Western Red Cedar for Your Next Summer Project

Western Red Cedar is a superior choice for building projects, but don’t be mistaken; not all types of cedar are alike. Some grades and fiber quality are more durable and better than others. For example, the higher quality cedar that many know as being naturally durable and resistant to rot is grown in the western rainforests of British Columbia, Canada. This species should not be, but often is, confused with the more commonly available inland red cedar that is often found in the interior parts of the Western U.S. This latter species tends to have less of the tannins and phenols that lend Western Red Cedar to being naturally weather and bug resistant.

So how do you select the right product for your building project? Look for a supplier who sources their cedar from only the highest quality and most sustainable sources located along the coastal forests of British Columbia. Why does that matter? Let’s delve into the physical properties of why this type of wood is a great choice for outdoor decking and siding applications. best stain for cedar siding

Dimensional Stability

Western Red Cedar has a very low shrinkage factor compared to some of its coniferous and tropical counterparts. Its stability is beneficial from a decking standpoint in that decking from this material has greater resistance to warping, twisting and checking. These same benefits hold true for cedar siding as well. For instance, according to data from the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, Western Red Cedar that’s sawn to expose the vertical grain shrinks only 1.8 percent when it goes from green (with 25 percent or more moisture content) to dried (6 percent moisture content). That’s a very small amount of shrinkage for a piece of lumber.


Western Red Cedar is one of the most lightweight decking and siding materials in the industry. Oven-dry, it weighs in at approximately 21 pounds per cubic foot, with a density or specific gravity of 0.32. Its low density enhances its insulation value and also makes cedar decking and siding easier to handle and transport, thus lowering the overall environmental impact than those that are heavier and denser. For instance, Western Red Cedar ranks in at 21 pounds per cubic foot for its density, while other species like Douglas Fir (31 pcf) and Southern Pine (34 pcf) are ranked much higher.

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