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Thread: Help on finishing a sauna

  1. #1
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    Default Help on finishing a sauna

    I'm building a sauna and am getting close to interior finish. I'm thinking about using Cottonwood or Spruce (6" T&G). I am thinking the Cottonwood would be really nice looking. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. I know most use cedar, but I would like to use a local wood.

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    not really any pitch left in dry cottonwood spruce might have some left and it could get hot and run, most saunas in finland are made of quaking aspen as that is the most abundant tree there and is a very simalar tree to a cottonwood

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    Default Ditto what Mattu said

    Avoid pitchy wood. Very uncomfortable to sit or lean on hot pitch, plus it will continue to drip every time you heat up your steam bath.
    Also, the softer the wood, the cooler it will be to the touch. Go cottonwood, but avoid applications where it will be exposed to standing water, as it rots easily.

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    There are 2 places I would look into. Alaska Fir Traders had some nice T&G. They are going out of business, I heard.

    Mat-Valley Milling has some seasoned T&G. Talk to Russ or Carl.

    Both in Palmer.

    Whatever you use seal it well and post pics!
    Mike

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    Default Think twice about sealing it

    Sealing it is fine for the cold room, but in the hot room, a hardened surface will be a hot surface, uncomfortable to the touch. you want the wood to absorb the heat, not reflect it. Usually the heat is sufficient to dry out any wet wood in the hot room. I'm assuming you will stick to plywood for the floor anyway, right?

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    What about the newer plastic decking products for the sitting area?

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    I had a Sauna/Steam bath that had cedar on the ceiling only and once you splashed the stove and the steam rolled of the ceiling that cedar smell was sooooooothing. 2x6 for the seating with counter sunk screws (man can they hold the heat), what about a finished plywood for the walls of the hot room?

    George

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    Thanks guys for the tips and suggestions. I hadn't thought about the problems pitch would create. I will go with cottonwood for sure. I was going to avoid plywood for the hot room (or anything that had been glued together). Also appreciated the names of suppliers in the Palmer area. I will make no promises, but will try my best to learn how to post pictures when I get finished. (My carpentry skills are better than my computer skills for sure.)

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    Popperts Milling north of Wasilla a little bit should have Cottonwood TnG
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    I'm with George. Nothing smells better than heartwood cedar in a hot sauna. Nothing lasts longer, either. I'd never even consider putting a finish on it. Personally I wouldn't use cottonwood because it smells horrible and gets punky faster than any other wood I can think of.

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    Default Thousands of steam baths...

    Quote Originally Posted by matanuska View Post
    Thanks guys for the tips and suggestions. I hadn't thought about the problems pitch would create. I will go with cottonwood for sure. I was going to avoid plywood for the hot room (or anything that had been glued together). Also appreciated the names of suppliers in the Palmer area. I will make no promises, but will try my best to learn how to post pictures when I get finished. (My carpentry skills are better than my computer skills for sure.)
    ... be they maqiviks, banyas, or saunas are lined with plywood. It's not pretty, but it is tight, cheap, and simple to construct. No pitch either, even if it is fir. To my knowledge, there is nothing dangerous about the glue in plywood.

    They used to make some dandy T-111 style redwood plywood (we used it on the high school in Manokotak in the 80s). That would be great for a steam bath.

    Cedar rules king for its aroma, rot resistance, and touchability when hot.

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    For a (relatively) cheap source of cedar, I used fencing slats (1 x 6's) that I got from HD. We ran them at 45 degrees. They are kinda rough cut, but IMO, you gotta have cedar in a sauna....

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    That's a great (and cheap) idea for getting cedar. Cedar is so soft that it would only take a few passes per board with a belt sander to get it smooth enough for a sauna.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkwarthog View Post
    For a (relatively) cheap source of cedar, I used fencing slats (1 x 6's) that I got from HD. We ran them at 45 degrees. They are kinda rough cut, but IMO, you gotta have cedar in a sauna....
    Do they treat fencing slats? They are cheap and could be used for a lot if they are not treated with anything. I would probably vote against cottonweed [wood] too. If you want to go aspen though, there are some mills around here that have aspen. I know of one in Talkeetna. They are called Denali Log & Lumber (907-355-5813) I have a price list if you want me to PM you.
    That's what she said...

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    Thanks again for the help and ideas. I have changed my mimd about using the cottonwood. I certainly don't want to use something that is going to smell "funky". I may get some of the cedar fence boards and do some experimenting. I'm also keeping the cedar T&G in mind as I know it is the best choice. Just wish it was a little cheaper. (Last time I checked, SBS price for 8ft. 1X6 cedar T&G was $11.08.)

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    Default Not treated..

    I dont think the stuff I used was treated with anything...I dont think they need to, thats why they use cedar. We've had plenty of hot fires in the sauna stove and never detected any smell other than cedar aroma..

    The only thing with the cedar fencing is that it will shrink a little when it dries out and leave small gaps between the boards...but the price was right..

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    Quote Originally Posted by matanuska View Post
    Thanks again for the help and ideas. I have changed my mimd about using the cottonwood. I certainly don't want to use something that is going to smell "funky". I may get some of the cedar fence boards and do some experimenting. I'm also keeping the cedar T&G in mind as I know it is the best choice. Just wish it was a little cheaper. (Last time I checked, SBS price for 8ft. 1X6 cedar T&G was $11.08.)
    If I figured it out right, the 1x6"x8' aspen would be around $3 from the mill up in Talkeetna. Not sure about quality or moisture content but that seems pretty reasonable. Of course, I think you can get ceder fencing for around $2 I think.
    That's what she said...

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    I just used OSB to line the walls cuz it was cheap. built the benched out fo ceadr so I get teh cedar smell while in use. works good for me.
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    Default Poppert's Price Quote

    I received the following price quote from popperts this morning in an email. I sent a price request to them about a month ago for a T&G project at the cabin, I wanted to investigate the cost of using birch as opposed to pine. I hadnt heard from them and started the project with Pine, I see now that the Birch is way above what I wanted to spend for the size of my project.

    Email from Popperts:
    "Thank you for your email, sorry for the delay in resopnding. Our birch T&G is $2.04 per sq. ft., for the 3/8" thick and $3.85 per sq. ft. for the 3/4" thick. We also manufacture Cottonwood and Spruce T&G. The Cottonwood is $1.30 per sq. ft. for the 3/8" thick, and $1.75 per sq. ft for the 3/4" thick, the spruce is $ 2.15 per sq. ft., for the 3/4", ( it is not available in the 3/8"). If you are going directly over rafters or trusses you cannot use the 3/8" thickness unless you use a spray foam insulation.
    Thanks Again

    Dave"

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    What is the pine costing you?
    That's what she said...

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