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 Building A 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Basswood is a very forgiving timber making it great 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.