Domestic Species Focus: Western Red Cedar Wood

Tropical decking is definitely in vogue, but you know what? So is Western Red Cedar, a domestic species perfect for other exterior applications. While J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber focuses on multiple hardwood lumber species, we also carry a few exceptional softwood species, and Red Cedar is one of them.

Introducing Western Red Cedar

Why do people love Western Red Cedar? It’s inexpensive, insect and rot resistant, and in plentiful supply. From boards of many widths and thicknesses to large timbers, Western Red Cedar is perfect for interior flooring, outdoor decking, siding, ceilings, paneling, and more. The standard softwoods grading system allows you to specify cut, such as vertical grain. Many of our customers request clear vertical grain (CVG) Cedar in an attempt to ensure that they receive the highest quality boards; however, requesting Coastal Cedar may be an even more significant way to make sure you receive the best Western Red Cedar possible.

Inland Cedar

Western Red Cedar siding

Coastal Cedar, or Western Red, grows in coastal areas of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia; Inland Cedar grows over a larger area, extending to the Western side of the Rocky Mountains. Because of the greater area across which Inland Cedar grows, that variant offers less consistency. Inland Cedar also includes more knots and a lighter color, making it perfect for applications that require such character. If you’re looking for clear lumber with plenty of knots, Inland Cedar is your best bet.

Due to a greater variation in climate from early to late growth, the appearance of stripes adds to the wood’s character. Those same seasonal shifts cause Inland Cedar trees to remain fairly small and branch more often, producing many knots. Products such as panels, flooring, decking, and ceilings can benefit from such knotty appearance. Using Pine nomenclature, Inland Cedar is often considered #3 and better in the category of STK, or select tight knot.

Coastal Cedar

Also known as Western Red, Coastal Cedar trees quickly grow to be quite large. Since these trees grow relatively few branches, they produce lumber with few knots. Very clear, wide boards, as well as large timbers, are the result. Due to the high amount of rainfall along the coast, Western Red’s coloring is darker and more consistent than that of Inland Cedar. Characterized as CVG, or clear vertical grain, Western Red Cedar is used commonly for indoor applications such as paneling, flooring, and structural timbers, and outdoor uses like siding and shingles.

It’s not as much that one is better than the other as much as the fact that depending on your application and preferences, one will be clearly the better fit. J. Gibson McIlvain carries top grade Inland Cedar and Coastal Cedar in a variety of sizes.

Learn More About the Wood Industry

Wood May Be the Most Renewable Building Material
Understanding Lumber Grading and How It Can Help You

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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