Both pine and cedar are softwoods that many homeowners love to use for DIY projects. They’re usually easy to work with, and their versatility means you can use both types of wood for building fences, creating decking, and decorating your home’s interior.
As somebody who’s planning a DIY project, you need to know the differences between pine and cedar to make an informed decision. Here, we look at the benefits of these common woods to help you make the right choice for your home.
It’s difficult to classify cedar because carpenters apply the name to over a dozen species of both hard and softwoods. As such, a cedar plank you get from one supplier may not even come from the same type of tree as the wood you get from another.
Still, there are some commonalities between the various types of cedar, including:
Pine is an evergreen wood that originally grew in the northern hemisphere. However, its strength and workability led to an explosion in popularity. Combine this popularity with the wood’s ability to grow in a wide range of conditions, and it’s easy to see why you can now find pine all over the world.
As softwood trees, pine trees usually grow faster than their hardwood cousins. This fast growth is another reason for pine’s popularity because it guarantees a steady and constantly replenishing supply.
Pine and cedar are both great choices for several DIY projects. Still, the woods have enough differences for you to have to compare their pros and cons before deciding which to use.
Stacking pine and cedar against each other allows us to come up with some key benefits for each.
Let’s start with pine, which offers the following to DIY enthusiasts and carpenters:
These benefits make pine seem like the obvious choice for your project. But cedar offers plenty of advantages, too, especially for outdoor use:
Both types of wood have similar uses, though their characteristics make each better for some projects than others.
Cedar is ideal for any outdoor project, such as fences or decking. Its moisture resistance, coupled with any sealing or staining you apply, means it holds up well against wet weather. However, that same moisture resistance can also work against you. Setting cedar close to the ground leaves it exposed to moisture that it can’t absorb, which can cause maintenance issues in surrounding structures.
Cedar’s strength also makes it a great choice for areas with heavy foot traffic, such as staircases. And its natural beauty makes it ideal for decorative wall and ceiling projects, which is why Stikwood uses cedar for several of its wooden planks.
Pine’s durability and popularity make it usable for almost any home project. It creates visually-stunning window- and door frames. Plus, much like cedar, its strength makes it a good choice for decking. However, the wood is less weather and pest-resistant than cedar, meaning you’ll need a good sealant when you build decking out of pine.
The gorgeous natural look of pine grain makes it a popular choice for wooden wall and ceiling panels. Finally, the combination of low cost, availability, and workability make pine useful in crafting furniture.
Pine’s availability places it as the clear winner when comparing initial expenses. Pine costs between $9 and $24 per linear foot, depending on your supplier. Cedar has a higher starting price of $20 per linear foot, which can rise to $35 based on the type of cedar you use.
The higher cost of cedar wood is offset somewhat by its lower maintenance requirements. Yearly maintenance should be enough for cedar, especially given its damp and pest-resistant qualities. You’ll likely have to clean the wood with soapy water, especially if it’s near plants, to ensure mold doesn’t become a problem.
You can get away with yearly maintenance for pine, too. However, this assumes you’ve taken the proper steps to protect the wood before using it, such as applying a proper sealant to decking or fencing. Pine requires annual inspection, cleaning, and re-treating, in addition to the potential replacement of rotting boards.
Both kinds of wood are durable, though cedar justifies its higher cost again in this category.
As long as it’s well maintained, pine can last for up to 15 years. Pine wood panels often have a warranty of 10 years to reflect this durability. Cedar lasts longer, with proper maintenance allowing you to get up to 25 years of use out of the wood. Of course, traffic and exposure affect the durability of both. You may have to shave a year or two off for each if you’re using the wood for decking, for instance.
As for strength, we can look to the woods’ Janka rating to test their relative hardness. These ratings differ depending on where the tree grows. But as an example, southern yellow pine has a Janka rating of 690, with red cedar coming out on top with a score of 900. Note that 690 is still an impressive score, meaning pine has the hardness needed for most wood-based DIY projects. Cedar just happens to be a few degrees harder.
Now that you understand the qualities each type of wood offers, your next step is to make a choice. As mentioned, pine and cedar are both great for DIY projects. But which you use depends on the project and your appetite for maintenance.
