Why Choose Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar Species

Western Red Cedar grows along the pacific coast from northern California, through the states of Washington and Oregon, into British Columbia Canada and up to south eastern Alaska. The average size of a typical cedar tree is between 45 to 60 metres tall and to diameters of 2.4 metres.

All of Woodpeckers Western Red Cedar is imported from the coastal regions of British Columbia, Canada. Western Red cedar is sustainably felled in British Columbia, where around 1% of BC’S cedar growing stock is fell each year.

To further improve the sustainability of Western Red Cedar, a method of felling called ‘variable retention’ has been introduced. Instead of conventional clear cutting of forest areas, the variable retention system works by leaving enough trees, snags and other woodland material to rest. As a result, this maintains the forest structure and environment to better support the cedar tree re-growth. The BC Ministry of Forests also uses short term and long term computer simulation to optimize sustainability.

 

Western Red Cedar As A Raw Material

Cedar as a raw material occurs naturally as a sapwood and heartwood. The heartwood of cedar exhibits a variation of colours from a straw like pale yellow, through shades of pinks and reds into a warm chocolate dark brown. Western Red Cedar heartwood is highly impermeable to water and waterborne chemicals. This cedar property exists due to natural deposits existing around the pores of the cedar fibres that resist fluid movement and penetration. This restriction of water movements gives cedar itsexceptional dimensional stability (very low warp or distortion). Furthermore, as the heartwood is impermeable to water, this creates a low fibre saturation point. As a result of this low saturation point, cedar does not swell or shrink. This means cedar does not warp or move between different humidities and climates. Low shrinkage and swelling means the cedar is a perfect, reliable material for TandG cladding.

Western Red Cedar heartwood is renowned for its high decay resistance. This is down to the naturally existing presence of chemical extractives and water soluble phenolics. These extractives are toxic to a variety of wood rotting fungi and bacteria. Cedar extractives exist and preserve even when the tree has been felled, machined and made into a finished product for decades.

Western Red Cedar is naturally a light weight material, due to the low material density and the low water existence in the timber.

 

% Moisture Content

0

Oven Dry

6 9

12

Air Dry

15 30

60

Green

Weight (Kg/m3) 330-340 350-360 360-371 370-385 380-391 429-442 528-544
Weight (Lbs/ft3) 21 22 23 23.5 24 27-28 33-34

 

Cedar is easy material to work with because of its straight grain and uniform texture. The low density property of the material means material does not require a high amount of energy and labour to saw or to achieve a high quality finish. Planing and sanding achieves very good results, again due to the low density.

Unseasoned western red cedar is very corrosive against metals due to naturally occurring chemicals. In the outdoor environment with the added exposure to weather corrosion, common iron and copper fixings rapidly deteriorate and decompose. The decomposition of the nail also increases the oxidative deterioration of the cedar in the area local to the nail decay. For this reason it is recommend that stainless steel fixings and hardware should be used when working with western red cedar.

 

Applications Of Western Red Cedar

All of the properties outlined above make Western Red Cedar the perfect material for outdoor applications. The cedar gives anatural contemporary or rustic look, whilst maintaining structural stability and durability that will last many, many years.

For outdoor use, Woodpecker recommends green or air dried Western Red Cedar.

Cedar is used for many applications outdoors including-

  • building cladding
  •  
  • patio decking

  • fences and gates

  • planters

  • garden buildings

  • shelters and outbuildings

  • garden furniture

  • roofing

 

The moisture content of the cedar should approximately match the moisture content in the indented environment the cedar is been located in. For indoor use the equilibrium is around 6 to 8% moisture content. For the indoor environment, kiln dried cedar should be specified.

Indoors, Kiln dried Western Red Cedar is perfect for use in the manufacture of window blinds, wall panelling and sauna installations due to the attraction of the rich aroma and handsome colour tones.

Cedar has a very high heat insulation value, higher than that of brick or concrete. Therefore a building that includes western red cedar in its construction will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, saving on winter heating or summer air conditioning bills.

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