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Hemlock Versus Cedar Sauna

Katie Tonarely

Saunas are home or garden additions that can help you relax after a long day and add value to the house. Most saunas are made from cedar or hemlock; both will create a sauna that works well. They each, though, have advantages and disadvantages, and most manufacturers recommend using cedar for sauna construction.

Hemlock is the less expensive option, but it does splinter more easily than cedar.


Saunas are rooms that give off dry heat, though in some cases they give off a wet heat. They are meant to cause relaxation and sweating, which some people claim has health and detoxification benefits. Saunas usually have benches in them, and the wood you use can help with guests' comfort.


Cedar is more common in sauna construction than hemlock. It is pliable and strong, and, more than likely, it will last longer than hemlock. Cedar is smooth, so it will make sitting on a sauna’s bench more comfortable. It is pleasant to look at, and it is easier to paint if you would like. Cedar will not warp, no matter what it is like outside. Cedar will also hold in heat well, which is ideal for a sauna setting. Cedar has microbial properties, which can help lead to detoxification.

Hemlock, on the other hand, is an adequate insulator as well. It is nontoxic and odorless, which appeals to some customers. Hemlock is a stronger wood than cedar, and it resists decay.


Cedar is not as strong as hemlock, and it is also usually more expensive. Hemlock, on the other hand, is known for splintering. This can make sitting on a sauna’s bench uncomfortable. Because it is so hard and has straight wood grains, it might bow or warp in extreme weather conditions; a sauna will go from hot to cool often, and this could cause problems with the hemlock. The sunlight can also warp hemlock. While it is good for a stable or shed, a building like a sauna that changes temperatures frequently might not hold its shape if it is made from hemlock. Hemlock is thick, and it is hard to decorate or paint over. If you do choose to paint over the hemlock, it will take several coats, as hemlock does not take paint evenly.


Hemlock will likely be cheaper than cedar. It will depend, though, on what is most abundant in your area. Also, if you use hemlock, you could have other charges, such as plywood or other woods, to cover up the benches in an attempt to prevent users from getting splinters.