Why Are Saunas Made of Cedar?

Cedar is one of the top building materials used in saunas because of its ability to withstand extremely wet conditions, it’s natural mold resistance, ability to withstand insect infestation due to it’s odor, and longevity. On top of it’s structural building benefits, Cedar emits a pleasant odor that is desired by sauna builders and users alike. Despite Cedar being one of natures best materials for use in a sauna, most modern saunas do not use cedar in their construction. However, when it comes to outdoor saunas and saunas heated by wood fire, Cedar remains the top choice for sauna builders.

Why Cedar is a Top Choice For Wood Used in Sauna Building

Choosing the right type of wood when building a sauna is a critical part of the sauna buying process. Choose the right type of wood and you’ll thank yourself later. Opt for something cheaper and you might look back and wonder. Cedar wood, specifically Western Red Cedar, is one of the most popular wood types used when constructing a sauna. Despite the fact that many want to use cedar, when buying a sauna online, it’s not often that the unit you’ll get is made of Cedar. Why is that?

Well, Cedar happens to be one of the most expensive types of wood a person can buy. Not always, but when compared to Canadien Hemlock or Nordic White Spruce, two other popular types of sauna wood, it pales in price. In fact, 97% of saunas worldwide are built of something other than Cedar.

Still, it’s one of the most common questions we get from folks looking to install a sauna in their home.

Why are saunas made of cedar? 

The answer to that is simple, since it was first discovered, the wood from cedar trees has proven to be the best wood for saunas because of it’s natural ability to withstand moisture. Cedar is also one of the top choices of wood types used in Sauna because of the aroma it gives off and it’s soft, red appearance.

On top of it’s superior ability to withstand heat and moisture, cedar also smells the best. Well, fresh cut pine may give it a run for it’s money.

Making The Case For Cedar Wood In Sauna Construction

Aside from the fact that it’s wood is naturally built to withstand moisture, lasting longer than any other type of wood inside a high heat / humidity room like a sauna, cedar wood smells great. While many folks like to use oils for smell in a sauna, I, like many others enjoy the natural smell of cedar wood.

Personally, I’ve heard quite a few horror stories of folks who’ve built saunas on their own, using a wood other than cedar. What ends up happening is the wood cracks with the constant expansion and contraction inside the actual sauna room.

Should I use cedar wood throughout my entire sauna? 

Having owned saunas with Cedar wood and comparable types of modern building materials, we highly recommend using cedar wood both inside your sauna room as well as in the changing room area of your sauna. Due to the way Cedar wood absorbs moisture without cracking and it’s natural, pleasant aroma, it’s one of the top choices many builders use to build saunas.

How Does Cedar Wood Prevent Molding in a Sauna?

With modern, traditional steam saunas, extreme amounts of heat and humidity are created with each sauna use. If you build a sauna without using cedar wood inside, you run the risk of cracking, warping, and moisture leakage that can be harmful to other areas of your house.

Whether you’re using an electric sauna heater or a wood stove, Cedar wood has proven to withstand the incredible amounts of humidity produced by saunas that get constant use and large amounts of steam. The most prolific sauna users pour several gallons of water over their sauna stove (yes, you can put water on an electric sauna stove). If you’re one of those users, having a cedar interior on your sauna is a must.

Saving money when building a sauna using cedar wood

There are a couple ways you can save money if you’re building a DIY sauna using cedar wood.

  1. Build your benches using something other than cedar
  2. Consider using multiple wood types for walls and ceiling

Build your benches using something other than cedar

It’s a fact in sauna. Benches will need to be replaced given your sauna is used frequently. Knowing ahead of time that you’ll have to replace your sauna benches, why not build them using something other than cedar? Wood types used in sauna benches are often some type of white wood, Nordic White Spruce or even standard pine.

Consider using multiple wood types for walls and ceiling

It’s common for saunas to be built using two or even three different wood types, especially for those building a sauna themselves. Two wood types often used together are Nordic White Spruce and Cedar. Generally, the walls of a sauna are all built using the same wood type, and if another type of wood is to be used, it will be used on the ceiling for appearance’ sake.