Redwood Vs. Cedar: How To Decide

choosing between redwood and cedar for your deck project?  The website looked at a several factors that should influence your choice:


1. Color

It’s tough to determine a winner in this category, but there is definitely a difference in appearance. Western red cedar, unless stained a different color, will naturally have a yellowish tone, while redwood has a noticeably more reddish-brown hue (there’s a reason it’s called “redwood”). Both are beautiful in their own right, but if you’re planning to use a tinted stain or paint your deck or timbers you might want to go with cedar because it costs less and has a lighter natural color. Regardless of which wood you choose, both will eventually turn a silver-gray if not periodically maintained.

Who Wins? It comes down to your personal preference.


2. Grain

Your project or budget may determine the type of grain or number of knots you want in your wood. With 30 grades of redwood and 10 grades of cedar, you can get just about any grain you want with either product. Because redwood is harvested primarily from large old growth trees, there are typically fewer knots overall than its cedar counterpart. Redwood is also more readily available in “clear” grades, which means there’s no knots at all. When it comes to overall smoothness, redwood has a slight edge over cedar. Again, it’s hard to choose a winner of this category since every project requires a different look, but based on grade availability redwood wins by a narrow margin.

Who Wins? Redwood for smoothness, but your project will ultimately decide.



3. Eco-Friendliness

Although this list is suppose to show the differences between redwood and cedar, these species are very similar when it comes to being eco-friendly. Both have product certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), both are 100% natural products, and both claim to be more environmentally-friendly than composite brands. Because redwood is primarily harvested in northern California and western red cedar comes from Canada, the environmental requirements are almost identical.

Who Wins? They’re both winners in our book!


4. Sustainability

Western red cedar and redwood may have the same environmental certifications, but can they grow new trees as fast as they harvest old ones? Sustainable growth is obviously important if either industry plans to stay in business, and both have done an excellent job at harvesting responsibly. Since it takes 50+ years for cedar or redwood seedlings to be harvestable, the growth process isn’t an exact science. According to a cedar growth study, second growth western red cedar is just beginning to be harvested and is producing a high quality product. However, Humbolt Redwood takes it a step further saying they harvest less than the annual growth rate, meaning they are growing more redwood than they are harvesting.

Who Wins? Neither product is going away anytime soon, but redwood is the one saying they grow more than they harvest.




5. Durability

Finally, a difference that we can actually measure! To determine the hardness of redwood and cedar, we are using the janka hardness test. Redwood - with a janka rating of 450lbs - is about 23% stronger than cedar (janka rating of 350lbs). Whether or not the extra strength is necessary for your project is up to you, but clearly redwood is more durable than cedar in general.

Who Wins? Redwood.

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