Why is Western Red Cedar so Expensive?
Updated: Apr 26
Whether you are a construction company, a seasoned carpenter, or have the itch to start a DIY project to spruce up your home, your choice of lumber will make or break your project. When searching for the best lumber available, western red cedar stands out as the best in show.
However, you may be wondering, why is western red cedar so expensive compared to other species?
Western red cedar lumber is extraordinarily durable, thanks to natural resins and oils allowing it to survive harsh elements and insects. Western red cedar lumber is beautiful, with no imperfections, especially when opting for CVG-grade cuts. This popularity has exploded in demand for western red cedar. Western red cedar trees also have a long maturity period of 50+ years, further lowering the supply.
If you want to maximize your investment in lumber, G&B Quality Cedar Products is Canada’s premier western red cedar lumber supplier. We offer wholesale pricing and personalized customer service to guide you to the exact cut of lumber that will benefit your project. We have streamlined our transportation process to pass savings on to our customers without sacrificing quality. Our commitment to analyzing every cut of lumber in our factory guarantees lumber will contribute to a project that will last decades.
Read on for a deep dive into why western red cedar lumber is costlier than other wood species!
How Much Does Western Red Cedar Cost?
So, how much does western red lumber cost?
Prices fluctuate due to various factors, including the lumber grade, the size of the boards you are sourcing, and shipping costs. Sifting through these factors to find the right cuts of wood for your project is vital to maximizing your value. For example, you can purchase cedar deck boards with a lower aesthetic grade while retaining structural soundness if you plan to paint your wood at the end of construction.
Working with a wholesale supplier is essential, especially if you are sourcing western red cedar lumber for a series of large projects. Wholesale suppliers offer value for bulk lumber orders, as they can offer savings on shipping costs.
Why is Western Red Cedar so Expensive?
So, what makes western red cedar so expensive? Several factors raise the price of red cedar, from a lengthy maturation process and transportation issues restricting supply to overwhelming demand. Western red cedar is famous in the construction world for its durability and aesthetic appeal, which reduces maintenance time and the need for painting, raising the price.
When it comes to lumber, you get what you pay for, and western red cedar lumber is more than worth the price. In the long run, the benefits of a sound and aesthetically pleasing structure often outpace the hassle of cheaper wood.
Limited Supply as a Result of Slow Growth Rates & Environmental Regulations
You may find yourself pondering - why is western red cedar so expensive? Western red cedar trees take a long time to reach maturity, ranging from 50 years to even 150 in extreme cases. Western red cedar lumber requires time to mature like a fine wine, but this can raise the price due to a smaller available supply.
Environmental regulations also factor into supply chain issues. Western red cedars can produce cones for replanting as early as 10 to 20 years but often do not reach their full potential until much later. The maturation times of western red cedar trees can further delay lumber suppliers in jurisdictions requiring replanting during harvesting.
Superior Properties for Construction
Western red cedar is the premier choice for construction, thanks to several properties that allow it to outshine inferior wood. Western red cedar possesses natural resins and oils that resist decay, rot, and insects, allowing it to survive harsh elements for decades. The durability inherent to western red cedar wood lowers the frequency of cedar deck maintenance homeowners must perform to preserve their decks.
Western red cedar is also relatively stable since it has a low shrinkage rating. The lack of shrinkage in western red cedar lumber preserves structures built with the wood over an extended period compared to other woods. Additionally, western red cedar is surprisingly lightweight despite its durability, allowing a more accessible experience of transporting and working with the wood.
Aesthetic Appeal That Enhances a Property
What about the appearance of red cedar? Can cedar be painted, and does it need to be treated?
You can rest assured; western red cedar lumber fits every aesthetic desire. Western red cedar has a beautiful finish that can be left stained to enhance its natural colors or painted over to blend seamlessly with any color scheme. This versatility makes it the perfect material for aesthetic projects like outdoor furniture, garden structures, and decks.
Be sure to consider the western red cedar grading system to get the most out of your lumber, especially if you opt for a natural stained look. Clear vertical grain, sometimes dubbed CVG, and clear heart grades will net you the best aesthetic results for clear cedar, while knotty lumber looks best with a ‘select’ grade.
Consider cedar soffits and cedar exterior siding made with western red cedar lumber to amplify the aesthetic appeal of the structures you create. The highest grades of red cedar will stand out aesthetically without the need to paint.
Transportation Costs are Steep
Why is western red cedar so expensive, anyway? Transportation costs can vary, but many suppliers lack the proper process to offer their customers lower prices. Suppliers that source large amounts of western red cedar lumber can cut costs by transporting lumber by truck or rail, amplifying their ability to offer western red cedar at wholesale prices.
Many suppliers treat western red cedar lumber like a luxury, adding smaller batches to their inventory, causing them to spend significantly more than suppliers with a singular focus on western red cedar harvesting. Suppliers focusing on a type of wood other than western red cedar pass on the high costs of transporting western red cedar to their consumers, leading to a lose-lose transaction for all parties.
Trust Us, Though - Western Red Cedar is Worth the Expensive Price Tag!
Not only is western red cedar lumber like a fine wine, but it outshines that comparison! After all, a structure built with western red cedar lumber can last decades, thanks to its natural resistance to harsh elements and its aesthetic value that never gets old. If you purchase western red cedar lumber from a trusted supplier focusing on top-quality offerings, you can rest easy knowing your projects will stand the test of time.
Can You Get Quality Cedar Lumber That Isn’t So Expensive?
Western red cedar lumber can be pricy, and some alternatives exist. However, it is crucial to consider that western red cedar lumber's long-lasting durability and timeless visual appeal of western red cedar lumber are nearly unmatched. The upfront savings of a lesser species can quickly become maintenance nightmares that harshly impact your wallet.
There are still a few tricks of the trade to help you source quality western red cedar lumber without breaking the bank, including buying wholesales and matching board grades with the specific use cases of your project.
Buy in Bulk for Better Deals
Lumber yards and construction companies intimately recognize the value of wholesale lumber sourcing. Transportation costs for large orders are generally cheaper than small specialized orders, while retail prices may surpass your ideal budget.
Bulk orders from a reliable supplier also allow for a personalized customer service experience, as wholesale suppliers have fine-tuned processes for large orders.
Consider the Various Grades
The cedar grading system is crucial when ordering lumber, but some pieces of your project can benefit from a grade lower than CVG. Consider working with a supplier that will provide the knowledge of where a lower aesthetic grade of lumber would help your project.
Choose an Alternative Species
Construction companies sometimes consider the differences between white cedar vs red cedar when planning a project as a way to cut costs. While white cedar is slightly cheaper, it can fall behind in most other categories compared to red cedar. Finding white cedar without knots and unsightly aesthetic traits may be difficult, so this may not be an option if you dream of a paint-free final project.
If you are going to consider an alternative species, choosing a supplier that maximizes the quality of inferior species of lumber is imperative. That said, you may still catch up to the costs of red cedar in the long run due to maintenance costs, so factor in the long-term plan for your project before opting for an alternative species.
Shop With G&B Quality Cedar Products for the Best Balance of Quality & Affordability
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