Douglas fir vs. Cedar Wood

Whenever it comes to using different types of wood for whatever purpose, it is usually a tough decision to decide which is the best for you. Douglas Fir and Cedarwood are two different types of softwoods that can be used in different ways.

This evergreen conifer species belongs to the ‘Pinaceae’ (Pine family). It is native to Western North America and has three varieties. These trees can live up to 500 years, occasionally exceeding 1,000 years, and reach 70-330 feet. Douglas Fir can also be called Columbian Pine and Oregon Pine.

Cedar (Cedrus) also belongs to the ‘Pinaceae’ family and is a genus of coniferous trees. The trees are native to the Mediterranean region and the mountains of the Western Himalayas. They can reach a height of up to 180 feet and live over 1,000 years.

Cedar has the upper hand when it comes to resisting decay and doing better in wet conditions. Cedar wood has a high resistance to rot and insect attacks, while Douglas Fir is moderately durable and is prone to insect attacks.

Douglas fir vs Cedar Wood

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 Douglas firCedar Wood
ColorThe heartwood color ranges from orange red toreddish-brown. On the other hand, the sapwood is a lighter color (a yellowish-white).Cedar wood tends to lose its colors as it ages. It is usually a pinkish red color with a purple tinge but changes to a silver or gray color.
HeightThe trees are the second tallest conifers in the world and can grow up to 70 to 330 feet.While some cedar trees can reach over 120 feet, some others can grow up to 180 feet.
WorkabilityDouglas fir is easy to work with when using machines and is excellent at holding screws. It stains, glues and finishes nicely. It does have a sharp odor when being worked on and a blunting effect on cutters.Cedar wood stains, glues, cuts, and finishes well. It is easy to work with when using machines. It can sand unevenly due to the differences in density (early and late wood) and dents easily due to its softness.
GrainThe grain is generally straight but can sometimes be wavy or spiral.The grain is typically straight.
DensityIt has a density of 33 lb./ft³Western Red Cedar has a density of 23 lb./ft³, Cedar of Lebanon has a density of 0.58 10³ kg/m³

Key Differences Between Douglas fir and Cedar Wood

Uses

Douglas Fir and Cedar Wood are used for different woodworking purposes, and some of them are listed below.

Douglas Fir Wood

  • It is used in the manufacturing of doors and windows.
  • It is used in the making of furniture.
  • Douglas fir wood can be used to make cabinets.
  • It is a good option for flooring.
  • It is used in boatbuilding and native ships.
  • This wood is used in the making of aircraft.

Cedar Wood

  • It is used in the making of musical instruments.
  • It is a good choice for outdoor furniture because of its ability to resist decay.
  • You can use it for flooring purposes.
  • It is used in boatbuilding.
  • It is used to manufacture clothing storage such as wardrobes and dressers.
  • Cedar wood is used for fencing and decking.

Durability

Douglas Fir is considered to have higher durability (Type III durability) because of its strength and structural stability, which makes it last longer. It is expected to last for over 35 years. Although, Cedar wood is better at resisting rot and insect attacks, putting it at a Type II durability.

Cedar wood is perfect for outdoor purposes because it is rot-resistant and weather-resistant. It is naturally resistant to rot, decay, insect attacks, and moisture absorption. A Cedar deck can last for about 15 to 20 years.

The strength of Douglas Fir increases its durability, making it able to last longer. The heartwood of Douglas Fir is susceptible to insect attacks but is rot-resistant. Both the sapwood and heartwood can resist impregnation.

Strength

Douglas Fir has the upper hand when it comes to the bending strength between these two wood choices. But, in terms of the Janka hardness scale, Cedar wood has a higher rating.

Douglas Fir has a bending strength of 12,400 psi and a Janka rating of 660 lbf. It is one of the strongest and most durable softwood you can find.

The Western Red Cedar has a bending strength of 7,500 psi, while White Cedar has a bending strength of 6,500 psi. Cedar wood has a Janka rating of 900 lbf.

Similarities Between Douglas Fir and Cedar Wood

One common similarity between these two wood choices, apart from being softwoods, is that they belong to the ‘Pinaceae’ family.

They Belong to the Pine Family

The Pine family includes a lot of common coniferous trees and shrubs, which are widely used, such as Cedars, Firs, Spruces, Pines, etc. Their leaves are often shaped in a scale-like manner, and they tend to have refined grains with membranous scales.

Pros and Cons of Douglas Fir

Pros

  • It is a very durable wood.
  • It has superior strength compared to most softwoods.
  • They are capable of handling higher impact and weight.
  • It is easy to work with.

Cons

  • It is usually more expensive than other softwoods.
  • The heartwood is susceptible to insect attacks.
  • It requires extra maintenance because it is softwood.

Pros and Cons of Cedar Wood

Pros

  • It is a good choice for outdoor constructions because it is rot-resistant, temperature-resistant, and weather-resistant.
  • It is good at resisting insect attacks and does not need any chemical treatment.
  • Cedar wood is naturally sound-resistant.
  • It is a durable wood and will last for a long time.
  • It is a versatile wood that can be used for different things.

Cons

  • It is softwood and needs to be maintained occasionally.
  • Cedar wood can easily be scratched and dented because of its soft texture.
  • It is a highly flammable wood.
  • The color changes over time due to age.

Conclusion

Douglas fir and Cedar wood have advantages but also disadvantages. They are naturally beautiful wood choices that are durable and will last you for a long time.

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