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Redwood vs Cedar Deck: Which Decking Material Should You Use?

Updated: Mar 4

redwood vs cedar deck

A beautiful deck is the cornerstone of your outdoor living space, offering both aesthetic appeal and a return on investment that endures for years. 

Homeowners yearn for decking that combines longevity with minimal stress, ensuring a lasting haven without the burden of constant upkeep. This is why the choice of materials is so important when it comes to decking.

Redwood and cedar are two popular choices, either with its place. Redwood offers robust durability and rich hues, while cedar boasts a natural resistance to decay and inviting warmth. 

But which is right for you? We’re here to help you find out with this detailed comparison of redwood vs cedar deck boards. From longevity to cost, aesthetics, maintenance, and more - we’ll weigh all the pertinent factors and show you why cedar decking has an edge.

Quality Cedar Products can meet all your cedar board needs. This blog is informational only and not a replacement for expert advice. Please consult a professional before starting any building project as your needs and specifications may vary and it may not reflect the most current building codes, regulations, or industry standards.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Decking Material

Before we start comparing cedar vs redwood deck boards, let’s talk about why this is such an important decision in the first place. Your decking material impacts not only the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space but also its functionality and lifespan. 

The right material acts as a foundation for your deck, dictating its resistance to the elements, the frequency of maintenance, and the comfort it provides to you and your guests. 

It's a balance of characteristics: durability against wear and tear, the material's behavior under various climate conditions, and its ability to retain its original charm over time. 

Your choice also has financial implications, influencing initial costs and long-term investment through upkeep and potential value addition to your property. 

The good news, though, is you’ll feel confident in which material is right for you by the time you finish reading our comparison of redwood vs cedar deck boards below. We’ll also show you where you can find high-quality lumber to get the project underway!

Redwood vs Cedar Deck: What are the Differences and Which is Right For You?

We want to give credit to preface this cedar vs redwood deck debate - each material has its place as a decking material. Ultimately, it just comes down to what matters most to you. While we can present you with the facts, you’ll have to determine which material aligns with your needs.

Aesthetics and Design Flexibility

Cedar is known for its rich grain and vibrant color palette ranging from mellow ambers to reddish cinnamons. This material can truly stand out or blend with the natural surroundings.

Its uniform texture allows for a variety of design expressions, whether you're aiming for a rustic look or a sleek, modern finish. We talk about staining a cedar deck or painting cedar deck boards in our blog.

Redwood, with its own distinct beauty, presents a more limited color range, typically showcasing deeper reddish tones. 

However, cedar's ability to accept a wide range of stains and finishes means it can adapt to any style preference. It’s the more versatile choice for a homeowner looking to tailor their outdoor space to specific design aesthetics.

Durability and Longevity

Cedar's natural oils make it inherently resistant to rot, decay, and insect infestations, ensuring a long-lasting deck with proper care. But, how long does cedar decking last exactly? It all depends on the conditions you keep it in. That being said, we’ve seen these decks last as long as 30+ years.

While redwood also shares similar resistant properties, cedar has the edge when it comes to longevity, especially in areas with severe weather conditions. 

Cedar's resilience means it's less likely to warp or crack over time compared to redwood, which can be prone to damage if not meticulously maintained. This durability translates to fewer repairs and replacements, ultimately extending the life of your deck.

Better yet, you can learn how to restore cedar deck once it starts showing its age - it’s easier to get back to a “like new” condition than redwood.

Cost Considerations

The initial cedar decking cost is actually quite similar to that of redwood. Both are considered premium decking materials and will cost more than a composite deck, for example. The actual prices for these boards can vary depending on the quality and source.

But, which is more cost-effective in the long run between a redwood vs cedar deck? Redwood tends to be more expensive, particularly for higher grades that offer the best durability and appearance. 

Cedar offers a more budget-friendly alternative without compromising quality, providing a durable and attractive decking option that can fit a wider range of budgets. Of course, it all depends on the specific grades of cedar you’re getting - so do your due diligence.

Maintenance Needs

Maintenance is a crucial factor in the lifespan of any deck. Redwood requires a bit more maintenance than cedar to preserve its color and prevent surface damage. Both types of wood benefit from regular cleaning and the application of a protective sealant every few years. 

Cedar deck maintenance is slightly less rigorous, with its natural oils offering added protection against the elements, which can reduce the frequency of treatments needed to maintain its appearance and structural integrity.

Environmental Considerations

Both redwood and cedar have their merits for those who prioritize environmental sustainability. Redwood forests are strictly managed and sustainably harvested, and the wood is biodegradable at the end of its life. 

Cedar grows more rapidly, which can make it a more sustainable option as it is often sourced from well-managed forests and available through certified sustainable forestry programs. Cedar's longevity also means it won’t need to be replaced as often, which can further reduce its environmental footprint.


Cedar's widespread availability is a significant advantage for homeowners. It's a staple in most lumber yards across North America, which can make sourcing easier and sometimes quicker. 

