infrared sauna wood defects and inspection checklist

Sauna wood inspection

Wood is the perfect choice for sauna construction since saunas get very hot and need to be designed to let bathers be comfortable. Even at maximum temperatures of upwards of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, wooden benches and wooden walls stay relatively cool to the touch—allowing people to lay on the benches or lean against the walls without getting burned. Other materials (like tile) would be too hot to touch in a sauna environment.

Usually, the seating boards are built from either Abachi or Cedar woods and the walls are most often covered with Nordic White Spruce, Hemlock, or Cedar wood types. Not only do these wooden materials hold heat and moisture, but they are also super easy to keep clean.

Weathering/minor wear and tear

Since saunas are traditionally built of soft woods, the wood can be susceptible to minor dents, scratches, and scuffing. While it won’t impact the integrity of your sauna, it is normal to see wood respond over time in the sauna and experience things like minor cracking due to changes in the moisture or get a little scuffed from use. Here are some quick sauna wood maintenance tips:

Exterior of the room: In most cases blemishes can be concealed by using a small amount of furniture polish, oil, or other furniture treatment.

Interior of the room: The interior blemishes, scratches, or scuffs can be either left alone, sanded, or fixed with a combination of gluing and sanding.

  • What do you clean a sauna with? If you get some dirt or sweat stains developing, use a hand brush with a warm water/mild detergent solution to clean.
  • To get the benches looking like new, you can lightly sand your benches about once per year to lighten them closer to their original condition.
  • If you should happen to have mold develop anywhere (on duckboards, for example), you can clean them with warm water and bleach such as Chlorox or Hi-lex.

Products to avoid: Steer clear of any treatment containing benzene or a high concentration of alcohol.

Important: Do not paint, varnish or stain the interior portions of your sauna. The wood needs to breathe (absorb and slowly release heat and humidity). Also, artificial finishes make the wood surface much hotter, create the possibility of fumes from the wood treatment, and take away some of the “softness” of heat and steam penetrating the wood.

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