June 26, 2021

Redwood vs Cedar | The Key Similarities and Differences

Are you trying to decide between redwood vs cedar? We are often asked which wood we choose for our woodworking projects. For this project, we did not choose a favorite. Both cedar and redwood are commonly used for woodworking, and both are referred to as “cedar” in the lumber industry. But where redwood has its name, cedar has its name. And where cedar is found, redwood is rarely seen.

Redwood vs Cedar: Appearance

Both Redwood and Cedar make beautiful products and are stainable. The difference lies in colors, resulting in the user choosing one product over the other. You get a yellowish color when you combine red cedar wood with a different color. 

Redwood produces a red color. Regarding staining and tinting both products, wood cedar is budget-friendly and creates a lighter natural color. More time without maintaining both products results in a silver-gray color on the materials. 

Different projects and budgets attract grains. You have any grain regardless of the material. Redwood comes with fewer knots due to the old trees it is harvested from, which is why it comes in transparent wood grades. 

Cedar has aesthetics that make it beautiful. It is smoother than cedarwood. The straight grain pattern and pleasing scent make it attractive, making it resistant to moisture and microorganisms. 

Resiliency

The materials are for structural and decorative building projects on fencing and outdoor structures such as patios. Hardness determines the life of your wood material, and redwood is harder than cedar material and consists of naturally occurring chemicals. 

Less maintenance is on the material. Although wood cedar does not succumb to molds and rot, it tends to lose its brown color with time. Since you cannot treat cedarwood, the forces of nature such as wind and rain take away the natural color gradually. To avoid graying, apply a stain every year. 

Proper maintenance does not preserve the natural tone of the wood. Cedar is easy to cut and shape, and it comes with workability qualities. That is why it has input in boatbuilding, decking, and musical instruments. 

Western red-wood cedar is easy to work with. They are not selective when it comes to the size of machines, and they even work on tangled spaces. Its soft texture makes beautiful structures. 

It is easy to cut and carve, holds nails and screws securely. It polishes and paints. It is lightweight, and that is the reason why it has input in high altitudes. It comes with sufficient moisture that prevents cracking and warping. 

Strength

The heart of redwood material is resistant to weather conditions. However, different parts of the red-wood come with resistance capacities. The heartwood contains hues that make it more resistant. 

The outer wood known as sapwood is less resistant, and that is why you have to aim for heartwood. Redwood and wood cedar react differently in different weather conditions. Cedar’s natural colors fade quickly, turning into a dull gray color. 

What happens in a short space of time. Redwood tends to preserve its natural color for a long time. Cedar works are not on structures that support heavy loads, and it is not as strong as Redwood. 

That is why it makes decorative items prone to scratches.  Cedar is not 100% waterproof, and that makes it weak. Although it has better water resistance than water, Redwood performs better in moisture areas. 

Durability

Using the Janka hardness test, Redwood is stronger than Cedar. However, that does not mean Cedar does not support your project. They are both exposed to physical weather, and redwood’s durability is natural due to its cell structure that gives Redwood warm tones. 

That makes it naturally resistant to insects, water, and decay. It performs well on outdoor furniture. The strength and durability come in every board, and that makes it ideal for strong building materials. 

There are no chemical additives in Redwood. They are recyclable and biodegradable. There is strength and comfort in Redwood since it remains lightweight. It is easy to cut and drill. Cedar has weather-resistant qualities that make it ideal for outdoor structures, and it withstands natural elements that lead to rot. 

Resistance to insects

Redwood and Cedar are both resistant to deterioration. They are both outdoor materials exposed to insects and come with resistance. Redwood consists of pest and rot-resistant compounds that make the wood immune to rot and insect damage. 

That makes it more robust in withstanding the harsh conditions that come with different weather conditions. Cedar produces pest and rot-resistant compounds as well. Insect-repellent features on cedar are natural. Cedar comes in a variety of regional species, and they react differently. 

Cost Comparison cedar wood vs redwood

Cedar has been popular lately due to the attractive price point that comes with the material. Redwood products are not affordable like Cedar products. Although Redwood is scarce, strong, and durable, the difference in prices is big. 

Some shops offer both Redwood and cedar for the same price. However, Redwood with more sapwood should have an affordable price than heartwood. Although Cedar is inexpensive, it costs double as pressure-treated lumber. 

Cedar comes in multiple species that are more than 15. Although they are different in color, hardness, and rot resistance, they are closely related. Their use is on their properties and has a soft texture that allows them to make clothing and furniture.

Environmentally-friendly

Both Redwood and Cedar are environmentally friendly. They are sustainable, and the trees are replaced. There is a great calculation of the time for the seeds to grow into saplings, and trees are cut faster as they grow as much as Redwood is scarce. They are both natural products that do not contain chemicals. 

Maintenance

Cedar requires more maintenance than redwood. It turns gray after some time. That is why you are required to paint or stain the wood, which minimizes the rate at which it fades color. 

Redwood does not require staining and painting. Cedar requires regular cleaning to get rid of molds, increasing its life term. The wood requires water and soap for cleaning, and that makes it a budget-friendly product. Power wash it but with caution. Oxalic acid is also used to clean the wood, and UV inhibitors delay graying. 

Advantages of Redwood

  • Smooth
  • Beautiful
  • Rich in color
  • Weather-resistant
  • Termite resistant
  • High quality
  • Stays vibrant

Advantages of Cedar

  • Affordable
  • Durable 
  • Sound resistant
  • Insect repellent
  • Beautiful
  • Does not shrink
  • Multiple species

Disadvantages of Redwood

  • Not affordable
  • The softness that results in indenting

Disadvantages of Cedar

  • Requires maintenance
  • Flammable

See our post on How to Protect Cedarwood.

Conclusion on redwood vs cedar

Redwood and cedar are great options for building materials, but they have different price points. The Janka hardness test suggests that redwood is stronger than cedar, so it may be a better option if you are on a budget. We specialize in sourcing sustainable hardwoods like these two species to provide our customers with the most cost-effective solution possible while staying true to their sustainability goals.

David D. Hughes
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