Why Is Cedar Wood Expensive? DIY Sealing of Cedar Wood In 4 Easy Steps

For the longest time, cedar has been among the best woods used in the woodworking industry. Its durability and aesthetic look has made it popular among woodworkers.

While hardwoods are generally more expensive than softwoods due to their durable properties and slower growth rate, cedar, which is a softwood, is relatively expensive. And one question that you might ask is, Why Is Cedar Wood Expensive?

There are various factors that contribute to the high cost of cedar. First things first, cedar grows in selected places since they have specific requirements for growth. For this reason, transportation of cedar logs can be time-consuming, leading to limited supply: hence the high cost of cedar.

Secondly, the process of manufacturing and harvesting cedar is very labor-intensive, contributing to its high cost. Finally, cedar is prized for its durability, weather condition resistance, and beautiful appearance. These characteristics make it desirable and in high demand, which further drives up the cost.

This is just a summary of the key things you need to know about the price of cedar. In this article, we will expound more on cedar. Please keep reading this article for more insights.

What Is Cedar Wood?

Cedar wood is a type of softwood known for its versatility and durability thanks to its natural resins. These resins give cedar wood protection against moisture, insect attacks, and weather elements.

Types of Cedar Wood

  • Western Red Cedar 

Western red cedar is also known as Thuja Plicata, and grows in the Pacific Northwest, US and Canada. It has a pinkish yellowish color, medium coarse texture, and a straight grain. Furthermore, it is very sturdy despite being lightweight.

In addition, it has a strength of 7500 psi, comprehensive strength of 4560 psi, hardness of 1560, and density of 21 lbs/ft3.  Western red cedar is naturally resistant to decay and easy to work with, making it an ideal choice for woodworking projects including boats, musical instruments, and cedar shingles.

  • Eastern Red Cdar

Also called “Aromatic cedar”, it grows in eastern North America and Canada.  Eastern red cedar has a reddish-brown heartwood, straight grain, with fine even texture. In addition, it has a hardness of 4000 N, density of 32 lbs/ft3, and 900 Lbf resistance to denting and wear.

Moreover, it has a bending strength of 8850 making it ideal for crafting bows, pencils, and other outdoor furniture. However, it is not suitable for use in machines since the grain is sometimes interlocked or wavy.

  • Northern White Cedar

It grows in northeast North America and is mostly used for cabinetry, shingle, lumber, and building boats. Northern white cedar has a brownish-yellow color that turns to grayish-black or dark brown as it ages. Even better, it has a fine workability given its durability and crack resistance.

  • Lebanon Cedar 

Lebanon is also referred to as Cedrus Libani and is native to Lebanon terrains. It’s also depicted on their national flag. Further, it has a light red-brown color at its heartwood, with curvy line patterns and random woodgrains on darker spots.

In addition, the lumber can be used for building coffins, ships, and ornamental objects like staves, pillars, and doors.

  • Spanish cedar 

It is also known as Cedro, it’s prized for its beautiful appearance and warmth. Spanish cedar has indistinct grains and a reddish brown heartwood. It’s native to the Caribbean and South America.

However, its interlocked pattern makes it difficult to be used in machines. Thus, it is often used to make cigar boxes, musical instruments, cabinetry and furniture.

  • Incense Cedar

Incense cedar grows in the southern part of North America, specifically in California and Oregon. It weighs 24 lbs/ft3 and has a hardness of 2090N, making it harder than other types of cedar.  Also, the wood has a light brown color with a reddish tint, and a straight but consistent grain.

In California, incense cedar is often available at a fair price. It is commonly used for making cedar fences, posts, shingles, and pencils.

How Much Does Cedar Wood Cost?

Why Is Cedar Wood Expensive?
A Cedar Wood Board

The cost of cedar wood varies depending on several factors such as the quality, size, and location. Here are some general guidelines for cedar wood prices by size:

  • Cedar Boards: They are commonly used for fencing, decking, and many outdoor projects. A cedar board ranges from $ 2 to $10 per linear foot, depending on the wood’s grade and thickness.

For instance, 1x6x8 can cost around $5 to $ 7 per board, 2×4 cedar boards prices range from $3 to $15 per linear foot. Further, 2×4 boards are found in lengths from 8 to 16 feet and are usually used for framing.

