Durability Redwood is approximately 23% stronger than cedar, having a janka rating of 450 lbs (a janka rating of 350 lbs.). It is up to you if the extra strength is required for your project, but redwood is certainly more durable and sturdy than cedar in general. If you want to know how strong redwood is compared to other popular wood species such as pine or fir, see our article on that topic.
Price Cedar is generally less expensive than redwood. A 4x4 foot sheet of redwood typically costs $30-50, while a 4x4 foot sheet of cedar is about $10-20. However, redwood is much harder to work with and requires advanced skills for proper processing and use in construction projects. Also, redwood tends to be more expensive due to its limited availability and high demand.
Longevity Although redwood is an evergreen tree, it doesn't mean it will always be green. The heartwood of most redwoods is a deep reddish-brown color, which over time will darken further if exposed to sunlight and air pollution. The outer layer of the wood, called the sapwood, is slightly colored by the chemicals used in the tree's defense system. This color will change as the wood ages further. Sapwood is not as strong as heartwood, so it should be used only for decorative purposes or as filler stock.
Douglas Fir Lumber Characteristics: It lacks the pest-resistant oils found in redwood and cedar and has a shorter outdoor lifetime than either of these species. According to Sustainable Lumber Co., its Janka Hardness grade of 660 makes it tougher than most other domestic softwoods, including redwood. Douglas fir is used for many products that include furniture, building materials, and interior decorating items.
Redwood Timber Characteristics: It is one of the hardest woods available and has a high oil content which makes it resistant to insects and fungi. Redwood can reach a height of 350 feet and live up to 1,000 years before it is considered old growth. The wood is light brown with a pinkish hue and has a fine grain with no knots or defects. Redwood is popular for outdoor projects such as benches, picnic tables, and playground equipment because it holds its color and beauty over time. Some types of redwood are more stable in low temperatures than others; Ponderosa and Russian River varieties are most resistant to cold weather while Port Orford Cedar can grow in water as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fir is used for constructing buildings because it's strong and easy to work with. However, fir is one of the least durable woods because it's susceptible to insects and fungi that cause it to decay over time.
Aromatic red cedar has a Janka rating of 900, while southern yellow pine is somewhat behind with a Janka rating of 690. As a result, the cedar is a little tougher. However, red cedar is used more for furniture and decorative items, while pine is usually used for construction. The yellow pine has been found to be more durable for outdoor use.
On average, pine is slightly harder than cedar but this depends on the type of wood used. Also, pine is more resistant to insect attack and decay because it grows in a well-lit environment without much water or soil contact. Cedar on the other hand, grows in a wetter environment and is more susceptible to insects and rot.
Pine is usually harvested when it reaches 80% maturity level. After that point, most of the growth will come out of the trunk as debarked timber. This means the tree has reached its maximum height possible before it must be cut back to promote new growth. New growth will eventually reach 80% maturity level and can be harvested like the first piece of timber. Old growth trees can remain standing for hundreds of years if not cut down for their valuable timber.
The softness or hardness of pine vs cedar should not be the only factor you take into account when choosing which wood to use for your projects.
The Janka scale assesses the hardness of all wood, with a higher value indicating harder wood. White pine, one of the most popular types, has a rating of 420. Yellow pine receives an 870, while cedar receives an even 900. For instance, red oak scores 1,290 on the Janka scale. That's five times harder than white pine.
Wood is made up of large numbers of very small vessels (called "xyloïds" and "pyrenoids") which hold water inside the wood cell wall. When wood is cut or burned, these vessels rupture, releasing their water content into the air. This is why burning wood can be harmful to humans- the smoke contains carbon monoxide that can be toxic if it reaches the lungs. Wood also contains other chemicals that may be harmful if they are breathed in such as creosote from pine trees and benzene, a chemical found in turpentine.
Pine trees are native to both the northern and southern hemispheres, but the best known species is the pine tree. Most commercially available pine trees are actually clones of a few different species of pine tree. Commercially valuable woods include: yellow pine, white pine, shortleaf pine, jack pine, and ponderosa pine.
This test determines the hardness or durability of wood. The Janka Scale is used to determine the hardness of wood. While North American Walnut measures around 1,010, birch wood is stronger than walnut wood (Janka Hardness), measuring around 800. Thus, birch is more difficult to work with because it's harder and less flexible than walnut.
Both Birch and Walnut are members of the Pinaceae family. They are deciduous trees native to northern temperate regions that grow to 60 feet in height. Walnut grows faster and is not as tall as Birch. Both species have oval-shaped, grayish brown nuts that are approximately the size of a chestnut.
Walnuts and Birch are used for various products including furniture, houses, toys, and art. Walnut wood is more durable than Birch and thus is usually used for longer lasting items that receive heavy use. It is common to see Birch furniture from early 20th century America made with natural wood instead of metal or plastic because it was all we had at the time. However, due to its lack of resistance to insects and fungus, all Birch furniture will eventually become damaged over time.
Walnut wood does have some advantages over Birch. It tends to be more stable than Birch when drying out after cutting down a tree. Also, because it's harder, it requires a sharp knife to cut through it.