Popular Species of Timber Used for Hot Tubs

Western Red Cedar
(Thuja plicata)

Western-Red-Cedar3Western Red Cedar is one of the lightest weight commercially available softwoods. It is the largest and most abundant of all cedars and grows in managed forests in the southern coastal region of British Columbia and some of the moister interior valleys.

It also grows throughout the Pacific Northwest of the US. Western Red Cedar resists warping, twisting, checking and is renowned for its high impermeability to liquids. The heartwood is soft in texture and varies in color from a light straw shade to a dark reddish-brown.

The cellular composition of this species of cedar contains millions of tiny air-filled cells per cubic inch which provides a high degree of thermal insulation.

Its slow growth, dense fiber and natural phenol preservatives give it excellent weather-resistant properties and make it ideally suited for exterior uses such as houseboats, decks, siding, posts, fencing, shingles, shakes and of course our most popular hot tubs.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar
(Cupressus nootkatensis)

The Alaskan Yellow Cedar is found only on the western slopes of the Pacific Coast Range from Southern Oregon to Alaska.

It likes moist climates, and thus it is only found along coastal areas.

Due to the colder temperatures and high rainfall of its local climate, Alaskan Yellow Cedar grows very slowly with closely packed growth rings and very little distinction between early wood and late wood rings.

It’s exceptionally dense growth ring pattern averages 43 growth rings per inch. Alaskan Yellow Cedar is one of the most beautiful of America’s durable and less publicized softwoods and is the hardest known cedar in the world.

The density and consistent color add a high degree of stability throughout the tree. Alaskan Yellow Cedar is highly resistant to rot and insect infestation as well as being an extremely hard wood.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar is a clear sulfur-yellow in color, has a fine texture, a straight grain and when freshly cut, has a pungent odor frequently described as “raw potatoes.”

Prized for its strength, stability, natural resistance to weather rot and insect infestation, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is used for stadium seating, park benches, exterior cabinet work, decks, marine landscaping, building boats and some very fine hot tubs.

The consistent grain structure means Yellow Cedar is easy to work with by hand or machine. It grows slowly, but it’s common to find very large heavy Yellow Cedar timbers that produce strong and wide boards.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar is a prime choice for hot tubs, saunas and pool house construction, since the wood thrives in wet environments. It is commonly found in Japanese designs for gardens, architecture and Japanese Soaking Tubs.

It’s light weight and high strength allows it to be used in small and intricate construction, but the timbers are large enough to be used in large gardens, gazebos and outdoor structures.

Burmese Teak
(Tectona grandis)

burmese-teak-11One of the most valuable of all woods due to its scarcity and difficulty to harvest and transport, teak is prized for the construction of expensive boats and yachts. Because of its decay resistance, teak is used extensively as exterior decking, millwork, trim and windows.

It’s also used for garden furniture, park benches and many marine applications.
Teak is a very hard, heavy, strong wood, distinctively oily to the touch. It is resistant to insects, fungus, and termites won’t touch it! It is also resistant to rot and moisture damage.

When first cut, teak is a tawny green color, streaked with dark brown and gold. The color quickly changes to be a dark golden yellow, olive or light to dark brown.

Teak is native to India, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, including Indonesia, particularly Java. Also Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the East Indies. Although commonly grown on plantations, this type of farm grown teak is not suitable for hot tubs.

Port Orford Cedar
(Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

Port Orford Cedar 1Grown only in Southern Oregon and Northern California, Port Orford Cedar is very limited in supply. It has earned a reputation for strength, decay resistance and has an odor similar to finger and lemons.

The most prized type of wood for Japanese architecture, upscale boat construction and the creation of world famous Japanese Ofuro Soaking tubs is called “hinoke.”

The Japanese wouldn’t consider substituting any other type of wood for their prized hinoke, but they’ve found the characteristics of Port Orford Cedar to be very close and they now use Port Orford Cedar as a substitute whenever quality hinoke is in short supply.

Renowned for its beauty, durability, structural integrity and natural decay resistance, the heartwood of Port Orford Cedar has an in-ground life of 20-25 years which makes it ideal for timber structures and hot tubs.

Port Orford Cedar is a light colored wood with a pleasant and sweet-spicy scent. It has a fine texture and straight grain that remains smooth with absolutely no splintering or raised grain. The color can best be described as a creamy white hue.

Redwood
(Sequoia and Sequoiadendron)

redwood4The Redwood trees of California and Oregon have been harvested since the time of the first Spanish settlers, 400 years ago. It has been a highly prized lumber, renowned for several unique features.

One of the most dimensionally stable of the western softwoods, redwood is not prone to checking and splitting, and therefore is less damaged by weathering.

Redwood is more insect repellent in all-heartwood grades than other softwoods, yet it is lightweight.

Despite being one of the lightest of softwoods Redwood provides adequate strength for a wide variety of uses. It is superior in insulation values as it’s minute cell structure, with thousands of air-filled cavities, accounts for Redwood’s thermal insulation values.

It is known for its easy maintenance and beautiful color: a deep reddish brown that darkens with age. Redwood is most often used for applications where high moisture levels are a problem for other types of wood.

Unfortunately quality virgin redwood acceptable for hot tubs is no longer available, but there is still a good supply of “reclaimed” redwood available for other types of construction.

Reclaimed redwood is frequently from logs recovered from the bottoms of rivers or lakes. These are typically logs that were cut down up to 100 years ago and sank as they were being floated down stream to the mills.