When selecting wood for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry, cedar and walnut are two attractive yet very different options. With their unique grains, colors, and characteristics, cedar and walnut each have advantages and disadvantages that make them ideal for certain scenarios.
I’ll compare cedar vs walnut wood so you know which is best to use for your project.
Walnut vs. Cedar
There are distinct differences between Walnut and Cedar wood. In case you don’t want to read the whole article, I’ve outlined which wood is best to use for flooring, furniture, and cabinets:
Best for flooring: Cedar and Walnut can both be used for flooring. Cedar is easy to install and treat but will not last long in rooms with heavy foot traffic. Walnut is more challenging to install but will last a long time and can be seen as an investment.
Best for furniture: While both Cedar and Walnut can be used for furniture, it is clear that Cedar is the overall best choice for outdoor furniture, while Walnut wood will be best suited for inside.
Best for cabinets: For cabinets, both Walnut and Cedarwood are a good choice depending on the style and look. Cedar is the best choice for a more rustic look, while Walnut will give the room a soft and elegant finish. Walnut will withstand the test of time, and Cedar can be easily sanded down when it is damaged.
What is Walnut?
Walnut wood is characterized by its tight grain and straight grain. However, it’s common to sport curves, voids, gaps, and knots. But they’ll be scarce.
Walnut is a reliable alternative for projects requiring tough and dense wood that can resist scratching and denting. Furthermore, it produces natural oils, making it resistant to pests, moisture, and fungus.
Walnut is ideal for indoors like birch wood. It’s one of the most expensive hardwoods in North America because of its slower growth rate.
What Is Cedar?
Cedar trees are renowned for their varieties. The most common tree is the Western Red Cedar, a large conifer located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada.
The Cedar tree is characterized by its large size, typically growing up to 200 feet in height and 13 feet in diameter. Cedarwood is renowned for its fragrant features.
Cedar wood is ideal for outdoor use. This softwood is one of the unique types of wood with many knots and gaps. Because of its reasonably soft nature, Cedar lacks the toughness and density to resist scratching and denting.
What Are the Differences?
Looking to compare Cedar and Walnut? Take a look at the following differences:
A significant difference between Walnut and Cedar is its hardness. Walnut wood is measured to have a 1010 lbf (pounds-force) on the Janka hardness scale, while Western Red Cedar is only 350 lbf. The hardness scale reveals that Walnut is almost three times harder than Cedar.
Walnut will display a higher physical resistance to damage, similar to oak wood. Anyone looking for tough, durable wood for structural projects should go for Walnut.
Density and Weight
Walnut displays superior density to Western Red Cedar. Walnut is also considerably heavier. The thickness of Walnut wood is around 43 pounds per cubic foot, while Cedar is 31 pounds per cubic foot.
As a result, Walnut is admired for its structural soundness. However, it may be somewhat difficult to maneuver because of its weight.
Resistance to Elements
Cedar displays better resistance to elements than Walnut. This makes it one of the best wood alternatives for outdoor use. While Walnut has all the toughness to keep shape for many years, Cedar is resistant to external elements such as rotting, pests, fungus, moisture, and decay.
Strength and Durability
In terms of overall strength and durability, Walnut takes the advantage. Walnut is the best alternative for projects requiring durable and structurally sound wood.
Walnut wood features a deep brown color that turns light brown as it ages. Cedar wood is also dark but has a reddish tinge or hue. Both types of wood are renowned for their tight and straight gains. But there are several knots and irregularities on Cedar.
If you want perfect strains, pick Walnut. However, Cedar has a more attractive color.
Walnut trees have a slow growth rate, so the wood is scarcer. Walnut wood may cost around $25 per board foot. Cedar is cheaper than Walnut, with costs ranging between $5 – $15 per board foot. Cedar has a closer price point to maple wood.
When to Use Walnut Wood
Walnut is ideal for building indoor items like cabinets and furniture. Under the right conditions, Walnut will retain its structure for many years. This wood type is also suitable for projects that require its deep brown color.
Can Walnut Wood be Used for Furniture?
