What is Red Cedar Lumber?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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Red cedar lumber generally comes from any of the many varieties of red cedar tree. These species are normally found in the U.S. and Canada. The wood of these specimens is usually very sturdy yet flexible with a smooth, even grain. This product is often used in a variety of projects to include fences, picnic tables, decks, and siding, to name a few.

These boards are generally a soft wood that is normally easy to cut. They are usually flat and do not warp easily. The wood is typically very dense and strong, which makes red cedar a good choice for flooring and playground equipment.

It is generally very easy to glue pieces of red cedar lumber together. This is because adhesive normally sticks well to the surface of these boards. The wood typically holds screws and fasteners tightly as well. This can make it a good choice for home siding or privacy fences, since many sections can be easily joined.

This wood typically contains a natural preservative that protects it from insect damage. Western red cedar is thought to repel clothes-damaging moths, roaches, and termites. It is often used to line closets and wardrobes, or for making chests to store linens in.


It is also not normally damaged by intense sunlight. In addition, these boards can often resist shrinking and swelling due to a change in temperatures. These factors make red cedar lumber a good choice for many outdoor building projects, such as picnic tables and decks.

Unfinished red cedar lumber may have a reddish-brown or yellow hue to it. For this reason, it is sometimes left unfinished. A clear polyurethane or light-colored stain might also be added in order to allow the natural tones of the wood to show. People can also add a darker stain or oil-based paint to this product if desired.

This variety is very aromatic, having a light, woodsy fragrance. This scent is often stronger just after the wood has been harvested, but might also be noticed when the lumber itself has been freshly sawed into pieces. It normally diminishes over time and is not usually offensive to most people.

Red cedar lumber can usually be purchased at a lumber yard or home improvement store. The cost of this material is usually less than other building products, like vinyl, concrete, or hardwood lumber. For these reasons, it can be a good choice for a variety of projects both indoors and out.


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