Redwood, while available, is more prevalent in the western United States, which can affect availability and pricing in other regions. This accessibility makes cedar a convenient option for many, potentially reducing shipping times and costs.

Climate Adaptability

Your choice of decking material is particularly important if you live in a region with harsh weather conditions. Cedar stands up well to varied climates, handling humidity and temperature fluctuations with less warping or cracking. 

Redwood also performs admirably, especially in its native West Coast environment, where the climate tends to be milder. However, cedar's adaptability to diverse weather conditions makes it a reliable choice for a wider range of geographical locations.

Installation and Workability

Both cedar and redwood cut cleanly and are easy to work with, which is a boon for DIY enthusiasts and professional builders alike. 

Cedar's lighter weight makes it easier to handle and can expedite the installation process. We talk more about this in our guide on how to install cedar deck boards.

Redwood is also user-friendly but may require a bit more effort to maneuver due to its density. Both materials can be sanded to a smooth finish and are compatible with most tools and fasteners, but cedar’s ease of installation is a subtle nod in its favor.

Stain and Finish Compatibility

Cedar's open-cell structure allows it to absorb stains and finishes evenly, resulting in a consistently beautiful finish. It's also receptive to a range of colors, from natural wood tones to bold, solid hues. 

Redwood's natural beauty is often preferred with a clear or lightly tinted finish to highlight its rich color and grain. While both woods can be finished to suit personal taste, cedar's versatility in accepting a broader spectrum of stain options allows for greater customization.

So, Should You Choose a Cedar Deck or Redwood Deck?

You may already be leaning one way or the other after reading this far in our comparison of redwood vs cedar deck boards. But if not, allow us to make it crystal clear which we feel is better: cedar.

Cedar decking shines with its design versatility, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability to various climates, requiring less maintenance while offering a broad range of stain options. 

Redwood boasts a classic beauty with inherent durability and a natural resistance to pests, making it a strong contender where its higher cost and regional availability are not prohibitive. Ultimately, cedar often has the edge due to its beauty, longevity, and overall value.

What About Other Decking Options?

While you came here specifically to learn about cedar vs redwood deck boards, there are also other options you may consider. We’ve compiled similar resources in our blog such as cedar vs pressure treated deck, pine vs cedar deck, or even white cedar vs red cedar decking.

Ultimately, though, you’ll find a similar outcome no matter what you compare western red cedar decking to - because it really is the best material for this project. That being said, let’s show you where you can find the most beautiful cedar deck boards to bring your deck to life…

Bring Your Cedar Deck to Life With Quality Cedar Products!

Now that you know why cedar is the material of choice in comparison to redwood (and every other material for that matter), why not get started bringing your deck to life by sourcing the best lumber in North America?

Our cedar is meticulously sourced from responsibly managed forests, ensuring sustainability and premium wood with every purchase. At Quality Cedar Products, we take pride in hand-grading our lumber, a testament to our commitment to delivering only the finest materials. 

We grade our lumber by hand to maintain high-quality standards, ensuring you only get the best of the best. You don’t have to take our word for it, either. Our quality guarantee stands as a promise of durability and satisfaction - if you aren’t satisfied with the quality when our delivery truck arrives, we’ll turn around you won’t pay a cent!

With a diverse selection tailored to meet your specific design needs, Quality Cedar Products empowers you to create the deck of your dreams. We have more than cedar deck boards, though. We also have cedar fencing (like our popular sound barrier fencing series), sauna cedar, and all the other western red cedar lumber for sale you may need.

Final Thoughts on Cedar vs Redwood Deck Boards 

There you have it - everything you need to know about redwood vs cedar deck boards. We hope you have a clear grasp of why cedar is the preferred decking material. It offers a harmonious blend of aesthetic versatility, enduring quality, and economic value, all while being kinder to the planet and easier to maintain. 

Redwood stands its ground with timeless elegance and robust resistance to the elements. As you weigh these factors, consider the unique benefits that align with your vision for a perfect deck. 

Ready to craft your outdoor masterpiece? Get a quote today at Quality Cedar Products and let our hand-graded, superior cedar selection be the foundation of your lasting outdoor retreat!

G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated does not assume any liability for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information provided in this blog post. The reader is solely responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented. Any reliance on the information is at the reader's own risk.

G&B Wholesale Lumber Incorporated is not responsible for any loss, injury, or damage that may occur as a result of following the suggestions, tips, or recommendations provided in this blog post. Building projects involve inherent risks, and it is essential to exercise caution, obtain proper permits, and engage qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of external links, references, or recommendations in this blog post does not constitute endorsement or guarantee the quality, reliability, or suitability of the linked sources. The reader should independently verify the information and assess its relevance to their specific circumstances. The author reserves the right to modify, update, or remove the content of this blog post at any time without prior notice. It is recommended to check for the most recent updates or consult with professionals to ensure the information is current and applicable. By reading this blog post, the reader acknowledges and accepts the above disclaimer and agrees to use the information provided responsibly and at their own discretion.

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