Cypress Wood vs Cedar Wood: Comprehensive Comparison

Choosing the right wood for your next project can be as complex as selecting a fine wine. Two popular choices that often come up are Cypress and Cedar wood. These wood types have unique characteristics and uses, making them favorites among woodworkers and furniture enthusiasts. This article comprehensively compares Cypress and Cedar wood, helping you decide on your next woodworking project.

Cypress Wood vs Cedar – Wood Type

Let’s dive into the heart of the matter: Cypress and Cedar wood classification. In the world of woodworking, one of the first distinctions made is between hardwood and softwood. But don’t let these terms fool you. The difference isn’t about hardness or softness in the literal sense. Instead, it’s about the type of tree from which the wood is harvested.

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees, which are trees that lose their leaves annually. On the other hand, softwoods are derived from coniferous trees, which remain evergreen throughout the year. Now, where do Cypress and Cedar fall in this classification?

Is Cypress a Hardwood or Softwood?

Despite its sturdy and robust nature, Cypress wood is technically a softwood. It hails from the cypress tree, a coniferous species known for its longevity and resilience. This wood type is favored for its natural resistance to decay, making it a popular choice for outdoor furniture and construction projects.

What about Cedar?

Like Cypress, Cedar is also a softwood. Originating from the cedar tree, another variety of coniferous trees, Cedar wood is renowned for its aromatic qualities and natural resistance to pests. It’s a go-to choice for closet linings, chests, and outdoor structures, offering durability and a pleasant scent that many find appealing.

Cypress vs Cedar – Tree Identification

Identifying Cypress Trees

When identifying Cypress trees, there are a few key characteristics to look for. Cypress trees are known for their unique, fluted trunks and “knees” that protrude from the ground around the tree’s base. These knees are part of the root system and help the tree breathe in its natural swampy habitat. The leaves of a Cypress tree are small, scale-like, and often overlap, giving the branches a feathery appearance.

Identifying Cedar Trees

Cedar trees, on the other hand, are easily recognizable by their aromatic, scale-like leaves and their distinctive, reddish-brown bark that peels off in thin strips. Cedar trees also produce small, blue-black berries, a favorite among many bird species. The shape of a Cedar tree is typically conical, with branches that extend down to the ground, giving the tree a full, dense appearance.

Cypress vs Cedar – Color, Grain, and End Grain

Cypress vs Cedar – Color

When it comes to color, Cypress and Cedar wood offer distinct palettes. Cypress wood typically has a pale yellow hue, often slightly greenish. Over time, exposure to light can darken Cypress wood to a rich, golden brown.

Cedar wood, however, is known for its warm, reddish tones. The heartwood can range from a light pinkish-red to a deep, rich burgundy, while the sapwood is usually a pale yellow. This striking contrast often makes Cedar a favorite for projects where aesthetics are key.

Cypress vs Cedar – Grain and End Grain

The grain of wood refers to the alignment, texture, and look of the wood fibers.

  • Cypress wood has a straight grain with a medium to coarse texture.
  • When viewed from the cut end, the end grain, or the wood, typically shows a uniform distribution of pores with no specific arrangement.

Cedar wood, in contrast, has a straight grain with a fine to medium texture.

  • The end grain of Cedar is more porous than Cypress, with small resin canals that appear as tiny, dark lines.
  • This porous nature contributes to Cedar’s lightweight and ability to absorb finishes well.

Cypress vs Cedar – Janka Hardness

What is Janka Hardness?

The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. It’s a good indicator of how well wood will withstand wear and tear and whether it can be used for flooring. But how do Cypress and Cedar compare on the Janka hardness scale?

Cypress Wood Hardness

Despite being classified as a softwood, Cypress wood is relatively hard and durable. It has a Janka hardness rating of around 1375, comparable to certain hardwood types. This makes Cypress a good choice for projects that require a balance of strength and workability.

