Cedar vs Redwood: Which is Better For Deck and Fence

The options for selecting the appropriate wood for your outdoor deck or fence can be bewildering. Two popular choices among homeowners and builders are cedar and Redwood.

These wood types offer durability, aesthetics, and affordability, making them the go-to choices for many.

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of cedar and Redwood to help you decide which wood is best for your next outdoor project.

Cedar vs Redwood: Comparing Key Factors

Durability and Lifespan

Durability and lifespan are crucial when investing in an outdoor structure like a deck or fence. Compare cedar and Redwood’s resistance to decay, insects, and rot.


Western red cedar is naturally resistant to decay and insect infestation due to its natural oils and chemicals. Because of this resistance, it is a popular choice for outdoor applications.

With good care, cedar can live for 20-30 years on average, while some claim a lifespan of up to 40 years in ideal conditions.


Like cedar, Redwood is also known for its resistance to decay, insects, and rot. Due to its higher tannin content, Redwood is considered even more resistant than cedar. With proper care and maintenance, redwood can last 30-40 years or more.

Appearance and Color

The natural beauty of wood is often a major factor in choosing between cedar and Redwood. Let’s explore the color variations and maintenance considerations for both wood types.


Cedar wood comes in various colors, from light amber to reddish-brown hues. Over time, cedar will gradually turn a silvery-gray color if left untreated. To maintain its natural color, cedar requires regular sealing and staining.


Redwood is distinguished by its deep, reddish-brown color. Redwood, like cedar, will deteriorate to a silvery-gray color if left untreated. To preserve its original color, Redwood requires periodic sealing and staining.

Cost and Affordability

When choosing between Cedar and Redwood, the cost is an essential factor to consider. Let’s compare their prices and factors that can affect wood prices.


Cedar is generally more affordable than Redwood. The price of cedar wood can vary depending on factors like grade, quality, and regional availability. Higher-quality, clear cedar will cost more than lower-grade, knotty cedar.


Redwood is usually more expensive than cedar. This higher cost can be attributed to the limited availability of Redwood and its increased durability. Like cedar, the price of Redwood can vary depending on factors like grade, quality, and regional availability.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

Considering the environmental impact of your wood choice is crucial in today’s eco-conscious world. Let’s compare cedar and redwood forestry practices and explore the option of pressure-treated wood.


Most cedar wood comes from responsibly managed forests, with many suppliers offering Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products. This certification guarantees that the wood was collected from sustainably managed, socially beneficial, environmentally appropriate, and economically successful forests.


Redwood forests are also managed responsibly, with many suppliers offering FSC-certified products. Additionally, Redwood is a renewable resource, with new growth replacing harvested trees.

Pressure-Treated Wood

An alternative to cedar and Redwood is pressure-treated wood. While this option may be more affordable and resistant to decay and insects, it’s essential to consider the chemicals used in the treatment process and their potential environmental impact.

Pressure-treated wood is treated with chemicals to resist decay, insects, and rot. However, the chemicals used can leach into the soil and water, posing potential environmental concerns.

When choosing pressure-treated wood, look for products treated with less toxic chemicals, such as alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) or copper azole.

Cedar vs Redwood: Decks and Fences


When choosing between cedar and Redwood for a deck, consider cost, durability, aesthetics, and performance in various climates.

Cedar Decks

Cedar decks are popular due to their affordability and natural resistance to decay and insects.

They offer a beautiful, rustic appearance with a range of color variations. However, cedar decks require regular maintenance, such as sealing and staining, to preserve their appearance and ensure longevity.

Cedar decks may require more frequent maintenance in areas with extreme weather conditions.

Redwood Decks

Redwood decks are known for their rich color and increased durability compared to cedar. While they typically cost more upfront, their longer lifespan can make them a worthwhile investment.

Like cedar decks, redwood decks require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and longevity. Redwood decks perform well in various climates but may require additional maintenance in extreme weather conditions.


