Cedar is a strong softwood that is used for both indoor and outdoor furniture. It is known for its long-lasting scent and resistance to insects and decay.
Wearing reddish brown shades inside and out,
Resisting bugs and decay gives this soft wood some clout,
Hope chests thrive built with the scent and strong features
Of western red and aromatic cedar.
Look of Cedar Furniture
Cedar’s heartwood is reddish to pinkish brown with pale creamy yellow sapwood. The sapwood can run through the heartwood in the form of streaks and stripes. Cedar has a straight grain with some knots present and a fine to medium texture.
Cedar’s red hues, medium texture and the presence of some knots contribute to a rustic look, making it a great match for country style furniture, log furniture, hope chests, birdhouses and planter boxes.
Is Cedar Wood Good for Furniture?
Even though cedar is a soft wood, its durability, affordability, beautiful colors and natural resistance to rot and decay make it a prime candidate for fine outdoor cedar furniture. It resists changes in temperature and moisture, making it less prone to expanding or contracting. Cedar outdoor furniture stands up well in humid climates.
For indoor cedar furniture, the fresh cedar scent, which is pleasant to humans but repels insects, makes it a beautiful choice for treasured cedar hope chests and closet linings.
Cedar wood is also used for:
- Exterior siding
- Musical instruments
Building Cedar Furniture
The majority of cedar used nationally is Western red and aromatic red cedar. Western red is most widely available in the U.S. Western red cedar is easy to cut and work with using hand or machine tools. Aromatic cedar is almost three times harder than western red. Aromatic cedar has a Janka* hardness rating of 900, while Western red cedar has a rating of 350.
The softness, low density and light weight of cedar wood make it easier to work with and to cut and shape. The softness also means cedar can dent more easily than other woods, but often these markings just enhance its rustic look. Cedar takes glue and finishes well.
*The Janka Rating is used to test relative hardness of wood. It measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444” steel ball into the wood to half of the ball’s diameter.
Natural Characteristics of Cedar Wood
Cedar is a stable and strong wood. It’s the natural oils in cedar wood that provide its scent. The oils help preserve the wood and they repel insects and the growth of fungus. This is why there’s no need for concern when storing cloth heirlooms and linens in cedar hope chests. They store safely with cedar to protect them.
Cedar wood tends to stay cool even when its outside in the sun. How? Cedar is a porous wood that contains tiny pockets of air in the wood grain. These pockets insulate the wood and protect it from changes in temperature, making it a pleasant wood to have for your outdoor furniture during the summer months.
Cedar wood is sound resistant as well, making it a popular wood to use for siding, shingles and fences too.
The Growth of Cedar Trees
Western red cedar trees (thuja plicata) are members of the cypress family of trees and can grow quite large, with some reaching heights of almost 200 feet. The average tree grows between 70 and 100 feet tall. Western red cedar trees grow in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Can Cedar Wood Be Left Untreated?
While cedar’s straight grain and fine-to-medium texture hold finishes well, it is often left unfinished to help preserve its scent. To maintain cedar colors, particularly with outdoor cedar furniture, you can seal it for added protection.
Cedar outdoor furniture that is left unfinished can weather to a silver gray color over time.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Cedar Wood?
The advantages of cedar wood include:
- Pleasant scent
- Rich colors
- Rustic look
- Strong in humid temperatures
- Repels insects and growth of fungus
- Naturally resists decay
- Low maintenance
The disadvantages of cedar wood include:
- Softness means it can sustain dents more easily
- Need to re-seal outdoor cedar furniture every few years
Caring for Cedar Furniture
Outdoor cedar wood furniture might need to be cleaned periodically. This can be done with just mild soap and water. If outdoor cedar furniture is sealed, it might become necessary to reapply sealer every few years.
Feel free to email or call our team of furniture specialists with any questions about our cedar furniture.