Types of Cedar Wood: Characteristics & Uses

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Cedar is the common name for some members of the pine family. It has a very pleasant smell, therefore it is often used in furniture making. There are various types of cedar woods that are available. Today we will talk about some important types of cedarwood.

1. Western Red Cedar

Image: TimBray, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a classic cedar type that is known for its fragrance and durability. It is used as the standard lumber where the scent of pine or spruce is undesirable, such as closets or chests. This wood species has a straight-grained appearance with a reddish-brown color.

One of the most important things to know about western red cedar is that, while it is simple to work with, it might cause allergy responses in certain people. If you are sensitive to sawdust allergies, ask for wood from a third party instead of cutting your own.

Characteristics

This wood type has a straight grain and uniform texture. It can be easily worked, and it takes to staining and finishing very well. Its natural color is reddish-brown which deepens to a rich dark purplish-red as the wood ages. The sapwood of this species is nearly white (sapwood may have an olive hue when the tree is fresh cut).

Western red cedar resists water damage, hence it can last for a long time. It has aromatic properties that make it very useful for making closets or chests. However, its strong fragrance will fade over time due to exposure to UV rays of sun and chemicals in detergents.

Uses

Uses of red cedar wood include but are not limited to flooring, shingles, ceiling beams, interior paneling, and window frames.

2. Northern White Cedar

It is a North American species that is native to southern Canada and the northern parts of the United States. It has a texture that is fine or medium, which means it has small pores that are not very noticeable. In exterior applications, this type of wood can be exposed to harsh environmental conditions without any risk.

Characteristics

Northern white cedarwood has a color variation from light pinkish-brown to a creamy white tone with a reddish or purplish hue. This wood makes good outdoor projects because it weathers well and resists decay from fungi and insects. Due to the large number of oils in its cellular structure, it can hold up against fungal degradation for many.

Uses

The uses of white cedarwood include closets, chests, cabinets, millwork, shingles, and cladding applications.

Also Read: Types of White Wood

3. Southern White Cedar

Image: Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is another type of cedar wood that has a straight grain texture. It is similar to northern white cedarwood but has a different color variation. The heartwood of southern white cedar is reddish-brown with streaks of brown, red, or pink hues which turns darker as the wood ages.

The trees may reach a height of 100 feet and have tree trunk diameters of up to 2 feet.  The leaves are needle-like, and the cones have scales with flexible tips. The bark is a pale gray or pinkish color that becomes darker as it ages.

Characteristics

Southern white cedar is easier to work than northern types because it has more open pores and its fibers are not tightly packed together. It can be finished without difficulty and give your project natural warmth and beauty. This material weathers well in exterior applications with no additional treatment required.

Uses

It is used for picket fences, shingles, siding, decking, split shakes, fencing planking, and siding.

4. Eastern Red Cedar

Image: Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This type of wood is valued for its pleasant aroma. It has an interlocking grain with a straight texture. The color variation is reddish-brown which darkens as the wood ages.

Eastern red cedar resists water damage very well, hence it can last for a long time. It has aromatic properties that make it very useful for making closets or chests. However, due to exposure to UV rays of the sun and chemicals in detergents, its strong fragrance will fade over time.

Characteristics

Eastern red cedar has a straight grain and uniform texture. It can be easily worked, and it takes to staining and finishing very well. Its natural color is reddish-brown which deepens to a rich dark purplish-red as the wood ages. The sapwood of this species is nearly white (sapwood may have an olive hue when the tree is fresh cut).

Uses

Uses of red cedar wood include but are not limited to flooring, shingles, ceiling beams, interior paneling, and window frames.

Also Read: Types of Red Wood

5. Deodar Cedar

Image: Androstachys, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is a type of wood that has a coarse texture. The grain pattern is interlocking and the color variation can be from reddish-brown to silver-white tone. It darkens as it ages.

Deodar cedar resists water damage very well, hence it can last for a long time. It has aromatic properties that make it very useful for making closets or chests. However, due to exposure to UV rays of the sun and chemicals in detergents, its strong fragrance will fade over time

Characteristics

Deodar cedar has a coarse texture with an interlocking grain pattern. Some parts have a wavy appearance which makes this species unique out of all types of cedar woods. It has a natural deep reddish-brown color that deepens to a rich purplish-red as it ages. Deodar cedar is easily worked and paintable.

Uses

This type of wood can be used for fencing, flooring, paneling, ceiling beams, exterior siding, cabinets, closet linings, roofs shingles. It is also suitable for general construction work.

