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Real Cedar FAQ


Which is better? Real Cedar siding or substitutes?

Real Cedar siding, of course. It's the environmentally responsible choice.

How long does Real Cedar siding last?

Western Red Cedar is naturally durable and very long lasting. Many examples exist where cedar is still performing over 200 years after installation.

Does Real Cedar siding come with a warranty?

Western Red Cedar does not come with a factory warranty. It is a natural wood product with centuries of proven performance. If Western Red Cedar is factory pre-primed and top-coated either at the factory or on the jobsite, the coating can have a warranty that varies from 15-30 years. Contact the coating provider for any warranty information related to coating performance.

What fasteners do I use on Real Cedar siding?

Fasteners must be 304 stainless steel for general applications or 316 stainless steel for coastal or marine environments. Double hot dipped galvanized fasteners conforming to ASTM 153A may be used but are only recommended on siding that has had a stain blocking primer applied on all sides and will be top coated with a solid stain or paint.

What nails do I use on Real Cedar siding?

Nail composition is important to hold the siding in place and resist natural wood movement actions due to moisture loss or gain. Nails should be ring or spiral shank, blunt tipped (reduces splitting) and should have a textured head. These are commonly called siding nails. Make sure the nail is long enough to provide 1 ¼”" penetration into continuous solid wood behind the siding.

Do I install Real Cedar siding over house wrap?

Yes, make sure the housewrap is breathable or gas permeable like Tyvek Drainwrap.

Can I staple Real Cedar siding?

Staples are never recommended. They do not hold the siding and tend to split the wood. Staples are also likely to cause iron staining.

What are the advantages of Real Cedar siding?

Western Red Cedar is chosen for its long history of durability and a beautiful appearance that only natural wood can provide. Western Red Cedar comes in a variety of patterns and grades to give you the look you want.

Can I blind nail bevel siding?

Bevel siding is never blind nailed. The nailing pattern is one face mail 1 1/8” to 1 ¼” above the thick drip edge of the siding. Blind nailing bevel siding will compromise the performance of the siding leading to potential splitting and cupping as well as being susceptible to wind damage. Never place nails so that they go through 2 layers of siding.

How can I finish Western Red Cedar? What are the types of finishes I can use on Western Red Cedar?

Western Red Cedar can be finished in a variety of ways. There are five common types of finish. Clear stains, Semi-Transparent stains, Solid stains, paints and Bleaching or Weathering products. We recommend that all finish types be factory applied on all six sides for best performance.

Do I stain siding on all 6 sides?

Yes, staining all six sides protects the back of the wood against the structure from absorbing moisture, and allows for an even drying process, thereby remaining stable and reducing wood movement and aids in the performance of finishes.

Should I weather siding before staining?

No, cedar should be coated on all six sides, preferably factory applied, before installation. Do not allow the siding to ‘weather’ for more than 2 weeks prior to finishing. Factory finishing is highly recommended.

Should I weather Real Cedar before coating?

Should I weather Real Cedar before coating?


Why use Real Cedar versus composite decking?

Western Red Cedar is a natural and sustainable product harvested from certified forests. As a result, the life cycle assessment for Real Cedar is superior to composite products. Natural wood appearance cannot be duplicated by composites. The decking does not overheat in the direct sun and natural wood is just as low maintenance and even more so than plastics and composites.

What’s the best stain for Real Cedar decks?

Your lowest maintenance option is to not stain the deck. Let the deck age to a silver patina. The deck will return to its original colors. If you want to use a stain, a semi-transparent stain is recommended. Remember to coat on all six sides prior to installation. To restore a weathered deck use wood brighteners to remove grey surface fibers and a mild bleach solution to kill mold and mildew. Oxygen bleach is preferred.

What is the best decking size?

Western Red Cedar Decking is available in nominal 2” and nominal 5/4” thicknesses. Common widths are nominal 4” and nominal 6”.


Can I install real cedar inside?

Western Red Cedar Decking is available in nominal 2” and nominal 5/4” thicknesses. Common widths are nominal 4” and nominal 6”.

What are Real Cedar’s acoustic properties?

Western red cedar is light weight and less dense than many other woods. This cellular design makes it perfect for sound dampening. Western Red Cedar is very commonly used in home theaters and music studios to reduce reflected sound.

Can I use Real Cedar in the bathroom, indoor pool areas or other high humidity and wet areas?

