Greatest. Of. All. Time.
Western Red Cedar is a go-to wood choice for outdoor structures and furniture! If you’ve ever gardened in a planter box, sat in a sauna, or had a bbq on a deck, the best quality versions of those are made of cedar! However, there are other woods that can be used such as pressure treated wood, chemically treated wood, or composite. So why is cedar considered the golden standard for outdoor wood? We are going to take a deeper look into why we love cedar: benefits, sustainability, & aesthetics.
What & Where?
Western Red Cedar is a specific type of cedar wood grown in the Pacific northwest and along the Pacific Coast to Alaska. Western red cedar lumber is produced principally in British Columbia and Washington followed by Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Western Red Cedar is a durable, beautiful, and environmentally friendly choice when it comes to indoor and outdoor products and structures. It is important to note that products can and will be labeled as made from “cedar,” but that is often not the case. Competitors to business who use Western Red Cedar, tend to use what is called “Chinese Cedar” because of its lower cost you will often just see this referred to simply as “Cedar”. Chinese Cedar is not actually cedar, it is a fir. Its ability to resist decay and weathering is inferior to Western Red Cedar making it less suitable for outdoor structures. There is also Eastern White Cedar, which is similar to Western Red Cedar, but varies in appearance as it does not have the warm red hues, but rather white yellow hues.
Durable & Resistant
Western Red Cedar is known to be one of the most durable and stable types of timber available. It is resistant to warping, shrinking, and cupping. Even without applying a layer of protective coating, this wood is still exceptionally durable because of the natural chemicals found in the timber. It helps prevent termites, decay, and moisture from damaging and breaking down the wood. Cedar will not warp because of moisture and is naturally resistant to insects and rot, so no chemical treatment is necessary. This also means that cedar requires less maintenance than other types of wood, and doesn’t need any protective chemical finishes.
Western Red Cedar is considered a recyclable material! Long House Cedar discusses how Red Cedar leaves behind a reduced environmental impact for future generations, since it is fully recyclable. Firstly, cedar itself is extremely durable and long-lasting. Purchasing products made of cedar falls into the “one-time purchase” category. When you purchase a Western Red Cedar product, you are going to have that product for a lifetime because it is extremely durable. This means it will not need to go into a landfill a year or two after you purchase it, like many products often do. Additionally, we are living in a moment of recycling old materials, repurposing furniture, and giving new life to old products. Older cedar products are a great material for repurposing! It can be cleaned, sanded, or power-washed for new projects, further keeping it out of our landfills. Very few materials can be reused like this. What makes cedar even more of a recyclable material is how it is eventually broken down after there is no longer use for it. Consumers can rest easy knowing cedar breaks down naturally unlike other types of building material. Because cedar is so beautiful and durable untreated, it does not need to be treated with stains and chemicals, and biodegradable untreated cedar absorbs back into the earth without leaking harmful toxins! Brick, cement, and composite products—don’t break down like cedar wood does once it’s discarded.
Renewable Resource & Uses Less Energy
Cedar trees are a renewable resource, unlike most man-made materials. According to the BC Government website approximately 218 million seedlings on average are planted each year in British Columbia alone. British Columbia prides itself on being a world leader in sustainable forest management. Since specific reforestation programs began in the 1930s, over 7.5 billion trees have been planted. Replanting trees is so important in the fight against climate change. Any cedar product under the Real Cedar brand can only come from sustainably and responsibly managed forests, meaning it is a completely renewable resource. First and foremost, Real Cedar is a sustainably managed resource, and wood products like cedar are the only major building materials that are completely renewable. For every tree harvested there are at least three replanted. What’s more, in British Columbia, where the majority of coastal and interior WRC comes from, there is now more forested land than there was a hundred years ago, and replanting has been so diligent that the total forest land base in North American has grown 20% since 1970.
The world is demanding action on climate change, and natural, climate-friendly and sustainable products like Western Red Cedar are more climate-friendly than manufactured products. Building Products discusses how building with Western Red Cedar produces less waste and uses less energy than materials such as composite. According to an independent study that compared how much energy is needed to obtain, manufacture, and transport, cedar products require much less energy to produce. Furthermore, natural wood products like cedar actually play a vital role in reversing climate change. As young trees grow they remove carbon (greenhouse gas emissions) from the air, store it, and release oxygen. As trees mature, they no longer capture carbon. When the tree dies, or is consumed by wildfire or infestation, the carbon goes back into the environment. When the mature tree is harvested, however, the carbon remains stored, and new trees are grown to replace the cycle. Using wood products keeps this cycle going. Choosing products that have a climate-friendly impact is on trend and crucial for the future of our planet.
Professionals choose western red cedar wood as their material of choice for several reasons. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful in the home, but cedar blends in perfectly with nature and provides a warmth and timelessness that’s hard to resist. Timber2uDirect says, “with the natural colour that Western Reds come with, it is pleasing to the eye. It is a designer’s dream come true. With its crisp colours and tones, any indoor and outdoor spaces can be transformed into something lively and beautiful. Because of this, Western Red Cedar is one of the top choices of timber or any material for that matter, in increasing aesthetics in modern designs.” Western red cedar is pitch and resin-free, meaning it’s ideal for accepting and holding a wide range of beautiful all-natural finishes. However, it’s warm tones and beautiful grain means it is beautiful without any wood finishes as well, making it even more environmentally friendly.