|Why We Use Western Red Cedar
One of the lightest commercial softwoods, the density of Western Red Cedar at oven-dry conditions is approximately 21 pounds per cubic foot with a relative density (specific gravity) of 0.32.
Like all woods, Western Red Cedar is hygroscopic and will absorb or discharge moisture to attain equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere. However, it has a very low shrinkage factor and is superior to all other coniferous woods in its resistance to warping, twisting and checking.
An important accoustical property of cedar is its ability to damp vibrations. Western Red Cedar has a cellular network of minute interlocking pores which converts sound energy into heat by frictional and viscoelastic resistance. Because of the high internal friction created by the cellular pore network, wood has more sound damping capacity than most structural materials. Cedar fencing can dampen road noise and can provide effective economical sound insulation and absorption when properly utilized. Western Red Cedar is particularly effective in this regard and can be used to help reduce noise or to confine it to certain areas.
Flame Spread Rating
Flame spreading ratings describe the surface burning characteristics of finished products. They are used to regulate the use of interior finish materials to reduce the probability of rapid fire spread. Materials are burned in a test furnace for a relative assessment of flammability. The lower the flame spread rating, the more the material resists the spread of fire. Western Red Cedar's flame spread rating and smoke developed classification compare well with the ratings of many other species of both softwood and hardwood. Because of its favorable performance, Western Red Cedar is an excellent choice for your home fencing needs.
Historically, native peoples of the Pacific coast prized cedar for its long lasting qualities and used wood and bark from cedar trees for most of their building needs. Evidence of cedar's durability are the many cedar artifacts still in good condition today. Properly finished and maintained, cedar will deliver decades of trouble-free service. If exposed for prolonged periods to conditions where decay could be a factor, such as where the wood is in contact with the ground, cedar should be treated with suitable wood preservatives.
Although cedar is a naturally durable species, leaving it untreated is not recommended because a finish or protective coating will greatly increase its service life. Cedar is free of pitch and with its high degree of dimensional stability, it is the best of the softwoods for accepting paints, stains, oils and other coatings. For a detailed discussion, see Finishing Western Red Cedar (3MB pdf) published by the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association and available under our downloadable information tab for review.
As mentioned above, it is very important for the durability of your wood fence to have a protective finish. Click here to find out more about staining and sealing your fence.