Grades of Western Red Cedar

Throughout the wood industry, specific standards have been set so that there is consistency in grading when Western Red Cedar, as well as other lumber, is manufactured, as well as bought and sold. For the general consumer, this can be somewhat confusing.  Generally speaking, the higher the grade, the higher the price. So, when selecting and pricing lumber, it is vital to know the grade of material being purchased and how it is best used. Alaska Yellow Cedar is also graded similarly.

Clear, Western Red Cedar Timbers are used for an entry support

Here is an overview of the characteristics that determine the grades of Western Red Cedar:

Clear Western Red Cedar

  • Clear, Vertical Grain – This is the highest grade of Western Red Cedar and is commonly just referred to as “VG”. Vertical grain means that the growth rings are parallel to each other on the face of the board, and the wood is sawn specifically to achieve that look. Pieces have a smooth face of decay-resistant heartwood and are free from growth characteristics that affect appearance. Pieces have excellent dimensional stability and the ability to hold finishes very well. Generally used in siding and paneling products, but also found in trim and other dimensional boards; this product is generally supplied Kiln Dried and is ready to accept paint or stain either before installation or after.
Clear, Vertical Grain Western Red Cedar Siding

Clear, Vertical Grain Western Red Cedar Siding

  • Clear Heart – Includes only pieces with heartwood on the exposed face. Many of the pieces of Western Red Cedar are completely clear; others have minor imperfections that do not detract from their fine appearance. This product is also generally supplied Kiln Dried and would be ready to accept paint or stain.
  • A Clear – This is a fine appearance grade that allows only slightly more growth
    characteristics than Clear Heart. It is commonly referred to as A&Btr. Pieces are of mixed grain. These mixed grain (vertical and flat) pieces are graded from the surfaced face and typically sold with a percentage of B grade. A few small, sound tight knots or pin knots are allowed.
Clear, Mixed Grain Western Red Cedar

Clear, Mixed Grain Western Red Cedar

  • C&Btr Clear – High quality lumber for use where appearance is important, but permits more numerous characteristics than Clear Heart or “A” Grades. In addition to interior and exterior trim, as well as exterior cladding, Western Red Cedar of this grade is also used for cabinetry, doors, windows and similar applications. 4 knots per 12’ of each board is allowable.
  • No 2 & Better – The grade generally assigned for Western Red Cedar timbers and beams when the finest quality rough lumber is desired. The Cedar lumber is sound, well manufactured, and its characteristics do not detract from the wood’s fine appearance.

Clear No 2 Export Grade Western Red Cedar Timbers

  • D & Better Clear – This grade permits more natural characteristics and is used where general utility is more important than appearance. More pin knots and tight knots are allowed than within the other Clear Grades of Western Red Cedar. This grade is widely accepted in the construction of landscape structures and exposed timber framing, and is commonly used for arbors, pergolas, large trellises and porticos. Some pieces may require trimming to yield lengths for intended uses, and cutouts to remove less desirable portions can be common.
  • Rustic – Generally a grade of Clear Western Red Cedar Bevel Siding or cladding, it is recommended for use as sidewall covering where the distinctive charm of a rustic saw textured appearance is desired. This grade allows limited characteristics that do not detract from serviceability and may include pieces too thin to manufacture to standard sizes. Pieces may contain up to 4 sound, tight knots per 12’ of board and pin holes may be present.

Knotty Western Red Cedar

  • Select Knotty – Knots and other natural features define the visual characteristics of the Western Red Cedar. All knots are sound and tight. Red Cedar Lumber products are available rough surfaced, kiln-dried or unseasoned and smooth or with a re-sawn texture. Some companies may supply this grade of Western Red Cedar with knots glued on the reverse face and there is typically a percentage of Quality Knotty included in an order.
Knotty Western Red Cedar Siding

