Is Cedar A Good Wood to Build With?


Learning what materials for certain projects are the most ideal can be a bit challenging. Especially for a newer woodworker or DIY handyman. You have so many options to chose from that you may feel confused or have tons of questions on where to begin. Throughout my time crafting various items and wood projects, I experienced a learning curve throughout the process as well. It’s normal and nothing to worry about. When I first started woodworking, I had a common question you may have as well. Is Cedar a good wood to build with? This post is to tell you what I’ve learned.

So, is cedar a good wood to build with? Yes, cedar wood is a great wood to build with. It can be used for many application and projects. It’s not only physically appealing but also easy to cut and shape. It has great dimensional stability and can fight off humidity and moisture for many years.

Many other considerations and aspects of which wood to use need to be considered before making the final decision on if cedar will be the best wood for your upcoming project. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations and touch on some other frequently asked questions about cedar wood and its overall performance for constructing various projects.

More About Cedar Wood and The Distinct Advantages

To kick things off, cedar wood possesses many distinct advantages compared to other woods. It can be more pricey than other wood options but most agree that this cost is well worth the difference. Not long ago, cedar wood so desired that it was used to side houses. It’s also been used in various areas of the world for the roofs on homes and countless other applications.

It’s never been an avoided wood and most of these advantages have always been apparent. House flippers and house rehabbers will often be overly delighted when they happen to discover or uncover areas of the homes still using cedar wood.

So, What’s the Catch with Cedar Wood? What Makes It So Spectacular to Build With?

Let’s break down all the top qualities and characteristics of cedar wood. Following that, we can briefly cover some of the top known applications cedar is known to be used for and what applications make the most sense for using cedar wood as your primary lumber for any form of construction. For applications not listed in this post, you can always visit our post detailing other wonderful projects you can complete using cedar wood.

Let’s break down 5 considerations I want you to ponder over before deciding on which wood to use on your upcoming building projects.

Consideration #1- Cedar Wood Is Accustomed to Poor Weather Conditions.

For starters, cedar wood is naturally beautiful wood to use in almost any application. Cedarwood also produces a fresh and appealing aroma that many individuals grow a strong liking to. Another strong case you can make for cedar wood is where it physically comes from. Cedar is primarily found in damp climates of the world. Since cedar wood primarily grows in these climate conditions, it’s become naturally weather resistant over the years which is only a bonus feature for all of us who choose to use it.

Consideration #2- Cedar Wood Is Easy to Work With

Cedarwood is known to be much lower on the density scale than many other wood types. This makes cutting very easy. Even for the beginner. It also opens the doors to use hand tools and power tools if need be. Anytime you can remove some intensive labor involved with woodworking, the better. At least in my opinion.

Consideration #3- Cedar Wood Is Fantastic with Shrinking, Swelling, and Warping

When trying to decide if you should use cedar wood or not to build with, this is a major factor that should be considered.  Cedarwood isn’t known to shrink. In addition, you won’t have to be concerned with swelling or warping in the same fashion that you would have to worry about other woods.  Cedarwood can be placed under extreme conditions such as drastic changes in humidity and temperature. The wood will keep its stability and form even undergoing these tough weather and climate elements.

Cedarwood has large cell cavities, that are composed of air. This, in turn, provides the cedar wood with excellent thermal insulation. When putting all these factors about stability together, it’s clear why cedar wood has been favored for years for big building projects like the projects mentioned previously. Siding, roofs, sheds and more.

Consideration #4- Something You May Not Know- Cedar Wood Will Keep Things Quiet.

The upcoming bonus feature of cedar wood is something many individuals overlook when considering if cedar is the right wood is the right wood for the job. Cedarwood is sound resistant.  Therefore, you notice so many individuals using cedar wood for fencing, exterior sound barriers and other common building projects such as the following.

  • Backyard Decks
  • Shingles
  • Exterior and Interior Trim Work
  • Blinds
  • Shutters
  • Exterior Landscaping

Consideration #5- Cedar Wood Provides Options to The Woodworker/ Builder

Another underutilized trait about cedar wood when building or constructing anything is the ability to not finish the wood if you don’t desire to. It’s always advised to seal cedar wood if you want to lengthen the beauty and finish to add those additional years to its life span and beauty but it’s not 100% necessary. Cedar would retain its beauty and stability without doing so for much longer than other wood types.

However, if you do decide to finish the wood after the building is complete, it’s an extremely easy wood to seal and finish and has a wide variety of color options you can choose from. This is one of the common reasons you see individuals use cedar wood to build exterior patio furniture. We have an article dedicated to that topic that you can see here.

Now that we have covered the main consideration to factor in before using cedar wood for your building plans, let’s also answer 6 frequently asked questions as promised.

6 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Cedar Wood

Is Cedar Wood Toxic?

Cedarwood is not toxic. Some cedar woods are even safe to cook on.  However, cutting cedar wood can be known to cause other health hazards that are allergy based and occur during the cutting phase.

Can You Stain Cedar Wood?

Yes, you can stain cedar wood but it’s not 100% necessary. It’s never a bad idea to seal cedar wood and cedar wood will absorb a coat of stain very well. Staining cedar wood will give the wood a nice smooth finish along with adding some beautiful shine.

How Do You Treat Cedar Wood?

This is 100% up to you. Although it’s not necessary it can go a long way toward extending the natural color and life span of the wood. Some people prefer to use a coat of water-repellent preservative to keep that fresh Cedar look and some never go through the trouble. This is a question only you can decide, it all depends on your personal taste. Important: water repellent should only be used on new, restored or previously treated Cedar with the same kind of product. 

How Do You Keep Cedar Wood from Turning Grey?

To stop cedar wood from turning grey, you have a few precautions and steps that you can actively take. Here are 6 brief steps that you can take that can actively prevent your cedar wood from losing its original beauty.

Step #1- Clean/ Sweep or brush the cedar wood with a broom. Your goal is to get rid of all large or substantial debris off the wood and any dirt that can be easily removed.

Step #2- Use an exterior wood wash. Be sure to follow all directions. Mix the wash according to the directions in a large water bucket. Now, apply the wash to the wood with rags and begin scrubbing. You can use a stiffer brush to get any areas that have tough dirt that’s being stubborn and not easily removed from the wood.

Step #3– Wash off the cleaning mixture with either a hose or pressure washer. When the water turns clear, your complete. At this point, there will also be no more soap bubbles remaining on the wood surface.

Step #4- Dry your cedar. Allow it to air dry for 24-48 hours. If you need it completed in a shorter time, consider using fans to finish the drying process

Step #5- Give the cedar wood one last sweep to ensure all dirt is removed from the surface that could have accumulated over the last few days.

Step #6– Brush on wood sealer using a paintbrush. Don’t allow too much excess sealer to accumulate in one spot and be sure to spread it evenly. You can either you a clear sealer or a colored finish to complete this step.

Putting It All Together- A Versatile Beautiful Wood with Many Purposes

To wrap things up, I wanted to re-emphasize the main point of this post. Cedarwood is a great wood to build with that serves many purposes and can be used to create unlimited beautiful projects. Sealing and staining cedar wood is merely additional steps you can take toward adding life-span but it’s not 100% necessary. For other awesome ideas, frequently asked questions and information about cedar wood, be sure to use the links I provided earlier in this post.

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