1×4 cedar boards are also available in lengths from 8 to 16 and cost up to $2 to $10 per linear foot.

  • Cedar Timbers: These are larger wood pieces pieces that are often used for outdoor structural purposes, such as building gazebos or other structures. They range from $3 to $3 per linear foot, depending on the size and grade. For example, a 6x6x10 can cost $50 to $60.
  • Cedar Posts: They are commonly used for fencing and deck constructions, and are available in lengths from 8–16.

A 6×6 cedar post price ranges from $60 to $120 per post, while a 4×4 cedar post ( 8 to 12 in length) ranges from $25 – $50 per post.

  • Cedar Shingles: They cost $ 100 – $ 150 per square( 100 square feet)

But again, these prices vary depending on the location, type, and grade of cedar wood. It is always a good idea to research prices and compare quotes from different suppliers before making a decision.

Why Is Cedar Wood So Popular?

Cedar is a popular choice for various applications due to its many benefits and unique properties.

The following are the reasons why cedar is popular.

  • Aesthetically Pleasing 

Cedar has a beautiful natural look that many people find appealing. There are various types of cedar wood, and each is attractive on its own. The wood also has a distinctive grain pattern that adds character to any project.

Even better, the natural grain patterns stick out even more when a proper finish is applied.

  • Durability and Sturdiness 

Cedar has a high bending and compressive strength.  It is strong and durable, making it a popular choice for outdoor use. The wood is also resistant to splitting and warping which improves its durability.

Moreover, cedar has fibers remain instant regardless of the weigh and pressure.

  • Insect Repellant 

Cedar wood contains natural oils and scent that naturally repels bugs and other insects. Hence, it a popular choice for outdoor furniture, decks, and fences. Additionally, these oils can be extracted and sprayed to keep insects, termites, and cockroaches away.

interestingly, even though this scent might be appealing to humans, it can be foul and even harmful to insects.

  • Moisture Resistance

Cedar wood is naturally moisture-resistant, which helps to prevent rot and decay. Thus, it is an ideal option in areas prone to moisture, such as saunas and bathrooms.

  • Sound Absorption 

Since cedar is a softwood, it has a porous surface that allows it to absorb sound. As a result, it is used for musical instruments and applied to the interior and exterior of buildings and homes.

 Cedar Vs Oak Price Comparison 

Generally, oak is considered more expensive than cedar because it is classified as hardwood. It is much more popular, looks better than cedar, and is more durable. However, among hardwoods, oak is relatively affordable compared to other options.

Additionally, oak trees grow relatively slow and their wood is heavy, dense, and difficult to transport, especially when imported. These factors contribute significantly to its high price.

On the contrary, western red cedar is native to the United States and can be found anywhere in the country. As such, cedar generally costs less than oak. But due to its high demand, the price of cedar tends to rise above that of many other softwoods and hardwoods.

Red oak costs $ 5.49 per board foot which is cheaper than eastern red cedar, which costs $6.29 per board foot. In contrast, white oak costs $ 9.99 per board foot. On the other hand, the western red cedar costs $ 14.00 per board foot which is the most expensive among these woods.

Also, cedar cladding tends to cost around £10 – €65 per square meter, while oak costs £20 – 50 £ per square meter.

It’s worth knowing that these prices vary depending on the location, market conditions, and the supplier. It’s always a good idea to compare prices from different suppliers before shopping to ensure you are getting the best value of your money.

Why Is Cedar Wood So Valuable?

Cedar wood is considered valuable for a number of reasons. They include:

  • Oil content

Cedar has natural oils that offer many benefits. Woodworkers often apply oil to wood for protection, but cedar has its own oil, giving it an advantage. Moreover, cedar oil extracted from cedar wood has many uses, such as natural medicine and aromatherapy, making wood a valuable resource.

  • Acoustics  

Cedar wood has excellent acoustic properties, meaning it absorbs sounds and reduces vibrations. As such, it is used in the construction of musical instruments such as guitars and violins.

  • Sustainability 

Cedar wood is a renewable resource that is harvested and regrown in a sustainable manner. Thus, it is an eco friendly choice for consumers who are environmentally conscious.

