As the popularity of Cedar continues to grow, many customers ask us about the benefits of Inland vs. Coastal varieties. Both are the same species, Thuja plicata; as such, they boast many of the same prize characteristics: insect and rot resistance, relatively low cost, and open availability in a variety of sizes. Common applications include flooring, paneling, ceilings, siding, and decks and pergolas. Distinctions within the grading system help designate board clarity, while cut distinctions such as vertical grain describe the most preferable face grain. The highest quality cedar boards are described as CVG, or clear vertical grain.
While J. Gibson McIlvain carries both Coastal and Inland varieties of Western Red Cedar, through purchasing from mills scattered across the growth areas, we realize that the distinctive characteristics of various origins make them better suited to some customers’ needs than others. Cost differences between Coastal and Inland Cedar tend to be negligible and rely mostly on grading. Physical properties such as density and strength vary little and are usually chocked up to differences in grade. The most significant differences lie in the fact that these close but distinctive regions receive drastically different amounts of rainfall, greatly influencing the soil chemistry.
Growing in coastal British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Northern California, Coastal Cedar is often known as Western Red Cedar. Due to high rainfall, the early and late growth seasons produce fast growth and very few knots. As a result, most CVG Cedar comes from near the coast.
If your project requires large boards, impeccable clarity, and dark, consistent coloring, Coastal Western Red Cedar is what you’re after. Due to its straight grain, this variety is ideal for siding. Because of the availability of large timbers, it’s often used for pergolas and other outdoor structures. Other applications include shingles, structural timbers, paneling and flooring.
Hailing from the Western Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, is Inland Cedar. For those looking for more character in the way of knots and striping, then Inland Cedar will fit the bill. Because of the more arid climate and more drastic seasonal shifts, the density changes from early to late growth, causing the appearance of stripes. These trees are smaller than Coastal Cedar trees; they also branch much more, causing a uniquely high number of knots for clear lumber.
The lighter coloring and displays of character make this variety ideal for knotty ceilings, paneling, and flooring. Often graded similarly to Pines, Inland cedar is usually described as #3 or better in STK (select tight knot).
Both Inland Cedar and Coastal Cedar are popular for good reason, for specific applications and appearances. As you evaluate your lumber needs, the experts at J. Gibson McIlvain would love to help you determine the precise grade and origin of your next Cedar order.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods. As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
To order Jatoba or Brazilian Cherry, contact a lumber sales representative at J. Gibson McIlvain Company by calling toll free 800-638-9100.