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10 Reasons Why Western Red Cedar Makes the Perfect Material for Pergolas

red cedar bark

A pergola made of wood is the ideal structure for providing shelter and shade outdoors, and it will improve the value of your property. Wood is the popular choice (benefit of wood link) of material for constructing pergolas because it is not only affordable but also easy to work with, which provides numerous design options. Out of all the different types of wood, western red cedar wood is the perfect material for constructing pergolas, because of its special characteristics.

Ten reasons to consider western red cedar for constructing your pergola:

1) Highly Durable

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Western red cedar wood is extremely durable and is the popular choice for constructing fences, outdoor structures, and making building components. There are different varieties of cedar, but western red cedar is known to resist moisture and decay the best. Western red cedar is able to withstand almost all types of extreme weather, which makes it ideal material for outdoor structures such as pergolas.

2) Repels Insects

Cedar actually has the characteristic of repelling insects, and it therefore will not easily fall prey to termite infestation. In olden days, when cedar trees were plentiful, people used to make the frames of their houses and clapboard sidings from cedar. Certain homes even had their roofs made of cedar planks. While many other types of woods are susceptible to termites, cedar can resist these insects and others largely.

3) Dimensional Stability

Cedar is hygroscopic, which means the wood will discharge or absorb moisture to be in equilibrium with the surrounding atmospheric conditions. Secondly, the wood has extremely low shrinkage factor and is extremely resistant to checking, twisting, and warping. When you use western red cedar for making pergolas, it will not change its dimension or size  in most types of weather conditions, temperature, or level of humidity. Other types of wood start to warp when there is excess moisture in the atmosphere, but most cedar types will remain flat and straight, which makes them excellent construction material.

4) Comparatively Lighter in Weight

Western red cedar is one of the lightest softwoods available commercially. The density of red cedar after it is oven dried is around 21 pounds per cubic foot, and a relative density of 0.32. Such low density, makes it much lighter in weight than other woods, and therefore it is easy to handle and transport cedar.

5) Thermal Conductivity

Since cedar has a lower density, it correspondingly has more cell cavities. When the wood is dry, these cavities will be filled with air, which will make cedar a good thermal insulator. A structure made of cedar will keep cool in the hot season and will not need much heating during the winter. Compared to steel, concrete, and brick, the western red cedar provides much superior insulation amongst the softwood varieties. The R value of red cedar is 1.35″ of thickness, which is about 34 mm.

6) Beautiful Appearance

Pergolas stand out in the outdoors and therefore they need to look elegant and beautiful. Many types of cedars will not lose their grain texture, and they can be stained and painted without losing their elegant grained appearance. Cedar also looks beautiful in its natural color, which can be white or red. Since, the wood is resistant to rot, and weather conditions, you do not need to stain, paint, or varnish the wood to provide a protective layer as in other woods. The natural color of cedar will also age beautifully to a silvery grey with time.

7) Fragrant Wood

The wonderful aroma of cedar is quite well known. The oil in the wood, which provides water-resisting quality, is also quite fragrant. In fact, cedar is the most preferred wood for wardrobes, closets, saunas, and hot tub surroundings. Hence, if you want pleasant smelling pergolas, cedar would be the ideal choice.

8) Acoustics

Any wood has the property for dampening vibrations and noise, but cedar excels in this property because of its vast cellular network.The minute interlocking pores of the cellular network, converts the energy of sound into heat due to viscoelastic and frictional resistance. As a result of this high friction inside, the wood has high dampening capacity compared to other materials used in structures.

Hence, if you want a relatively quiet atmosphere or you want to dampen the sound you might be making while entertaining guests in pergolas, then cedar would be the ideal choice. Western red cedar is especially effective in this aspect, and is used widely to reduce noise or for confining noise within a certain area.

9) Easy to Handle

Being lighter in weight compared to other woods, western red cedar is much easier to handle. Carpenters and workers prefer working with cedar, since there is much less strain during the building process.

10) Customized Designs

Since cedar is easy to work with, it is possible to create numerous designs and engravings with relatively less effort. Hence, if you are thinking of building pergolas with intricate and elegant designs, western red cedar should be your first choice.

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About the Author

Greg Bailey is a partner at Outdoor Living Manufacturing Ltd, a value added forest company specializing in do-it-yourself western red cedar kits. He has been in the forest industry for over 30 years and an owner at OLM for over 10 years.

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