Basswood For Sauna Build

basswood for a sauna build

Basswood is an excellent choice of wood for building a sauna. It is affordable, has a beautiful appearance, is heat resistant, and has a very soft grain giving it a gentle, smooth touch. It is also hypoallergenic – which means it is great for people with sensitive skin.

When choosing a type of wood for building a sauna you will need a timber that doesn’t overheat, stands the test of time, looks great, and is soft to touch. Many hardwoods will overheat in a sauna so these must be avoided.

You’ll also need a wood that will stand the test of time and won’t warp or bend when exposed to sauna temperatures. Basswood can absorb the intense heat of a sauna without suffering any deterioration in shape or strength.

IS BASSWOOD A GOOD CHOICE FOR A SAUNA?

legs in a basswood sauna

Yes, basswood is an excellent choice for building a sauna. It is a suitable wood for both infrared saunas and traditional saunas. Several qualities make basswood an ideal wood for use, see below.

EXCELLENT HEAT DISTRIBUTION

Basswood is a soft hardwood and does not overheat when exposed to the high temperatures of a sauna for prolonged periods. It performs well in heat absorption without becoming too hot to touch. Hardwoods like oak and teak tend to overheat in saunas making them an unsuitable choice.

GREAT FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

For people with sensitive skin, basswood is the best wood for sauna construction. Its hypoallergenic qualities mean it won’t irritate your skin and it has a gentle texture giving it a gentle touch. Basswood for a sauna build is great for people who are sensitive to allergic reactions.

LIGHT COLOR & GENTLE TEXTURE

Basswood lumber has a beautiful light color making it an ideal option for sauna construction. Its vibrant bright color is complemented by the fact that it contains very few grains. It has a very clean and uniform appearance throughout the timber.

FRAGRANCE-FREE

Basswood does not have a fragrance. This makes it the preferred wood choice for many. It does not emit any scent or toxins. The heat of a traditional or infrared sauna can lead to other woods emitting strong fragrances.

AFFORDABLE TIMBER

It is a great choice commercially as it is a more affordable wood compared to the alternatives. Its low cost will help you keep your construction costs down. It is one of the cheapest sauna woods available.  Basswood for a sauna build will save you money.

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BASSWOOD vs. CEDAR

Cedar is also a very popular choice of wood for building saunas. Structurally they are very similar woods. The main difference between the two are fragrance and appearance.

Basswood is fragrance-free while cedar emits a fragrance – especially when heated. Many people prefer the fragrance free sauna while some like the scent of cedar.

They also differ in appearance. Basswood has a light, bright appearance and the color is uniform with very little grain. Cedar has a noticeable light honey color and contains bands of a red like hue.

What Kind of Wood Is Used For Sauna Benches?

Basswood is a good choice of wood for sauna benches. Its ability to absorb heat without becoming too hot to touch makes it a suitable type of wood for sauna benches. Other popular woods used in sauna construction are hemlock, spruce, and pine wood. 

Where does Basswood Come From?

Basswood is a tree from the Malvaceae tree family. The tree is commonly found across North America in southern, south-eastern states of the United States and across many parts of Mexico. There are three commercially available types – Carolina, American, and White basswood. 

What Does It Look Like?

It is a deciduous tree that can reach a height of 37m. It has a grayish-brown bark, reddish-green twigs, and deep large roots. Its leaves are green, asymmetrical, and ovate. It has a life expectancy of 200 years. 

BASSWOOD PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

STRENGTH

The MOR strength of basswood is 8,700 psi and it has a stiffness score of 1.46 million psi. This is in the expected range of a lightweight soft hardwood and makes it suitable for sauna construction. It has good resistance to bending and warping over time.

DENSITY RATING

It has a density rating of approximately 25 pounds per cubic foot. A planed piece of 3/4-inch thick basswood at 7% moisture content will weigh less than 1.5 pounds per board foot.

DRYING

Basswood is a rapidly drying wood and low risk for defects. Shrinkage of 7% is expected during drying. The wood must be properly dried before being used to build a sauna – or it could develop staining.

COLOR & TEXTURE

Basswood has a light and bright creamy color giving it a fresh and vibrant appearance. It has a very fine texture and an indistinct grain. Basswood for a sauna build is a popular choice for its aesthetic appeal.

HANDLING

Basswood is a very forgiving timber.  This makes it easy to work with. It machines very well once it has been properly dried. And it glues well too – just make sure you apply pressure as soon as possible once the glue has been applied – to avoid a starved joint.

 

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10 thoughts to “Basswood For Sauna Build”

  1. The most important thing for an infrared sauna is to choose a hard wood. Hard wood can absorb the infrared sauna heat without getting too hot. That means you can touch it without burning. Softwood is not a good idea for sauna. And very hard woods are not good either.

  2. Yeah it’s a good option. Me and my brother built one using basswood last fall. The results were good and it looks very pretty. Even my missus is happy with it and she’s not a big sauna fan. It works really well with infrared heat source. Thumbs up from me.

  3. If you want scent free timber go basswood. If you want a little bit of a scent coming off it as it heast up i recommened eucalyptus wood. Not just as easy to work with but it has a nice subtle smell to it.

  4. What is it? I NEVER even heard of basswood. Can you get it in the UK? Don’t think they stock it in woodies.

  5. Yep
    It works well for benches
    It is good on the skin and it doesnt get so hot like some other woods
    It is super smooth to touch

  6. You know it’s not always creamy white the color gets deeper when grown in warmer climates. Where I live it can have reddish brown streaks in it and look a little like cedar. It depends on where it grows and the local climate. But yes, it is nice in a sauna. Pleasing to the eye.

  7. I really wanted a cedar sauna, but i found a barely used sunlighten sauna that was basswood and deal was too good to pass up. I miss the cedar smell though. If I got a red cedar backrest and put it on my basswood bench, do you think the red cedar would stain the basswood bench?

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