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Know Your Wood: Yellow Cedar

Post on 22nd June 2022

Yellow cedar is a firm favourite with our customers  sourced from the cold forests of Alaska; it is well-known for its beautiful warm, yellow tones

What is yellow cedar?

Yellow cedar is one of the world’s most robust and durable softwood species  hailing from the highest territories of North America and Canada, where it thrives in the cold continental climate. It is a member of the pine family (more on this below)  and is one of the slowest-growing varieties of its kind, often reaching 1000 years of age (although some trees have been found to surpass 2000 years). It is growing in significant numbers in forests throughout Alaska and British Columbia. It looks a little like a Christmas tree, with papery-grey bark and vibrant green spindly leaves tipped with small cones. 

As a timber, yellow cedar is kiln-dried to enhance its natural properties further  and it is well-known for its fragrant, earthy aroma similar to that of pine (making it a popular choice for saunas and indoor cladding and flooring). 

What does yellow cedar look like?

As the name suggests, yellow cedar is characterised by a distinctive, uniform pale-yellow colour that gives a beautifully bright finish and sunny feel to any outdoor space. It has an attractive grain, not unlike pine, featuring deep brown knots and a smooth, fine texture.?

What are the benefits of yellow cedar?

Yellow cedar lends itself perfectly to a wide array of outdoor applications and structures, including fence panels and gates. Notable benefits include: 

Durable and long-lasting

Yellow cedar is world-renowned for its high stability, strength, hardness, and longevity. In construction, it has been used for hundreds of years  indigenous peoples used yellow cedar to build bridges and boats, with other parts of the tree for various applications, including clothing, storage and houses. 

Yellow cedar fencing and gates can be expected to last 25 to 30 years untreated, making it a fantastic long-term investment  although additional treatments are available to extend this lifespan further. 

Naturally resistant to rot and decay

Aromatic sap within the timber actively repels common pests and prevents decay, further extending the lifespan of yellow cedar and making it ideal for outdoor applications. Yellow cedar is not susceptible to fungus, insect damage, rotting or warping  all of which could compromise the integrity of other timbers and shorten their lifespan. It is also well-equipped to withstand the characteristically wet, cold British weather!

Low maintenance

Because yellow cedar is naturally strong and resistant to decay, you won’t need to constantly treat, stain or paint it to keep it looking great and performing well throughout its lifetime. Most timber is kiln-dried before use, which preserves and enhances the natural colours within the wood, prevents weathering, improves strength and stiffness, and protects against attacks from pests. 


This timber lends itself to a wide array of styles and applications, from shingles and decking to structures such as gazebos and garden furniture. It is a firm favourite with homeowners, architects, garden designers and landscapers. It is easy to work with and takes well to glues and screws, planning, shaping and silky-smooth finishing a breeze. This makes achieving bespoke designs simpler. Yellow cedar is also suitable for carving and woodworking and takes stains and paints well should you wish to customise it. 

Uniquely beautiful

There’s nothing quite like yellow cedar  with its vibrant, buttery soft colour and smooth finish – it will almost certainly elevate any space. It works well with both heritage and contemporary design schemes. If left untreated, it will slowly and gracefully fade to a silvery-grey colour over time  a highly sought-after effect. If you want to preserve the timber’s initial colour, UV treatments can be applied to prevent the ageing process. 

Yellow cedar vs red cedar

Yellow and red cedar have similar names, so what sets them apart from one another? 

It may surprise you to learn that Yellow cedar isn’t a member of the cedar family at all, unlike the red variety. It is sourced from a Cypress tree  but as it boasts many of the qualities of hardwood, it earned the name Yellow Cedar alongside its reputation as a premium timber.

Sustainably sourced yellow cedar at Slatted Screen Fencing 

At Slatted Screen Fencing, we carefully and consciously source all our timbers directly from trusted suppliers, independently vetted and managed by the PEFC and FSC. Preserving the planet’s forests and natural habitats for many years is a priority for us  so you can be sure that whichever yellow cedar product you choose won’t cost the earth. 

Browse our range of yellow cedar fence panels, gates and slats today.