Is Cedar Suitable For Furniture? – Here’s All You Need To Know

Yes. While cedar is softwood, it is ideal for indoor and outdoor furniture. This wood is durable, affordable, and naturally resistant to decay and rot. Cedar produces a rich, distinctive scent and can repel insects. 

Various cedar species are available, each with unique hardness, color, and rot resistance properties. This article highlights the different cedar species, the properties that make cedar great for outdoor furniture, and the advantages and disadvantages of using cedar. Read on!

What Are Different Species Of Cedar Trees?

Different species of cedar have unique properties that make them excellent for use in furniture making. This table summarizes the different types and their characteristics. 

Cedar speciesScientific nameWhere foundDistinctive featuresHow to identify 

Atlas (blue) cedar

Cedrus atlantica

Atlas mountains

Blue-green shaded leaves. They grow in clumps.

They have brown-grey bark that fissures with maturity.

Cyprian cedar

Cedrus brevifolia

The Island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean sea

Needles arranged in short clumps.

Shorter branches than other trees

Cedar of Lebanon

Cedrus libani

Southwest Asia, Syria, and parts of Lebanon

They have a massive trunk and are drought-resistant

The trees have flat tops and beautiful stretching branches. Branches grow horizontally

Deodar (Himalayan) cedar

Cedrus deodara

Himalaya

They are pyramidal at an early stage but flatten upon maturity.

Wide-spread swooping branches

What Are The Advantages Of Cedar That Make It Suitable For Furniture?

Advantages Of Cedar That Make It Suitable For Furniture

Cedarwood has some good qualities that make it suitable for furniture, including;

It Is Lightweight

Some cedar species, such as the Western Red Cedar, are lightweight, making them manageable. This wood species also has enough moisture, which prevents it from warping and cracking when used in furniture. 

Affordability

Most cedar species have different prices ranging from low to high. It is, therefore, possible to choose the species to use according to your budget. 

Cedar Is Readily Available.

Cedar is readily available in the market wherever you are in the world. You can use it for any project, minor or significant, without worrying about where to get it. There are also different species to choose from with varying qualities, color, and degrees of hardness which makes it applicable for making most furniture pieces. 

Great Workability

Most cedars, including western red cedar, have excellent workability. You can work on this wood using small and big machines, making it possible to work with even in limited spaces. Since cedar is softwood, you can easily cut and curve it. It is also good at holding screws and nails. Its surface will also hold polish, glue, and paint appropriately for extended periods. 

Resistance To Temperature

Cedar has excellent temperature resistance properties due to its moisture content and straight grains. For this reason, cedar can be used for siding, roofing, and most outdoor furniture. 

Cedar Is Highly Durable.

Besides its moisture content, cedar has some chemicals used as oil. This oil helps prevent fungus and insects from attacking the wood, making it last for between 30 and 40 years. If the wood gets proper maintenance and less exposure to harsh weather and moisture, it can last for more years. 

Cedar Has A Beautiful Appearance.

Cedar is an attractive wood with dark reddish color shades. It can also be treated and stained to produce a beautiful finish. Since cedar has uniform grains, it gives an excellent appearance for use in roofs and siding. 

What Are Some Disadvantages Of Cedarwood?

Disadvantages Of Cedarwood

Before you decide on buying cedar furniture or using it to make some, it is necessary to consider its disadvantages. These include;

High Maintenance And Sensitivity 

Cedar is a softwood and requires regular maintenance. It needs care each year when you use it for roofing, siding, and other external applications. 

Cedar is also sensitive and can be easily dented and scratched. For example, if you use it for flooring, you need to use carpets and furniture leg pads to prevent contact. The cedar flooring needs frequent polishing to keep it looking attractive.

Flammability

Cedar is highly flammable due to the presence of oil in it. This property makes it risky for most people. When used to make furniture, the wood needs to be specially treated. 

What Factors Make Cedar Wood A Good Option For Outdoor Furniture?

