What Type of Wood Should be Used to Make a Sauna?

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There are several factors that go into the overall design of a sauna, including the critical step of choosing the right wood. Saunas are designed for relaxation. They are a warm, soothing sanctuary for sweating and detoxing. That said, it's essential to ensure premium comfort by making sure problems don't arise, especially as a result of faulty design. A sauna that is too hot, cool or emitting fumes is no fun for anyone. Additionally, there are several things to consider when choosing the right wood, including the material. While softwood is the best option, affordability and whether the wood contains sap, knots, stains or paint are all critical considerations when selecting materials.


What Type of Wood Should be Used to Make a Sauna?
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Softwood 101

First and foremost, when constructing a sauna, choose a softwood as it will better absorb heat released from steam. Additionally, softwood will not be too hot to the touch. Hardwoods, on the other hand, heat up quickly. Ideal varieties of softwoods are spruce, pine and cedar.


Spruce is a light wood, mostly found in Nordic regions, such as Finland. It's both practical and cost effective. Pine is similar to spruce, except that it has larger knots which fall out when dry. Finally, cedar wood is rich in color, resilient to rotting and emits a pleasant odor when heated. That said, not all are in favor of using cedar wood to build a sauna. Energy Mizers, Inc. claims that cedar creates mold, looks dirty after a short period of time and can spur breathing problems. For these reasons, spruce and pine may be your best options.

Scrap Sap

Try to avoid woods that contain sap. These woods can release unsafe fumes and extremely hot liquid that can burn you. To avoid sap and seepage, choose quality pine, cedar or spruce.


Not Knotty

The knottiness of the wood should be taken into account when constructing a sauna. Knotty wood is usually more dense and not appropriate for use in sauna construction, and it often contains sap.

Steer Clear of Stain and Paint

Probably the most important consideration when selecting wood for your sauna is to make sure it is not stained or painted. Both stains and paints can release harmful toxins when the sauna is in use. Leave your wood completely and thoroughly natural.


Consider Cost

Make sure to find a variety of wood that combines quality with low cost. Spruce is a wonderful option. Cedar, on the other hand, can be quite costly.

With wood that's soft, affordable, free from paint or stain, knots and sap, you can enjoy your long-lasting, safe sauna without stress or concern.



Caroline is a writer from NYC. Her writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Elle.com, New York Magazine, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. She produces content on women's health/wellness, design/DIY and business for companies such as Meredith Corporation, Leaf Group and the business school, Hautes Études Commercials Paris. She's a former Production Associate and blogger at Show of Force, the production company behind Nicholas Kristof's and Sheryl WuDunn's, Half the Sky.