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Could cedar dog ear fence pickets be the sauna builders’ cost effective work around?

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As of this writing, Cedar dog ear fence pickets cost $0.61/lineal foot. 1×6 tongue and groove Western red cedar is running $1.55/lineal foot. (Source: Menards.) With some resourceful digging via Craigslist, etc. we often are able to find #3 grade tongue and groove at lower price.

As a sauna builder with a commercial account at a lumber wholesaler, I am able to purchase 1×6 Western Red Cedar at about $1.15/lineal foot. This is about the same price that one can find the product on Craigslist, via discount suppliers.

With this pricing, it costs about $800 to panel a typical sauna hot room with 1×6 Western red cedar. #2 grade knotty. It would cost about $400, maybe less, to panel a hot room with Cedar dog ear fence pickets.

We are talking about apples and oranges in these respects. Cedar dog ear fence pickets are:

  1. Thinner. About 1/2″ thick.
  2. Not tongue and grooved. Something to consider.
  3. Advertised as “Japanese Cedar.”

I have found no detailed information on Japanese Cedar via the Googlator.

Japanese Cedar fence pickets have performed really well for me. I have noted no weirdness.

I have had great results using cedar fence panels for trim and cedar duck boards. Matter of fact, I prefer this stock for trim. Cedar fence panels are thin. I like thin trim as it has a lower profile. Lower profile means that trim doesn’t stick out as far. This means there is less chance of rubbing against trim.

For those looking for money saving tips for building their saunas, I encourage you to look into Cedar dog ear fence pickets.

For those who have already built their saunas, looking to build duck boards, fix trim, enhance their saunas with additional features, I encourage you to look into Cedar dog ear fence pickets.

When I purchased Cedar dog ear fence pickets, I spend the extra time to dig through the pile, grabbing pieces with as few knots as possible.

Caution: If using cedar dog ear fence pickets to panel a sauna, it is super important to:

  1. Foil vapor barrier your hot room well.
  2. Cut boards just a little longer than you need them.
  3. Then take a sauna with them before you make your final cuts.

This HOT TIP will allow your cedar fence panels to “kiln dry,” and shrink down their final size. You can stack your cedar fence panels using spacers. As you sauna with your cedar fence panels, you will notice that they talk back a lot less than your buddies do.

Like with wearing gym shorts, we want to avoid shrinking as much as we can, otherwise gaps will look embarrassing.

Cedar dog eared fencing: a frugal sauna builders hack?

Want to see Cedar dog ear fence pickets in action? Check out how Steve used and adapted Cedar dog ear fence pickets for his changing room via this recent Sauna Talk podcast (Steve Sauna Talk here).

Steve and Glenn between rounds (note the cedar fence paneling in Steve’s changing room).
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7 Comments

7 thoughts on “Could cedar dog ear fence pickets be the sauna builders’ cost effective work around?”

  1. Thank you! Thanks for taking the time to write this comprehensive ode to cedar dog eared fence boards for sauna building! It’s 2023, and a lot of water under the bridge, so to speak, since this was written, but it’s timeless. Love the changing room pic with cedar fence boards—they’re beautiful! Hope they’ve aged well. Many thanks!

  2. Great article, this saved me a bundle! I just picked up 100 boards of this and it is quite wet, 29 – 40% moisture. I have them stacked with stickers in an open carport to hopefully reduce the moisture in the next month while I am preparing to make a small 4 x 6 sauna, now just need to find a small and affordable stove, any ideas?

  3. As are as small affordable stove goes, assuming wood fired, you could track down a sauna tent stove, and trudge along with that for awhile.

  4. Hi Glenn,
    I used cedar pickets and I’m seeing gaps, I basically have no shame, but I’m concerned about the performance of the sauna. The pickets are installed horizontally. Would a horizontal battens be a solution or create more issues?
    Thanks, Dave

  5. Same thing has happened to me with a budget build I did last year. I 45’ed the lengths, overlapped, and by golly, they separated…Even after sitting with my milled fence panels for multiple sauna sessions prior to applying them to the walls and ceiling. It was a bummer, actually, as the cedar fence panels were great sauna companions for me. Sitting with the stacked piles of fence panels, throwing water, compared with my sauna buddies, they smelled better and spoke a lot less.

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