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.

So, let’s find out, Douglas Fir vs Cedar,

But there’s a lot more to know!

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

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

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.


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!

Related Posts

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 and Facebook.

Leave a Comment