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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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!
950 B Fountain Street, Burlington WA 98233
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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.
Thank you for your interest in our products. We will have someone contact you via email today to discuss further.
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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!
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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
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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.
Thanks for reaching out to us. Sorry, we don’t do any manufacturing of cedar. Not sure who might be able to help you locally. Good luck!
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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.
Just to confirm – 24′ long? or 24″?
need design values for all grades to size some rafters, or where they can be located.thank you , David
Thanks for reaching out. I am not certain I understand what it is you are looking for when you say design values? Perhaps the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association website might be able to help? https://www.realcedar.com/
Enjoy your day!