Douglas Fir vs Cedar: Which is Better?

Ever grappled with choosing the supreme wood for your next project? Discover the epic battle: Douglas fir vs Cedar!

Douglas fir vs Cedar

Both Douglas fir and cedar are derived from evergreen trees that are native to North America. 

Both have commercially valuable wood that can be used for virtually any woodworking project due to their versatility. 

During my early days in woodworking, I was curious to know the differences between Douglas fir and cedar. 

I consulted woodworking experts, read research articles, and gathered a wealth of information about these two types of wood. 

Now, with years of experience, I am going to share the factors that distinguish these two from each other.

Here are the differences between Douglas Fir and Cedar,

  1. Hardness: Douglas fir is harder than Cedar.
  2. Durability: Cedar is more decay-resistant.
  3. Grain: Douglas fir has a coarser grain; Cedar has a straight, fine grain.
  4. Common Uses: Douglas fir is often used in construction; Cedar for outdoor projects.
  5. Cost: Douglas fir is generally more economical; Cedar is pricier.

But there’s a lot more to know about each!

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    In this article, I’ll explore, the characteristics of Douglas Fir and Cedar separately and I’ll explain the main differences between them in detail without missing anything.

    Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Let’s jump in!

    Differences between Douglas fir and Cedar
    Differences between Douglas fir and Cedar

    First, let’s take a closer look at these two types of wood.

    What is Douglas Fir?

    One of the most common softwoods native to the western Pacific and North America, Douglas fir is a widely used softwood known for its attractiveness and strength.

    This type of wood is widely used for flooring, siding, and framing. Its durability and resistance to insects make it a popular choice for construction.

    Tip for working with Cedar wood
    Tip for working with Cedar wood

    Douglas fir wood usually has a light red color with a beige tint to the room and is more popular among woodworkers because of its affordability.

    There are two main species of Douglas fir, coastal Douglas fir and Rocky Mountain Douglas fir. Each grows in different areas, with different growth rates and physical properties.

    Homeowners often prefer cabinet doors made of Douglas fir wood because of the smooth surface it provides after painting.

    Characteristic features of Douglas fir
    Characteristic features of Douglas fir

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Douglas Fir

    AdvantagesDisadvantages
    High strength-to-weight ratioMore expensive than softwoods                        
    Flexible and dimensionally stableProne to scratches and dents                          
    Weather-resistant           Limited insect resistance                             
    Low moisture absorption      Can be hard to find                                  
    Somewhat insect-resistant   Less durable than hardwoods                               
    Strong yet lightweight      Potential for warping and splitting if not sealed properly
    Increases aesthetic appeal   Lighter coloration and uniform grain patterns may not be preferred by some  

    Read to know more, Disadvantages Of Douglas Fir Wood

    Tip for working with Douglas fir
    Tip for working with Douglas fir

    What is Cedar? 

    A coniferous tree belonging to the Pinaceae family, cedar wood is native to various regions including the Western Himalayas and the Mediterranean. 

    Due to its insect resistance and softwood, this type of wood is widely used for interior and exterior use.

    It is widely used in interior construction such as furniture as well as posts, fences, shingles, and siding. 

    Cedars do not have the ability to bear significant loads but are suitable for areas with increased climate change and insect damage.

    Tip for working with Douglas fir wood
    Tip for working with Douglas fir wood

    A popular choice among homeowners, this wood carries a relatively high price tag and is used for small to medium-sized projects.

    There are several species of cedar wood. The most common species are western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, eastern red cedar, and northern white cedar.

    With proper maintenance and the addition of sealers such as paint, cedar can last a long time. Often lasting decades or centuries. Cedar varies in color depending on the species.

    Characteristic features of Cedar
    Characteristic features of Cedar

    Advantages and Disadvantages of Cedar

    AdvantagesDisadvantages
    Resistant to warping           Flammable
    Resistant to rot and insects   Higher cost compared to other woods                                       
    Durable in various weather conditionsLimited weight-bearing capacity                                               
    No need for staining           High maintenance in certain applications                                 
    Excellent stain absorption     Initial higher costs may be a deterrent for large projects                   
    High natural resistance to decay 
    Strong insect-repellent properties   
    Tip for working with Cedar
    Tip for working with Cedar

    Differences Between Douglas Fir and Cedar

    Now you have a good understanding of Douglas fir and Cedar. These two types of wood have similarities and differences. 

    Let’s analyze the similarities and differences.

    1. Strength and Durability

    Douglas fir is much stronger than cedar and is suitable for projects that require greater load-bearing capacity.

    Cedar is excellent for insect resistance, especially for construction in environments with high insect activity.

    Did you know fact about Douglas fir
    Did you know fact about Douglas fir

    2. Price and Availability

    Douglas fir is usually 35% to 50% cheaper than Cedar because of its distinctive red color and pleasant aroma. But it can be hard to find.

    Cedar wood is easy to find. Finding Douglas fir lumber is a challenge for some buyers. Availability varies by location and local wood prices.

    Cedar floor
    Cedar floor

    3. Furniture and Outdoor Use

    Douglas fir furniture will last longer outdoors, and cedar is a better wood for insect-infested environments.

    Cedar wood is suitable for ground planting due to its natural insect-repellent properties.

    4. External Applications

    Woods such as cedar shingles and siding are excellent for exterior applications that do not carry the most weight.

    Douglas fir is used for heavy-duty applications such as porch construction and deck furniture. 

    Did you know fact about Cedar
    Did you know fact about Cedar

    5. Internal Applications

    Douglas fir’s attractive pattern makes it ideal for ceilings, floors, trim, cabinets, and furniture.