Select Knotty Western Red Cedar

  • Quality Knotty – Similar to Select Knotty, but a few small scattered holes are allowed, the grain may be heavily raised, and checks are not limited. Pieces must be serviceable, but 10% waste per board is allowed and is considered with the price of the material is set.  Because of this, a product in this grade is sold “as is” and returns or exchanges are generally not allowed.
  • Proprietary, Appearance or “Custom” Knotty – These products are graded to the manufacturer’s specifications to meet the intended end use. This is something that is commonly seen in the Cedar decking market as well as in large timbers for outdoor structures.  Boards often represent good value for appearances and uses with no holes. Allowances do vary based on manufacturer set standards and pricing is set accordingly. Less expensive materials would allow more waste, knots, and checking; while higher priced material would generally be of better quality. Depending on product, returns and exchanges may not be allowed.

Knotty Western Red Cedar Decking and Appearance Grade Cedar Timber

  • No. 2 and Better Structural – This grade is evaluated on structural characteristics, rather than appearance.
  •  Standard & Better Beams, Posts and Timbers – These items are intended for general construction use where serviceability is more important than appearance. No structural values are assigned. Most of the material will be box heart, meaning the timber is taken from the center of the Cedar tree and is less stable.  There may be oversized or missing knots, rot pockets, wane on edges and corners, and loose or course grain.  Items may be supplied surfaced (S4S) or with a re-sawn texture.

Please note, these grading standards do not apply to Western Red Cedar Fencing.  For information on grades of Fence materials, please click HERE

Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir Lumber for Sales. We ship nationwide!

Before your next project, be sure to visit us!  Our team will be happy to discuss your individual project and make recommendations for the grade of Western Red Cedar to use, assist you with the correct amount of material to order, as well as provide you with installation tips.

We ship top quality Western Red Cedar lumber and building materials nationwide at competitive prices!

Ph 360.757.6343

950 B Fountain Street, Burlington WA  98233

40 comments on “Grades of Western Red Cedar

  1. […] Dried “Clears” have been dried (to approximately 12% moisture content) at the mill and are the most […]

  2. […] construction and finishing uses in a range of lengths, widths and thicknesses. It is available in clear or knotty grades with smooth surfaced, combed or rough sawn finishes; kiln dried or unseasoned (green); flat grain […]

  3. Carl Geller says:

    I am looking for a quality grade western red cedar for deck boards. Deck will be approx 17ft X 16ft. Deck will be an extension of my existing concrete porch. Deck will have full around railing with a gate on either side.

  4. Susan says:

    I live in one of the bug capitals of the U.S., Florida. I would like to build an off grade home with cedar as the foundation. Is there a grade of cedar that is useful for my desired purpose?

    • If you are going to use Cedar for a foundation, be sure to get good, old growth Coastal Western Red Cedar with very tight growth rings. If you would like to discuss this further, please call us at 360.757.6343. We are here Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 5 pm PT. Thanks!

  5. […] offer Western Red Cedar decking in a variety of widths and thicknesses, as well as grades. With all of this, it is easy to see why it is readily chosen over more expensive hardwoods and […]

  6. […] using our 5/4×6″ Knotty Western Red Cedar Radius Edge Decking, this fence will provide years of carefree service, while creating privacy for […]

  7. […] in many different grades, Western Red Cedar can be used to customize your home’s exterior with a wide variety of siding […]

  8. […] we were contacted by Bellingham Bay Builders to provide Full, Rough Sawn Appearance Western Red Cedar timbers for a structure they wanted to build for Camp Orkila.  Located on beautiful Orcas Island, […]

  9. Summer Zorman says:

    I’m looking for western red cedar to be used in a 30ft span of soffit for my home. Can you recommend something?

