Western Red Cedar is Superior in Attractiveness and Resistance to Weather

by Thom Inman - Master Craftsman and Western Red Cedar Expert

There has been a lot of talk about how California Redwood makes the better wood sign board. Some sign people even suggest they only use "Clear All Heart" Redwood, most of which is old growth. Well, I'm sorry, I don't care how well managed or thoughtful - old growth Redwood forests are NOT a sustainable resource. These same folks will often suggest that Redwood takes and holds paint better than Cedar - that Western Red Cedar doesn't even come close. I'm afraid these folks have it all backwards!

First of all it is important to say that Western Red Cedar and California Redwood are really from the same genus (an organism's taxonomic hierarchy e.g. species, genus, family, order, class etc.) and have a lot of similarities. The biggest difference is that Western Red Cedar has much greater structural integrity for two fundamental reasons. Firstly, Western Red Cedar has far greater flexural strength (the ability to flex without shattering or splintering) than California Redwood. Hydro-electric poles are often made of Western Red Cedar rather than California Redwood because vibrations in the environment around the dam would cause California Redwood to crack. Secondly, California Redwood greater density than Western Red Cedar and it also contains more oils. For these reasons; Redwood is more difficult to glue, does not retain stains and paints well, and splits when screws fasten Redwood together.

Speaking of oils, Western Red Cedar also contains natural oils. Cedar's unique aroma comes from naturally occurring thujaplicins in its heartwood. These compounds resist moisture and are toxic to decay-causing fungi and insects and preserve the wood against decay to give it long lasting appeal. Properly finished with natural water-repellent preservative and refreshed, Western Red Cedar will deliver decades of trouble-free service. The hallmark characteristic of Western Red Cedar, its profound natural durability, has preserved examples of native cultures for more than 200 years.

Western Red Cedar's lower density enhances its insulation value and makes it an easy wood to transport and handle. It's also more stable dimensionally. Western Red Cedar is hydroscopic so it absorbs or releases moisture and maintains equilibrium with the atmosphere. It shrinks very little and is superior to all other coniferous woods in its resistance to warping, twisting, and checking. It is Western Red Cedar's exceptional dimensional stability that makes it so well for use in high moisture areas.

Western Red Cedar is lightweight, achieves fine joinery, accepts finishes with ease and possesses outstanding dimensional stability and legendary durability. Western Red Cedar is the superior wood for nearly all purposes where attractive appearance and resistance to weather is important.

May the Forest be with you!