Western Red Cedar is an excellent choice for these areas just make sure you install a finish that has water repellency to help avoid staining and the enclosed areas have good ventilation.


Which fasteners are best on outdoor structures?

Outdoor structures follow the same rules as siding. Stainless steel fasteners or plates are recommended. Some manufacturers make powder coated type hardware designed specifically for Western Red Cedar outdoor projects. They will tell you if the hardware is safe to use with cedar. Stainless steel fasteners are best.

What are the beam spans for a pergola?

There is no span chart for Western Red Cedar timbers. The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association does publish the design values for Western Red Cedar. This information may be found at realcedar.com. Use the resources tab at the top and look in the North American Publications section for the Designers Handbook publication.

Can I install Real Cedar posts in the ground?

Yes. Install posts in an oversize hole set on a stone or gravel base. Fill the hole with tamped gravel to encourage drainage. Or the top half can be filled with concrete that is peeked above grade at the top to encourage drainage. It is also recommended you pretreat the in-ground part of the post with water repellent coatings to provide water repellency.

Is Real Cedar safe for raised gardens?

Yes, Western Red Cedar is the preferred wood for garden beds both inground and raised. Do not treat the wood, leave it natural.


Tyvek Drainwrap Weather Resistant Barrier

Proper wall construction will always include a weather barrier on the outside of the building. We recommend a drainable weather barrier like Tyvek Drainwrap to help promote drainage.

Advantages of Tyvek Flexwrap

There are 4 main advantages to using Tyvex Flexwrap. 1. It is lightweight, flexible, and durable making it easy to handle and install and allows it to stand up to rigors of the job site. It also maintains a constant drainage rate, even after repeated wetting and drying cycles. 2. It has a non-woven fiber structure which improves energy efficiency and prevents drafts and air movement between walls. 3. It comes in a wide roll that helps reduce labor costs and minimizes seams. 4. It has a vertical grooved surface that allows water vapor to pass through to the drywall system, channels bulk water away from wall systems, helps prevent mold and water damage and offers enhanced drainage behind claddings.


Where do you buy Real Cedar?

The realcedar.com website has a "Where to Buy" button at the top of the home page. Click on the button and enter your zip code in the locator. The locator will show you any Western Red Cedar retailers that we know of in that area and the surrounding areas. Look for the premium retailers that sell Western Red Cedar Lumber Association member products.

Should I use coated or stainless steel screws?

The first choice is always stainless-steel screws. Some coated screws have been tested to work best with pressure treated woods and cedar. Read the package to see if the fastener is listed as safe to use with cedar. Contact the manufacturer of the coated product for more information.

Why do I want Real Cedar?

Western Red Cedar is sustainably harvested from certified forests. Western Red Cedar's natural beauty and aroma cannot be duplicated by composites or plastic imitations. Western Red Cedar is the most durable of all the natural wood products with time proven resistance to rot and decay that keeps your project looking good for decades.

Does Real Cedar hold paint or stain?

Yes, the natural properties of Western Red Cedar allow it to absorb and hold a finish. For best results use patterns with a resawn or textured surface and pre-finish on all sides before installation. Finish the wood immediately before exposure to the elements.

Why is Real Cedar environmentally responsible?

The harvesting and use of Western Red Cedar in building products has less of an environmental impact from harvest to end of use than other building products made from plastics or mining processes that have much larger and irreversible effects on the environment from acquisition of raw materials to life span in a landfill.

What makes Real Cedar “green”?

Real Cedar is harvested from certified sustainably managed forests in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. In Canada only 1/3 of 1% of the eligible areas of harvest are taken each year. The forests are replenished by replacing each tree taken with 3-8 saplings to begin the renewal process. Reforestation occurs at a rate that creates up to 30% greater tree volume than the original standing tree volume.

Does Real Cedar have a fire retardant rating?

Yes, Western Red Cedar has a Class B fire retardant/Class 11 flame spread rating as determined by third party fire testing organizations.

Can Real Cedar be used in a Wildland Urban Interface area?

The use of natural wood products on the exterior of buildings is challenged every rule making cycle. Most Western Red Cedar siding patterns are allowed as is Western Red Cedar decking. Soffits and fences are under scrutiny most often. There are also special installation guidelines for natural wood products in these areas so you must understand not only the allowable patterns, but the installation rules as well. It is strongly recommended you consult local code officials for their interpretation of the local and statewide rules.

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