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Truth in Advertising - Sauna Style
We frequently get asked questions that are "inspired" by claims or statements on other sauna websites. Without naming names, we have decided to address some of these points:
Is Material Pre-sanded?
At Saunafin, our cedar is milled using state of-the-art CNC equipment to a "furniture grade" finish. In our opinion, no sauna vendor should be offering anything less. There should never be a need to pay extra for "pre-sanded" material.
Claim: 11/16" Cedar Thickness (T&G for wall/ceiling lining):
Clear cedar generally comes in thickness from 5/16" up to 5/8". Many in the sauna business use ½" cedar. 5/16" should not be used. The tongue is generally too small to be nailed, so it is often face nailed - a sauna "no-no". At Saunafin, our standard cedar is 9/16".
We offer 11/16" as an option. We use the word option very deliberately. We do not consider it to be a upgrade. Our standard 9/16" cedar is top of the line and very durable. The 11/16" is available with our LK Premium Kit along with other designer features and some of our most popular options. And our 11/16" is also finsihed on two sides and is actually 11/16". There are at least two vendors we know of, who are passing off 5/8" as 11/16".
Eastern White Cedar vs. Western Red Cedar and Western Red Clear vs. Western Red Knotty
Eastern White Cedar vs. Western Red Cedar
This is one of those cases where "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is". Those that sell Eastern White Cedar are basically riding the coattails of Western Red Cedar. They are relying on people’s familiarity with the high quality of "our" cedar to sell "their" cedar.
Everyone is familiar with the expression "comparing apples and oranges". In this case it might be more accurate to say we are comparing a "Red Delicious" with a "Crabapple" Both are apples, but they are very different.
Western Red cedar grows in a rainforest climate. Species that have adapted to deal with excessive moisture environments, last longer in dry climates. And a sauna is as dry as it gets.
White Cedar also contains much less of the natural acidic tannins that help to preserve western red cedar and make it rot resistant even when it gets wet. White cedar will not last quite as long as western red cedar.
Western Red Clear vs. Western Red Knotty
Knotty Western Red Cedar shares all the rot-resistant qualities as clear cedar. It is very commonly used for decks, fences, sheds and gazebos. It can be used for saunas. There is concern that the knots can fall out leaving unsightly holes and that the knots concentrate heat so can be uncomfortable to sit against. If knotty is used for a sauna it should only be highest knotty grade STK (Select Tight Knot). With one exception, Saunafin offers only Clear Western Red Cedar for our material kits. Only our Barrel and other Outddor Saunas are offered in both Western Red Clear and Knotty. Knotty offers a more rustic appearance that some prefer in an outdoor sauna. (The benches are always built from Clear cedar).
Heaters are either supplied with built-in controls or outside, wall-mounted controls. For outside controls, some are in their own pre-finished box. Others come with a faceplate and are designed to fit in to a 3-gang box. Our Sauna Craft controls come this way. However, they are a tight fit in a standard 3-gang box. That is why an MBD-3 is specified. It is a masonry box and is a little bigger inside. Some who sell this type of control do NOT include the MBD-3. They will tell you that your electrician can easily supply this. That is simply untrue. An MBD-3 is not a standard part. Even many electrical wholesalers do not stock them.
Unlike standard boxes which sell for a few dollars, the MBD-3 is pricey, selling for $16.00 to $20.00. Saunafin includes the MBD-3. It would be very tempting not to do so, but that is not how we treat our customers.
Be alert when someone claims there product “meets the latest UL, CE and CSA electric standards”. Products are either approved or not. If approved they will have a file number and can be verified on the website of the applicable agency. CE is not a certification. The only recognized certification bodies in North America are UL, ETL, and CSA.
Be especially careful when looking at EBay, Amazon, Wayfair or similar sites. There are several heaters being offered that are manufactured overseas and do not meet North American manufacturing standards. Nor are they approved. The material is thin and flimsy. Most do not have the safety high temperature cut-off required by code.
Steam Producing Heaters
Every sauna heater can have some water splashed over the rocks. And there are a few special models that actually have a steam generator incorporated as part of the sauna heater. Our own Tylo Combi was the first such heater. It has been around for 20 years. Harvia and Finnleo now have their own versions (in our admittedly biased opinion, not as nice as Tylo, but similar functionality). As opposed to the blast of steam that comes off the rocks, boiling the water creates a softer sensation. That’s why we say it's like have two saunas in one.
And then there is one company (Canadian like us; misleading-not like us and very un-Canadian). Their approach is designed to confuse and mislead and basically trick you to buy their highest priced “deluxe” items with very little value being added.
Towards that end, they have just recently introduced their “combo” heater. A heater that physically copies the last generation of Tylo heaters. And they fudge their description to make the heater sound like it has a Tylo style built in steam generator. It does not. It simply has a reservoir for water. Other manufacturers have abandoned this style, because-in a nutshell- it does not work. They don’t produce enough steam to feel any effect. It is misleading and shameless.
So, read between the lines and keep in mind the old adage about something being “too good to be true”.