Having a beautiful backyard or a patio is quite fulfilling, especially when you want to relax with friends or family after a hard day’s work. You can only achieve this by investing in elegant-looking furniture pieces. Several factors make cedar a good wood for outdoor furniture, including;

Beautiful Look

The appearance of any furniture piece contributes a lot to the beauty of a patio living space. You can get a rustic appeal or some elegant style with cedar furniture pieces. This wood has a natural look that will accent your room with light brown, soft red, or gray tones. Since the wood is lightweight and porous, it readily accepts sealer, paints, or stains.

You can also choose to have the furniture in a finely sanded raw finish to preserve its natural feel, smell, and appearance. Cedar is naturally aromatic, and this helps to add to the ambiance of a pleasant evening. The natural scent also helps preserve and protect the furniture pieces from harsh weather and insects. 

Easy To Maintain

Most furniture manufacturers and users opt for cedar furniture pieces since they are easy to maintain. Cedarwood is very resilient by nature as it can withstand most weather conditions, especially climates with heavy precipitation. The furniture can retain its brilliance for several years, even when exposed to rain, snow, or sleet. When the furniture is left in a sanded unfinished state, it can resist the harsh weather. But, if you want to finish your furniture to give it a different look, you can choose one of the options below;

Painting

You can have your outdoor cedar furniture painted with fine wood paint like any other wood surface. The only problem is that the paint will chip and crack over time, altering the outlook of your pieces. But, you can maintain the appearance by repainting the entire surface once the paint cracks and chips.

Painting

Staining

You may choose to have a stain on your furniture to change its color. You can get any shade of the stain you desire through the light to the dark color spectrum. Since the stain is not resistant to the UV rays from the sun and other weather elements, it needs reapplication every two to three years. 

Using Sealers

Several high-end sealers are available in home improvement stores or hardware stores. You may decide to lock in the natural appearance of your patio cedar furniture by using any of the sealers. Doing this may delay the depreciation of your furniture and prevent them from fading. Like with painting and staining, sealer also needs reapplication after every few years for it to be effective. 

Price

Cedar is readily available for use in making outdoor furniture pieces. It is also lightweight and easy to harvest, cheaper than most wood types. Although cedar is inexpensive, it is also durable, giving your value for your money. 

Price

Is It Necessary To Seal Cedar?

No. It is not compulsory to seal cedar since it is naturally resistant to rot and decay. This property makes cedar furniture durable (for interior and exterior use), making an optional protective finish such as sealing. You can also leave incense cedar, and Western Red cedar varieties unsealed to enjoy their aroma. 

But, for an outdoor project, you can apply a light coat of sealer to protect the cedar from sunlight and moisture. 

Is Cedar Toxic To Humans?

Like most types of wood, exposure to cedar wood dust can be a health hazard. Due to substances like mold, fungi, or bacteria, and the natural chemicals in the wood, inhaling the dust will have adverse effects on humans. 

According to IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), wood dust, including that of cedar, can cause cancer of the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavities. Wood dust can also lead to irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose. One may also develop problems in the respiratory system, including allergic reactions and decreased lung capacity. 

Other health concerns associated with cedarwood dust include; asthma, conjunctivitis, and allergic contact dermatitis. It is, therefore, necessary to take care when working with cedarwood to prevent exposure. Some of the preventive measures include;

1. Wearing protective clothes and gloves when working with cedar

2. Observe proper hygiene practices such as taking a shower to remove dust, washing your face and hands after completing a task, eating, or drinking. 

3. Minimize activities that may generate dust, such as cutting or sawing wood

Conclusion

Cedarwood has excellent qualities that make it excellent for making both outdoor and indoor furniture. Its natural aroma, great appearance, and resistance to rot and decay make this wood a better option than several other wood types. 

It is also readily available in most parts of the world, making the wood cheaper to use. But, it is essential to handle cedar wood with great care to avoid health complications due to exposure. 

References:

https://www.homeownershub.com/woodworking/reasons-for-not-using-cedar-in-furniture-424117-.htm

https://www.finewoodworking.com/forum/working-with-cedar

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