When it comes to fences, cedar and Redwood, both offer advantages and disadvantages. Factors to consider are cost, durability, aesthetics, and environmental impact.

Cedar Fences

Cedar fences are an affordable and attractive option for homeowners. They naturally resist decay, insects, and rot, ensuring a long-lasting fence with proper maintenance.

The natural color variations of cedar wood can add character and warmth to your outdoor space.

However, cedar fences require regular maintenance, such as sealing and staining, to preserve their appearance and longevity.

Redwood Fences

Redwood fences are more expensive than cedar but offer increased durability and a longer lifespan. Redwood’s rich, reddish-brown color is a beautiful addition to any outdoor space.

Like cedar fences, redwood fences require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and longevity. Redwood fences from responsibly managed forests are a sustainable choice considering environmental impact.

Specific Applications and Considerations

Cedar vs Redwood for Raised Beds and Planter Boxes

Both cedar and Redwood offer unique benefits and drawbacks regarding gardening applications such as raised beds and planter boxes.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Cedar is naturally rot-resistant and lightweight, making it an excellent choice for raised beds and planter boxes.

It can last for many years with minimal maintenance. However, it may require sealing or staining to maintain its appearance over time. On the other hand, Redwood is more resistant to rot and decay than cedar, but it is also more expensive.

Its rich color and natural resistance to insects make it an attractive choice for gardeners willing to invest in a more durable wood option.

Cedar vs Redwood Weight

Cedar is lighter than Redwood, making it easier to work with and move around in the garden. This weight difference can be particularly advantageous for raised beds and planter boxes that may need to be relocated or repositioned.

Being denser and heavier, Redwood provides added sturdiness and stability but may be more challenging to handle and transport.

Cedar vs Redwood Tree Identification

Identifying cedar and redwood trees can be helpful for wood enthusiasts, gardeners, and nature lovers. Here are some distinctive features and tips for telling these two tree species apart:

Cedar Trees

Cedar trees are coniferous and are characterized by their scale-like leaves and aromatic, reddish-brown bark that peels off in long, fibrous strips.

They produce small, round cones that release seeds when mature. Native to North America, cedar trees are usually found in moist, well-drained soils.

Redwood Trees

Redwood trees are also coniferous, but their needle-like leaves are softer and more feathery than cedar trees. The bark of redwood trees is thick, reddish-brown, and spongy, which helps protect them from fire damage.

Redwood trees produce larger, egg-shaped cones that release seeds when they mature. They are native to the coastal regions of California and Oregon and thrive in cool, foggy environments.

Disadvantages and Challenges


While Redwood offers many benefits, there are also some challenges and disadvantages.

Cost-Related Concerns

One of the primary drawbacks of Redwood is its higher cost than cedar. The limited availability of Redwood, coupled with its increased durability, often results in a higher price tag. This may be a significant consideration for homeowners on a budget.

Maintenance Requirements

Redwood decks and fences require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and longevity. This includes periodic sealing and staining to protect the wood from weathering and to maintain its rich, reddish-brown color.


Cedar also comes with challenges and disadvantages when compared to Redwood and other alternatives such as pressure-treated wood.

Comparing Cedar and Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is often more affordable and resistant to decay and insects than cedar. However, the chemicals used in the treatment process can concern some homeowners.

Cedar offers a more natural, eco-friendly alternative but may require more maintenance to maintain its appearance and resistance to decay.

Viability for Outdoor Use

While cedar is popular for outdoor applications, it may not be as durable as Redwood or other wood alternatives. Regular maintenance, such as sealing and staining, is necessary to preserve the wood’s natural resistance to decay and insects.

In areas with extreme weather conditions, cedar may require more frequent maintenance to ensure longevity.


Cedar and Redwood have unique characteristics that make them suitable for outdoor applications. Cedar is more affordable and lightweight but may require more maintenance.

Redwood has more durability and a longer lifespan but is more expensive and might be heavier. Your demands, preferences, and budget will all influence your decision between Cedar and Redwood.