  • Historic and Cultural Significance

Over the years, cedar has been used by many cultures for different reasons, including spiritual practices, building construction, and furniture making. Its historic heritage and rich culture contribute to it being popular and valued to some extent.

  • Scent 

Cedar has a pleasant aroma that makes it ideal in wardrobes, chests for storing clothes, and trunks.  This is due to its natural properties that protect your clothes against bacteria.

  • Uniform Texture

Cedar is usually used for cladding due to its fine and even texture. Also, for durability, beauty, and soundproofing properties.

  • Thermal Insulation

Cedar is perfect for building homes or structures in cold climates. It has excellent thermal insulation properties, making it valued in this sector.

  • Resistance To Decay

Cedar has natural resins that protect it against insect damage and decay. Hence, it is a valuable material for exterior projects such as siding, decking and fencing.

Furthermore, the Western and Eastern red cedar is the most commonly used wood on shingles today. They are perfect for shingles and exterior applications thanks to their temperature resistance.

  • Stability 

Cedar wood has a low shrinkage and swelling rate, which means it remains stable and won’t warp twist like other woods. This makes it an ideal choice for building structures and furniture.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cedar Wood

Cedar is a great wood with many qualities that makes it excellent to work with. Below are some of the advantages of using cedar wood.

Pros of Cedar Wood

  • Lightweight

Cedar has a relatively low density and thus is considered to be among the lightest woods. This makes it easy to transport and work with. Moreover, the wood has sufficient moisture making it easy to use in high altitudes with low chances of cracking and warping.

  • Durability  

This lumber has natural chemicals that make it last for a long time. Its oils prevents moisture, fungus, and insects from attacking the wood. Further, with these chemicals, cedar can last for 30-40 years. And when properly maintained the lumber can stay durable for many years.

However, the durability of any wood is based on weather, moisture, and maintenance. Thus, expect the lumber’s longervity to shorten with harsh environmental conditions.

  • High Workability

Cedar is an easy-to-work with softwood, making it ideal for beginners. It cuts and curves easily. Besides, the screws and nails hold firmly in the wood. And it accepts paints, glue, and polish for long-lasting finishes.

However, Cedar’s workability depends on its characteristics. For instance, if the wood is twisted or bowed, it can be challenging to work with.

  • Attractive Appearance

Generally, cedar has an aesthetic look. Even better, it has reddish color tones that stand out when stained and treated offering a beautiful finish. Also, the wood has an even grain that makes it ideal for roofs and siding.

  • Availability 

Cedar’s popularity has resulted in it being widely available in almost every country. Further, there are over 15 species of cedar, each with a unique appearance, making it easy to find in various locations.

Cedarwood is also available in different forms, including shingles and lumber, giving buyers the flexibility to choose the most suitable type for their project.

  • Moisture Resistance

Cedar contains an oil solution that makes it more resistant to moisture compared to other wood species. However, prolonged exposure to moisture can still cause damage to cedar.

The resin in cedar produces a scent that repels insects and provides natural resistance against rot, mold, and pests. Despite this, cedar is not completely immune to pests, but only less susceptible than other types of wood.

  • Environment Friendliness 

Cedar is a renewable source, making it safe for the environment. It’s also safe for pets and humans and thus, an excellent choice for home decor and furniture.

  • Easy To Clean

Cleaning cedar wood is a simple process that requires only a water solution and mild soap. Yo don’t need special chemicals or cleaners to guarantee satisfactory results.

Cons of Cedar Wood

  • Flammable 

The natural oils found in cedar wood make it flammable, which can be a bother for many people.  However, treating cedar wood with fire-retardant chemicals is one way to decrease its flammability.

  • Maintenance 

Generally, every type of lumber requires maintenance, but some more than others. Maintaining your timber is a way of ensuring its durability and reducing the risk of more significant repairs.

For example, outdoor lumber projects require more maintenance than indoor ones. And so, even with its natural properties, cedar requires regular maintenance especially when exposed to harsh weather elements regularly.

Some of the maintenance methods include cleaning, replacing rotten boards, or reapplying paints, finishes and oils.

