Domestic Species Focus: Alaskan Yellow Cedar

Yellow cedar end grain

Alaskan Yellow Cedar is actually a member of the Cypress family. Like Western Red Cedar, it has become associated with Cedar trees because of its aromatic quality and similar texture. Unlike Red Cedar with its more widespread growth range, Alaskan Yellow Cedar can be easily sourced and matched. Highly available and ideal for a variety of interior and exterior applications, we think you’ll appreciate a closer look at this fine domestic species.

Climate and Characteristics

Growing along the Pacific Northwest of the contiguous U.S., along the coast of Canada, and into Alaska, Alaskan Yellow Cedar thrives in relatively cold, moist climates. With the high amounts of rainfall and lower temperatures throughout much of its growth range, however, Yellow Cedar’s growth rate is fairly slow, making its growth rings closely packed. The result of this scenario is that little distinction is apparent between early and late rings, creating a highly dense lumber with consistent coloring and high stability. As you might guess from the species name, the color is a variation of blond, making it perfect for Scandinavian-style, airy designs. The wood’s consistent grain also make it easy to work by machine as well as by hand.

Other characteristics of Alaskan Yellow Cedar include insect resistance, hardness, and abundant size. Because of the tree’s typically large size, it easily produces many long, wide boards as well as heavy timbers.  From rustic hunting lodges to industrial, urban designs, Alaskan Yellow Cedar timbers can become central to spacious designs.

Yellow cedar canoe

Applications and Offerings

While similar to Western Red Cedar  in many ways, Alaskan Yellow Cedar boasts superior strength, stability, and weather resistance, making it ideal for use in applications ranging from flooring to ceiling, trim to exterior siding. With its lightweight quality paired with its exceptional strength, Yellow Cedar can also be used in other applications such as boat building and even aircraft construction. Because it thrives and retains its stability amid moist surroundings, additional applications include saunas, pool houses, gardens, and various types of Japanese designs. Yellow Cedar can be used for quite a range of structures, from small, intricately detailed Shoji to large outdoor structures like gazebos and pergolas.

J. Gibson McIlvain keeps a steady inventory of Alaskan Yellow Cedar in 4/4 and 5/4 sizes. We can also special order boards in greater thicknesses as well as large timbers, often getting them in stock for you within 2 weeks. We can also mill your Yellow Cedar in-house, creating flooring, paneling, or siding, according to your specifications, before shipping it to your job site. Be sure to place your order for any additional domestic or exotic hardwoods species, plywood, and millwork at the same time for maximum cost savings!

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J. Gibson McIlvain Company

Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company ( is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.

As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.

Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.

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