Cedar vs Pressure Treated Wood

Selecting the appropriate material can make or break its success when embarking on a woodworking or outdoor construction project.

Cedar and pressure-treated wood are typical for such constructions in the United States.

But how do you know which one is best suited to your requirements?

This comprehensive guide will dive into the key differences between Cedar and pressure-treated wood, comparing their aesthetics, durability, maintenance requirements, and cost for various applications, such as fences, raised garden beds, and decks.

Cedar vs Pressure Treated Fence

Appearance and Aesthetics

Cedar, with its rich and warm reddish-brown color, offers a naturally attractive appearance, enhancing the overall beauty of your property. As cedar ages, it gracefully turns to a distinguished silvery-gray hue, adding a touch of elegance to your fence.

In contrast, pressure-treated wood typically has a more muted, greenish-brown tint due to the chemical treatment process. Although this color is less appealing, it can be painted or stained to match your preferred style.

Durability and Lifespan

When it comes to durability, pressure-treated wood has an edge over Cedar. Pressure-treated wood is infused with chemicals to protect it against insects, rot, and decay, giving it an extended lifespan of up to 40 years with proper care.

Cedar, while naturally resistant to insects and decay, is more susceptible to rot and may last only 15-20 years.

However, Cedar’s inherent resistance to warping and shrinking can still make it a viable option for fence construction.

Maintenance Requirements

Cedar fencing requires less upkeep than pressure-treated wood. Because the natural oils in cedar protect it from insects and decay, it only needs to be cleaned and resealed on occasion to maintain its appearance. On the other hand, pressure-treated wood may require more frequent cleaning, sealing, or staining pressure-treated wood to maintain its beauty and protect it from the elements.

Cost Comparison

Cedar is generally more expensive than pressure-treated wood due to its superior aesthetics and natural properties.

However, considering your property’s reduced maintenance costs and increased curb appeal, the initial investment in Cedar may pay off in the long run.

Cedar or Pressure Treated: Which is Better for Fence Posts?

Pressure-treated wood is the more suitable choice for fence posts, as it offers better resistance to rot and decay, which is essential for in-ground applications.

Cedar, while still durable, is not as well-suited for direct contact with soil and moisture.

Cedar vs Pressure Treated Raised Bed

Pressure-Treated Wood vs Cedar for Garden Beds

Cedar is preferred for raised garden beds due to its natural resistance to rot and decay and natural insect-repelling properties. This makes Cedar a safe and durable option for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

Chemicals and Safety Concerns

Why Not Use Pressure Treated Wood for Raised Beds? Pressure-treated wood was considered unsafe for raised garden beds due to the toxic chemicals used in the treatment process, which could leach into the soil and contaminate plants.

However, newer pressure-treated wood options use safer chemicals that pose minimal risk to plants and humans. Still, many gardeners prefer Cedar for its natural properties and chemical-free status.

Durability and Rot Resistance

Does Cedar Rot When Wet? Cedar is naturally rot-resistant, making it an excellent choice for raised garden beds exposed to moisture.

However, Cedar will eventually break down like any wood, especially in constant contact with damp soil.

To prolong the life of your Cedar raised bed, it’s essential to provide proper drainage and consider lining the interior with landscape fabric to minimize direct contact between the wood and soil.

Cost Comparison: Cedar vs Pine Fence Cost

While this section specifically focuses on comparing cedar and pine fence costs, it is worth noting that Cedar is generally more expensive than pressure-treated pine wood.

However, cedar is a more cost-effective option in the long run because of its natural resistance to rot, insects, and decay, especially for raised garden beds where the wood is constantly in contact with moisture.

Cedar vs Pressure-Treated Deck

Cedar decking adds a touch of natural beauty to your outdoor living space with its rich, warm color and distinctive wood grain.

Over time, Cedar’s color gracefully fades to a beautiful silver-gray hue that complements many design styles.

With its greenish-brown color, pressure-treated decking is not as aesthetically pleasing as Cedar, but it may be stained or painted to fit your desired style.

Durability and Weather Resistance

Pressure-treated wood is generally more durable and weather-resistant than Cedar, thanks to the chemicals used in the treatment process that protect it from rot, decay, and insect damage.

However, Cedar’s natural oils make it resistant to moisture, insects, and decay, giving it a fighting chance against the elements.

Proper maintenance means a cedar deck can last up to 20 years, while a pressure-treated deck can last up to 40 years.

Maintenance Requirements

Cedar decks require regular maintenance to retain their natural beauty and prevent decay.

