Last edited 15 Sep 2020

The Properties of Cedar Wood

Cheshire Oaks - Red Cedar.JPG

Image: Red cedar (image supplied by Simons Group - see Cheshire Oaks: Marks and Spencer).



Cedar is a type of coniferous wood, meaning that it is classified as a softwood and its cones/needles remain all year round. Cedar trees fall under the Cedrus genus and the Pinaceae family, which is the family of trees that is coniferous.

Only a couple of species of Cedrus exist in the world, but they exhibit certain traits that make them very popular.

Locations of Cedar

Cedar is particularly common in the western Himalayas and areas that surround the Mediterranean Sea. According to botanists, there are four types of cedar:

  • Cedrus deodara – The deodar cedar – Western Himalaya.
  • Cedrus libani – The Lebanon cedar – Lebanon and Turkey.
  • Cedrus brevifolia – The Cyprus cedar - Cyprus.
  • Cedrus altantica – The Atlas cedar – Morocco and Algeria.

These are the natural locations of the different species of cedar, but not the only places they can be found. In fact, the cultivation of cedars around the world has been very successful. Cedars can now be found around the entire Mediterranean region, western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.

Description of Cedar

Cedars are naturally found at high altitudes; over 1,500m in the Himalayas, and 1,000m in the Mediterranean.

Cedar tree.jpg

Compared to a tree within the same family, such as pine, cedars are generally quite small. They typically grow to around 35m, but larger in some circumstances. They have a natural spicy scent, thick bark, and broad branches. The leaves of a cedar are needle-like and can grow up to 6cm long.

Uses of Cedar

Cedar wood and cedar oil are natural moth repellents, which is why cedar is commonly used for creating modern-day hope chests and closets that contain woollen clothes.

There are some types of cedar located in North America that are lightweight but also durable and highly stable. Because of this, it is used as wood shingles, which are tapered pieces of wood that clad roofs and walls to protect them from harsh weather.


Various types of cedar have a beautiful colour associated with them, but they are also resistant to warping and cracking, making them perfect for musical instruments. Instruments such as Spanish classical guitars and occasionally steel string guitars are made from cedar, however the type of cedar that is used is known as Western Red Cedar, which isn't a true cedar, such as the ones aforementioned.

Because of its resistance to warping, cedar can also be used for interior panelling in rooms around the house.

--G&S Specialist Timber 12:01, 13 Mar 2017 (BST)

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Just wanted to let you all know that you have a picture of Red Cedar on this page, then your description of cedars mentions only the genus Cedrus, of which Red Cedar is not a member. Red cedar is not a "true" Cedar and is not in fact even in the pineceae family. It is in the Cupressaceae or "Cypress" family where most trees North Americans consider to be "Cedar" reside. I'm curious, where does "Cedar" lumber in North America come from? Which tree? North America has no native or naturalized true cedars so is wood here marked "Cedar" all Juniper? That is the answer I was looking for when I came to this site, it seems hard to find online.

Dylan Linet

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Thank you for your observation. We suggest you contact the original author of this article, G&S Specialist timber. Please refer to their profile page (found here: G&S Specialist Timber) for contact information.

Editor, Designing Buildings Wiki

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