The Reputation of Western Cedar Red Wood
In a world of plastic, people have almost forgotten the immense benefits and rewards of natural wood. Western Red Cedar is one of the world’s unique softwood species, which grows up to 70 metres tall. It is an evergreen coniferous tree with a reputation for its natural rich tones, extraordinary durability, astonishing capacity to withstand extremes of temperatures, repelling insects and actively combatting bacteria and fungi. It has a tight, straight grain with very few knots.
With its exquisite appearance, durability, healing properties and strength, the Western Red Cedar amalgamates form, function and beauty like no other material.
Renowned in the time of Solomon for its beauty, durability and aroma, it is mentioned often in the Bible. For thousands of years, Cedar wood has been sought after as one of the best and most luxurious building materials, also symbolising a source of protection, wisdom and abundance.
Western Red Cedar has been valued by the first nations along the Pacific Northwest Coast as the “Tree of Life.” At first using it to build longhouses, canoes and totem poles, it has continued to be a treasured material in saunas, hot tubs, decoration, construction and furniture-making thousands of years later.
Many Salish tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast consider the cedar tree a symbol of generosity and providence and had special rituals regarding the felling of cedar trees.
All of these factors will combine to make your Western Red Cedar Sauna or Hot Tub unique very special in every respect.
What is Western Red Cedar Wood used for?
Aesthetically, Western Red Cedar Wood is a naturally stunning building material. It has deep tonal properties that accentuate the richly textured sapwood grains and bared heartwood. Western Red Cedar wood is both pitch and resin-free and will not “bleed.” It contains tannins that give the wood its distinctive colour and also makes it insect repellent. The cellular structure of the wood means it can be treated with a wide variety of oils and other sealants and it can be enhanced with anything from semi-transparent stains to rich dark stains.
Western Red Cedar Wood is particularly suitable for:
- Outdoor living: Its exceptional durability makes it the perfect choice for outdoor use, such as saunas, hot tubs, furniture, decks and decorative fences. It brings warmth, character and longevity to any outdoor living space. It maintains its original shape and dimensions and does not warp, cup or twist and is expected to last at least forty years.
- Indoor furniture: Because of its natural beauty, Western Red Cedar wood is popular for indoor furniture. It is very light, durable and extremely stable.
- Musical instruments: Its lightness, resistance to insects and dimensional stability, combined with remarkable resonant qualities, make it a very popular choice for musical instruments.
- Thermal insulation: It has an extremely high thermal coefficient that by far outperforms other softwoods, concrete, steel and bricks. This makes it perfect for saunas, conservatories and greenhouses.
- Soundproofing: It is particularly effective to reduce or contain sound in recording studios, clubs, music rooms, auditoriums etc. It can be used on the floor, ceiling and walls or noisy work areas. Its acoustic and insulation qualities are far superior to most other materials.
- Joinery: Its strength, durability and natural resistance to moisture and insects make it the ideal choice for upmarket stairs, window frames, doors and doorframes.
- Exterior siding: It naturally resists decay and rotting, with an expected lifetime of at least forty years, even in the worst circumstances if appropriately maintained.
Medicinal properties of Western Red Cedar Wood
Who would have guessed that the oil from a tree could be so beneficial to your health and wellness? Surprisingly, cedarwood essential oil has many medicinal properties. Among others, it is:
- insecticidal and insect repellent
- mildew preventive
- a natural deodoriser.
Other highly desirable qualities of Western Red Cedar Wood
- Fire Protection: It has exceptional fire prevention properties and a minimal flame spread. This is a highly desirable quality in a sauna or other structures.
- Dimensional stability: It offers unrivalled dimensional stability. This quality refers to how the wood shrinks and swells in relation to moisture gain or loss in the air or for instance, a hot tub or sauna. Western Red Cedar resists moisture and consequently has virtually no change in its dimensions, making it perfect for hot tubs and saunas.
- Resistance to termites and other insects: It has natural preservatives that repel insects and resist decay.
- Acoustic properties: The open cellular structure of the wood helps to absorb and dissipate sound to confine noise. Its resonance makes it a perfect choice for manufacturing musical instruments and cladding music rooms and auditoriums.
- Asthetic appeal: It is rich with crisp colours and tones that blend in with any architectural style or décor and completely transforms outdoor spaces.
How is Western Red Cedar Wood waterproofed?
The process is started by sanding the timber with progressively finer grit sandpaper and then oiling it with linseed oil, walnut oil or tung oil (known as China wood oil, also used as a drying agent in ink, varnishes, etc) For exterior use it is also sealed with wax, blocking primer and a top coat of quality sealant.
Western Red Cedar wood can grip just about any kind of good quality sealant or stain.
Where does Western Red Cedar Wood grow?
Western red cedar is a large slow-growing softwood tree that grows mainly in British Columbia and some of the nearby western states of the USA.
It is native to North America but has also been introduced to other temperate zones, including western Europe and Australia.
Western Red Cedar Wood is a Renewable resource
Western Red Cedar Wood is superior to synthetic products in every way, but especially so in terms of being environmentally friendly. It is renewable, biodegradable and sourced from the most sustainable forests in the world. What is more, the trees remove greenhouse gases, as opposed to other building products that produce greenhouse gases.
How is the quality of Western Red Cedar Wood certified?
Only Western Red Cedar wood has the unique natural qualities that give it its durability, exceptional beauty and longevity, suitable for outdoor living, saunas and hot tubs.
The two Cedar grading-agencies in the USA and Canada, responsible for certifying the world’s highest quality of Western Red Cedar, are the National Lumber Grades Authority and the West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau. They inspect and grade each individual board of Western Red Cedar wood. Apart from the quality, they check it for numerous different factors, but the two terms you are most likely to encounter are “clear” and “knotty.”
Clear cedar is visually clean and free from defects. You will see only a few, if any, knots, streaks, or any other kind of visual imperfections in the board. This specification is given when appearance of the highest quality is desired. Knotty cedar allows more knots and streaks, for a more rustic appearance.
The other major distinction to look out for is the difference between vertical grain and mixed grain. It depends on how the log was sawed, with the grain, or across the rings of the tree.
Clear, vertical grain cedar is most prized for its beauty and strength. It naturally expands and contracts in relation to the amount of moisture in the air to ensure there is no warping, buckling, twisting or cupping.