Douglas Fir vs. Cedar: What’s the Best Choice for Your Home?

Budget-friendly or more expensive? Soft or firm? Resistant to weather or not?

When you’re starting a home improvement project, choosing materials is one of the most important things to consider. Using the right wood on your walls, floors, and ceilings can dramatically increase its appeal. And crafting a visually stunning (yet practical) living space doesn’t happen by accident.

Two of the most popular woods for home improvement are Douglas fir and cedar. Both woods have their advantages when it comes to cost, applications, and maintenance requirements.

Did you know: Douglas fir trees can grow to be more than 295 feet tall and have diameters of 13 feet? No wonder its strong wood has been used in making boats, aircrafts, and construction projects!

Keep reading to get a behind-the-scenes look at these two types of wood so you’ll have everything you need to make the right choice. We’ll talk about the origin of Douglas fir and cedar, the pros and cons of each, differences in cost, and more.

Overview of Douglas Fir vs. Cedar

Douglas fir and cedar are two of the most popular types of wood used in construction projects. Both have ancient roots, Douglas fir from North America's Pacific Northwest region while the cedar’s popularity began in Europe, Asia, as well as certain areas of North America.

Origin and History

Douglas fir is a coniferous tree that measures anywhere from 40-200 feet tall. It has a straight trunk with reddish-brown bark that can be rough or scaly in texture. The needles are short and soft to the touch, while its cones hang down from branches like Christmas decorations.

Cedar is another coniferous tree but typically grows shorter than Douglas fir at around 20-80 feet in height. It has thin bark with a reddish-brown hue that flakes away at the slightest touch. The needles are long yet soft to the touch, and its cones hang up instead of down.

Differences in Characteristics of Douglas Fir and Cedar

The physical characteristics between Douglas fir and cedar vary slightly due to their origins, but they do have some similarities. Coloration on both types of wood range from light yellow/green hues to deep reds depending on age and location.

Grain patterns are straight and fine, and both woods are lightweight with medium hardness. Additionally, Douglas fir and cedar have natural oils that make them resistant against rock and decay from moisture. This can make a huge difference when deciding what wood to use in an outdoor application.

Durability of Douglas Fir and Cedar

Douglas fir and cedar are both durable, strong choices of wood that will last a lifetime when properly treated. Cedar can be more resilient to outside elements but that often comes at an increased cost. Where Douglas fir shines is when used as structural support in an interior setting.

Key Takeaway: Douglas fir and Cedar are both popular woods with similar physical characteristics, yet their durability against moisture and rot vary depending on the type of application they are used for.

Comparing Douglas Fir vs. Cedar

Both Douglas fir and cedar feature a range of advantageous characteristics that make them suitable for a wide variety of projects. But before settling on either one, it’s vital to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each. Appearance, usage, and pricing can differ a lot depending on your application.

Douglas Fir

Aesthetics and Design

The appearance of Douglas fir can vary greatly depending on age and location of the tree. In most cases, its wood will be light brown in color with a reddish tint. Douglas fir is a nice choice for homeowners looking to brighten up a room.


Pricing of Douglas fir planks is different depending on your location and availability, but in general you’ll find it’s a more affordable option than other woods like cedar. DIYers might find this an attractive option for more limited budgets. If budgeting is a concern, Douglas fir might be the best choice since it offers similar benefits without breaking the bank.

Pros and Cons

Advantages of using Douglas fir:

  • Douglas fir is strong yet lightweight, making it a great choice for home projects.
  • Affordability doesn’t mean inferior quality. Douglas fir is a beautiful type of wood that can increase the appeal of even the most sophisticated living spaces.

Disadvantages of using Douglas fir:

  • It can warp and split over time if not properly sealed after installation. This is less likely to happen in interior applications where exposure to weather isn’t a factor.
  • Some people feel that Douglas fir isn’t quite as aesthetically pleasing due to its lighter coloration and more uniform grain patterning. This is largely a matter of personal preference though.


Aesthetics and Design

Cedar’s darker colors and soft texture result in beautiful planks to create a warm atmosphere. This makes cedar an ideal choice for fencing, decking, siding, and other applications.


Cedar is another popular choice among homeowners due to its natural beauty and resistance to rot and decay. It has a higher price tag than Douglas fir but is still fairly affordable especially for small to medium projects.

Pros and Cons

Advantages of using cedar:

  • Cedar absorbs stains better than woods like pine or oak do, making it a nice choice when painting is part of your plan.
  • It has a high natural resistance to rot and decay due to its oil content and tight grain structure. This makes cedar perfect for outdoor projects where exposure to the elements can be expected. Additionally, cedar has naturally strong insect-repellent properties which help protect against infestations.

