Cedar vs. Oak

What's the Difference?

Cedar and oak are both popular choices for furniture and construction due to their durability and strength. However, they differ in terms of appearance and characteristics. Cedar has a distinct reddish-brown color with a straight grain, while oak has a lighter, golden-brown hue with a prominent grain pattern. Cedar is known for its natural resistance to decay and insects, making it a popular choice for outdoor applications such as decking and siding. On the other hand, oak is highly prized for its hardness and durability, making it ideal for indoor furniture and flooring. Both woods have their unique qualities and are valued for their beauty and longevity.


Photo by Adam Kring on Unsplash
Wood ColorLight brown to reddish-brownLight brown to dark brown
GrainStraightStraight to interlocked
Rot ResistanceHighHigh
Weather ResistanceHighHigh
UsesFurniture, decking, sidingFurniture, flooring, cabinets
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to choosing the right wood for various applications, cedar and oak are two popular choices. Both woods have their unique characteristics and offer different benefits. In this article, we will compare the attributes of cedar and oak, exploring their appearance, durability, strength, versatility, and sustainability.


Cedar and oak have distinct appearances that can greatly influence the overall aesthetic of a project. Cedar is known for its warm reddish-brown color, which can vary depending on the specific type of cedar. It often features beautiful grain patterns and natural knots, adding character to any piece of furniture or structure. On the other hand, oak has a lighter color range, ranging from pale yellow to light brown. It has a prominent grain pattern that gives it a more traditional and classic look.


When it comes to durability, both cedar and oak are known for their strength and resistance to decay. However, cedar has a natural resistance to insects and rot due to the presence of natural oils and compounds. This makes cedar an excellent choice for outdoor applications such as decking, siding, and fencing. Oak, on the other hand, is also highly durable but may require additional treatments to enhance its resistance to decay and insect damage.


In terms of strength, oak is considered one of the strongest hardwoods available. It has a high density and is known for its exceptional load-bearing capacity. Oak is often used in heavy construction projects, such as beams, flooring, and furniture that require structural integrity. Cedar, while not as strong as oak, still possesses good strength properties and is suitable for a wide range of applications, including outdoor furniture, cabinets, and interior trim.


Both cedar and oak offer versatility in their applications, although they excel in different areas. Cedar is highly versatile due to its natural resistance to moisture, making it an ideal choice for outdoor projects. It is commonly used for decking, siding, shingles, and outdoor furniture. Cedar's aromatic properties also make it a popular choice for lining closets and chests. On the other hand, oak is highly versatile in indoor applications. It is commonly used for flooring, cabinetry, furniture, and decorative trim. Oak's strength and durability make it suitable for high-traffic areas and heavy-use furniture.


Considering the environmental impact is crucial when choosing wood. Cedar is known for its sustainability as it is a fast-growing species and readily available. It is often sourced from responsibly managed forests, making it an eco-friendly choice. Additionally, cedar's natural resistance to decay reduces the need for chemical treatments, further enhancing its sustainability. Oak, on the other hand, is a slower-growing species and may take decades to mature. However, oak forests are carefully managed to ensure their long-term sustainability. Proper sourcing and responsible forestry practices are essential to maintain the ecological balance.


In conclusion, both cedar and oak have their unique attributes that make them suitable for various applications. Cedar's warm color, natural resistance to insects and rot, and versatility in outdoor projects make it an excellent choice for decking, siding, and outdoor furniture. Oak, on the other hand, offers exceptional strength, durability, and a classic appearance, making it ideal for indoor applications such as flooring, cabinetry, and furniture. When choosing between cedar and oak, it is important to consider the specific requirements of your project, the desired aesthetic, and the sustainability aspects to make an informed decision.

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