“Sauna” is an ancient Finnish word that means “bathhouse.” Sauna culture, a traditional bathing practice was originally practiced in Finland over 2000 years ago.

In the culture, people are continually exposed to heat which increases the rate of metabolism and hence encourages calorie burning. This produces a sense of cleansing their bodies and minds as well as a feeling of relaxation.

The warm environment warms and de-stresses the body and is believed to be effective in improving blood circulation and boosting metabolism.

The tradition has been around for centuries and is growing in popularity with every passing year with private saunas becoming very popular in the United States.

When you are starting your sauna building project, there are so many types of woods you can choose from. However, the important thing is to choose a quality wood that can withstand harsh environments and protect your sauna from long-term damage.

7 Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Wood For Sauna

Picking the best wood for your sauna is essential if you want it to last for years, not just months. To ensure that happens, you’ll want to take some time in considering all factors involved in selecting the best material for your sauna.

Below is a list of factors to consider when trying to decide. These will decide whether or not your sauna will survive the heat over many years:

1. The Type of Sauna

Saunas range from traditional saunas to dry saunas and infrared saunas. They all use a different heating method, so you should make sure to choose your wood accordingly.

2. Durability

This is something that you want to take into account. Saunas are usually made of sturdy wood, but you should still be careful to get the most out of your investment.

You must find wood that will last in good condition while being able to provide heat over many years. Choosing the wrong wood type that cannot withstand wear, pressure, or damage, may mean you are risking damage to your sauna’s structure.

Be sure to choose a material that has high density and doesn’t warp easily. Consider both water resistance and thermal conductivity when choosing wood for your sauna.

3. Moisture Resistance

Moisture is the enemy of most wooden items including saunas. The humid environment inside a sauna causes the wood to swell and warp.

Any wood that is susceptible to moisture damage will cause splinters, cracks, and bigger problems down the road.

The goal is to construct a sauna that can stand up against the humidity of its environment. If the wood you choose isn’t moisture resistant, then it won’t live up to expectations and may cost you extra money in repairs.

4. Temperature Resistance

Wood is the main component of saunas. To ensure that it can handle temperatures up to 90 degrees for a good length of time, it should be tested for its heat resistance.

Choosing a type of wood for your sauna that does not conduct much heat and also remains comfortable to the touch can be critical for your finished product.

You want to avoid hardwoods for benches as they are more susceptible to overheating when exposed to high temperatures for an extended time. This ensures that even in high temperatures your wood does not become dangerously hot.

5. Cost

When building a sauna, the cost of the wood should not be overlooked as the wood price is essential to the overall cost of your project. Some types of wood are on the high side while others are relatively lower. 

If you are on a tight budget, then you’ll have to find cheap wood with good quality. One common mistake is buying cheap sauna wood based on price alone as this might result in disappointment due to poor-quality construction materials. 

6. Aroma

Aromatherapy has long been used in sauna bathing as it is believed that essential oils promote a state of general well-being.

Saunas are generally built with spruce and pine as they have a strong and distinctive fragrance, which makes them great options for sauna construction.

Aromas from wood types like pine are very distinctive and provide a unique experience that can be paired with essential oils as well to emit a more pleasing scent.

7. Maintenance Requirements

Maintenance requirements vary from wood to wood. Some wood types are difficult to maintain while others require simple cleaning once in a while.

In the case of saunas, which are exposed to temperature variations, it is necessary to know what maintenance procedures you have to go through.

Each of these factors plays an important role in making or breaking your construction project; from maintenance and durability to cost.

5 Best Wood For Sauna Construction

Woods are used for many different purposes, from flooring to benches, and are one of the most important factors in determining the quality of your sauna. 

Choosing a top wood for sauna construction can be a difficult task. You will have to evaluate, consider, and compare the pros and cons of each possible material as different types of wood have different characteristics and disadvantages.

The five best kinds of wood for saunas are cedar, eucalyptus, hemlock, spruce, and pine.

1. Cedar Wood

cedar- best wood for sauna

Cedar wood is a great option for sauna construction and has been used for years to create the perfect sauna.

This kind of wood has many characteristics that make it an excellent choice for building a sauna. It is a very popular choice because it offers great insulation qualities and smells nice when heated.

Cedar wood also has natural insect-repellent properties that help keep bugs out of your property. 

Red cedar wood is preferred by lots of sauna experts.


  • Cedar is durable. It has natural insect-repellent properties, meaning that it will not attract bugs and other pests. It is resistant to rot and moisture, so it will not decay over time. The wood can last for years without needing to be replaced.
  • Cedar wood is strong and hard. It is considered the softwood with the hardest Janka rating with a rating of 900. Its durability and strength make it perfect for sauna construction.
  • It would not warp or shrink over time. And because cedar doesn’t warp or shrink like other types of wood, it provides a solid foundation for your sauna.
  • Cedar also provides insulation, which helps keep the temperature stable. Its insulation properties help maintain the temperature of the room.
  • Cedar wood is lightweight.