Disadvantages of using cedar:

  • The main disadvantage associated with cedar is cost. It tends to be more expensive than a lot of other woods due largely in part to harvesting practices. The cost of using cedar can add up quickly when constructing a new home or working on a large project. So while cedar might offer superior protection against weathering damage over time, upfront costs will likely be higher.
Key Takeaway: Douglas fir and Cedar both offer great benefits for home construction, but Cedar can be more expensive due to harvesting regulations.

The cost of Douglas fir planks is usually lower than Cedar, making it an ideal choice for those looking to save money on their project costs.

Douglas Fir and Cedar in Home Improvement Projects

Both Douglas fir and cedar have qualities suited for interior and exterior applications. They are great choices for interior walls, ceilings, floors, trim work and furniture due to their durability and beauty while also being resistant to pests or decay in outdoor projects. Here are a few areas where each wood shines.

Interior Applications for Douglas Fir

Douglas fir is a softwood with an attractive grain pattern that makes it the ideal choice for ceilings, floors, trim work, cabinetry and furniture. DIYers with more limited budgets may choose this wood due to its relatively low price point and workability.

Its natural resistance to decay makes it an excellent choice for areas prone to moisture such as bathrooms or kitchens. Additionally, Douglas fir’s generally light coloration helps brighten up dark spaces while maintaining a warm atmosphere.

Exterior Applications for Douglas Fir

When it comes to outdoor projects such as decks, patios or fences, Douglas fir is an excellent choice due to its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions without quickly rotting. Its malleability makes it a great pick for those who are under short time constraints but still want to ensure quality results.

Interior Applications for Cedar

Cedar has a distinct reddish-brown hue which adds warmth and character to any room in your home. It can often be found in applications like paneling or wainscoting because of its durability and beauty. Using cedar as flooring is also possible, though it’s important to seal it properly if it’s installed in a location where water is often present.

Another great use of cedar is in closets where the wood’s pleasant scent will help keep moths away from clothing items stored within.

Exterior Applications for Cedar

Cedar stands out due to its natural protection from pests like termites and carpenter ants, which makes it the ideal choice if you’re in an area with any pesky creatures.

Since it doesn’t require much maintenance, cedar can be used on a number of exterior projects including siding, fences, and decks. Regularly cleaning it will in most cases be enough to keep your cedar looking fresh.

Key Takeaway: Douglas fir and Cedar have unique characteristics that make them ideal for different applications, both indoors and outdoors. Determining which wood to use comes down to your budget and personal preference.

Maintenance Requirements

Douglas fir and cedar are two of the most popular woods used in home construction and remodeling projects, and maintaining them is important for maintaining their visual appeal. Both Douglas fir and cedar boast a range of distinguishing features that make them suitable for many uses, but some attention is needed to achieve the best results.

It’s important to regularly inspect the planks for any potential cracks or splits that may occur due to weathering effects. If it looks like damage is starting, this should be remedied as soon as possible to prevent further issues from cropping up in the future.

After some time, you may decide to re-stain your wooden planks to refresh the coloration. This process should only be done after properly cleaning and sealing your Douglas fir or cedar planks. Douglas fir can typically handle most standard stain colors whereas cedar may need additional preparation depending on the stain color you choose.

Tip: When re-staining, test out a small section before committing to a large project.

Read on to learn more about the specific maintenance requirements for both woods so you can keep your home looking beautiful for years to come.

How to Properly Maintain Douglas Fir

To clean Douglas fir, it’s best to use a mild detergent or soap with warm water. This will help remove dirt from the surface without damaging the wood grain or finish.

When it comes to sealing your Douglas fir wood planks, we recommend using an oil-based sealer specifically designed for outdoor use on hardwood surfaces like decks and patios. This will provide maximum protection against moisture damage while still allowing the natural beauty of the wood to shine through.

How to Properly Maintain Cedar

As with Douglas fir, making sure you only clean using a mild detergent is important. Harsh chemicals can strip away natural oils from the wood which could lead to cracking or splitting over time. In most cases, dampening a soft cloth with warm water and lightly scrubbing should keep your cedar looking new.

Sealing cedar is an essential step in safeguarding against moisture damage and other environmental elements such as UV rays, extreme temperatures, and precipitation. When sealing, use an oil-based sealer intended exclusively for exterior application on softwoods like siding or trim boards. A clear acrylic latex paint can also be used. Just make sure whatever you buy is rated safe for outdoor utilization on softwood surfaces before applying it to your home.

