The Battle of the Timbers: Cedar versus Larch

When it comes to popular timber choices, Cedar and Larch are definitely up there! Whether using as versatile cladding solutions for new builds and retrofits, slatted panels as stylish screening or stunning planters for your garden, they both have a lot to offer. Versatile and attractive, they serve up so much in terms of durability, aesthetic appeal and sustainability.

The aim of this blog is to discuss the unique properties of each. Plus to delve deeper into each species individual attributes and guide you to making an informed decision as to what best to use for your next project.

 


5 Key Benefits of Homegrown Cedar

 

 

1. Source

Homegrown Cedar refers to wood that has been grown in the UK. Often, as in the case of us here at Ruby UK, we source our homegrown Cedar from managed forests in the South-West.

2. Aesthetics

Homegrown Cedar shares many aesthetic qualities with Western Red Cedar. Conventional high temperature kiln drying gives it a uniform reddish-brown tone. After long-term exposure to the weather, if not oiled or stained this colour is lost and the wood becomes silvery grey. Compared to Western Red Cedar there will be numerous knots due to the fast growing nature of the species.

3. Durability

Like Western Red Cedar, homegrown Cedar offers excellent durability and resistance to decay. This is thanks to the natural oils and compounds that protect the wood from pests and environmental factors. However, compared to Western Red Cedar, it doesn't quite have the same high durability.

4. Sustainability

Using homegrown Cedar supports local economies and sustainable forestry practices within the region. It gives Architects and homeowners greater control over the sourcing process. The timber has not traveled thousands of miles across the Atlantic so is a more sustainable product.

5. Cost

Homegrown Cedar is much cheaper than Western Red Cedar. We would advise however, allowing 20% for wastage due to the frequency of knots along the board.

That’s all the important information covered on the two types of Cedar that we offer at Ruby UK so lets now look at Larch.


4 Key Benefits of Homegrown Larch

Source

Homegrown Larch is a natural tree of the mountains and requires really long, cold winters for its development. It would appear to need these conditions for the ripening of the wood. As we don’t get such a cold or long season in the UK - especially in the southern counties, our Homegrown Larch is generally inferior to the Siberian Larch. However, its still a very high performing timber choice.

Aesthetics

The heartwood is generally a pale reddish to brick red in colour. Therefore, homegrown Larch can have subtle pink-red tones. It’s a very resinous wood with a straight grain and fine uniform texture. As it dries rapidly however, it does have an inclination to distort and for knots to split and loosen.

Durability

Homegrown Larch is a very dense and tough timber. However, because of its quick growing properties, it is not as durable as Siberian Larch.

Sustainability

As the timber has usually been grown quite locally, it has good sustainable properties. Less distance in transporting the timber means a lower carbon footprint than it’s Eastern European counterpart. It is important to choose timber from a reputable supplier where the Larch has come from a managed forestry.

So that’s the discussion on the varieties of Cedar and Larch. Let’s now compare them overall against each other:


Overall Comparison of Cedar Versus Larch

Durability

Both Larch and Cedar are extremely durable and resistant timbers. The native species, e.g. Siberian Larch and Western Red Cedar compared to homegrown are slower growing so offer higher levels of density and durability. Larch is the more dense timber of the two. As a comparison, Redwood Cedar when dried is 390 kg/m3 and Siberian Larch when dried is 590 kg/m3. Both species do not need treatment applied as they are extremely durable timbers. As a conclusion, if you require timber with a higher structural strength, Larch would be your choice.

Aesthetics

Both Cedar and Larch offer beautifully coloured timber. Homegrown Larch will probably have a more red-pink tinge to it. Cedar is a pale reddish-brown through to a dull brown initially. However, both will change over time to a silvery-grey colour, to minise this both species of timber will require a stain or paint. Osmo do a particularly good Larch or Cedar Oil that helps preserve their original colour. An important aesthetic consideration is also that the homegrown timbers of either species are faster growing and as such, both have a more open grain, so expect quite a few knots.

Sustainability

Although, there is control through the supply chain of the timbers imported (Western Redwood Cedar and Siberian Larch) through the PEFC and FSC schemes, there is still the higher carbon footprint to take into consideration than homegrown timber. Even when sustainably sourced from certified forests in Eastern Europe or Northern America, the impact on the environment is higher. If a supplier is able to source from a locally managed forest then homegrown really does make sustainable sense.


 To sum it all up...

So there you have it. The comparison conclusion between both timbers gives anything but a clear winner. The homegrown versions of Cedar and Larch are generally a lower cost than the imported timbers. However, you must remember that you will need to allow a higher waste percentage due to the timbers having more knots and shakes. There is definitely a more rustic look to the homegrown timber.

Both materials offer unique attributes that can be used to create remarkable building exteriors and garden spaces. Aesthetically, its all about personal preference and what look you are after. Both will leave a lasting impression! If your choice is based on sustainability then the homegrown, as long as it comes from a managed forest and certified supplier is going to be your best bet.

Therefore, lots to consider. The resounding conclusion though is that whichever you choose, Cedar or Larch, you will be getting an exceptionally durable, high performing, superior building material. It’s clear that in the battle of Cedar versus Larch, there is no plain victor, they really are both timber royalty.

 

Home-Grown Cedar

Home-Grown Larch


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