Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) makes up approximately 8% of British Columbia's total growing stock and is one of the most commercially valuable species. The heartwood varies in colour from light straw to pinkish red to deep, rich brown. The wood is straight-grained and non-porous and has a distinctive aroma. Weather resistant and highly resistant to decay, western red cedar is ideally suited for exterior applications where durability and dimensional stability is required. Its unique properties make it ideal for weather-resistant applications including roof shingles, exterior siding and cladding, decking, doors, outdoor furniture, portable buildings, poles, posts, fences, ship and boat building, as well as boxes and crates.
Western red cedar is one of the few wood species that are naturally at home in the outdoors. Properly finished, western red cedar will last for decades, even in harsh environments. Its natural resistance to moisture, decay and insect damage make it the ideal choice for a surface that is exposed to sun, rain, heat and cold all year round.
With its dark, attractive colouring, this wood also has many interior applications. This wood is popular for doors, windows, ceilings, wall paneling as well as for millwork. Due to its dimensional stability it is perfectly suited to uses such a sauna panelling, mouldings and window blinds. Red cedar is also a good choice for musical instruments due to its superb acoustic resonance properties.
Western red cedar is a fairly lightweight wood, which is moderately soft and low in strength. It is known for its excellent working properties, with good machining qualities. It planes and shapes well and can be sanded to a smooth finish.
Western red cedar can be graded structurally under National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) grade rules. However, western red cedar is more often graded for appearance and specialty applications. These include clears, shop, fence, paneling, siding and other NLGA grades.