The top benefit of cedar is its durability as it does not rot or degrade and will retain its appearance over many years.

It also makes for a cooler surface to sit on during sauna sessions. This is because the wood has a lower density than better-known woods typically used for construction; making it a good insulator. 

Cedarwood has a natural aromatic scent that fills the room and makes it feel warm and inviting.

In addition to that, you won’t have to worry about termites or other pests invading your sauna.


Cedarwood has a lot of advantages for sauna construction, but there are some disadvantages as well. For example, cedarwood is more expensive than other sauna wood types.

Another disadvantage is that exposure to cedar wood has been known to cause allergic reactions to the nose, throat, and eyes. This can cause health problems like asthma if inhaled in large quantities.

Finally, cedarwood needs high maintenance.

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus sauna

Eucalyptus is of the Myrtle family with over 700 species native to Tasmania and Australia. It is also grown in Brazil, Argentina, India, Portugal, South Africa, and the United States.

The tree can grow up to 180 feet tall and has a diameter of 4 to 7 feet. It has a wide variety of uses and the leaves are used for medicinal purposes.

Eucalyptus wood is a very rare wood choice for sauna construction. 


  • Eucalyptus wood is strong and keeps its shape when dried. It is moderately durable and can be prone to damage if in contact with a moist or damp environment.
  • The heartwood of eucalyptus wood varies from reddish to brown hues and adds to the aesthetic appeal of your sauna.
  • Eucalyptus wood is an excellent choice for a beginner as it is easy to work with.
  • The trees are sustainable because they are fast-growing. 


There are many benefits to using eucalyptus wood in the construction of your sauna.

Wood from the eucalyptus tree is often used in making saunas due to its natural oil which encourages relaxation and healing. Eucalyptus oil is renowned for its many health benefits. It gives a relaxing scent that also cleanses your airways and improves your energy levels. The oil works to create a cleaner, more hygienic environment.

Its distinct scent only serves to make your guests appreciate the experience of professional sauna time all the more.

Furthermore, eucalyptus is great for removing mental fatigue and helping against stress, leaving you feeling rejuvenated.


Eucalyptus wood has some disadvantages: it doesn’t hold up well against pests or insects. It also tends to crack as a result of temperature changes and needs regular maintenance to keep it in good condition.

Eucalyptus wood typically fades with time.

In addition, people with eucalyptus allergies may experience contact dermatitis and suffer from respiratory issues.

3. Canadian Hemlock

Canadian Hemlock Sauna

Canadian hemlock wood is a softwood also known as the eastern hemlock. It is a type of coniferous tree that is native to eastern North America. This type of tree can grow up to 100 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 4 feet.

Hemlock wood has been used in many different ways throughout history, including making furniture, flooring, and ceilings.


  • Canadian Hemlock has an attractive appearance that will add to the aesthetic of your sauna room’s design elements.
  • It will provide excellent thermal insulation properties which help maintain heat levels within the sauna room more efficiently than other types of wood used for building saunas. 
  • Because of its water resistance and stability, hemlock wood is a great choice for paneling material in a sauna.
  • Hemlock wood is low in decay resistance and prone to insect attacks because it lacks the natural defenses of other trees.


Canadian hemlock wood has a nice white color, which makes it stand out among other types of wood. Its color makes your sauna aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The wood also provides a comfortable structure for people to receive the rays of infrared light.

Hemlock is a great material for sauna construction because it has a high heat capacity and low thermal conductivity. This makes it a good insulator for saunas.

The hemlock wood provides a mild pleasant aroma when heated in a sauna. Moreover, it is one of the low-priced types of wood available and is majorly used for infrared saunas. Cedar is much more expensive, lumber-wise.


Hemlock is easy to deteriorate and gets eaten by insects. It does not have a very good decay resistance property. It is also prone to scratches and dents.

There is a species called poisonous hemlock that is extremely toxic to humans.

4. Spruce

Spruce wood sauna bath

Spruce wood has been used in the construction of saunas for many years. It is a Nordic traditional sauna material. Spruce is often used in the construction industry and is found in Northern, Eastern, and Central Europe.

The wood is used in cheap sauna construction. It is a popular choice because it grows quickly and releases an aroma that helps to relieve stress and tension while also providing an excellent environment for relaxation. 


  • It also has a low thermal conductivity, making it an ideal choice for saunas. While spruce does not offer much structural support, it is an excellent insulator. It doesn’t transfer heat and is good for saunas because it won’t get hot.
  • Spruce is one of the cheapest materials for saunas because it is widely available.
  • It has a cream white to yellow color. But exposure to light can darken it to a brownish-yellow shade.