Cedar Wood Hardness

Cedar wood, on the other hand, is softer, with a Janka hardness rating of around 900. This makes Cedar less resistant to denting and wear and easier to work with. Its softness allows for intricate detailing, making it a favorite for carving and other detailed woodworking projects.

Cypress vs Cedar – Rot Resistance

What is Rot Resistance?

Rot resistance refers to a wood’s ability to resist decay caused by fungi and other microorganisms, a crucial factor when used outdoors or in damp environments. Cypress and Cedar are known for their rot resistance, but how do they compare?

Cypress Rot Resistance

Cypress wood is highly prized for its natural ability to resist rot. Its heartwood contains a chemical called cypressene, which provides a natural preservative making the wood resistant to decay. This makes Cypress an excellent choice for outdoor furniture, decking, and other projects exposed to the elements.

Cedar Rot Resistance

Cedar wood also boasts impressive rot resistance. Its heartwood contains natural oils that act as preservatives, helping the wood resist decay and insect attacks. Cedar is popular for outdoor applications like decking, siding, and garden furniture.

Cypress vs Cedar – Price

Factors Affecting Wood Price

The price of wood can be influenced by various factors, including the type of wood, its quality, and its availability. Factors such as the cost of harvesting, processing, and transporting the wood can also play a role. So, how do Cypress and Cedar compare in terms of price?

Is Cypress More Expensive Than Cedar?

Cypress wood tends to be more expensive than Cedar. This is partly due to Cypress trees growing more slowly and are less abundant than Cedar trees, making Cypress wood somewhat rarer. Additionally, due to its durability and rot resistance, the high demand for Cypress in outdoor construction and furniture can drive up its price.

Cedar Wood Price

Cedar, on the other hand, is generally more affordable. It’s more widely available and grows more quickly than Cypress, making it a more economical choice. However, the price can vary depending on the specific type of Cedar and its quality.

Cypress vs Cedar – Uses

Cypress Wood Uses

Cypress wood is highly versatile and is used in a wide range of applications. Its durability and resistance to rot make it an excellent choice for outdoor furniture, decking, and siding. Its beautiful grain and color make it a popular choice for indoor furniture, flooring, and paneling.

Cedar Wood Uses

Cedar wood is also incredibly versatile. Its aromatic properties make it a popular choice for closet linings and chests, where it can help repel insects. Its resistance to decay makes it suitable for outdoor applications like decking and garden furniture. Its softness and ease of workability make it a favorite for carving and other detailed woodworking projects.

Cypress vs Cedar – Odor

Cypress Wood Odor

Cypress wood has a distinct, somewhat sour odor when freshly cut. However, this smell tends to fade over time, leaving a more subtle, woodsy scent. This makes Cypress a good choice for those who prefer a less aromatic wood for their projects.

Cedar Wood Odor

Cedar wood, on the other hand, is famous for its strong, pleasant aroma. This scent is often described as fresh and sweet, with a hint of spice. The aroma is pleasing to the senses and naturally repels insects, making Cedar a popular choice for closets, chests, and outdoor structures.

Cypress vs Cedar – Sustainability

Cypress Sustainability

Regarding sustainability, Cypress can be a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Cypress trees are known for their longevity and can regenerate naturally. However, they grow relatively slowly, and overharvesting can lead to depletion of natural stands. Therefore, it’s important to source Cypress wood from suppliers who adhere to responsible harvesting practices.

Cedar Sustainability

Cedar trees, in contrast, grow relatively quickly and are widely available, making them a more renewable resource. Cedar is often harvested from sustainably managed forests, making it a more eco-friendly choice. However, as with any wood, it’s important to ensure your Cedar is sourced from responsible suppliers prioritizing sustainable practices.

Cypress vs Cedar – Pros and Cons

Cypress Pros and Cons

Cypress wood offers several advantages. Its durability, rot resistance, and beautiful grain make it versatile for indoor and outdoor projects. Additionally, its hardness provides a good balance between strength and workability.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Cypress wood is typically more expensive than Cedar due to its slower growth rate and higher demand. Also, its sour smell when freshly cut might not appeal to everyone.

