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Gig Harbor, WA 98332

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Wood Species 101: Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar: A Uniquely Resilient Wood Species

One of our favorite wood species for exterior applications is Western Red Cedar. Western Red Cedar has stellar dimensional stability, so it will not warp or sag when used in exterior doors. This wood species is rot resistant and durable thanks to high levels of organic compounds that are toxic to insects and microorganisms. Our Western Red Cedar stock features a clear, straight, tight grain pattern with a reddish pink color. We can also source knotty variations (as seen below) upon request. Darker brown bands are common throughout, creating a rustic look.  

closeup of Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar FAQs

Is Western Red Cedar a hardwood?

No, it is a softwood. But the distinction between hardwoods and softwoods is a little bit complicated. A softwood is the name for evergreen trees. But just because cedar trees are softer than, say, oak, that doesn't mean they're automatically less suitable for exterior use. Because Western Red Cedar has organic compounds that prevent rotting and insect damage, it's great for doors, siding, and fences. 

Where does Western Red Cedar come from?

The Western Red Cedar tree is native to the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

Does Western Red Cedar need to be treated?

When it comes to entry doors, definitely. Applying an exterior finish will help prevent the color from fading or graying, as well as add to the wood's natural defenses against rot, mold, and insect damage. You will also need to be consistent in reapplying wood finish to preserve the wood color. 

Can Western Red Cedar be painted or stained?

Yes! While we always advocate for showing off the natural color and grain of this wood, paint will work on Western Red Cedar. It may have knots in it that will be visible through the paint. And Western Red Cedar looks beautiful with a reddish or brown stain color to bring out its natural warmth. Clear finish on Western Red Cedar can be seen in the image below. 

 Western Red Cedar with Clear Finish applied

Design Suggestions 

  • This wood species reads ‘rustic’ but not in a stereotypical lots-of-knots way. Its straight grain pattern makes it more elegant.  
  • A favorite choice for our chevron-panel doors and rustic-style carriage doors. 
  • This wood species is light weight and less dense than many others, making it the wood of choice for very large carriage doors 
  • Great for: Rustic homes, cabins, and mountain chalets, or any climate or space with dramatic humidity shifts 

Technical Data:  

  • Species name: Thuja plicata 
  • Janka hardness:350 lbf   
  • Wood requires regular maintenance to prevent discoloration 
  • Excellent durability and dimensional stability 
  • Shrinkage:Radial 2.4%, Tangential 5%, Volumetric 6.8% 

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