It offers many benefits for saunas, as its fine-pored structure helps with airflow and insulation.

Spruce wood will emit a refreshing subtle scent, as you’d expect to find in a sauna with the ability to produce an ambiance of calmness and serenity.


The wood is not very hard and has poor density. Its Janka hardness rating is 510 which is lower than other wood types. 

The material is not very durable and over time can warp or split. It is also susceptible to damage by various bugs. In addition to that, spruce has no resistance against moisture, which can lead to decay.

If it is not thermally treated, sap could seep from it.

5. Pine

Pine wood Sauna

Pine or spruce are not usually the first wood that comes to mind when choosing the perfect material for a sauna as they are not high-quality materials. Some parts of your sauna can be constructed using pinewood to minimize cost.

The truth is, they are both perfectly acceptable options for their cheap price. So if you have limited funds, why not?

Pinewood is better for constructing parts that don’t need a lot of touching.


  • Pinewood has antibacterial properties which help to keep the air inside of the sauna clean and fresh.
  • It is a sustainable, renewable resource that can be harvested and used without harming the environment. 
  • Pine wood is also less expensive than other woods, making it an affordable option for sauna construction. Pine is a popular choice when it comes to cost-effective materials commonly used for budget-friendly saunas.
  • It is also well-known for its strong and unique scent.


When talking about the benefits of pine timber, it is difficult to ignore its natural beauty. Pine is a really beautiful timber that is perfect for people who want to add something visually pleasing to their construction. All you’ll need to do is sand the wood lightly and it will look amazing.

Because of how inexpensive the material is, a lot of people use it in framing.

Finally, to increase longevity, the wood can be treated to resist rotting.


Pinewood may get too hot and burn you so it may not be very comfortable to use for long periods.

Additionally, highly resinous pinewood can often result in resin and sap emissions which are unappealing, which is why people may want to consider using thermally treated wood. Pinewood is typically more subject to warping or bending with time except it gets thermally treated.

How To Clean & Maintain Your Sauna?

The best way to keep your sauna wood looking great is by properly cleaning and maintaining it. Below are some tips on how to do it correctly.

1. One of the most common mistakes that people make is varnishing or painting their sauna. You do not have to varnish or paint your sauna to keep it looking pristine as doing this greatly hinders the wood from breathing.

2. Occasionally mop the floor with a sauna cleaning solution to help remove any dirt or grime that has gathered on the floor, which can be harmful to those who use the sauna.

3. Vacuuming is a great way to clean up your sauna floor every month as it cleans up any dirt or debris that builds up over time. Handheld vacuum cleaners can be used to clean dirt or debris from hard-to-reach areas. This ensures that there are no particles left behind.

4. When entering a sauna, it is vital to rinse your feet so that the dirt on your feet does not get into the sauna. This will help to maintain the cleanliness of the place and also prevent any bacteria from getting into the room.

5. After each session, use a hand brush to scrub the walls, floors, and benches.

6. Don’t use hard water in your sauna. When the water is hard, the calcium salts and magnesium in it will accumulate and leave lime buildup. These deposits are usually difficult to clean and can cause several issues.

7. You’ve just finished your session and all you can think about is getting out of the sauna. Don’t rush out just yet. Make sure to get rid of any excess moisture that may still be on the benches, the floor, or any other surface. Dry off the benches and open the doors to help air out the sauna.


All five are good choices for sauna construction and offer their benefits and drawbacks. Be sure to look over each one carefully before making any final decisions.

Reading through the article, you’ll find that cedar is an excellent choice for sauna building because it is more water-resistant, durable, and doesn’t burn. Hence, cedar wood is recommended. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If your goal is to find a cheap sauna, building them yourself can be a viable option. A custom sauna can run anywhere from $2500 to over $10,000 depending on the size, wood type, and type of sauna.

For sauna construction, it’s important to have quality materials around. For example, the floor, walls, backrests, and benches are typically made out of wood.

Other materials include finish nails, roof shingles, pro-vented soffit, wire, etc.

Saunas are great for relaxation and rejuvenation, but they can also be quite hard on wood finishes. Wood in a sauna is exposed to high heat, moisture, and condensation. These factors can cause the wood to warp, swell, crack or peel.

A good way to protect your wood from these harmful effects is by applying a high-quality specific sauna-approved sealant that has been designed specifically for this purpose. 

Another way to seal the wood in your sauna is by using paraffin oil.

Cedar is the most standard and premium choice for sauna benches, mostly because they are cool to the touch and provide unmatched quality.

Bacteria may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sauna, but they can grow in one.

The conditions in a sauna are ideal for bacteria growth because they need moist and warm environments to thrive. 

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