6. Cyprian Cedar Tree

Image: Pinterest

This type of cedarwood is also known as Cyprus cedar. The color variation of this species is a light to medium brown, sometimes with a reddish hue that darkens as it ages.

Characteristics

Cyprian cedar has a coarse texture and the grain pattern is interlocking. It takes paint well but does not hold up to exterior or interior finishes for long periods because of fungal degradation from its open pores. This material weathers very well in exterior applications with no additional treatment required.

Uses

Due to its durability and aromatic properties, cyprian cedar can be used for fencing, paneling, doors, closets, chests, and cabinets. It makes perfect pool cues due to its high weight and low moisture content.

7. Atlas Cedar Tree

This type of cedar is very similar to cyprian cedar. It has a light to medium brown color with some reddish hue that darkens as it ages.

Characteristics

It has a coarse texture and the grain pattern is interlocking. Atlas cedar’s natural color is light brown with an olive hue, which darkens as it ages. It takes paint well but does not hold up to exterior or interior finishes for long periods because of fungal degradation from its open pores. This material weathers very well in exterior applications with no additional treatment required.

Uses

Due to its durability and aromatic properties, atlas cedar can be used for fencing, paneling, doors, closets, chests, and cabinets. It also makes perfect pool cues due to its high weight and low moisture content.

8. Spanish Cedar Tree

Image: Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spanish cedar is also known as North American redwood. The grain pattern of the wood is straight, but it can have an uneven texture. It has a very fine texture and appearance that resembles mahogany. This material has a reddish-brown color with no distinct heartwood or sapwood areas.

Characteristics

This type of wood is characterized by its unique appearance which makes it look like mahogany when finished. It should be treated prior to staining to achieve maximum results. It takes oil-based stains well and requires only two coats for good coverage

Uses

Due to its fine texture and beautiful appearance, Spanish cedar is often used for crafting. With a rich red-brown color that deepens into a purplish tone as it ages, this wood has been prized for centuries for its aromatic qualities and resistance to insects and moisture. It can also be worked into cabinetry, furniture making, paneling, chests, boxes, closets linings, and general construction work

9. Alaska Cedar Wood

Image: Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

This type of cedar is also known as yellow or golden cedar. It has a fine texture with grain patterns that are straight but can sometimes be wavy. The color variation ranges from pale brown to reddish-brown.

The aroma emitting from this wood is great for keeping away termites and moths. It comes in several different colors ranging from light tan to dark red-brown hues which makes it highly prized by craftspeople. Depending on how the wood was cut down, you might see exotic swirls of color mixed into one piece of lumber.

Characteristics

Alaska cedar has no distinct heartwood or sapwood areas. Due to its fine texture, it works well with hand tools. It takes paint well but is susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions, especially when it’s not sealed properly.

Uses

Alaska cedarwood can be used for fine finish carpentry work like cabinets, furniture making, wainscoting, paneling, and decorative boxes. It is also used in the furniture industry for accent woods due to its beautiful color variations.

Also Read: Best Lumber Storage Ideas

How Stable is Cedar Wood?

Although it’s moderately stable when exposed to proper maintenance techniques, cedar can change color if left untreated for too long of a period. It has the tendency to shrink and expand due to changes in humidity. This might cause problems with doors and windows if not properly cared for. If you want the wood to maintain its original color, it should be kept away from direct sunlight or bright lights.

What are The Benefits of Cedarwood?

It has a great aroma that helps repel insects and moths, perfect for keeping closets smelling fresh. It’s also very inexpensive compared to other types of wood, which makes it the ideal material for building crafts. When properly maintained, cedar can last up to 20 years without any signs of wear or splitting.

How Well Does Cedar Wood Hold Paint?

When treated, cedar holds paint well. It has a strong resistance to chemicals but does have a tendency to warp due to a lack of strengthening elements in the cells. However, this can be resolved by using a wet strengthening process that’s similar to kiln drying. This will allow the wood cells to expand and contract without breaking apart or warping during extreme weather conditions

Cautions About Using Cedar Wood

People who are sensitive to odors may find cedarwood powder irritating. In addition, pregnant women may experience adverse reactions to cedarwood. It should not be used near children of any age due to potential splintering, which can cause injury. Those with allergies may experience breathing difficulties when exposed to the powder form of cedar or sawdust.

Conclusion

Although all these types of cedar have some common characteristics, they are still different species of trees that share a few properties among them all while differing in others. The grain patterns on each one are unique and roughness varies throughout while appearance varies tremendously. Each has its own distinct character. Decide on what properties you prefer more than others and use them to help guide you in choosing what type of cedarwood is best for your next project.

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