Pressure-Treated vs. Cedar Lumber

What are the differences between pressure-treated and cedar lumber?

Pressure-Treated vs. Cedar LumberLike many important decisions, the decision to build a fence on your property immediately brings up additional questions. What is the fence’s main purpose? What should the fence look like? How much will it cost?

One of the first steps towards answering all of these different questions is selecting the right fencing material. For most people, deciding between wood and vinyl fencing is easy – but deciding between different types of wood requires digging a little deeper.

When it comes to residential wood fencing installation in Calgary, the two most important kinds of wood to be familiar with are natural cedar and pressure-treated lumber. Anyone planning on installing a fence should familiarize themselves with the differences between pressure-treated and cedar lumber before making the choice.

What is pressure-treated lumber?

Pressure-treated lumber usually refers to any of multiple varieties of pine wood from the Southeastern United States. This particular species of tree grows quickly and features a cell structure that makes it ideal for pressure treatment.

Pressure treatment makes the wood heavier and more durable. It imbues the wood with properties that resist insect damage and wood decay for decades.

The process itself is simple and environmentally friendly. When pressure-treating fresh cut pine lumber, refineries kiln-dry the wood to remove moisture and then place the wood in large pressurized tanks. Inside the tank, the wood sits in a solution of micronized copper and water and is subjected to immense pressure – forcing copper particles into the wood.

The result is the heavy, uniform wood you often see at commercial home centers and lumber yards. It is cost-effective and reasonably durable but can fall victim to splitting and warping over time due to its higher moisture content.

What is cedar lumber?

Natural cedar lumber is naturally rot-resistant and needs no pressure treatment. Because cedar takes longer to grow than pine, it is the more expensive option. Cedar ages well and resists wear over time.

If you do a side-by-side comparison of two 20-year old wooden fences – one built from pressure-treated lumber and the other from cedar – the cedar fence will have a more attractive appearance. Cedar does not warp, shrink, or split the way pressure-treated lumber can as it ages.

As a result, cedar is the better choice for fencing projects designed to stand the test of time – like a family-owned residence. Calgary’s cold winters and wet summers will put a strain on pressure-treated lumber fences, while cedar will successfully resist damage for decades.

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