    • Hi, thank you for your interest in our products. Generally, random length Western Red Cedar is used for soffit. If you are looking for a specific extreme length (anything over 20 feet) it would custom cut and may take some time. Please give us a call to discuss your specific project – we’d be happy to help! 360.757.6343

  10. […] louvers we supplied to our customer were custom milled from the finest 2×8″ clear, vertical grain Western Red Cedar available on the market and will be used to provide shade as exterior blinds.  […]

  11. […] clear grades, Western Red Cedar T&G it is commonly supplied in thicknesses of 7/16” or 1” in either 4 or […]

  12. […] Clear grades of Western Red Cedar T&G paneling are prized for a consistent and clean appearance, as well as natural, rich color variation between boards.  With exceptional stability, clear Cedar T&G will add sophistication and warmth that no man-made product can provide. […]

  13. […] such as this double tongue and groove that measures 3-1/2” x 5-1/2” that was manufactured from clear Western Red Cedar well over 100 years ago. By carefully inspecting and measuring this sample, we were able to have […]

  14. […] example, within the “cedar” decking manufacturing market there are many grades, grading standards, as well as growing regions within the Pacific Northwest where Western Red Cedar is grown, which […]

  15. […] Red Cedar is available in different grades, including the one that is just right for your project.  From casual knotty grades to clear […]

  16. […] from high quality Select Tight Knot Western Red Cedar, this rail cap will be installed at a condominium complex in Idaho after we have […]

  17. Cindy Peterson says:

    Hello, I am having my large cedar tree cut down next spring. Do you buy cedar blocks? What size would they need to be cut? Thank you, Cindy Peterson.

  18. […] Half Moon Bay, CA on an exquisite custom home and are getting ready to ship out this custom milled, clear Western Red Cedar rail cap along with more cedar cladding for the […]

  19. […] we milled the 1×6 clear, vertical grain Western Red Cedar Fine Line Tongue and Groove to the specified pattern, we had a factory flood coat […]

  20. […] Knotty Western Red Cedar bevel siding has a rustic and warm appeal that is the less expensive than clear grades.  When properly finished and maintained, your knotty Cedar bevel siding will perform admirably for many years. […]

  21. […] Our Select/Quality Knotty Western Red Cedar T&G is readily available in 1×4”, 1×6” and 1×8”, as well as 2×6”, and is perfect for interior ceilings, as well as exterior soffits and ceilings.  We are also able to offer custom milled profiles, as well as Western Red Cedar T&G in clear grades. […]

  22. […] recently shipped a custom milled package of surfaced, knotty Alaska Yellow Cedar lumber to New Jersey for this stunning deck and railing crafted by Paradise […]

  23. […] siding is readily available in knotty grades with a rough sawn, textured face in the following […]

  24. […] or 1×12” boards combined with 1×3” battens. When a rustic look is desired, Knotty, unseasoned boards are often used, which can be a real money saver over using clear Western Red […]

  25. […] these photos clear Western Red Cedar T&G with all it’s beautiful color variations add elegance to this recently completed sun […]

  26. […] a living fence can also add privacy, as well as wind block. In these photos, our customer used our clear Western Red Cedar 2×2″s to create a grid work for ivy to grown on. While it will take a […]

  27. […] Our Select/Quality Knotty Western Red Cedar T&G is readily available in 1×4”, 1×6”, and 1×8”, as well as 2×6”, and is perfect for interior ceilings as well as exterior soffits and ceilings.  We are also able to offer custom milled profiles, as well as Western Red Cedar T&G in clear grades. […]

  28. […] Board and Batten siding are 1×10” or 1×12” boards combined with 1×3” battens. Knotty, unseasoned boards are often used when a rustic look is desired, which can be a real money saver […]

  29. […] from high-quality clear C&Btr Western Red Cedar lumber we supplied, this stunning fence looks great from any angle. […]

  30. […] optimum stability.  And while knotty grades are easier on the pocketbook, we recommend using clear grades of materials, as the knots tend to heat up faster and get hotter and may become uncomfortable to […]

  31. Paul Sokolik says:

    Hi. I’m looking for 2 x 6 x 24 western red cedar, D & Better clear grade. I only need 2 boards. I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
    Please contact me with pricing if possible. Thank you.

  32. david pfeiffer says:

    need design values for all grades to size some rafters, or where they can be located.thank you , David

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