Douglas fir and cedar are two of the most popular softwoods. They are available in large quantities, are highly workable, and make beautiful furniture.

The two species of wood are also very common in construction projects as they’re affordable and sustainable.

But which one is better? Assuming you can only pick one for your next project, which one should it be? Read on to find out.

Douglas Fir Vs Cedar; Which is Better?

Douglas fir is better for framing, flooring, and trusses because it’s strong, hard, and durable. Meanwhile, cedar wood is softer, thus a better choice for lining chests and closets. It’s also common in roofing and paneling as it’s moth and rot-resistant.

Overview

The following is a low-down on the two wood species to set the stage for a head-to-head comparison.

What is Douglas Fir?

Douglas fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, is an evergreen coniferous softwood most commonly found in the pacific west. It resembles a pine tree, but is known as a fir. Fir is the most common softwood in North America.

Types

The Douglas fir is a member of the fir family, which includes dozens of other wood species, such as the Balsam fir, Korean fir, white fir, and noble fir.

However, the douglas fir is further split into two species; the coast Douglas fir and Rocky Mountain Douglas fir. The two species are characterized by different habitats, growth rates, and physical properties.

Properties

Douglas fir has yellowish-white sapwood and an orange-red to reddish-brown heartwood, comparable to redwood.

Latewood is darker than early wood. It has a straight grain pattern, is highly workable, and has negligible dimensional movement.

What is Cedarwood?

Cedrus, common as cedar, is a member of the Pinaceae family of coniferous softwoods. It’s native to the mountains of the western Himalayas and the Mediterranean region. So, it’s also readily available in most local lumber yards.

Types

There are more than a dozen cedarwood species. However, the most common ones are the western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, eastern red cedar, and northern white cedar. Other species are the Himalayan cedar, Atlas cedar, and Chinese cedar.

Properties

Cedar is one of America’s most durable softwoods. It lasts decades and even centuries with good maintenance.

The colors vary from one cedar species to the next. For instance, the western red cedar is soft, red-brown lumber with tight, straight grains and few knots.

Douglas Fir vs Western Red Cedar Head to Head

The following is a comparison of Douglas fir versus western red pine based on selected critical factors;

Appearance/Color

Both Douglas fir and western red cedar have a reddish-brown heartwood and pale yellowish-white sapwood. However, the western red cedar fades into a beautiful silver-grey color over time.

Grain pattern

Both Douglas fir and the western red cedar have straight grain patterns. However, the textures vary. Douglas fir has a fine to medium texture. Meanwhile, cedarwood has a notably rough texture.

Hardness

Douglas fir is much harder than the western red cedar. Whereas the western red cedar is rated 350 lbf on the Janka scale, Douglas fir is nearly twice as hard, scoring 660 lbf on the same hardness scale.

Cedar vs Douglas fir strength

Douglas fir is nearly twice as strong as western red cedar. It has a compressive strength of 7230, whereas the western red cedar has a compressive strength of 4560. Therefore, it can bear more load without breaking.

Douglas fir vs cedar rot resistance

Both Douglas fir and western red cedar are extremely rot-resistant. However, cedar edges this contest. It’s one of the most rot-resistant woods in North America, thus a staple in outdoor projects.

Durability

Douglas fir’s superior hardness and strength make it slightly more durable than western red cedar wood. Although fir items can last many years, cedar items can last a lifetime with good maintenance.

Related: Best stain for douglas fir door

Sustainability

Both Douglas fir and cedar are highly sustainable wood species. First, they are available in large quantities and the forest are not under threat. Additionally, they grow very fast. Therefore, new trees quickly replace old ones.

Uses/applications

Douglas fir is mainly used in building and construction. They are excellent for roofing, wall and ceiling structures, framework constructions, interior trim, exterior trim, and outdoor projects.

Meanwhile, western red cedar is commonly used in cladding, fencing, garden furniture, and paneling.

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Douglas fir vs cedar cost

Western red cedar is slightly more expensive than Douglas fir for one main reason – demand. Though both are readily available, the western red cedar is in higher demand because of its more striking red hue and aromatic scent.

Douglas Fir Vs Cedar Wood: Key Distinctions

The main distinction between Douglas fir and the western red cedar is that Douglas fir is stronger, harder, more rot-resistant, and more durable. Meanwhile, western red cedar is more beautiful and costlier.

Cedar vs douglas fir fence

Cedar wood is a better fencing wood than Douglas fir because it’s more rot and decay-resistant. Cedar species take a long time to rot, even when in contact with the ground or in wet conditions.

Douglas fir vs cedar pergola

Both Douglas fir and cedar make excellent materials for a pergola. However, woodworkers concur that Doug fir edges the contest. It is almost twice as strong as cedar and way harder, thus guaranteeing a more durable pergola.

FAQs

Is douglas fir rot resistant?

Yes, Douglas fir is highly rot-resistant. The heartwood is particularly extremely resistant to rot and decay. It can last many years without rotting or decaying, even when in contact with the ground or water.

Is cedar good for exterior trim?

Cedarwood is one of the best wood types for an outdoor project, especially exterior trim and fascia. It is resistant to rot, decay, moisture, and weather. It’s also dimensionally stable and highly workable. Above all, cedarwood is beautiful.

Is cedar better than douglas fir?

Generally, you can say that cedar is better than Douglas fir, and the superiority is reflected in the prices. Though Douglas fir is stronger and harder, cedar, especially the western red cedar, is more beautiful and more rot and decay-resistant. It’s also rarer.

Is douglas fir good for outdoor use?

Yes, Douglas fir is good for outdoor use. Its durability and resistance to rot and insects make it a favorite for outdoor projects such as porches and decking. It’s also perfect for roofing and exterior trim.

Is douglas fir more expensive than cedar?

No, cedar is more expensive than Douglas fir. Both are very affordable and readily available in most lumber stores. However, cedar has a higher demand given its aesthetic and weather-resistance properties.

How long do cedar garden beds last?

Cedar garden beds generally last 10 to 15 years and can last longer with proper maintenance. Cedarwood’s impressive weather, rot, and decay resistance allows them to live long even when exposed to moisture/water or in contact with the soil. Cedar is also highly insect-resistant.

Verdict

When to Use Douglas Fir: Douglas fir is best suited for building and construction projects. So, it’s a great choice for roofing, framework construction, interior and exterior trim, and wall and ceiling structures.

When to Use Cedarwood: Cedarwood is good for weather-exposed applications that don’t require the strongest wood. Therefore, fencing, garden furniture, and paneling are a few excellent applications.

Additional Resources: Douglas Fir Vs Pine Wood Comparison

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