Cedar Vs. Oak Wood

The beauty and longevity of any woodworking project, be it your floor or furniture is often heavily dependent on the type of wood used. While there are a wide variety of wood types out there, two we often see pitched against each other are cedar vs. oak.

Oak is the wood for you if you want an extremely durable furniture material indoors that doesn’t require intensive maintenance. On the flip side, cedar might be a better option if you want something that can more easily withstand the ravages of the elements outdoors.

We’ll be going into greater detail on these two wood types subsequently.

Cedar Vs. Oak – Variables Comparison Chart

Cedar (Western Red)Oak (Red)
AffordabilityMore affordableVery expensive
UsesIndoors and outdoorsIndoors only
DurabilityVery durableVery durable
SustainabilityMore difficult to sustainLess difficult to sustain
Woodcarving EaseVery easyVery easy
Ease of AccessEasy to accessVery easy to access
Firmness/HardnessSomewhat hardExtremely hard
SturdinessVery sturdyExtremely sturdy

Now that we have a general idea of how they perform against each other in general, let’s delve deeper into the specifics of these two popular types of wood.

Differences Between Cedar and Oak

We’ll be starting with some of the most important distinguishing factors between these two types of wood you should always consider before opting for either.

In Terms of Maintenance

As was pointed out in the comparison chart, cedar can require a bit more effort to properly maintain and sustain. This isn’t to say that it isn’t durable because it is, without a doubt, one of the most durable types of wood you’ll find out there.

Rather, what we mean is that you will need to be more conscious and intensive with your care and maintenance practices. The reason for this is because of some of the unique properties of western red cedar. As this type of wood easily gathers destructive substances like mold, dirt, debris, and mildew over time, if it isn’t properly cared for, you run the risk of losing the floor or furniture.

This is as opposed to oak which doesn’t require as much energy and effort to maintain. You can usually get by simply by washing it with a little water and soap. That being said, you should remember that washing your oak too often can destroy the finish so you have to be careful there.

Also, as time goes by, you will need to refinish it to keep it in good condition. But, beyond this, you’re basically good to go.

In terms of Best Location for Use

This is another place where the unique properties of each wood type come into play.

Cedar is always the better option if you’re looking for the perfect wood to use for an outdoor woodworking project because it doesn’t contain tannin. As a result of this, it is considerably more resistant to the action of the weather elements.

On the other hand, oak wood has a copious amount of tannin.

What’s more, even when it won’t be used outdoors, it shouldn’t be considered for any tight cooperage work as well. The reason for this is that the large amount of tannin in it forms a chemical blue dye when it comes in contact with water that contains iron.

The result of this is an unpleasant stain that ruins the aesthetics of your furniture.

In Terms of Affordability

Price-wise, you can also expect to cough up a lot more if you’re opting for oak over cedar.

Please keep in mind that this doesn’t translate to mean that cedar is cheap. However, when you put it in comparison with a host of other furniture wood types, you start to realize you get a more decent bargain with it.

On the other hand, oak is more expensive, even compared to many other wood types. There are two major reasons for this.

The first is that the oak tree is a very slow-growing plant. As a result, there aren’t that many sources to get oak wood from, to begin with. The second reason is that the oak tree has a relatively poor sustainability level.

All of this cumulates to mean that you will spend more if you want to get oak furniture at the moment.

In Terms of Hardness

There’s also a staggering difference between these two wood types when it comes to how hard each material is.

According to the Janka Hardness Scale, one of the most popular rating systems for wood hardness at the moment, oak has a hardness of 1, 220lbf while cedar only has 350lbf.

This is an important factor you might want to remember as the hardness of wood does exert a level of influence when determining what type of project each material would be best for.

Similarities Between Cedar and Oak

While these wood types do have a lot of important contrasting features, there are some areas where they share a semblance of similarity. Some of these are:

In Terms of Ease of Access

While both materials mightn’t necessarily be equally available, you will find that no matter which one you choose, you won’t have much difficulty locating them at your local store or getting furniture made out of them.

In Terms of Woodcarving Ease

Another area in which these two items share a remarkable level of similarity is when it comes to the ease with which they can be used to execute projects.

You won’t have any trouble making any item you want out of cedar and oak as they’re very malleable and have been known to be very easy to work with.

In Terms of Durability

Both these materials also offer very good value for money in terms of how durable they are in service. Again, they aren’t exactly on equal footing here. However, one thing you can rest assured of here is that, with proper care, cedar and oak wood will often serve you for a very long time.

In Terms of Sturdiness

You aren’t likely to find any immediately noticeable difference between the two types of wood as well when it comes to how sturdy they are. They’re well balanced, firm, and can be interchangeably used for various projects.

Final Word

Cedar vs. oak is a battle that has raged among hardcore woodworking enthusiasts for a long time. And, when you consider the fact that each wood type has its unique pros and cons, it isn’t hard to see why.

Ultimately, the factors that determine which way you go include variables like your budget, the location you want to use the wood in, and your personal preference. We hope you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you now!

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