Walnut is often chosen for office furniture and formal furniture because of the hardness of the wood and the executive appearance of the wood. Walnut has a smooth finish, and it is often stained a little darker or more natural to complement the natural dark color of the wood.
The wood is complex but also bendy, making it easy to work with. The hardness of the wood also allows for constant use of the furniture, and with proper treatment, furniture pieces will last a long time. Because the wood is hard, it will readily take to any treatment and will not need a lot of maintenance.
The Walnut color will get lighter over time, especially when it is exposed to indirect sunlight, highlighting the furniture and giving it a softer look.
Can Walnut Wood be Used for Flooring?
Most Walnut wood species offer a dark color, and it is a tough wood. The hardness of the wood will be perfect for flooring with high traffic, but at the same time, hardwood like Walnut is challenging to work with.
The hardness of the wood makes it difficult to saw and sand. Due to this reason, the price for installing Walnut floors will be significantly higher. The price will be worth it in the long run as the floors will last for years and will not dent or scratch easily.
The color will give the room a more modern and clean-finish look that will provide sophistication and class to the room. The graining of the wood is beautiful and will complement any room.
Can Walnut Wood be Used for Cabinets?
Walnut’s rich dark color and specific hardness make it perfect for cabinets. It is extremely durable and does not dent easily. The cabinets will last an extremely long time and are shock-resistant.
It gives the cabinet a more modern look and will work perfectly for the kitchen, bathroom, or even office.
When to Use Cedarwood
Because of its red hue, Cedarwood has a strong aesthetic appeal. But don’t expect incredible durability. Cedar is more suited to outdoor use because it will not deteriorate under the elements. Cedar is ideal for fences, cabins, and outdoor furniture.
Can Cedarwood Be Used for Furniture?
Cedarwood is not considered a good wood for indoor furniture but is surprisingly good for outdoor furniture. It has a natural characteristic that gives it a unique smell and helps it withstand the elements when it is outside. It also gives furniture a more traditional look thanks to the roughness it has when it is finished.
Although it is not considered the best wood for indoor furniture, Cedarwood can be used for furniture that does not have high-traffic use, such as a table for ornaments. It’s not the perfect pick for indoor high-traffic use because it dents quickly when used often, giving it a worn-down and used look.
Can Cedarwood be Used for Flooring?
Cedar is softwood and is not recommended as flooring with heavy activity; however, it can be used in rooms like cellars or spare bedrooms. Because of the smell the wood emits, many people enjoy using it as the flooring for their bedrooms, though it can also affect people with allergies.
Cedar is easy to install, thanks to its softness. It can also be repaired when scratched or dented by sanding it down, making maintenance easy.
Can Cedar be Used for Cabinets?
Many characteristics of Cedarwood make it perfect for cabinet use. Because the wood is soft, it is easy to work with, maintain, restore, and treat. It takes well to paint and treatment and can be susceptible to delicate carving.
Another characteristic that makes this wood perfect is the rustic finish it has. This wood will compliment your theme if a traditional kitchen or bathroom is your style. The roughness of the wood will also make it perfect for outdoor cabinets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cedarwood Good Quality?
Cedarwood is considered a good quality for specific applications. It’s known for its natural resistance to insects and decay, making it a popular outdoor furniture and decking choice. However, its quality can vary, so choosing the right type of Cedar for your project, such as Western Red Cedar, is essential for high-quality results.
Is Walnut a High-End Wood?
Yes, Walnut is generally considered a high-end wood. It’s prized for its rich, dark brown color, fine grain, and excellent workability. Due to its aesthetic appeal and durability, walnut is often used in luxury furniture, cabinetry, and decorative woodworking, making it a premium choice for woodworkers and designers.
Is Walnut the Best Wood?
Whether Walnut is the “best” wood depends on the specific needs and preferences. While it’s highly regarded for its appearance and workability, the best wood for a project varies. Oak (Red Oak or White), maple, cherry wood, and others have unique qualities too. Choosing the best wood involves considering the intended use, appearance, and budget.
Walnut and cedar each have distinct features. Before deciding on the kind of wood to buy, consider the project and if it will be primarily used indoors or outdoors.