This includes regularly washing, sealing, or staining the wood to preserve it from moisture and UV damage. Pressure-treated decks also need maintenance, including regular cleaning and sealing or staining, but may require less frequent attention due to their enhanced durability.

Cost Comparison

Cedar decking is generally more expensive upfront than pressure-treated wood. However, the price difference may become less significant when considering the long-term costs of maintenance, repairs, and potential replacement.

Finally, the decision between Cedar and pressure-treated decking will be influenced by your budget, desired aesthetic, and commitment to maintaining the deck during its lifetime.

Which is Better: Pressure-Treated Wood or Cedar for Decks?

The decision between pressure-treated wood and Cedar for your deck ultimately depends on your preferences, budget, and maintenance expectations.

Pressure-treated wood may be better if you prioritize longevity and durability with a lower initial cost.

However, if you value Cedar’s natural beauty and warmth and are willing to invest in maintenance to preserve its appearance, Cedar may be the ideal option for your deck.

Cedar vs Pressure-Treated Lifespan

A. General Lifespan Expectations: Cedar vs Pressure-Treated Wood

When considering the lifespan of Cedar and pressure-treated wood, it’s essential to understand their general expectations. Cedar, known for its natural resistance to rot and decay, has a lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care.

On the other hand, pressure-treated wood benefits from chemical treatments that protect it from insects, rot, and decay, resulting in a lifespan of up to 40 years with adequate maintenance.

Factors Affecting Longevity

How Long Will Untreated Cedar Last? Untreated Cedar can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, depending on various factors such as climate, exposure to moisture, and general wear and tear.

Applying a protective sealer or stain is critical to preserve untreated Cedar from moisture and UV damage.

Proper Care and Maintenance

How long does pressure-treated wood last? Pressure-treated wood can endure up to 40 years with proper care and upkeep.

Regular cleaning, sealing, and staining are necessary to preserve the wood’s integrity and appearance. Regular inspections for signs of decay, rot, or insect damage will help ensure the wood’s longevity.

Cedar vs Pressure-Treated Cost

Is Cedar More Expensive Than Pressure-Treated Wood?

Cedar is typically more expensive than pressure-treated wood due to its natural beauty, inherent resistance to rot, and decay. The higher cost of Cedar reflects its superior aesthetics and the fact that it does not require chemical treatments to resist insects and decay.

Long-Term Costs and Value

Is a Cedar Fence Worth the Extra Cost? While cedar fences may come with a higher initial cost, their long-term value can make them worth the investment.

Cedar’s natural beauty and resistance to warping and shrinking can increase the curb appeal of your property.

Additionally, the reduced maintenance costs associated with Cedar can help offset the initial price difference over time.

Maintenance and Repair Expenses

Cedar generally requires less maintenance than pressure-treated wood. However, both types of wood need periodic cleaning, sealing, or staining to maintain their appearance and protect them from the elements.

Pressure-treated wood may require more frequent attention due to its susceptibility to warping and cracking. When considering maintenance and repair costs, it’s essential to weigh the overall investment against the material’s lifespan and desired aesthetic.

Cedar Posts vs Pressure Treated Posts

Durability and Rot Resistance

Do Cedar Posts Last Longer Than Pressure Treated? While cedar posts are naturally rot-resistant and can last up to 20 years, pressure-treated posts are generally more durable and can last up to 40 years.

The chemical treatments applied to pressure-treated wood make it better suited for in-ground applications and provide enhanced resistance to rot and decay.

Lifespan Comparison

Which Lasts Longer, Cedar or Pressure Treated? In terms of lifespan, pressure-treated wood typically outlasts Cedar.

With proper care and maintenance, pressure-treated posts can last up to 40 years, while cedar posts may last only 15-20 years.

However, Cedar’s natural resistance to warping and shrinking can make it a viable option for above-ground applications.

Cost Comparison

Cedar posts are generally more expensive than pressure-treated posts due to their natural properties and superior aesthetics.

However, the longer lifespan of pressure-treated posts may make them a more cost-effective choice for in-ground applications or when budget constraints are a significant factor.

Mixing Cedar and Pressure-Treated Wood

Mixing Cedar and pressure-treated wood can provide the best of both worlds, combining the natural beauty of Cedar with the enhanced durability of pressure-treated wood.

For example, using pressure-treated wood for structural components like posts and Cedar for the visible fencing or decking can result in a visually appealing and long-lasting project.

