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Western Red Cedar Substitutes: Which Woods Work Just As Well?

With its alluring reddish-brown colour, excellent natural durability and sweet scent, Western Red Cedar is often the go-to timber for any outdoor project. But, if you’re after something slightly different, there’s plenty of other woods that step up to the job superbly!

With thousands of glorious species of wood from right across the world, Western Red Cedar is by no means your only option.

Let’s take a look at five outstanding cedar substitutes for your next decking cladding, fencing or other exterior project.

Western Red Cedar alternatives for your next project

1. Alaskan Yellow Cedar

Alaskan Yellow Cedar colour

As the name rather aptly suggests, this species is a close cousin of Western Red Cedar, retaining all of its incredible natural properties, but differing in terms of appearance.

Usually straight-grained, the species’ whitish-pale yellow colour makes it a superb, versatile and naturally aesthetic choice. It provides an excellent neutral base and can be easily stained or oiled to more of a red cedar tone.

Like Western Red Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar boasts remarkable insect and decay resistance; ideal for cladding, fencing, decking or other exterior DIY projects.

Alaskan Yellow Cedar does tend to slowly darken with age, although if left untreated outdoors, it will slowly weather a distinctive silvery-grey (like all timbers!).

Officially designated a ‘species of least concern’, rest assured that Alaskan Yellow Cedar is an environmentally-conscious choice, too.

2. Heat-treated Tulipwood (Thermo Tulipwood)

Heat-treated tulipwood colour

Looking for an exceptional outdoor timber and fine cedar alternative, particularly for cladding? Look no further than heat-treated Tulipwood.

Despite being naturally blessed with incredible strength, a thermal modification process relaxes tension in the wood, providing it with enhanced dimensional stability, insulation, water resistance and decay resistance.

The thermal treatment process causes the colour to darken from its original greenish-yellow. Unlike the more commonly-known Thermowood®, which is a softwood like spruce, Tulipwood is a clear-grade hardwood providing a virtually knot-free alternative.

3. Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir example

Slow-growing, almost knot free and with a fine grain, Douglas Fir’s irresistible creamy yellow-to-brown hues have won it many fans.

Don’t be fooled by its status as a softwood; Douglas Fir can be as tough as nails. Much like Western Red Cedar, it hails from the forests of Canada. An excellent ‘all-rounder’ timber, fir has great natural durability, high resin content and top-notch density.

As such, this species performs fantastically for internal and external cladding, as well as decking, fencing, structural work and other landscaping projects.

Certainly a wood to bear in mind if you’re looking to deviate from cedar!

4. Siberian Larch

Siberian Larch example

Larch’s glorious golden yellow colour differs somewhat from Western Red Cedar’s cherished reddish-brown hues, but this is still a visually stunning species that slots seamlessly into almost any home improvement project.

If you’re running a tighter budget, Siberian Larch is a particularly great cheaper, inexpensive cedar alternative.

As a result of its punishing ‘upbringing’ in Siberia, Larch is highly resinous and slow-growing, packing in incredible natural durability and scratch resistance, suiting it to cladding, fencing and decking — just like cedar. Larch is one of the ‘hardest’ softwoods there is.

In fact, such is their similarity, we’ve written an entire blog post dedicated to comparing Western Red Cedar and Siberian Larch cladding.

Interested in a Western Red Cedar alternative for your next project?

We’re a leading UK importer and stockist of a wide range of beautiful, dynamic, durable timber species — including all of those listed above, as well as many, many more.

If you’d like to enquire about some timber for your next project — or you’d just like a little bit of friendly advice from our expert team — get in touch today!

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