathhouse in winter time and have nice logs – get a powerful furnace! And if you wish to save on firewood and stones – put up steam isolation and lag the sauna like in an element bathhouse. Even if you have a powerful furnace it is advised to impregnate the lower logs with moisture-protective agents.

Finishing

Building beautiful log walls and lagging them is a mistake that we come across. The bathhouse won’t be more attractive because of it and it doesn’t need additional insulation. You shouldn’t interfere with the natural breathing and ventilation of the timber. You also shouldn’t paint the logs in a bathhouse especially from the inside. The only exception is the lower logs that get damaged by moisture more. It should be treated with wood antiseptics. Formerly, when the bathhouses were filled with smoke and their furnaces accumulated enough heat, gaps for fresh air were left in the bottom logs to prevent rotting and help it dry better.

Balk walls

Despite the beauty of log walls, they cost a lot and not everyone can build a log house. Also heat resistance of natural uncut logs isn’t decided by the biggest width of the log, but by 30% smaller thickness of the wall at connection points. Interesting point that bathhouses can be built from 12-14 cm wide logs. Even though such walls aren’t thick, they will keep the heat well even in winter and you will save money. You don’t live in a bathhouse and high temperature is only needed for a short time, so you won’t be able to feel the heat loss. When mounting walls make sure to tighten the logs well and press them well vertically then you won’t need additional balk isolation.

Doors, windows, ventilation

Because the logs breathe naturally, the sauna doesn’t get that steamed up and for non-intensive use family bathhouses additional ventilation sometimes isn’t installed. In this case we recommend having a small window that opens to ventilate the sauna. Otherwise ventilation is strongly recommended because it secures the dryness of the walls after the procedures. For this reason a ventilation vent is sometimes installed in the ceiling that is kept shut during bathing. To save heat, steam bathhouses were built lower and narrower than usual and their threshold – high. Today it isn’t necessary and only serves as an interesting accent.

The windows of log bathhouses have to match the building style. So village-type ones are the best. Only if the walls are very thick and the premises heated you should think about changing to a different type. Gaps equal to 5% of the window’s height should be left at the top so the logs don’t squeeze them when settling. The gap is filled with oakum and covered with a plank.

Prepared by Rimas Kavaliauskas