Cedar is a fantastic choice for a deck building material because of its combination of unique properties. It is dimensionally stable meaning that it lays flat and stays straight. Even grain and consistent density make it less likely to warp, cup, or twist. It’s fragrant, dark-colored heartwood naturally resists rot and insect infestation in outdoor environments without the need fo preservative chemicals. It has a rich warm aesthetic quality offering a range of natural hues, tight grain patterns, and soft textures. Fresth cut cedar will come in a wide range of honey/peach shades of light brown. When exposed to weather it will change in color to silver gray. Cedar’s softness makes it easy to work with and readily accepts protective stains although its sawdust can be irritating to the skin and lungs. Its thermal properties allow it to stay cool to the touch in summer heat. The price and availability for different types of cedar wood will vary from region to region. It should be more available and less expensive than redwood and composite decking. We recommend that Cedar should be protected by the use of a stain.
Cedar is similar to redwood in many of its properties because both are from the same genus. Cedar however has more flexural toughness than redwood meaning that it can flex more without shattering and is also less dense and has less natural oil that make it easier to accept stain. Cedar forests are also more abundant and present somewhat less of an environmental issue for commercial logging if managed responsibly.
Cedar trees have a long history in the forestry industry and have been studied by scientists for over a century. The trees grow principally in the Pacific Northwest forests; many reach heights of up to 200 feet tall. These forests are precious resources that require centuries to mature and thrive. Most Old Growth Cedar forests have been restricted or closed to logging to protect its unique ecosystem from exploitation. Old Growth Cedar has higher density than Second Growth but because it is not primarily used for its structural properties it usually makes little difference. Managed forestry is the environmentally and socially responsible practice of logging and manufacturing lumber to maintain the sustainability of our forests. Be sure that any Cedar you buy includes a FCS product label to ensure that it was responsibly harvested and can be traced by its chain of custody. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) www.fsc.org is an international non-profit organization that’s mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.