Potential Drawbacks

Can You Mix Cedar and Pressure Treated Wood? While mixing Cedar and pressure-treated wood can offer benefits, there are some potential drawbacks.

The difference in the wood’s natural properties, such as moisture absorption and expansion rates, could lead to uneven wear or slight warping over time.

It’s crucial to carefully plan and execute any project that combines different wood types to minimize these potential issues.

Best Practices for Combining Woods

Can You Use Pressure-Treated Posts with Cedar Fences? Using pressure-treated posts with cedar fences can be an effective way to combine the durability of pressure-treated wood with the aesthetics of Cedar.

To ensure a successful outcome, following best practices for combining woods, such as allowing for proper ventilation, using appropriate fasteners, and maintaining a consistent maintenance schedule for both wood types, is essential.

Redwood vs. Cedar vs. Pressure-Treated

Redwood, cedar, and pressure-treated wood all have unique properties that suit specific uses.

Redwood, like Cedar, is inherently rot and decay resistant and has a rich, warm hue that lends beauty to any project.

Pressure-treated wood offers enhanced durability and resistance to insects and decay, thanks to the chemical treatments applied during production.

Pros and Cons of Each Material



  • Natural resistance to rot and decay
  • Beautiful color and grain
  • Dimensionally stable


  • Expensive
  • Limited availability in some regions
  • Requires regular maintenance



  • Natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects
  • Attractive appearance
  • Less expensive than redwood


  • Not as durable as pressure-treated wood
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Susceptible to warping and shrinking



  • Enhanced durability and resistance to decay
  • Economical choice
  • Widely available


  • Chemical treatments may raise environmental concerns
  • Susceptible to warping and cracking
  • Less visually appealing than Cedar or redwood

Cost Analysis and Value

Redwood is typically the most expensive option when considering cost, followed by Cedar and pressure-treated wood.

However, the long-term value of each material depends on factors such as maintenance requirements, durability, and desired aesthetics.

For instance, while pressure-treated wood may be the most economical choice upfront, Cedar could offer greater value in terms of beauty and reduced maintenance costs.

Disadvantages of Cedar Wood

Susceptibility to Insects

While Cedar is naturally resistant to many insects, it is not immune. Prolonged exposure to moisture can attract carpenter ants and other wood-boring insects, which may compromise the wood’s integrity.

Potential for Moisture Damage

Cedar is less resistant to moisture damage than pressure-treated wood. If not properly maintained, Cedar can absorb moisture, which may lead to warping, shrinking, or decay.

Maintenance Requirements

To keep its natural beauty and prevent decay, cedar must be maintained on a regular basis. This includes washing, sealing, or staining the wood on a regular basis to preserve it from moisture and UV damage.

Cost Considerations

Are Cedar Decks Worth It? While cedar decks may have a higher initial cost, their natural beauty and warmth can add value to your property.

It’s essential to weigh the cost of Cedar against its maintenance requirements, lifespan and desired aesthetics to determine if a cedar deck is worth the investment for your specific situation.

Cedar or Pressure Treated: Making the Right Choice

To make the right choice between Cedar and pressure-treated wood, it’s essential to evaluate your specific needs. Consider factors such as the project’s purpose, the desired lifespan of the structure, maintenance requirements, and your personal design preferences.

Considering Climate and Location

The climate and location of your project can significantly impact the performance of Cedar and pressure-treated wood.

Because of its increased resistance to moisture and decay, pressure-treated wood may be a better choice in places with high humidity or heavy rainfall.

Cedar may be a better option in drier climates due to its natural beauty and resistance to warping and shrinking.

Budget and Long-Term Value

When choosing between Cedar and pressure-treated wood, consider both your budget and the long-term value of the investment.

While Cedar may be more expensive initially, it is a natural beauty, and lower maintenance costs could make it a better long-term investment.

Conversely, pressure-treated wood may be more budget-friendly upfront but could require more maintenance and repairs over time.

Personal Preferences and Aesthetics

Choosing between Cedar and pressure-treated wood may come from personal preference and aesthetics.

Cedar offers a warm, natural appearance that many homeowners find appealing, while pressure-treated wood may be more useful in appearance but provide enhanced durability and resistance to decay.

Final Thoughts

Which is Better, Pressure Treated or Cedar? There is no definitive answer to which is better, as the choice between Cedar and pressure-treated wood depends on various factors, including personal preferences, budget, climate, and project requirements.

You may make an informed decision that will result in a beautiful and long-lasting project by carefully weighing the advantages and cons of each material and considering your demands.