Is Cedar A Good Wood To Build With? (Pros And Cons)

There are so many options to choose from for your woodworking projects. While researching the perfect wood, one common question often comes up: Is Cedar a good wood to build with? Let’s find out!

As a general rule, cedar wood is a great wood to build with. It can be used for many applications 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.

In this guide, we will walk you through all the advantages and disadvantages of using cedar so that you can decide whether or not it’s the right fit for your project. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Advantages Of Cedar Wood

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 worth the difference.

Not long ago, cedar wood was 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.

#1. Cedar Wood Is Accustomed to Improper Weather Conditions

For starters, cedar wood is a 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.

#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 using hand tools and power tools if needed. Anytime you can remove some intensive labor involved with woodworking, the better. At least in my opinion.

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

This is a major factor that should be considered when deciding on whether or not to build anything with cedar wood.

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 despite 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 those mentioned previously. Siding, roofs, sheds and more.

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

The 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.

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

Learn more about the applications of cedar wood and what things you can build with it.

#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 its beauty and finish it to add those additional years to its lifespan 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.

Disadvantages Of Cedar Wood

While Cedar has many great advantages, it also has some drawbacks:

Cedar is a soft, low-density wood. It dents and scratches easily compared to hardwoods. So, cedar is not ideal for tabletops or high-use surfaces.

The Cedar wood tends to be more expensive than other commonly used woods like pine. The cost per board foot of cedar can be almost 2 times higher than pine. This makes cedar a more expensive option for large construction projects requiring a lot of wood.

While cedar has natural rot resistance, it still requires maintenance, like regular staining or sealing to maintain its color and integrity.

Naturally weather resistantRelatively expensive
Easy to work withSoft, low-density wood
Stable, minimal shrinking/swellingRequires maintenance like staining
Provides thermal insulation
Sound resistant
Can be left unfinished

Speaking of cedar wood, you might also want to check how long it takes for cedar wood to dry. It can be crucial to know while you’re working on your building and woodworking projects.

How Long Does Cedar Last

Cedar is naturally durable and rot-resistant softwood, making it a good choice for outdoor projects. On average, untreated cedar lumber will last 15-30 years outdoors before needing replacement.

Factors that affect cedar’s longevity outdoors are as follows:

  • Climate – Cedar lasts longer in drier climates. Wet, humid areas promote faster decay.
  • Wood grade/quality – Heartwood (inner reddish portion) is more durable than sapwood (whitish outer portion). 
  • Maintenance – To ensure better longevity of projects made using cedar wood, applying stains/sealants every 2-3 years is essential. It protects the wood from UV rays and water damage, extending its life. Unmaintained cedar turns gray and splits over time.
  • Construction – Proper joinery and sealing prevent water intrusion and decay. Also, using thicker stock resists warping.

If you’re interested in building wooden furniture with cedar, check out this post: Is Cedar A Good Wood For Furniture?

FAQs 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. Sealing cedar wood’s never a bad idea, and it will absorb a coat of stain very well. Staining cedar wood will give the wood a smooth finish and add a 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 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 to 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 eliminate 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 the cleaning mixture off with 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 that could have accumulated over the last few days is removed from the surface.

Step #6– Brush on the 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 use 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 that serves many purposes and can be used to create unlimited beautiful projects. Sealing and staining cedar wood is merely additional steps to add 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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