Cedar Pros and Cons

Cedar wood also has its share of benefits. Its pleasant aroma, rot resistance, and softness make it ideal for various applications, from outdoor structures to detailed carvings. Plus, it’s generally more affordable and widely available than Cypress.

On the downside, Cedar is softer than Cypress, making it less resistant to wear and tear. Also, while appealing to many, its strong scent might be overpowering for some.

Cypress vs Cedar for Raised Garden Beds

Cypress and Cedar are excellent choices for raised garden beds due to their natural rot resistance. However, a few factors might sway your decision one way or the other.

Its high durability, Cypress can withstand the elements for many years, making it a long-lasting choice for garden beds. However, its higher price might deter some, especially for larger projects.

Cedar, on the other hand, is a more affordable option. Its pleasant aroma can add a sensory element to your garden, and its natural insect-repelling properties can be a bonus for keeping pests at bay. However, Cedar may not last as long as Cypress under harsh weather conditions due to its softer nature.

Cypress vs Cedar Essential Oil

Cypress Essential Oil

Cypress essential oil is derived from the needles and twigs of the cypress tree. It’s known for its fresh, clean aroma with a hint of spice and a slightly woody undertone. In aromatherapy, Cypress oil is often used for its calming and soothing properties. It’s also believed to have astringent properties, making it a popular choice in skincare products.

Cedar Essential Oil

Cedar essential oil, on the other hand, is extracted from the wood of the cedar tree. It has a warm, woody scent often associated with comfort and stability. In aromatherapy, Cedar oil is used for its grounding and calming effects. It’s also known for its potential skincare benefits, particularly its purported anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties.

Cypress vs Other Woods

Cypress vs Juniper

Cypress and Juniper are both coniferous trees, but they have some differences. Juniper wood is known for its strong, sweet aroma, making it a popular choice for aromatic applications like incense and essential oils. However, Juniper is generally softer and less durable than Cypress, making it less suitable for heavy-duty outdoor applications.

Cypress vs Pine

Pine is another softwood that’s widely used in construction and furniture. It’s generally softer and less durable than Cypress, but it’s also more affordable and easier to work with. Pine has a light, pale color with a subtle grain pattern, making it a popular choice for projects with a lighter color.

Cedar vs Other Woods

Cedar vs Juniper

Cedar and Juniper are known for their aromatic properties but differ in several ways. Juniper wood is typically softer than Cedar and has a more pronounced sweet, fruity aroma. It’s often used in small craft projects and for its essential oil. With its stronger, woodsy scent and higher durability, Cedar is more commonly used in construction and outdoor furniture.

Cedar vs Pine

When comparing Cedar to Pine, the differences are more noticeable. Pine is a soft, light-colored wood that’s easy to work with, making it a popular choice for indoor furniture and decor. With its higher durability and natural resistance to rot and pests, Cedar is often preferred for outdoor applications. While Pine is generally more affordable, Cedar’s unique properties can make it worth the higher price for certain projects.


In the world of woodworking, the choice of wood can significantly impact the outcome of a project. Cypress and Cedar offer unique properties that make them suitable for various applications.

With its durability, rot resistance, and beautiful grain, Cypress is an excellent choice for projects requiring longevity and aesthetic appeal. However, its higher price point and distinct sour smell may not appeal to everyone when freshly cut.

Conversely, Cedar offers a pleasant aroma, natural pest resistance, and a striking color palette. Its softer nature makes it easy to work with, especially for detailed carvings. However, its lower resistance to wear and tear may not make it the best choice for heavy-duty applications.

The choice between Cypress and Cedar will depend on your project’s specific needs, budget, and personal preferences. By understanding the properties of each wood type, you can make an informed decision and bring your woodworking vision to life.