  • Prone To Bruising

Since cedar is a softwood, it is easily susceptible to scratches, dents, and bruises. Luckily, some of these problems can be solved by steaming the defect briefly or applying a hard-wearing finish. But still, this might not be a solution if it is regularly impacted.

  • Cost 

The high demand for cedar wood drives up its price. Furthermore, cedar’s cost fluctuates, depending on your location. If you reside in an area where cedar is scarce, you may incur transportation expenses, which can further increase the price.

  • Color Fading

Cedar tends to change its color over time due to chemical reactions. For instance, it turns gray when exposed to sunlight.

Therefore, if you have a cedar project, consider this natural process of color change when planning your project. You may need to seal or stain your cedar to preserve its original color. Or embrace the natural aging process and allow your cedar project to turn gray over time.

  • Hard to Identify

Identifying real cedar can be a challenge for amateur woodworkers because unscrupulous sellers often try to pass off trees from the Cyprus family as cedar. However, you can avoid being conned by the market by gaining enough knowledge about cedar.

One way to do this is to examine the cedar cones: if they have a barrel shape, then they belong to the cedrus family.

How Much Is A Full Grown Cedar Tree Worth?

First thing first, the cost of a full grown cedar tree depends on various factors including size, location, and quality of the tree, as well as the market demand. They can range from a hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Cedar trees can be worth $ 1,000 per tree.

Similarly, one massive old cedar tree can cost up to $ 20,000. Its price can range from $ 600 – $ 700.

In general, cedar costs a considerable amount of money. Some of the species like the red cedar can fetch very high prices. This is because they are prized for their durability and beauty. Also, matured cedar trees can be worth thousands of dollars.

Nevertheless, for cedar logs, you can expect to pay about $450 per 1000 logs.

The best way to determine your cedar’s value is by determining its monetary value. Secondly, it is recommended to wait for at least six months before selling your cedar trees if the market is overstocked and ask an expert for an opinion on which trees to sell and how to inspect them.

Overall, the appearance, size, and health of a tree determine its worth and cost. Also, it is hard determining the exact price of a full grown cedar tree.

So, consult a timber appraiser or a forester who can give you an accurate estimate based on the market conditions and the specific characteristics of the tree.

Does Cedar Need to Be Sealed?

Cedar is a naturally durable wood that is resistant to rot and insect damage thanks to its natural resins. But exposing the wood to prolonged harsh weather conditions can eventually discolor or damage it.

Therefore, sealing cedar with a protective coating prolongs its lifespan while maintaining its appearance, especially when used outdoors.

Below are some of the best finishes for sealing your cedar.

  • Transparent Preservatives and Oils

A transparent finish can preserve your cedar and maintain its natural color for a long time. Owatrol H4 wood provides an ideal weather protector with no UV filters, allowing your cedar project to naturally gray over time.

  • Opaque or Solid-Color 

Acrylic paint can protect cedar from weathering and moisture while completely concealing the wood’s color and grain.  For best results, apply one or two coats. Additionally, acrylic paint adds exciting color and charm to your project.

  • Semi-Transparent Stains

Semi-transparent stain is the best for sealing the wood bringing out its natural glow while protecting it. It works magic on your wood by delivering delicate changes to the wood’s color, grains, and knots.

These finishes are natural and oil based.

  • Oil-Based Stains

Oil based stains provide a radical change of color by penetrating deeply into cedar. Hence, they offer better protection against weather elements.

  • Natural Finishes Are Water Based.

Despite natural finishes not penetrating the wood deeply, they still offer a superior protection for your wood. They contain fungicidal properties that prevent the growth of molds. Even better, water based stains are eco-friendly to accommodate indoor applications.

Steps for Sealing Exterior Cedar

Follow the steps below for the best results possible.

  1. Clean and dry your cedar wood before applying your sealer or stain. Applying the coating on a wet surface can hinder optimal results. in addition, remove any dirt or grime from your cedar surface to guarantee an excellent finish.
  2. Hand wash the wood as pressure washing it can easily damage it. After washing, allow the wood to dry before moving to the next step.
  3. Apply your sealer, using a roller or brush. Pay extra attention to the board ends, edges, and joints, as they are susceptible to moisture. Sealing should be done at least once or twice a year.

How to Seal Interior Cedar

When applying cedar wood in interior settings, sealing may not be a top priority. However, it helps provide benefits, such as making the wood easier to clean. A sealer can also create a hard silky surface on tabletops or window edges.

Moreover, a coat of lacquer sanding sealer or a thinned varnish can be applied to smooth the surface in preparation for one or two coats of lacquer finish.

Cedar wood accepts finishes well, including penetrating oils, such as linseed oils and Tung oils. These oils help in sealing the grain, while leaving the wood in its natural and raw form.

Cleaning is essential in both interior and exterior sealing applications.

To properly ventilate the interior area before sealing, open the door and windows. Next, apply the sealant to the cedar wood using a brush or roller. Allow each coat dry before adding the next one.

Here’s Video On Sealing Cedar Furniture:

Note: Using water-based polyurethane finish or acrylic varnish as a sealer can help protect the wood without altering its natural color, as they are translucent. Otherwise, oil-based sealers cover the surface of the wood resulting in a change in its color.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can Sealed Cedar Wood Accept Paint?

Cedar wood is naturally beautiful when left bare. As a result, many wood carvers choose not to paint it. However, if you decide to paint the lumber, it is important to seal the wood first.

Cedar is a unique building material that contains natural oils that can seep through latex or oil-based paints if not properly sealed.  This results in dark stains and oily sap lines that alter the cedar’s appealing look. So, it is important to seal the wood before painting to prevent this from happening.

Lastly, there are several products that can be used to seal cedar before painting. They include shellac, water based sealant, oil-based sealant, and polyurethane among others.

  • What’s The Price of Red Cedar?

The cost of cedar is influenced by several factors, such as the tree species, the width of cedar boards, and the quality of the lumber. These factors are taken into account when determining the price but generally, red cedar lumber can cost from $2 to $6 per board foot.

  • Is Cedar Good For Decks?

Cedar is an excellent option for good decks due to its durability and natural resistance to weather, pests, and decay. Additionally, many people find the wood’s pleasant scent appealing.

  • Is Pressure-Treated Wood Cheaper Than Cedar?

Yes, treated lumber is typically less expensive than cedar, it can last a similar period if maintained properly. In general, while cedar carries a higher upfront cost, it requires less maintenance over its lifetime than pressure treated wood.

  • How Much Does Cedar Decking Cost?

Cedar decking can cost $4 to 8$ dollars per linear foot, depending on the quality of the lumber. On the other hand, cheaper grades of cedar wood decking can cost $ 3 per linear foot, while higher quality ones can cost up to $ 10 per linear foot.

  • How Expensive Is Cedar Wood?

Western red cedar is among the most popular types of cedar for construction, and it can cost $5 to $ 20 dollars per board foot. Similarly, yellow cedar is another popular type of cedar often used in cabinet making and many others. It can cost up to $ 35 per board foot.

  • When Should You Seal Cedar?

If your goal is to protect the beautiful wood grain of your cedar deck, we recommend applying a deeply penetrating translucent stain to the wood within one to two weeks after completing your cedar wood project.

This will help to minimize any potential UV damage to the cedar and prevent the accumulation of dirt and debris, resulting in a natural-looking deck that retains its beauty for years to come.

  • Is Cedar Good For Woodworking?

Generally, yes, cedar is suitable for woodworking. But its appropriateness depends largely on the intended use. Furthermore, the specific type of cedar wood chosen will have a significant impact on its suitability for a given project.

Cedar wood is known for its aesthetic appeal and its pleasant scent, which can make it an attractive choice for projects appealing to multiple senses.


In conclusion, cedar is a highly valued wood in many different industries due to its unique properties and characteristics. Its durability, resistance to insects, and decay, pleasant aroma, and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for furniture, siding, and many more.

However, woodworkers wonder:

Why Is Cedar Wood Expensive

The high cost of cedar can be attributed to several factors, such as cost of transportation among other things, as discussed earlier. However, despite its high cost, cedar wood still remains a popular choice for furniture and many other outdoor projects due to its many benefits.

Lastly, while there are other types of wood available at a lower cost, many consumers are willing to pay a premium for the unique qualities of Cedar.

Thank you for reading this far. I hope this article has answered all your questions on why cedar is expensive.

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