What kind of wood do you use to build a sauna?

Sauna lumber: What kind of wood is used for sauna?

Read all about the characteristics and differences of wood used in DIY sauna construction

sauna lumber

The most important material when building a sauna is wood, not any wood you might think. When building a sauna, you should only use selected high-quality wood, the so-called sauna wood. The wood should have few knots, should not smell of resin, and the wood should not be chipped. Spruce (also called finish white pine) is often used in cheap sauna rooms and kits. This kind of wood is very cheap and strong, with small knots, giving off a pleasant smell in the sauna. Spruce is often used on the walls and ceiling of sauna rooms. Another type of wood commonly used in the construction of saunas is the Canadian hemlock, which is one of the hardest hardwood species in the world and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

The third type of wood used for self-built saunas is Abachi. A fast-growing African tree species, so it cannot be classified as an endangered wood. Abachi wood is very light, resin-free, very soft, and almost no knots at all. In addition, Abachi wood has a very poor heat absorption capacity. Therefore, the benches and backrests of sauna rooms often use Abachi wood. Red cedar wood is a prevalent timber for making the interior of a sauna. This timber has premium features such as unquestionable durability, stability, resistance to decomposition, thermal and insulating properties, among others. If you like the smell of cedar wood, this will give off a pleasant smell of cedar wood in the sauna.

Abachi wood and its application in the construction of sauna rooms

The word “Abachi” is mainly used in German-speaking countries and comes from the Nigerian name “Obeche”.

Abachi wood

This describes a special wood from Africa. Depending on the country of origin, the processing technology of round logs also differs significantly. These are particularly eye-catching in terms of price and quality. The abachi tree is considered to be the most widely distributed tree in all of Africa. For a long time, this kind of wood has been very important in many countries because it has good properties and can be used in many different fields. The abachi tree is very large, with its roots several meters high.

Characteristics of Abachi wood

The density of tree trunks may vary from location to location. Due to its light weight and low hardness, almost all tools can easily process abachi trees. After a short cooking process, high-quality finishes can be produced. Technical and natural drying is particularly fast. Fresh abachi wood usually smells very unpleasant, but this smell will disappear during the drying process. Abachi can be processed and cleaned by almost any method. In addition, it is difficult to heat up, which is why it is often used as a bench in a sauna room. But good insulation properties also make it a very special kind of wood. Due to the low hardness, the close fit of nails and screws is affected. Abachi is a particularly durable wood because its shrinkage value has proven to be very favorable. Moist wood is always susceptible to fungus attack. The closed surface requires filler because it has a particularly low density. Abachi is often used indoors. As solid wood, it is used in strips, door trims, intermediate layers, models, body structures, and shoemaking and packaging. However, it is mainly found in sauna rooms.

Why Abachi wood is particularly suitable for building saunas?

Everyone who starts planning a sauna must decide on the appropriate type of wood. Not all woods are the same, and not every wood is suitable for sauna room construction. In addition to the wood of Spruce, which is particularly cheap and has a typical sauna smell, Canadian Red Cedar, hemlock and finally abachi wood are particularly suitable. Canadian Red Cedar is particularly suitable because of its high stability. Hemlock has a very natural pattern, so the overall appearance looks very familiar. Abachi wood has some special functions, so it’s suitable for any saunas.

The African tree species grows extremely fast, which means that it cannot be classified as an endangered wood. It is still very bright, resin-free, and almost completely unknotted. Abachi wood has a particularly poor heat absorption property, so it is very suitable for use as a bench and backrest in a sauna room. Abachi is a species of Malvaceae, a tropical wood, but it should not be confused with tropical wood from Asia. Abachi can be obtained sustainably. Since it has almost no debris, it is more suitable for use in the seating area than any other type of wood.

Hemlock, used in sauna construction

Hemlock sauna wood comes from North America, where it is known by the full name of “Pacific Coast Hemlock”.

Hemlock board

This wood originally came from the coniferous pine wood related to the native fir. The characteristics of wood are largely consistent, so they can be used together.

The nature and important data of hemlock

The diameter of a hemlock tree can exceed 2 meters. The knotless length can reach up to 30 meters. The sapwood is about 2 cm wide and is gray to yellowish gray. The internal wood is only slightly deep, so it is almost impossible to distinguish them. Planed wood has a matt finish and can even shine on all surfaces.

Because it is cork, there are no pores. Wood rays can only be seen as thin mirrors on radial surfaces because they are very small. The light brown latewood has a clear boundary on one side, making the annual rings particularly easy to identify on the cross section. In most cases, it is narrower than the early wood in the same growing area. Depending on the cutting direction, the longitudinal section will produce brown-yellow streaks or patches. Due to the relatively high age of the trees, the wood usually has a fine-grained structure. Very fine grained wood is getting lighter and lighter. The texture is wavy in some places, but mostly straight. A slightly shifted latewood structure may appear during longitudinal cutting. The overall traits of Hemlock are light color, straight lines and fine lines.

