Western Red Cedar, which is not technically a true Cedar, is a tree from the Cypress family. It is sometimes spelled “Western Redcedar,” and, although both are truly misnomers, Western Red Cedar does exhibit many of Cedar’s same qualities. For example, Western Red Cedar is a softwood, but it is often used in outdoor applications because its natural characteristics make it very well-suited for exterior projects. Even the untreated lumber is quite rot resistant as a result of high levels of extractives, which act as a natural fungicide.
Western Red Cedar is also very stable once dried, but because the drying process for this lumber can sometimes be difficult to perfect, it is important for consumers to select the right wholesaler. The lumber specialists at J. Gibson McIlvain, a centuries-old wholesaler of high quality lumber, are experts at dealing with this lumber, so they’re a great source of information.
Western Red Cedar grows in a very large region along the west coast of the United States and Canada, but, while this wood does grow plentifully, concerns have been rising about the continuing availability of this wood. This concern is largely the result of Western Red Cedar’s rapidly increasing popularity, but with greater environmental awareness and more responsible forestry practices, the supply has already begun to balance. In fact, the rate of replanting for this species is five to one, meaning that future generations will see more Western Red Cedar than any who came before them.
Western Red Cedar lumber, in addition to being durable, is also considered very beautiful. The wood has a long, straight grain pattern and also exhibits warm undertones – an appearance that lends itself well to any design.
In exterior applications, Western Red Cedar is a wonderful choice. The wood has a low density, making it very lightweight, and as such, it was traditionally popular for use in shingle making. It is also used to construct exterior wood siding, trim, outdoor furniture, decking projects, and even interior millwork. What’s more, its exceptional weather resistance allows Western Red Cedar to come in direct contact with the ground, and as such, it is often used to construct fence posts, sheds, trellises, pergolas, and other outdoor structures.