Western Red Cedar is obtained in British Colunbia and parts of the northwestern United States from a tree which reaches 50m or more in height and 1 to 1.25m in diameter. A similar but commercially less important wood, eastern or northern white cedar, is produced by a smaller tree widely distributed in eastern parts of Canada and the United States.
Western red cedar varies from pale pinkish-brown to dark brown. It is non-resinous, but has a fairly pungent odor, and is typically straight-grained with a conspicuous growth-ring figure. It is the lightest weight softwood in common commercial use; western red cedar is some 25% and white cedar 35% lighter than European redwood.
The cellular composition of cedar, millions of tiny air-filled cells per cubic inch, provides a high degree of thermal insulation on
both roof and wall applications. Western Red Cedars' slow growth and natural oily extractives are responsible for its decay
resistance and its rich coloring, which ranges from a light straw color in the sapwood to a reddish pink in the heartwood. It is a
stable wood that seasons easily and quickly, with a very low shrinkage factor. It is free of pitch and has excellent finishing
Western red cedar dries quickly and well as thin boards, but thicker stock may be troublesome as it tends to collapse;, but once dry it is stable in use. A soft lightweight wood with correspondingly low strength, it is easy to work and takes a good finish provided that tools are kept sharp.
Known for its extremely fine and even grain, its flexibility and strength in proportion to its weight, Western Red Cedar is a
species of wood whose lumber can be used in a variety of ways. Western Red Cedar is renowned for its high impermeability to
liquids and its natural phenol preservatives, which make it ideally suited for exterior use and interior use where humidity is high.
Western red cedar is one of the most durable softwoods available in quantity, but being light in weight it is suitable only for uses where there is little structural need. It is seen most commonly as vertical cladding and weatherboarding, and is popular for garden buildings and greenhouses as well as a deck covering. It is used, especially in America, for roofing shingles, and lower grade timber is used in America for posts and piles.