Is Cedar a Strong Wood? + Is it a Hardwood or Softwood?

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Wondering whether cedar wood can stand the test of time in your project? It’s a crucial question because picking the wrong material can lead to both financial headaches and a lot of frustration. You certainly don’t want to gamble on a flimsy choice, but at the same time, you’d hate to overlook the many advantages cedar brings to the table if it’s a sturdy contender.

So, let’s get right down to it: Is cedar a powerhouse when it comes to strength and durability? Let me provide you with a comprehensive guide that will unravel the robustness and composition of cedar. Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty and ensure your project stands strong.

How Strong Is Cedar Wood?

Cedar wood is strong and durable, with a high strength-to-weight ratio that makes it a great choice for projects requiring sturdy but lightweight material. Its strength can vary based on species and growing conditions, but it’s generally considered a reliable option.

Cedar wood is generally considered to be a stronger type of wood when compared to many varieties of softwood and some types of hardwood.

Cedar Lumber Type

Bending Strength (psi)

Compressive Strength (psi)

Stiffness (million psi)

Density (kg/m³)

Western Red Cedar 

7,500

4,560

1.11 

0.32

White Cedar

6,500

3,960

0.80 

0.32

Aromatic Red Cedar

8,800

6,020 

0.88

0.47 

Cedar’s Compressive Strength vs Other Wood Varieties

cedar lumber outside

The compressive strength of cedar wood is relatively high compared to various other types of wood.

While the exact compressive strength can vary depending on the specific species and growing conditions of the tree, cedar wood is generally known for its ability to withstand heavy loads without breaking or buckling.

In comparison to other woods, cedar is often stronger than most softwoods and some hardwoods as well. Here’s an overview table of the compressive strength of cedar wood and other lumber types:

Cedar Lumber Type

Compressive Strength (psi)

White Cedar

3,960 psi

Aromatic Red Cedar

6,020 psi

Western Red Cedar

4,560 psi

Hickory

9,210 psi

Basswood

4,730 psi

Spruce

5,610 psi

White Pine

4,800 psi

Sugar Pine

4,460 psi

Hemlock

7,200 psi

Douglas Fir

7,230 psi

Walnut

7,580 psi

Poplar

5,540 psi

Red Oak

6,760 psi

Soft Maple

6,540 psi

Hard Maple

7,830 psi

Chestnut

5,320 psi

Cherry

7,110 psi

Beech

7,300 psi

Aspen

4,250 psi

Ash

5,820 psi

Pros and Cons of Cedar Wood

varieties of cedar wood

What i like

What i don't Like

How Hard Is Cedar? + Advantages

cons of cedar wood

First of all, is cedar wood hardwood or softwood? Actually, cedar wood is classified as a softwood, which means it is not as hard as many hardwoods. However, within the category of softwoods, cedar wood is considered relatively hard.

Cedar wood has varying levels of hardness based on the hardness rating of Janka. Aromatic Red Cedar Lumber is the hardest, with a rating of 4,003 N or 900 lbf, while Western Red Cedar Lumber and White Cedar Lumber have lower ratings of 1,557 N or 350 lbf and 1,335 N or 320 lbf, respectively.

Cedar wood is widely recognized for its innate strength, exceptional resistance to decay and pest infestation, and remarkable resilience against challenging weather elements.

Furthermore, cedar wood exhibits remarkable endurance in the face of harsh weather conditions, including extreme temperatures, moisture, and UV radiation.

While it may not be as hard as some hardwoods, cedar wood is still a strong and reliable choice for various applications.

High Workability

Cedar is a highly workable material that can be used for a wide range of woodworking applications, regardless of the user’s level of experience.

cedar workability

Whether you’re new to woodworking or have lots of experience, cedar wood is a versatile and easy-to-use option to help you achieve your desired results.

Find Out NextIs Cedar Wood Good for Carving

Affordability

Cedar wood is a type of softwood that is less expensive than other types of wood. In the woodworking industry, cedar wood is often considered the best alternative to more expensive woods like teak.

This means that you can achieve a similar look and quality by using cedar wood instead of teak wood and saving money in the process.

Sustainability

Cedar is considered a renewable resource due to its faster growth rate compared to many hardwoods. Because of this, cedar wood is a more sustainable option for those looking to minimize their environmental impact.

Is Cedar Wood Good for Making Furniture In Terms Of Strength?