Though cedar and pine are both great for decorative wall paneling, pine is often the preferred choice. Its beautiful grains allow you to create a natural look. If you’re shooting for a rustic aesthetic, pine delivers in spades. That isn’t to say cedar can’t look great too. But pine has that extra something that makes it the preferred choice for many.
That is unless you’re using the wood for an exterior wall. In those cases, cedar is the better choice due to its strength and moisture resistance.
Assuming you’re decorating an interior wall, both kinds of wood are strong enough to handle everyday use. Pine may get damaged more easily if subjected to heavy impacts, though that shouldn’t be a problem in most homes. The only real downside to pine is durability, as you’ll need to replace pine planks earlier than you would cedar.
The popularity of pine makes it one of the most in-demand peel-and-stick woods. At Stikwood, we offer several new and reclaimed pine options for those who want to create a natural aesthetic.
The benefits that pine delivers for walls also apply to ceilings. Its combination of low cost and versatility makes it a great choice for covering such a large surface area. Again, cedar is a superb choice too. But it’ll cost a lot more money to create a cedar ceiling than a pine ceiling.
That extra cost comes with some benefits. Cedar ceilings last longer due to the wood’s higher strength, meaning you won’t have to do as much maintenance. Cracking and splitting are also less likely to be problems, though the wood’s position on the ceiling means it’s unlikely to face impact damage.
Cedar’s moisture-resistant properties would seemingly make it the best choice for decking. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Though cedar doesn’t absorb as much moisture as pressure-treated pine, it allows water to sit on top of it. That’s a problem because wet cedar degrades quicker and complicates maintenance.
As such, pressure-treated pine is the better choice for ground floor decking. It can handle sitting water better and tolerates more ambient moisture. Of course, those benefits go out of the window if you’re using untreated pine.
Cedar is a better choice if you’re building elevated decking. Exposure to water becomes less of a problem, allowing cedar’s higher strength to shine.
There’s a final issue to consider, which also applies to fencing. Pine has to undergo chemical treatment to withstand the elements for an extended period. If you’re not comfortable with chemicals in your wood, cedar is the obvious choice.
A mix of both materials is your best bet when building a fence.
Choose pressure-treated pine for fence posts to ensure the posts can handle being inserted directly into the ground. For the panels themselves, cedar is the better choice because of its pest resistance. Add to that cedar’s lack of shrinking, warping, and splitting, and you have a strong material that can easily handle gales and minor impacts.
Furthermore, there’s a maintenance issue to consider. Using pressure-treated pine for the entire fence means you have to stay vigilant against damage. Cedar is far from indestructible, but it requires less maintenance than pine. Whatever you do, don’t use untreated pine for a fence. Rot, splitting, and contraction will spell major problems in the long term.
Your home is your castle, and you want it to feature stunning wood. Cedar and pine are both excellent picks for your next project, though each has pros and cons. Pine costs less and is strong enough for interior walls and ceilings. But it’s also prone to splitting and warping, especially if it isn’t pressure-treated. Cedar is stronger, pest-resistant, and doesn’t require the use of chemicals. But it doesn’t do well when constantly exposed to moisture. Plus, it’ll set your bank balance back more than pine.
Whatever choice you make for your home, Stikwood offers peel-and-stick wood panels that make finishing your project straightforward. Check out our collection, and we’re sure you’ll find something for your home.
Is pine stronger than cedar?
No, cedar is the stronger of the two materials. Pine is softer on the Janka scale, though it’s still strong enough to handle most DIY projects.
Is cedar or pine more expensive?
Cedar is the more expensive of the two for several reasons. Pine is a more abundant wood because it’s easier to grow and replenish. Cedar’s higher durability also leads to suppliers charging more for that wood.
Does pine last as long as cedar?
Pine typically lasts between 10 and 15 years, depending on how well you maintain it and whether it’s pressure-treated. Cedar can last for up to 25 years with proper maintenance.
Is cedar heavier than pine?
As the denser of the two types of wood, cedar is heavier than pine if you compare like-for-like planks.
Is yellow pine the same as southern pine?
Southern pine and yellow pine are synonyms for the same type of pine wood. Many manufacturers also call southern pine “southern yellow pine,” combining the two names.
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