What is in a name? Would a Cedar by another name smell as sweet? Western Red Cedars (or “Redcedars”) aren’t actually Cedar trees at all, but they do project a strong aromatic fragrance, like true Cedars do (cf The Wood Database). With a reddish to pinkish brown heartwood that often includes random bands and streaks of darker reddish brown areas, the narrow swaths of sapwood are a pale yellowish white. This species boasts excellent resistance to decay, making it perfect for outdoor applications. Today’s popular uses include siding, decks, and pergolas.
Unlike an increasing number of exotic hardwoods, this domestic softwood species boasts lower cost and high availability. Since it comes in large sizes, it’s perfect for achieving the trendy look of wide, long planks. As a Western Red Cedar customer, you can request Clear Vertical Grain (CVG) lumber to make sure you receive the highest quality boards. However, there’s also another important distinction among Western Red Cedars that you should know about: Coastal and Inland.
Even though they all grow along the Pacific Northwest United States and into Canada, the proximity to the ocean makes a significant difference as far as climate goes.
The Red Cedar trees that grow along the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia can be referred to as Coastal Cedar or Western Red.
The high amounts of rain cause these trees to quickly grow tall and large, with few branches. The result is extra-long timbers and wide boards that showcase clear, straight grain and very few knots. The consistent coloring is on the darker side of the Red Cedar spectrum, partly due to the blurring of distinction between early and late growing seasons.
Most CVC Red Cedar is Coastal Cedar. The large timbers and wide boards are ideal for use in siding, paneling, flooring, shingles, and structural supports.
Inland Cedar grows in a climate distinctly different from Coastal Cedar. Differences in soil chemistry and rainfall combine to produce smaller trees with much clearer distinctions between early and late growth periods, producing a striped appearance of boards.
The smaller sizes contribute to the higher number of branches, which produce a greater number of knots. The striped, knotty appearance can be striking, though. Many consider it ideal for paneling, flooring, and decking. Often, it is graded as #3 and better in Select Tight Knot (STK).
Which Western Redcedar to Choose?
Both celebrated variations of Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar), Coastal and Inland Cedar, present very different characteristics. As you place your order, knowing which set of specifications your project requires will help you ask the right questions.
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain, we source the highest quality Inland Cedar and Coastal Cedar available.
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J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a sales representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.