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Clear the Steam Ep. 4 – What wood would you use in a sauna?

Western Red Cedar, the Gold Standard for Sauna Construction

                Western Red Cedar has been the default type of softwood for sauna construction for many decades. This material has been available from mills on the west coast of Canada and contains many benefits that make it ideal for sauna construction. It is a light weight wood, with a wide variety of colours shown in the grain. Typically it is available as clear cedar, which allows for very few tight knots. Vertical grain is a step above, and does not have any knots or flat grain, making it suitable for some components such as door jambs. Most of the clear cedar on the market comes from old growth forests on the coast, and due to limited supply prices have been rising of late. Cedar is also available in a knotty grade. For sauna use, you want the cedar to be kiln dried, which makes it resistant to warping and swelling due to the heat and humidity of regular sauna use. It also has a pleasant aroma, as well as anti-bacterial properties that prevent mould from growing and helps repel insects. You can read more about the benefits from one of our partners, Quality Cedar Products here.

Eastern White Cedar – a more economical option

Another option that is available is Eastern White Cedar. Typically this is available with tights knots, as opposed to clear. These are often logged from new growth forests in Ontario and Eastern Canada. The new growth forests do not grow as large as their western counterparts, and as such knots are more common. However, this allows for a lower cost compared to red cedar. We have recently launched a line of White Cedar sauna kits, from the Canadian Timber collection by Leisurecraft. You can see the different type of wood on our line of Cabin Saunas and Barrel Saunas. White Cedar has many of the same properties as Red Cedar above. You can read more about Eastern White Cedar on the SaunaTimes blog here.

What is Scandinavian Spruce Thermowood?

Saunas in Finland and the Nordic countries typically use Spruce for sauna construction. The term “Thermowood” refers to the kiln-drying process that is done to cure the wood for use in saunas. Thermowood can refer to Spruce as well as other types of wood, such as pine. You can read more here. The thermal treatment process gives the wood a nice dark colour, and helps provide resistance to moisture, mildew, and insects. Our line of Thermowood barrel saunas are hand-crafted in Estonia by sauna experts. You can see our most popular Scenic View model here. Below I have also included an image from our showroom, and you can click here to see the construction process our team went through. The secrets of Scandinavian Spruce Thermowood have come to North American Markets!

Clear the Steam – A Sauna Blog by Robert Furlong