When we’re looking to choose wood for our furniture or flooring, we want to know that we’re getting the best wood for the job. Not only do we want something that is beautiful and suits our décor style, but it needs to be durable and suit our budget too!
With American woods, like cedar and cherry wood, the wide variety of options give you a range of stunning woods to choose from—but which will be best for you?
Cherry wood with its satin texture and deep red color is traditional for classic furniture, while cedar is known for its sweet, fresh fragrance. Cedar is softer, usually used unfinished in chest interiors, and keeps insects at bay. For furniture, cabinetry, and flooring, cherry wood is superior.
Cedar and cherry wood are both reddish woods with strikingly different properties that you can utilize in different ways and have been used traditionally in furniture making for hundreds of years. Woodworkers prize both for their color and grain pattern and their ability to resist humidity and repel insects.
We’ll go through the pros and cons of using either of these woods for furniture, flooring, and kitchen cabinets.
Related: Birch vs. Cedar Wood | Cedar vs. Beech Wood | Pine vs. Cedar | Oak vs. Cedar | Cedar vs. Walnut | Cherry vs. Walnut | Cherry vs. Birch | Cherry vs. Oak | Cherry vs. Pine | Cherry vs. Maple | Types of Cherry Wood
Cedar vs. Cherry Wood (for Furniture, Flooring, and Cabinets)
Cherry trees grow mainly in the eastern half of the U.S., but the best sustainable forests are in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio. One of the most beloved aspects of cherry wood is how this beautiful wood naturally darkens over time from a soft pinkish color to a deeper reddish-brown.
Cherry wood comes in varying grades, with higher grades suitable for high-end furniture and lower for cabinets and flooring.
Cherry wood has a deep, wide grain with some small burls and knots and a smooth texture. Cherry wood without these visible knots and burls is more expensive and usually used for high-end furniture. Cherry scores 950 on the Janka hardness scale, which is softer than oak but harder than chestnut of mahogany.
The most commonly used cedar in the U/S. is Eastern and Western Red Cedar, well known for being weather and insect resistant, with a pleasing scent. This attractive wood has many uses but is especially good for outdoor furniture and decking. The lovely reddish-pink color of cedar, with its soft purple tones, fades to a silverish-gray over time.
Is Cedar a Good Wood for Furniture?
Also known as Southern Red Juniper, cedar is probably best known for its use in the interiors of hope chests and armoires and outdoor furniture and decking.
Due to its natural properties that repel insects and the fresh pleasing scent, raw and untreated cedar is used to line linen chests and other storage furniture to keep the materials safe from moths and other insects.
Although cedar is technically a softwood, it still has a relatively high Janka rating of 900, higher than most softwoods and some hardwoods, making it solid and durable. It’s not a very dense wood, and for indoor furniture, cherry wood is probably a better choice.
However, cedar has a delightfully rustic look and remains strong even in humid conditions when it comes to outdoor furniture.
Cedar is an affordable wood that can be used for indoor and outdoor furniture, though if you wish to preserve the original color outdoors, you will need to seal it first. Due to the natural oils that resist insects and mold and give cedar its sweet, pleasant scent, it is used unfinished in chest interiors designed to store linens and other material heirloom pieces.
Is Cedar a Good Wood for Flooring?
Cedar is especially popular for flooring, as the natural fragrance and fine grain are very appealing. Their relative cost makes this softwood a good choice for low-traffic flooring areas and especially suitable for areas with higher humidity.
Because cedar is less dense than many hardwoods, this gives the wood a bit more flexibility and less weight, making installation more straightforward than some hardwoods. Many people love the rustic look of cedar, characterized by its prominent grain and knots.
While cedar is harder and more durable than woods like pine, it will be prone to dents and scratches if objects are dropped on the wooden flooring, so it is best to use it only in areas where this is unlikely. When choosing cedar flooring, go for heartwood over sapwood, as it is less attractive to insects.
Is Cedar a Good Wood for Cabinets?
Cedar can make an excellent choice for cabinets, despite its softness, because it is a naturally humid-resistant wood which is a good choice for cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. However, be aware that you may not want that distinctive cedar small in your kitchen when preparing food unless you apply a suitable finish over the wood.
If you’re going to use cedar for cabinet doors, woodworkers recommend that you properly seal the surface to avoid dents and dings.
What are the Disadvantages of Cedar?
Cedar’s disadvantages are that it is a softer wood, making it more susceptible to getting dented or scratched with use. Cedar is probably not the best option if choosing wood for a family area where children are likely to smash or knock wood.
When working with cedar, it may be more prone to splitting than other woods. One notorious drawback of cedar when used as flooring is that the planks will need to be fitted in place first and then sealed, which can be a problem as the area will be unavailable for use while the sealant dries completely.
Is Cherry Wood a Good Wood for Furniture?
Also known as American cherry, this straight-grained, reddish-brown wood is one of the best all-round woods in terms of workability, making it very popular for furniture. This distinctive and attractive hardwood is often used to make fine furniture, particularly in Victorian and Shaker-style pieces.
The heartwood of cherry is stronger and more durable than the sapwood, and you can tell the difference as the heartwood is a pinkish light brown, while the sapwood is pale and creamy.
Both of these will darken over time with exposure, and the heartwood will become a medium reddish-brown shade. Due to the straight grain, cherry is easy to work with when making furniture and is prized for furniture making.
Cherry furniture is usually more pricey than similar oak furniture.
Is Cherry Wood a Good Wood for Flooring?
Cherry has long been used for flooring due to its stunning rich color and durability. While it is not as durable as some harder hardwoods, it makes for a lovely smooth surface. Cherry will take stains well, and you can deepen the red tones this way if that’s your preference.
Is Cherry Wood a Good Wood for Cabinets?
American cherry is considered one of the premier cabinetry woods. However, cherry is known to be one of the pricier of the hardwoods, but it is still relatively cheaper than high-end woods such as mahogany and teak. The ability to take dark stains well also makes it very appealing for use in kitchen cabinetry.
What are the Disadvantages of Cherry Wood?
While cherry wood is known to deepen to a lovely reddish color over time, this can be an issue if your furniture or flooring receives varying amounts of sunlight. The areas that receive more light will become darker than others.
Cherry wood is not naturally resistant to water, so it is not a good choice of timber for very humid rooms such as laundry rooms or bathrooms.
Price can be an issue when choosing cherry wood. Although far cheaper than woods like mahogany, it is still more expensive than most other woods and is not as resilient or durable as oak or walnut.
Cedar and cherry are both stunning, rustic woods that add charm to furniture and flooring. In terms of cost, cherry is more expensive and somewhat more durable than cedar, while cedar is a good choice for humid areas. Cedar is better used for outdoor furniture and decking, while cherry is an excellent all-around wood that shines in uses like cabinetry and flooring.
The Wood Database: Aromatic Red Cedar
The Wood Database: Black Cherry
Floor and Decor: Cherry Wood