    It is naturally rot-resistant, making it suitable for humid areas.

    Uses of Cedar
    Uses of Cedar

    6. Maintenance Requirements

    Regular inspection and maintenance are essential for both Douglas fir and cedar. Cleaning with a mild detergent or soap is recommended.

    Sealing with an oil-based pore sealer to protect against damage such as moisture can achieve good durability. 

    7. Appearance and Color

    Cedar and Douglas Fir both have reddish-brown heartwood and pale sapwood. Cedar turns silvery-grey over time, adding a distinct elegance.

    8. Grain Pattern and Hardness

    Both kinds of wood have straight grain patterns. But Douglas fir has a fine to medium texture, while cedar has a coarse texture. 

    Douglas fir is twice as hard as cedar on the Janka hardness scale.

    9. Rot Resistance and Durability

    Both kinds of wood are very rot-resistant, but cedar has the edge in this department. 

    It is considered one of the most rot-resistant woods in North America, making it a popular choice for outdoor projects.

    10. Sustainability and Usability

    Both kinds of wood are very sustainable, readily available, and grow quickly.

    Douglas fir is primarily used in building and construction, including roofing, framing, and trim.

    Cedar is widely used for cladding, fencing, garden furniture, and paneling.

    Douglas fir dining table
    Douglas fir dining table

    Douglas Fir Vs Cedar Comparision

    The similarities and differences discussed above are summarized in the table below.

    Factor Douglas Fir                    Cedar
    Strength and DurabilityMuch stronger, suitable for heavy load-bearing projectsExcellent insect resistance, ideal for insect-prone environments
    Price and Availability 35%-50% cheaper, harder to findMore expensive due to demand, readily available        
    Furniture and Outdoor UseLasts longer outdoors, better for insect-infested environmentsSuitable for ground planting, natural insect repellent   
    External Applications  Suitable for heavy-duty applications like porch construction and deck furnitureExcellent for exterior applications with less weight     
    Internal Applications  Ideal for ceilings, floors, trim, cabinets, and furniture; naturally rot-resistantSuitable for humid areas, adds warmth and character to interiors
    Maintenance RequirementsRegular inspection and cleaning with mild detergent or soap; sealing with oil-based pore sealerRegular inspection and cleaning with mild detergent; sealing for protection
    Appearance and ColorReddish-brown heartwood and pale sapwood; ages to a silvery-greyReddish-brown heartwood and pale sapwood; ages to a silvery-grey
    Grain Pattern and HardnessStraight grain pattern; fine to medium texture; twice as hard as cedarStraight grain pattern; coarse texture; less hard compared to Douglas Fir
    Rot Resistance and DurabilityHighly rot-resistant; suitable for outdoor projectsHighly rot-resistant; a top choice for outdoor applications
    Sustainability and UsabilityHighly sustainable and readily available; used in roofing, framing, and trimHighly sustainable and readily available; used in cladding, fencing, garden furniture, and paneling

    That’s it, folks! Now you have a good understanding of Douglas Fir vs Cedar in detail to know which one is better.

    Uses of Douglas fir
    Uses of Douglas fir

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

    FAQs

    Which wood type is stronger, Douglas fir or Cedar?

    Douglas fir is known to be stronger and more structurally stable compared to Cedar, making it more suitable for load-bearing applications.

    Is Douglas fir more insect-resistant than Cedar?

    No, Cedar is more insect-resistant compared to Douglas fir, making it an excellent choice for areas prone to insect infestation.

    Which type of wood is better for outdoor furniture?

    While Douglas fir is generally more durable for outdoor use, Cedar may be preferable in environments rich in organic matter and prone to insect attacks, particularly for items in direct contact with the ground.

    How do the prices of Douglas fir and Cedar compare?

    Douglas fir is generally 35% to 50% cheaper than Cedar, offering a more budget-friendly option for various projects.

    Which wood type lasts longer?

    While Cedar lasts longer in outdoor environments exposed to the elements, Douglas fir tends to have a longer lifespan in indoor settings, especially under significant weight.

    What are the best use cases for Cedar?

    Cedar is particularly popular for making fences, shingles, and sidings due to its aesthetic appeal and resistance to insects.

    What are the preferred applications for Douglas fir?

    Douglas fir is highly favored for flooring, veneer, and framing work, as well as load-bearing outdoor structures like porches and deck furniture.

    Is Douglas fir easy to find in lumber yards?

    Finding Douglas fir can be a bit challenging as it tends to be less readily available compared to Cedar in most lumber yards.

    What measures can be taken to enhance the insect-resistance of Douglas fir for outdoor use?

    To improve its insect-resistance, Douglas fir furniture for outdoor use can be fortified using products like Cedarcide Original, a cedar oil-based insect repellent spray.

    Is Cedar wood high maintenance?

    Yes, Cedar wood can be high maintenance in some use cases, especially when it needs to bear substantial weight or undergo frequent changes in weather conditions.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Douglas Fir vs Cedar

    In this article, I’ve deeply discussed the Douglas Fir vs Cedar by taking the main similarities and differences between the Douglas Fir and Cedar in detail.

    Douglas fir is stronger and cheaper, ideal for structural projects, while Cedar is more insect-resistant, perfect for outdoor furnishings and fencing. Cedar generally has higher longevity outdoors but requires more maintenance compared to Douglas fir.

    Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    Hope you’ve learned all you wanted to know about Douglas Fir vs Cedar to select the one that suits you the most with the deep explanation I’ve given.

    Now it’s time to select the one that fits you the most and start making your loving creation with it. Happy woodworking!

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    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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