Is Western Red Cedar Thuja plicata a good sauna timber?
Western Red Cedar as a Sauna Wood
Despite its abundant use as a sauna wood type, we are often asked the question; “What makes Western Red Cedar so good for sauna cladding and sauna benching?”. The answer is that western red cedar has very low density and in turn low specific heat capacity. This means that when in the hot and humid sauna environment, it remains cool to the touch. The sauna timber also doesn’t expand or contract too significantly, reducing the likelihood of sauna tongue and groove panelling from popping out or sauna bench joints from opening up. The sauna wood is also naturally insecticidal and fungicidal making it a durable choice. This durability is further enhanced with the use of sauna wood treatments that seal the timber, such as paraffin oil, and a regular sauna cleaning regimen.
Western Red Cedar is known for its beautiful aroma which is even more enjoyable in the hot humid environment of a home sauna. An enjoyable scent that makes its way throughout the wellness area and into the rest of the house. The colouration and grain pattern of western red cedar makes it a particularly attractive sauna wood. The grain ranges from a very light blonde brown, to a rich reddish hue and then on to a dark warm brown, often all on one piece of tongue and groove cladding.
Due to its popularity and its longer supply chains coming from Canada, Western Red Cedar is one of the most premium sauna timber options available in the UK. The difference between Canadian Lumber Grading and European profile types means that this wood is available in a smaller array of width options. It is generally profiled thicker on account of its lower density which in turn makes it more fragile. It can also be marked more easily than other sauna timbers but these marks tend to pop back out with steam - either a steamy sauna or a steam iron can help with this!
Cedar is often use as a sauna wood option for the following sauna products:
We recommend Western Red Cedar as a sauna wood type in high end sauna installations where experience, aesthetic and design are of paramount importance. Western Red Cedar doesn’t show up dirt particularly easily but we still recommend keeping on top of cleaning your sauna to improve longevity.
Sauna Timber Grading: Finnmark only sells Western Red Cedar that meets Canadian grading standard 2 clear and better, this is significantly higher quality than most off the shelf Western Red Cedar which is typically the lower grade 4 Cedar.
Sauna Wood Provenance: Finnmark Sauna’s Western Red Cedar is all sourced from Western Canada, sustainably forested from British Columbia and North West Territories.
Recommended wastage allowance: Due to its fragility we recommend a higher wastage allowance than most sauna timbers of at least 20%. This will help account for the likely of damage whilst handling, machining and installing the tongue and groove cladding and sauna bench boards.
Western Red Cedar sauna wood is available in the following types of sauna timber profile and dimensions:
STP Profile Tongue and Groove Cladding: 17mm thick by 90mm and 140mm wide
Kallio Profile Tongue and Groove Cladding: 17mm thick by 90mm and 140mm wide.
SHP Bench Boards: 26mm thick by 90mm and 140mm wide
Have a look at all the different western red cedar sauna products we have on offer: