Western Red Cedar wood has excellent dimensional stability because of its low wood density and low shrinkage factor. A major contributor to this stability is the fact that its moisture content at the fibre saturation point is 18 to 23%, compared to 25 to 30% in most Canadian softwoods. As a result, Western Red Cedar shrinks and swells minimally, displaying only small movements with changes in humidity. Lower absorption of water is a result of the high extractive content blocking absorption sites.
This property contributes to Western Red Cedar’s suitability for use in paneling, mouldings and a number of other applications such as saunas where dimensional stability and water repellency is important.
Resistance to Decay
Western Red Cedar heartwood is renowned for its high decay resistance. This natural durability is attributed to the presence of extractives. Western Red Cedar has a durability Class 2 in Europe and Australia, the highest category for durability of any softwood listed.
Thermal and Insulating Properties
Western Red Cedar has good insulation value because of its low wood density and coarse texture. It is the best insulator among the most common available softwood species and is far superior to brick, concrete and steel.
This property ensures that homes built with Western Red Cedar will be cooler in the heat of summer and warmer in winter as opposed to homes using denser species or man-made products. Western Red Cedar’s ability to dampen vibrations is an important acoustical property which makes it particularly effective as paneling and moulding where it is desirable to reduce or confine noise.
Flame Spreading Rate
The flame-spread rating of Western Red Cedar is 67 to 73 (Class II rating) and the smoke developed classification is 98. Both of these are used to regulate the use of materials where potential to generate smoke or smoke control movement is important. Due to its low flame-spread rating, it will perform better than most dense softwoods which have flame-spread ratings around 100.
Western Red Cedar has a flame spreading rate and a smoke-developed classification that are considerably below the maximum limits set by most building codes.
Finishing and Workability
The lack of pitch or resinous extractives that are soluble in paint vehicles contributes to Cedar’s good finishing properties. Cedar takes a variety of coatings, paints and stains exceptionally well, particularly when dried and properly primed.
Western Red Cedar is among the easiest timbers to work with because of its straight grain and uniform texture. It planes and sands cleanly and, because of its low wood density, requires little energy to saw or otherwise work. Cedar also glues well with a wide range of adhesives and gluing conditions.
Add imaginative design and a beautiful and distinctive interior is created.
See the Cedar Photo Gallery for some stunning examples of cedar used in interior spaces.