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Cedar vs Hemlock for Saunas

Building a sauna can be a fun and rewarding project. After constructing the sauna, you will be able to enjoy it for years to come. Therefore, it is important when you decide to undertake a project like this to carefully consider what wood you’ll be building your sauna from.

Two choices are cedar and hemlock. There are a few reasons why cedar is a better choice than hemlock for building a sauna.

One reason is that hemlock is prone to splinter. In the construction of a sauna, it’s important to use wood that is both pliable and strong. Cedar is reflective of both of these traits and works very well in all aspects of the sauna. Hemlock is better suited for framing use within a building such as a home or a barn.

Hemlock is a very straight grained wood which is one of the reasons that it does splinter and in some cases snap. This wouldn’t be a wise choice for not only the construction of the sauna itself, but also the benches of the sauna. The benches need to be comfortable and smooth and with cedar they are.

Cedar is such a beautiful wood to look at. Hemlock isn’t nearly as attractive. While cedar can be left in its natural state and it remains attractive for years, hemlock needs to be treated. It’s very difficult to paint hemlock. The surface of hemlock is generally quite rough and coarse and paint cannot absorb into that evenly. The result is a spotted appearance and with even several coats of paint you may not achieve the look you desire.

You wouldn’t want to build an outdoor sauna only to discover that within months the wood had bowed. This is exactly what can happen when hemlock is used for a sauna. Hemlock bows and curves horribly when it’s subjected to sunlight. Cedar retains its shape for years even if its being exposed to all of Mother Nature’s changing seasons. Once you build your sauna from cedar, you’ll notice that it does not warp or curve at all regardless of the outside elements.


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