Choosing the Right Wood for Your Sauna•
Posted on February 14 2023
One of the most preferred choices for saunas, western red cedar is softwood and thus less likely to crack or expand under high temperatures. Cedar is also colorful in appearance with various hues, which can be a plus for the aesthetics of your sauna. Cedar’s insulation properties allow for the heat to flow evenly through the sauna while keeping the surface cool to the touch.
Most importantly, cedar is fungus and decay resistant and can last a long time.
Redwood is quite similar to the western red cedar, except for a few factors. It is softwood and can withstand high temperatures. It is beautiful red in color, giving your sauna a distinct look. Redwood is also resistant to molding, fungus, and decay.
However, there are also a few drawbacks with redwood that needs to be mentioned. Firstly, redwood fades in color over time. After a few months of use, the red hues will deteriorate and turn greyish. Newly installed redwood saunas also secrete red color, which can mix with your sweat and turn your body red.
Western hemlock does not have as many favorable characteristics as western red cedar, but its durability and distinct pattern make it a good choice for sauna. This type of wood is best paired with other woods for a complete sauna solution.
You can use the western red cedar for the interior and exterior construction of your sauna and the western hemlock for the benches and doors.
Keep in mind that western hemlock tends to expand a bit and is not as decay resistant as other options on the list.
Nordic spruce is also known as Norway spruce or European spruce. It is found in Northern, Eastern, and Central Europe. It is one of the preferred choices for a sauna because of its density and firmly ingrown structure.
Nordic spruce is the most used wood for building saunas in Finland. It is a light-colored wood that remains pale throughout its lifespan. It also exudes a subtle aroma and contains natural insect repellent properties.
Nordic spruce contains a bit of sap that will vary from board to board. So, make sure you check the wood for the same.
Aspen is another distinct wood that is often used for building saunas. It is bright in color and is found in cooler regions of Europe, Asia, and Northern Russia. Aspen is naturally non-toxic, non-allergenic, resin-free, and moisture-resistant, making it an optimum choice for saunas. Aspen is also resistant to fungus and bacteria, making it a safe choice of wood.
Common aspen can give your sauna a luxurious look, thanks to its unique light tone and patterns.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar
Alaskan yellow cedar is a prime choice for hot tubs, saunas, and pools. Since it grows in humid environments, Alaskan yellow cedar can withstand the hot and moist sauna rooms. It is lightweight but dense enough to allow for intricate construction.
Alaskan yellow cedar is not actually a cedar but rather a type of Cypress that was once used by Native Americans to build totem poles.
It is highly resistant to fungus and molds and is often chosen for its unique yellowish tint that gives the sauna a rich look. Alaskan yellow cedar also exudes a subtle smell that can add to the sauna’s therapeutic effects.
Douglas fir is not a true fir. It belongs to the pine family. Found in Western North America, the douglas fir yields more timber than any other tree in the region.
Douglas fir is used as a Christmas tree, thanks to its ornamental appearance. It is highly valued for its durability, strength, and appearance. Douglas fir offers a beautiful uniform appearance to your sauna. It has antifungal and decay-resistant properties and exudes little to no scent.
Pine is the most affordable wood for building saunas. Most pine trees yield darker color wood similar to spruce, except they tend to have more knots.
These knots may dry and fall out, especially in infrared saunas. So, they aren’t a preferred option for infrared saunas. If you are planning on using pine for building a sauna, use it for the parts that you won’t interact with.
However, if pine is thermally treated, it becomes an entirely different type of wood: stronger, denser, and more stable. So, make sure the pinewood you use in your sauna is kiln-dried or thermally treated.
Eucalyptus is an aromatic softwood. It is a fast-growing tree, which makes it a sustainable choice of wood. It has a beautiful, unique look that can give your sauna a distinct personality.
Eucalyptus is quite rare and is more expensive than other options on the list. This is the reason why it is not often used in building saunas.
It is the only wood, besides cedar, that boasts natural insect and rot resistance. Eucalyptus also comes in a range of colors and grains, and it changes color as it fades.