Grown in North America, Western Red Cedar is renowned for its high impermeability to liquids and its natural phenol preservatives, which make it ideally suited for exterior use and interior use where humidity is high.
Western Red Cedars’ slow growth, dense fibre and natural oily extractives are responsible for its decay resistance and its rich colouring, which ranges from a light milky straw color in the sapwood to a vanilla-chocolate in the heartwood. It is a stable wood that seasons easily and quickly, with a very low shrinkage factor.
Appearance: Heartwood very pale brown to very dark brown. Sapwood yellowish white. Texture fine but uneven. Grain straight. Growth rings prominent.
Easy to work but the sanding dust can be very irritating to the breathing passages, so a well-ventilated workshop is essential. It is rather brittle, so care is needed in working end grain.
Since it is very soft there is a risk when dressing it that the cutters may compress the softer earlywood, which will later recover to produce a ridged surface. Glues well and is a good base for coatings.
The damp wood is corrosive to iron, resulting in a black discolouration of the surrounding wood, so hot-dipped galvanised nails are commonly used in areas likely to experience any dampness.
A yellowish colouring readily leaches from the wood, so white-painted woodwork at a lower level can be stained if storm rains penetrate, say, to the unprotected rear surface of cladding. Not resinous.