Cedar is a wonderfully versatile wood used in many different exterior applications. Most cedar is sourced in Canada, with smaller amounts in Washington and Oregon states. Current production in British Columbia, Canada is using only 1/3 of 1% in annual harvest. Western Red Cedar (WRC) (Thuja plicata) is one of North America’s great renewable resources.
Cedar Lumber is slow growing and naturally durable.
Western Red Cedar has one of the longest life spans of any North American softwood. It produces long lengths of timber with true, straight grain. It is free from pitch and its heartwood has natural decay resistance. Its low density gives it an insulation value superior to most other species. Cedar is lightweight, easy to work, easy to finish, possessing outstanding dimensional stability. Western Red Cedar is a preferred wood for nearly all purposes where attractive appearance or resistance to weather is important. The cedar lumber mill association has a great website that covers product, installation, finishing, grades and more: www.wrcla.org.
Grades of Cedar
Cedar is one of the most confusing woods to purchase since beyond clear and vertical grain, most other grades are proprietary. This translates to the mills or distributors assigning whatever name they choose. Cedar, like all wood boards, is graded to one side and two edges only. In the specific case of cedar, it is graded to the rough side only (i.e. S1S2E ). However, a few general terms are universal:
Clear Cedar: No knots, cedar is graded to the rough sawn side (as applicable). All grading applies to just one side and one or two edges.
Select Knotty Cedar (or STK - Select Tight Knot): Not in any grade book. It refers to boards that are chosen for their general good appearance with solid, tight knots that should not fall out.
Rough Sawn Cedar: Milling process leaving the wood rough–typically the treatment most people identify with cedar.
Smooth Sawn Cedar: Milling boards to a smooth appearance.
S1S2E Cedar: One side and two edges are smooth, leaving the opposing side “rough”.
No Hole Cedar: Generally refers to pickets where the picket—when graded—had no open knotholes, although with no gaurantee the knots could fall out in the future, leaving a hole.
Green Cedar: Wood of any species that has not been dried during the milling process.
Dried Cedar: Wood of any species that has been allowed to give up the moisture in the cell structure. The processes include kiln dried, heat treated, air dried and partially air dried.
Species of Cedar
Western Red Cedar: The most common and readily available.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar: Actually a type of Cypress.
Inland Red Cedar: A form of Western Red Cedar growing in different locations. Log quality and size are limited for consistency.
More Information on Cedar
Find out more about RealCedar and watch some of their How-To Videos below!
Raised Bed Gardens: We recommend using cedar for its natural tannins that resist rot and insect infestation. Cedar is also a beautiful, long lasting, affordable and sustainable material. See instructions on buiding your own raised garden bed.
Pergola Hardware: Starting that pergola for the backyard? Check out our OZCO Pergola Hardware Catalog below under Downloads!
Build Your Own 12' x 16' Pergola. See our complete materials list.
Penofin Stains: Ready to stain? Check out our Penofin Stain page!
CAMO Hidden Fasteners: CAMO fasteners make installing cedar boards easy. Watch the videos below for important tips and advice.