If you are planning to build a fence, deck, swing set or any other outdoor structure, choosing the right type of wood is essential for its longevity and durability. Cedar and redwood are two popular wood types often used for outdoor projects. Both have unique characteristics and advantages, making it challenging to decide which one to choose. In this article, we will take a closer look at redwood vs cedar and compare their properties, durability, maintenance, and cost to help you make an informed decision.
Cedar is a softwood known for its natural beauty and aromatic scent. It is a popular choice for outdoor projects because it is lightweight, easy to work with, and naturally resistant to rot and insects. Cedar is available in different grades, including clear, knotty, and tight knot, which can affect its appearance and cost.
Durability: Cedar is a durable wood that can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. However, it is not as resistant to rot and decay as redwood, so it may require more frequent staining or sealing to prevent water damage.
Appearance: Cedar has a warm, reddish-brown color that can vary depending on the grade and age of the wood. It has a distinct grain pattern and knots, giving it a rustic or natural look. Cedar can be left untreated to weather to a natural silver-gray patina or stained to enhance its color and protect it from UV rays.
Maintenance: Cedar requires regular maintenance to keep its color and prevent water damage. It can be cleaned with soap and water or a wood cleaner, and should be sealed or stained every 2-3 years to protect it from moisture and sun damage.
Cost: Cedar is generally less expensive than redwood, but the cost can vary depending on the grade and availability. Clear cedar is the most expensive, while knotty or tight knot cedar is more affordable.
Redwood is a hardwood known for its rich, reddish-brown color and durability. It is a popular choice for outdoor projects because it is resistant to rot and insects and can last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. Redwood is available in different grades, including heartwood and sapwood, which can affect its appearance and cost.
Durability: Redwood is more durable than cedar and can resist decay and insects for decades without chemical treatments. It is a dense wood less prone to splitting and warping than cedar, making it a better choice for decks and other horizontal applications.
Appearance: Redwood has a distinctive reddish-brown color that can range from light to dark, depending on the grade and age of the wood. It has a straight grain pattern and few knots, which gives it a sleek and uniform appearance. Redwood can be left untreated to weather to a natural gray patina or stained to enhance its color and protect it from UV rays.
Maintenance: Redwood requires minimal maintenance compared to cedar and can be cleaned with soap and water or a wood cleaner. It should be stained or sealed every 3-5 years to protect it from moisture and sun damage.
Cost: Redwood is generally more expensive than cedar, but the price can vary depending on the grade and availability. Heartwood redwood is the most expensive, while sapwood redwood is more affordable.
Cedar Vs Redwood for Fencing
Both redwood and cedar are excellent choices for fencing, as they are naturally resistant to rot and insects. However, redwood is a denser and more durable wood, which makes it a better choice for high-traffic areas or where there is more exposure to moisture.
Additionally, redwood is less likely to warp or shrink than cedar, which means it can maintain its structural integrity for longer. Cedar is also a good option for fencing, particularly for those on a budget, as it is generally more affordable than redwood. However, it may require more frequent staining and sealing than redwood to maintain its appearance and durability.
Cedar or Redwood for Decking
Cedar vs Redwood for decking – Redwood is the better choice due to its superior durability and resistance to moisture. Redwood decking can last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance, making it a long-term investment. It is also less likely to splinter or warp than cedar, which means it can provide a smoother surface for walking on barefoot.
Cedar decking is also a popular option, particularly for those seeking a more affordable choice. However, cedar is less durable than redwood and may require more frequent staining and sealing to prevent water damage and maintain its appearance. It is also more prone to splitting and warping, which means it may not be suitable for high-traffic areas or areas with extreme weather conditions.
Cedar or Redwood for a Swing Set
Both redwood or cedar are good options for building a swing set, as they are naturally resistant to rot and insects. However, redwood is the better choice due to its durability and density. It can withstand the swing set’s weight and the swinging movement without warping or bending.
Cedar is also a good option for a swing set, particularly for those on a budget. However, it may require more frequent staining and sealing than redwood to prevent water damage and maintain its appearance.
Maintenance for Cedar and Redwood
Proper maintenance is essential for keeping cedar and redwood in good condition and extending their lifespan. Here are some tips for maintaining cedar and redwood:
Cleaning: Both cedar and redwood can be cleaned with soap and water or a wood cleaner to remove dirt, grime, and mildew. Bleach and water can also remove stubborn stains, but it should be diluted and applied carefully to avoid damaging the wood.
Staining and Sealing: Cedar and redwood should be stained or sealed every 2-3 years to protect them from moisture and sun damage. Clear sealers can be used to maintain the natural color of the wood, while colored stains can be used to enhance their appearance and provide added protection.
How Are Cedar and Redwoods Identified?
Cedars and redwoods are both tall, majestic trees that can be found in different parts of the world. Differentiating between these two tree species can be quite challenging for a non-expert, but there are several key factors to consider when identifying cedars and redwoods.
Cedar trees are part of the Pinaceae family and are commonly found in North America, Europe, and Asia. There are several species of cedar trees around the world, including Atlantic white cedar, Alaska yellow cedar, and western red cedar, among others.
- Cedar trees have narrow, conical shapes with a pointed top.
- Their leaves are needle-like with clusters along the branches.
- The bark is usually reddish-brown or grey-brown in color with deep furrows and ridges.
Cedar trees grow well in cool temperatures and moist soil conditions. They can also tolerate some shade and prefer elevations between sea level to 4,000 feet.
Redwood trees belong to the Taxodiaceae family and can only be found naturally on the west coast of North America. There are two species of redwood: the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
- Redwood trees have a pyramid-like shape with a broad base that tapers into a pointed crown.
- The leaves are needle-like similar to cedar trees but they grow singly rather than in clusters along the branches.
- The bark is thick with fibrous ridges that resemble plates. It is usually brown-red in color with some lighter areas.
Redwood trees thrive best in coastal climates where it is cool and foggy throughout most of the year. They prefer well-drained soils and elevations between sea level and 2,500 feet.
In conclusion, both cedar and redwood are excellent choices for outdoor projects, but they have different properties, durability, maintenance requirements, and costs. Redwood is more durable and moisture-resistant than cedar, making it a better choice for decking and high-traffic areas. Cedar is more affordable than redwood and has a natural resistance to rot and insects, which makes it a good choice for those on a budget. Ultimately, the choice between cedar or redwood will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the specific needs of your project. Considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make an informed decision and choose the best type of wood for your outdoor projects.