KNOWING YOUR SAUNA TIMBER

A great sauna with good wood allows you to have your daily relaxation after a day at work, weekend socializing with friends, and therapeutic relief from those aches and pains.

Having a sauna, it’s important to do it right from the start – a quality product, with quality equipment and materials, and a quality installation. Anything short could diminish the use.

A sauna is generally built with timber, and having knowledge of your timber, helps you to decide how your sauna with turn out to be.

Wood is the great material for sauna construction

There are several factors that go into the overall design of a sauna. The use of wood is both a tradition and practical consideration in constructing a sauna.

Firstly, they are good heat insulators; if you touch a wooden surface, the heat doesn’t sting as severely as a stone wall.

Wood also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, which make them more hygienic and easier to maintain. Other materials would run the risk of mould. Furthermore, the heat and moisture in a sauna would damage plaster or drywall, which lack the resilience and durability of wood.

It is essential to ensure premium comfort when choosing the right wood, making sure problems don’t arise, especially as a result of faulty design. There are several things to consider when choosing the right wood; affordability, sap, knots, tone are considerations when selecting the wood.

Selection of timber for sauna design

Design, Durability and Cost are the 3 basic requirements when selecting the timber for your sauna room.  Herein, we look at the various common timber that had been use by many sauna professionals in the constructing of sauna cabin.

Generally, softwood is used for the construction of sauna. Softwood is wood from gymnosperm trees such as conifers, as well as Amborella. The term is opposed to hardwood, which is the wood from angiosperm trees (Wikipedia).

But there is exception of hardwood being used for sauna, like Alder and Aspen, which are classified as hardwood, but due to its lower in density, its “softness” is great for sauna construction.

Softwood, or some soft-hardwood, will better absorb heat released from steam and Its not too hot to touch.

Cedar

Cedar is one of the best softwood for sauna construction, although not common in Singapore due to it higher cost. It has high flexibility and high resistance to cracking and decay. The phenols in Cedar provide anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and gives a strong aroma scent.

Aspen

Sometimes known as “quaking” or “trembling” aspen, is a traditional sauna timber that has a light even colour surface and it is odourless.  It is straight-grained and has a fine, uniform texture, which provide a long lasting and elegant in appearance. Due to its low heat conductivity, its temperature remains pleasant on the skin during the sauna. Aspen, as a soft-hardwood, has low bending strength and stiffness, and does not conduct heat or splinter, providing a top choice for sauna construction.

Alder

Alder has a reddish shade and evenly textured with a subdued grain pattern, which provides a unique aesthetic. Its moderate weight and softness, makes it easy to work with.  Alder has good rot resistance after drying and do not have any distinctive odour.

Pine

Pine is a very common timber use for sauna construction in Singapore. It is light yellow in colour and emits a light fragrance. Low quality pine is not knot-free and has high sap content. When exposed to high temperatures, the sap oozed out, which can cause burns and fumes.  Low quality pine tends to bend and warp more and is prone to decay. Choose only premium quality pine with good thickness and almost knot-free to avoid any design error.

Thermo-Aspen / Thermo-Alder

ThermoWood, thermally modified wood, have much higher durability and dimensional stability compared to regular wood. The biological resistance against some micro-organisms and insects is improved with high reduction in shrinking and swelling. ThermoWood also provide a darker surface, which can be combine with regular wood, or by itself, to create unique sauna design.

In the nut-shell

Choosing the right timber is a critical process when designing a sauna. Whether you are a proud home owner of a sauna, or spa operator providing sauna heat treatment, quality selected timber with good design (heater sizing and location, bench and ventilation) provide a premium overall comfort to sauna bather.

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