Every sauna design should have different factors taken into consideration. We always tell our customers that they should focus on practicality and durability instead of selecting lumber based on the aesthetics and smell of the lumber. At the end of the day, a sauna lover will choose the lumber they prefer, but there are a few common principles that are recognized in the sauna world. First off, using lumber that does not overheat or weaken the integrity of the benches is key - it is really important to get lumber that does not secrete. You need somewhere to sit, right? Secondly, selecting lumber that has material that is high heat-resistant and does not soften too much with moisture is also very important.
The main objective to choosing the right lumber for your sauna is to make sure to enhance the durability of the exterior (whether it is inside or outside), having it be resistant and durable with moisture, and have a great deal of fortitude so it can remain stable throughout its lifetime. Some lumbers retain the original light brown tones naturally, while others need stains and finishes to not lose the color too soon. Another very important thing to note is that wood can be modified with just heat and steam- this is extremely relevant for customers who have their saunas exposed to the elements. There are many types of wood to choose from and these are our top choices for our different lines:
Canadian hemlock is a very popular choice for indoor infrared saunas because of the softness of the wood. The light color and hues make it a great addition to any home because of the versatility to fit in with a modern or classic-themed home. Canadian hemlock is free of knots which is ideal for our infrared saunas because it does not warp, extremely durable if not exposed to moisture/steam, and it radiates heat evenly throughout the interior or the sauna. This fine lumber also produces a nice aroma that radiates nicely with the dry heat of the infrared heaters.
Rustic Fir, Rustic Red Cedar, and Clear Red Cedar
Rustic Hemfir is great for indoor saunas because it is easy to work with and hardens as the years go by when not exposed to the elements. Similar to a Canadian Hemlock softwood. Like all of our lumber options, it is non-toxic and practically scentless compared to our cedar options. Our Rustic Red Cedar and Clear Red Cedar lumbers are our top choices because of the thickness and durability to keep a sauna extremely hot, even in the harshest of winters. Both types are perfect for sauna benches and interiors because it doesn’t secrete and does not get too hot (besides the knots on the rustic red version). These lumbers are essentially water resistant and are not heavily affected with moisture on the inside or outside. Like many of our customers have alluded to, our rustic and clear red cedar options are renowned for the pleasant aromas. The aesthetics complement the cedar smell very well as the red color and shades make it a beautiful addition to any home, backyard, or gym. Both rustic red cedar and clear red cedar are our preferred lumber for traditional saunas. As we said before, do not just go for aesthetics. These lumbers have it all as they are resistant to warping under heat, humidity, sleet, rain, or snow and change nicely in accordance with the climate. Our traditional saunas do not need insulation because of the denisty of the wood and are very quick to heat up and do not take much time to cool off. You can't go wrong with any of these three options for a traditional sauna.
A European classic and definitely an all-time favorite for sauna lovers around the world, the Nordic Spruce is our preferred choice for cabin saunas. The very light color and tones don't appear to make it as durable, but this lumber does not require insulation and is weather-tested to withstand below freezing temperatures and still get very hot! The tiny knots give it character and make you feel like you are enjoying a classic, European sauna experience here in the States. A cabin sauna is a huge investment for any home, so it makes sense to choose a lumber that is proven to withstand discoloration and warping.