Key Takeaway: Maintaining your wood planks with regular cleaning and sealing, as well as occasional staining for added color, is essential to ensure their lasting beauty regardless of indoor or outdoor environment.

Now that we've gone over maintenance requirements, let's move on to best practices when working with both woods.

Best Practices When Working With Douglas Fir and Cedar

When working with Douglas fir and cedar, it’s important to take proper safety precautions. Wearing protective eyewear, gloves, and a dust mask when cutting or sanding the wood can prevent serious injuries.

Ensure that any tools you’re using have been maintained and sharpened before working with the wood. This will keep you safe and guarantee a neat cut without wood fibers being torn or splintered.

When sawing either kind of timber, be sure to use a blade particularly fashioned for that material. If hand tools like chisels and planes are used for shaping, it’s also important to maintain their sharpness so they don’t cause damage to the surface of the wood.

For larger projects involving Douglas fir or cedar, consider investing in power tools such as routers and jigsaws to speed up production while maintaining accuracy and overall quality. If using these types of tools, it’s vital that you read all instructions carefully before beginning work. Knowing how to use each tool properly and safely can dramatically reduce the hazards associated with woodworking.

Key Takeaway: When working with Douglas fir and Cedar, it is important to use the right tools for the job while taking safety precautions. This will ensure clean cuts and accurate shapes with minimal tear-out.

Considering the differences between Douglas fir and cedar, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons when selecting which wood is most suitable for your task. But is there really a right choice for your project? Here are a few more things to consider.

Which Wood is Right for You?

Choosing between Douglas fir and Cedar can be a difficult decision. Both woods have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your project needs before making a final choice.

Douglas fir is known for its strength, durability, and resistance to decay, making it ideal for outdoor projects such as decks and siding. Despite its density, Douglas fir can still be beautifully shaped into intricate designs.

Cedar has a warm honey hue with subtle red tones throughout the grain pattern which enhances the visual appeal in both indoor and outdoor applications. Cedar also boasts excellent rot resistance when used in constructing decking or fencing.

When it comes to choosing between Douglas fir and cedar, the decision ultimately depends on your needs. Both are great types of wood with unique characteristics. Each possesses different advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account when making a selection. Douglas fir is an affordable option with great durability, while cedar is known for its naturally high resistance to insects.

Weighing up the various distinctions such as cost, upkeep requirements and best usage should be carefully considered to ensure the right decision is made.

At Stikwood, we help you transform the look of any wall or ceiling in your home with easy to install planks. Our pre-cut adhesive strips make the installation of Douglas fir and cedar planks a breeze, even if you have no experience. Our unique wood plank system is perfect for adding warmth and character to all kinds of spaces. And no sanding, staining, sawing or nailing means you can quickly and easily give your living space an elegant new look. Get started today!

Key Takeaway: When deciding between Douglas fir and Cedar, it's important to consider the project needs since each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Douglas fir is strong and durable, while cedar offers a higher resistance to rot and decay.

Douglas Fir vs. Cedar - FAQs

Even after learning about the differences of Douglas fir and cedar, deciding between the two can be difficult. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding these two woods.

Is Cedar better than Douglas fir?

Cedar and Douglas fir are both excellent options for wood planks. Douglas fir has a beautiful grain pattern and is less expensive, making it perfect for DIYers and homeowners looking to spruce up a room. If you have a slightly higher budget and want a wood known for its capacity to defy rot, decay, and insect infestations, cedar is a great choice.

In terms of strength and durability, both woods have similar properties. However, cedar can be slightly more durable due to its higher density. Ultimately, your decision will come down to budget and desired aesthetics.

Are these woods good for exterior use?

Yes, Douglas fir and cedar can be good for exterior use. Many homeowners have used cedar and Douglas fir to craft beautiful siding, fences, decks, and patios. Naturally high oils make both woods resistant to water damage. With proper care and maintenance, Douglas fir and cedar can last years outdoors without needing any major repairs.

Which is more resistant to rot - Douglas fir or Cedar?

Douglas fir and Cedar are both highly rot resistant woods, but Cedar is generally considered to be more durable. Its natural oils make it naturally resistant to decay, while fir’s resistance comes from its tight grain structure. Both woods can last for decades when properly treated and maintained, making them great choices for any home or office project. Cedar stands out as the most impervious to rot among woods.

Which wood is more popular?

Determining the popularity of Douglas fir and cedar is difficult, due to each having such a wide array of uses. Strength, durability, visual appeal, and natural resistance makes each a great choice depending on your application.