The Best Wood For A Sauna? Choose Nordic Wood
Due to the high temperature and humidity, it is important that you line the sauna with sufficiently durable wood. From this point of view, Nordic wood types are suitable for sauna floors. They grow more slowly due to the lack of light and heat. Their annual rings are closer together, so the wood does not warp, is more stable and absorbs less moisture.
For sauna benches, on the other hand, you can choose African abachi, which has a low thermal conductivity and, therefore, it will not burn your skin while sitting on it.
Sauna moulding: spruce, aspen, alder or cedar
Nordic spruce, or Finnish spruce in this case, is the most commonly used material for wall mouldings, suitable for Finnish and infrared saunas. We especially recommend it for smaller saunas, which optically enlarge because its light colour makes them look larger.
Spruce is one of the softer, cheaper types of wood and has a characteristic structure with knots and resin pockets, which give the sauna a typical wood smell. But remember that you have to take a lot of care of spruce wood and regularly impregnate it with paraffin oil. In addition, it can leak resin (especially in the first season).
An alternative to standard spruce wood is brushed spruce, in which the texture of the wood stands out even more, lending the sauna a more rustic look.
Aspen is another popular wood for sauna floors. Its light colour resembles spruce, but it is even lighter (even cream-coloured), shinier, and has no knots and resin pockets, so it does not smell so much.
On the other hand, it is harder, lasts longer, and you do not have to take care of it as much. Aspen is especially suitable for modern interiors, in which you want to suppress the typical appearance and colour of the wood slightly.
Many customers line their sauna with alder, which is slightly reddish with only a very fine pattern. You will appreciate the pinkish and smooth boards with a minimum of visible annual rings and completely free of knots for their minimal maintenance requirements.
Alder is also a durable wood that lasts a long time.
Alder is also available in a brushed version, in which the structure of the wood is slightly raised and the knots are visible, so the wood looks more natural.
The most demanding customers choose cedar for sauna cladding. It is a rather soft but rare wood that smells beautiful. Cedar is a bit darker wood for "the daring" because every board has a slightly different colour.
It makes it particularly suitable for more extravagant and luxurious saunas. We especially recommend it for infrared saunas because cedar smells even at low temperatures, at which you could hardly smell spruce, for example.
Spruce, aspen and alder are also available in their thermally modified versions known as ThermoWood. This modification was developed at the Finnish Research Centre VTT in the 1990s. It is based on rapid heating of wood with hot steam so that the material acquires better properties.
Thanks to thermal modification, ThermoWood gets smoked, darker, and closed. It smells beautiful, and you do not have to impregnate it so often. In addition, it
- has better thermal insulating properties,
- is more stable in shape,
- absorbs less moisture,
- spoils less and does not leak resin,
- has worse thermal conductivity, so it does not get hot so much.
We can especially recommend ThermoWood for larger saunas where darker wood is fine. It is also great for the space behind the stove and on the ceiling in Finnish saunas, where, unlike light woods, it does not turn grey from the stove over time (or the greying is not so visible).
Wood for sauna benches: abachi, alder, aspen or pine
From our point of view, the most interesting wood for sauna benches is the African whitewood - abachi. This soft, sparse and very light tree without growth rings with a beautiful hair pattern will please you most with its low thermal conductivity. Even in a heated Finnish sauna, it remains pleasantly "cool", being a few degrees cooler than other types of wood. Thanks to its softness and extra rounded edges, it is also pleasant to sit on. On the other hand, it requires more care.
African whitewood - abachi
Other materials suitable for benches are light aspen or reddish alder. Both types of wood are smooth, without knots, and you can sit comfortably on them. In addition, aspen and pine are also available in the thermally modified variant, which makes the wood even more resistant.
For the biggest connoisseurs, we recommend the bent veneer made of Fuma exotic wood. Its properties are similar to the African abachi, but it is pinkish-coloured, and the individual sheets are bent into ergonomic shapes so that sitting on the bench is as comfortable as possible.