White Cedar Fence Boards versus Treated Fence Boards and Red Cedar Fence Boards

In today’s marketplace it is difficult for consumers to make educated decisions on wood fence.  With the multitude of stores selling treated or Red Cedar fence materials it is easy to assume that this is your best option when building a wood fence.  Consumers do not realize how untrue that information is. 

Northern White Cedar fence boards have cells that absorb very little water or moisture.  This gives it natural inhibitors to fight off rot and decay.  In addition, Northern White Cedar is one of the most stable woods available to the building industry.  It will shrink less than one percent, and rarely warps, twists or cups – unlike treated wood fence boards, generally made from Yellow Pine, and famous for all three unwanted characteristics.

The unrelenting soaking, freezing, and drying cycles of the environment play havoc on all species of wood.  Treated wood is no better than Cedar at withstanding the rigors of Ohio weather.  In fact, it may not work as well, since the species selected for treatment are chosen specifically for their ability to soak up moisture.  This allows the wood to soak up the chemical treatments.

Red Cedar is another popular choice when building a fence.  Even though it is still cedar, there is a large difference between Red and White Cedar.  Red Cedar is a larger tree than White Cedar.  Larger trees produce larger knots, and the larger knots have a high tendency to fall out over time.  This leaves a large hole in the board.  Red Cedar is most commonly found in Oregon.  Due to the environment that it grows in, it does not have the opportunity to build up a resistance to rot and decay.  Northern White Cedar grows in the swamps in upper Michigan, and through time has developed it’s own resistance against rot and decay.  Through the years, Red Cedar will weather to a dark gray or black color.  White Cedar will weather to a light gray to create a rustic look.  Lastly, Red Cedar has a very different grain than White Cedar.  Due to the pattern of the grain, Red Cedar boards have a tendency to split.

Just as a wooden ship is constructed with a variety of wood species for a purpose, your wood fence can also benefit from using a variety of species.  In other words, treated materials do have a place in the construction of a fence.  Typical Ohio soil contains a lot of clay and does not drain well.  Combine this problem with the correct construction method of setting posts in a concrete footer, and you have the dilemma of trapped moisture in and around the post.  This is an ideal environment for the decay fungus to operate in.  Therefore we recommend using MicroPro treated wood for the posts, preferably made of Red Pine.

The Elyria Fence Co. has custom-built wood fencing since 1932.  Through the years they have researched different options, and inspected numerous mills.  It is a company that survives on its reputation.  Providing only high quality materials from reputable mills is the only option.  That is why as a company, they feel very strongly about the white cedar fence board and MicroPro treated post combination.  It is the longest lasting and sturdiest combination that they have come across.

Customers can feel free to stop into the Elyria Fence showroom at 230 Oberlin Rd in Elyria; they will find over 90 panels wood fencing on display and photograph albums of previous jobs.  Experienced and knowledgeable estimators are also available for a free in-home estimate, and can be contacted at 440-323-7581 or 800-779-7581.  If the Internet is more convenient, look-up the Website at www.elyriafence.com to view the extensive collection of fence and deck work.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Willeford
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 06:36:35

    Hello..This is my first time to visit your blog and I would say you share nice information.You definitely do research and write very well. Keep it up! i also know a very good site for Fence at willefordfence(.)com…!!


  2. patio design
    May 13, 2011 @ 03:05:34

    Nice article! I am impressed with the research you made to make this article; I absolutely love your website! I hope to read more about this. Thank you for sharing.


  3. wallystreet
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 16:17:10

    Good information. So you are saying you can build a fence with Weather Treated posts and cedar fence board. Is there an issue with getting the stain of the cedar fence and non-cedar posts to match?


    • elyriafence
      Oct 28, 2011 @ 09:15:27

      Our customers have had no issue with the stain matching between boards and posts. On our website at http://www.elyriafence.com you’ll see quite a few stained fences. I don’t think it’s too obvious that the woods are different. If a customer chooses to not stain the fence, the woods gray out, and the differences in wood species is also not detectable. Thanks for your comments and questions!


  4. Mike Liskey
    Aug 08, 2012 @ 13:02:06

    I have plans to build a 5X20 Pergola off the front of my home using Cedar over treated wood. I live in Souteast MI.

    I would be safe to use 100% White Cedar material for this project correct?

    I have been told it’s best to wait a season before using any kind or wood protectant; the bigest reason for the protectant is that I want to have a darker wood apearence.

    Please let me know your thoughts about this


    • elyriafence
      Sep 06, 2012 @ 11:39:24

      Hi there Mike,

      White cedar will work just fine over the treated wood on the pergola. It will be very pretty when you’re done! As far as treating it – you can stain it right away. The important thing is that you go with a quality brand of stain. I would avoid the box stores, and head into your local paint store. I’m sure they’ll carry a better quality of stain that you can use. The better the quality – the less often you’ll need to do it! Good luck with your pergola, and thanks for stopping by our blog!!


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