In most cases, even if the initial moisture content is particularly high, it can be dried without any problems. Hemlock is classified as a medium-weight wood. Cutting with any tools is a piece of cake. However, if you want to obtain a smooth planed surface, you must use sharp tools. Hemlock is particularly good for nailing, screwing and gluing. Hemlock does not contain resin. It smells a bit unpleasant when fresh, but the smell disappears after drying. Hemlock is usually a good paint carrier and can be heated to any colors.

Uses of hemlock

Hemlock is often used, especially for indoor work. The most important thing is to be clear but not overemphasized about the wooden structure. This type of wood has proven its value, especially for ceilings, walls and sound insulation coatings. Interior doors and built-in furniture are also usually made of hemlock. Due to the lack of resin, there are special uses in the sauna area.

Why is hemlock a particularly good wood for sauna areas?

Hemlock is particularly suitable for building saunas, so it is often used. The main reason for this is the beauty and lightness of wood. A pleasant light color, and a smooth texture convey a particularly beautiful mood, and hemlock is definitely not resin. In addition, it is extremely durable and easy to process. The main advantage is the stable structure. Hemlock is definitely suitable for wet saunas. However, quality also has its price, so you have to dig deeper in your pocket to buy this beautiful, high-quality wood. Commercial saunas absolutely must use this wood. It gives the sauna a particularly long service life. The light-colored appearance of this wood ensures a particularly chic and modern appearance. Hemlock sauna can be integrated into any wellness area, because the high-quality appearance will ensure even more luxury.

The sauna wall is made of spruce

The strong and homogeneous raw material wood shows many differences in its type. Spruce grows naturally on nutrient-rich and moist soil.

Spruce wall board

It usually has a uniform and strong structure, and has particularly tight annual rings. Due to its weight and density, spruce can be easily processed with a planer. It is straight-grained and strong, but moderately soft.

Application fields of spruce

Due to the uniform appearance, Nordic spruce is suitable for decorative solutions. Therefore, it is particularly often used for indoor work, especially for sauna building. The appearance of narrow annual rings and the consistently harmonious light color make this wood very special. Spruce is mainly used indoors, as an exterior wall and architectural solution. Facts have proved that spruce is particularly useful in end-use applications that require high aesthetics, strength and tool precision. From heartwood to sapwood, spruce is very light in color. Therefore, it also looks very modern and serves as a style element for every apartment.

Wood is soft and durable, which is why it is easy to process. Each type of profile can be handled very easily and accurately. Very little energy is consumed during processing, because spruce is easy to dry.

Why spruce is particularly suitable for building a sauna?

Spruce is particularly suitable for the construction of sauna rooms, because the wood is strong enough, has a fine-pored structure, and has many small sections to create a particularly pleasant atmosphere. The wood of spruce is considered particularly cheap. It will give off the typical sauna scent, in order to convey the right feeling, it must not be missed. This type of wood is suitable for ceiling and wall elements and interior cladding.

The advantages and disadvantages of spruce

The main advantages of this wood are its price, versatility and the fact that it grows particularly fast. But they also have disadvantages. If left untreated, it cannot be weatherproof. Spruce wood is not the most resistant to fungus and insect attack.​​

What Makes Canadian Red Cedar Perfect for Sauna Use?


The timber is a very durable and stable material that does not contain numerous knots.

Canadian Red Cedar (light color)

The lightweight features allow for seamless timber cladding while allowing architects to modify the timber easily.

Also, the wood is perfect for external use as it is moisture resistant and does not decompose. It also contains water-soluble elements which act as preservatives; thus, the material will retain its structural integrity for many years.

Aesthetically Appealing

The timber is a stunning building material to incorporate into your sauna. It contains deep hues, perfectly textured timber grains, and unique heartwood. The wood attenuates with your existing décor and brings out distinctive beauty and tenderness to your sauna space. The red cedar is also resin-free, meaning it can effectively rhyme different finishes in your room.

Does not Decay

The Canadian Red Cedar is famous for its decay-resistance properties. It contains extractives known as the thujaplicins and water-soluble phenolics, making this timber very immune to decomposition. It is also minimally susceptible to high levels of moisture, fungi growth, and insect damage. Thus cedar will effectively withstand harsh weather elements such as hail, snow, or high moisture levels.


The Canadian Red Cedar is the sustainable building material to incorporate in the next sauna building project. Its superiority is unquestionable and will not generate any harmful gases in your space. Cedar is a biodegradable and renewable material thus has zero effects on the environment.

Thermal and Insulating Properties

The Red Cedar has a low density and coarse texture properties. Typically, it is a superior insulator material available in the market. Thus your space will be warm in winter and cool in hot summers.

Superior Acoustic Materials

The timber can be crafted with the correct engineering processes to be compliant with various acoustic ratings. The wood has an open cellular structure that will help absorb and dissipate all sound frequencies. The deflection properties of the wood can be made superior with thicker cladding. Thus this material is effective for the sauna rooms, auditoriums, and music rooms.

Key Takeaway

The Red Cedar is a unique timber species due to its limited flame spread properties. Thus this material is the best to add to your building as it effectively meets various building codes. Therefore, consider adding this versatile timber due to its dynamic properties and premium features in your next project. Its structural integrity, longevity, and stability are unquestionable. In comparison to other building materials, this material is eco-friendly with superior thermal and insulating properties.