When it comes to crafting durable furniture, cedar wood stands out as a top pick due to its impressive strength. In fact, cedar wood boasts a robustness that surpasses many softwoods and even rivals some hardwoods. 

This exceptional strength is a key factor to consider when you’re aiming to create long-lasting and reliable pieces of furniture.

furnitures using cedar wood

While it may not be as hard as some hardwoods, cedar wood is still a durable and reliable material that can resist wear and tear over time. Also, cedar wood is lightweight and has excellent dimensional stability, making it a versatile option for many different types of furniture.

Here are some examples of popular furniture types that can be constructed using cedar wood:

Is Cedar Wood Strong Enough For a Bench?

Cedar wood stands as a sturdy choice for crafting a bench. It boasts innate strength, warding off decay and pests while bravely enduring tough weather.

bench using cedar wood

Additionally, cedar wood has high dimensional stability, making it less likely to warp or crack over time. These qualities make cedar wood a good choice for outdoor and indoor benches.

However, the exact strength of the cedar wood used for a bench may depend on various factors, such as the size and design of the bench, as well as the load capacity it is intended to support.

Is Cedar Wood Strong Enough for Assembling Cabinets?

Cedar wood is strong enough for assembling cabinets. Cedar is a versatile and durable wood that can withstand the weight of cabinets and resist warping, shrinking, swelling, and decay. 

Cedar wood is known for its strength and stability, making it a popular choice for cabinetry. Additionally, Cedar has an appealing appearance and takes stain and finishing well, which makes it a great option for interior woodwork. 

But, you can use the best clear cedar finish for outdoorAlso, cedar is easy to nail, glue, screw, and cut. With proper maintenance, cabinets made of Cedar can last for many years.

cedar wood cabinets

Cedar vs Pine Wood

Cedar lumber and pine have similar strength values overall. However, when looking at compressive strength, Aromatic Red Cedar lumber is stronger than White Pine and Sugar Pine. However yellow pine [1] is stronger than cedar lumber.

Here is the table of the bending and compressive strengths of Pine and Cedar lumber:

Lumber Type

Bending Strength (psi)

Compressive Strength (psi)

Western Red Cedar

7,500 psi

4,560 psi

White Cedar

6,500 psi

3,960 psi

White Pine

8,600 psi

4,800 psi

Aromatic Red Cedar

8,800 psi

6,020 psi

Yellow Pine

14,500 psi

8,470 psi

Sugar Pine

8,200 psi

4,460 psi

Cedar Wood vs Douglas Fir

In terms of compressive and bending strengths, Douglas Fir surpasses all species of Cedar, making it a more robust softwood. Here are the bending strength and compressive strength for both wood types:

Lumber Type

Bending Strength (psi)

Compressive Strength (psi)

Douglas Fir

12,400 psi

7,230 psi

White Cedar

6,500 psi

3,960 psi

Western Red Cedar

7,500 psi

4,560 psi

Aromatic Red Cedar

6020 psi

6,020 psi

Cedar vs Spruce

douglas fir

Comparing Aromatic Red Cedar to Spruce, Aromatic Red Cedar is more durable. However, when it comes to Western Red Cedar and White Cedar, they are less sturdy than Spruce.

In terms of bending strength, it is evident that Spruce is significantly stronger and more pliable than Cedar wood species.

It’s worth noting that Spruce and Cedar wood are both softwoods that share similar qualities. Here is the table of the bending strengths and compressive of Spruce and Cedar:

Lumber Type

Bending Strength (psi)

Compressive Strength (psi)

Spruce

10,200 psi

5,610 psi

White Cedar

6,500 psi

3,960 psi

Western Red Cedar

7,500 psi

4,560 psi

Aromatic Red Cedar

8,800 psi

6,020 psi

FAQ

Is cedar a good structural wood?

Cedar can be a good structural wood in certain circumstances, but it may not be the best choice for all applications. Cedar is durable that is also very stable but when it comes to structural applications such as framing or building load-bearing walls, cedar may not be the best choice. 

What wood is stronger than cedar?

The wood that is stronger than Cedar is Douglas Fir. While both Douglas Fir and Cedar are softwoods, Douglas Fir has much higher compressive and bending strength than all Cedar wood type.

Conclusion

Cedar wood, in the world of lumber, is like a trusty workhorse. People love to use it for furniture and outdoor projects because it’s sturdy. But here’s the deal – it’s not as tough as those hardwoods out there.

So, before you pick cedar or any other wood for your project, take a good look at what you really need. It’s all about matching the wood to your unique job.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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