Cedar is Plentiful
From Northern British Columbia, Canada, to California, a rugged 1,500-mile spine of mountains parallels the Pacific coast of North America. Along the slopes and in the valleys of these mountains humus-rich soil nourishes mixed softwood forests in vast abundance. It is among these coastal forests that the majority of Western Red Cedar grows. In addition, western red cedar also grows in the drier interior forests of British Columbia, Washington, Idaho and Montana, where they are smaller in stature with a tight-knotted-growth characteristic.
Western red cedar trees are rarely grown in isolation; they are raised with other species in predominantly managed forests in which controlled harvests, natural regeneration, and reforestation programs ensure a perpetual harvest.
Unique Physical Qualities of Cedar
Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is renowned worldwide for its unique weather-resistant properties. It is a lightweight and dimensionally stable wood, because it lies flat and stays straight, therefore resisting the natural tendency to crack and check, as you might find in many other wood species.
Being a naturally lightweight wood, cedar is easy to handle and craft for both the professional and do-it-yourselfer. Cedar wood can be cut, shaped, planed, sanded, nailed and glued easily. It is free of pitch and resin and it finishes to a richly glowing surface that can be enhanced with semi-transparent or full-bodied stains.
Western red cedar has an incredible thermal co-efficient, meaning that even on hot days, it is cool to sit in. Cedar is resistant to bacteria and fungus, and is 80% the strength of Oak, making cedar a most desirable wood for building outdoor furniture.
Cedar has Natural Protection against the Elements
The oils contained within the fibers of western red cedar act as natural preservatives. This helps the wood to resist rot and decay, making it excellent furniture material for moist or humid climates. These properties also make cedar a very popular material for hot tub and sauna areas.
Among other things, cedar’s naturally occurring organic compounds (called thujaplicins) give off that distinct cedar aroma that makes the wood highly unattractive to insects, moths, and other pests. This is why cedar is the choice material for closet liners and blanket storage chests.
Cedar is Ideal for Long-term Use
Aside from being the choice material for outdoor patio and garden furniture, cedar is the preferred material for any outdoor applications that seek visual harmony with the landscape without sacrificing stability and durability. Various uses range from patio furniture products to siding and patio decking, to fences, planters, screens and shelters. Buildings that feature cedar paneling, ceilings, or siding tend to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Cedar also has excellent sound suppression and absorption qualities. Properly finished and maintained, western red cedar ages gracefully and endures for many years.