Thuja Plicata - commonly called Western Red Cedar (also known as Pacific Red Cedar, Giant or Western Arborvitae, Giant Cedar and Shinglewood) is a species of Thuja - an evergreen coniferous tree in the Cypress family native to Northwestern America. Long lived and capable of growth to 70 metres high, this tree is distinctive for the braided pattern of its foliage sprays and slender cones.
It is also the favoured timber for SAWO sauna manufacture.
Western Red Cedar has always been a popular selection for traditional saunas because of its natural immunity to moisture and high resistance to decay, mould and fungus growth. This is due to the natural protective oils and extractives within the timber. It does not expand or contract as much as other timbers when the temperature fluctuates, meaning it is less likely to warp or bend with regular use and can tolerate the high heat and subsequent cooling of the sauna. Its stability and low shrinkage rate allows it to maintain its shape and stay straight even in a high moisture environment. We kiln dry our interior cedar which lowers the latent moisture content of the boards to 9-10% and this further assists in minimising shrinkage. Cedar is a soft wood with a low heat conduction due to the millions of tiny air cells within the timber, making it the perfect choice for seating.
From an aesthetic perspective it also has a unique appearance - rich in colour, warm in tone and straight grained - highly prized for being low in knots or defects compared to other timbers.
The pleasant aromatic it gives off enhances the sauna experience and is a natural insect repellant.
In addition, the high insulation value of cedar captures the heat inside the sauna for better circulation. Cedar also suppresses and absorbs sound. Being lightweight makes it ideal for transport and construction and its durability means it will last a lifetime. In an external environment cedar shingles can last up to 70 years in all weather conditions.
Saunas can also be constructed from aspen, basswood, hemlock, pine or spruce but SAWO generally prefer Western Red Cedar sourced from certified suppliers in Canada, Europe and Finland.
From an environmental perspective Western Red Cedar has been shown to remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. It is both renewable and biodegradable and is sourced from sustainable managed forests. SAWO cedar products are produced with minimal waste as all the leftover materials are either used or recycled.
This is why SAWO chooses Western Red Cedar for the majority of our sauna interiors and accessories. We feel it is the superior choice to create the very best experience for our customers.