Skip to Content

Poplar vs Cedar Wood (for Furniture, Flooring and Cabinets)

Cedar and poplar wood and trees photo collage

When you are building cabinets, reinstalling the floors for your apartment, or just a small end table, you will consider every type of wood available. Many people have easy access to both poplar and cedarwoods, as these trees are widely grown and easy to farm for general use.

Poplar wood is a strong wood that can be easy to find and has strong compressive strength; because it is inexpensive, it has become widely used. Cedarwood is considered softwood; it is a beautiful wood that has natural oils that resist moths, making it always a preferred wood.

There are many different uses for both kinds of wood, making them extremely common in some parts of the world. However, there are some uses where these woods are highly sought after simply because they are rare in those industries, with cedar sometimes being one of the rarest woods.

What is poplar wood traditionally used for?

Poplar trees and wood grain

Poplar trees and wood grain side-by-side photos.

Every artisan worldwide knows poplar wood in some way; this wood has traditionally been used as the support structure inside other pieces. Poplar can often be used as the lining on the inside of more expensive woods to help save on costs, creating laminated wood.

Poplar is an easy-to-craft wood that will help you create much stronger cabinets or furniture by working as the interior skeleton to wood that may be more expensive. Often used as scrap wood, poplar is used for a temporary structure, allowing you to build strong structures without having to pay too much.

Wood is used this way because it grows extremely fast, with most trees maturing within a few years. Creating an influx of wood that is not specifically aesthetically pleasing but allows you to strengthen many of the other more expensive wood furniture you are making.

What Is Cedarwood Traditionally Used For?

Cedar tree and cedar wood grain

Cedar tree and cedar wood grain.

Most commonly, cedarwood is used as a shingle, trim, or siding wood because of the visual appeal that the wood offers. With many wooden instruments also being made from wood, acoustic guitars made from cedarwood usually have a deep red grain look once completed.

The wood has a natural beauty that is rarely hidden away, instead used as the outward-facing side of cabinets, furniture, homes, and flooring. Cedar is also unique; there are many variants of the tree, each giving its grain and color that artisans worldwide are looking for.

This is why you may find one type of cedar selling for less than even poplar while another type of cedar seemingly costs more than your car. Some strains of cedar have been used exclusively to create cabinets, with very little cedar furniture being around as they are never used where they are not seen.

How Are Poplar And Cedarwood Different From Each Other?

At first glance, untreated cedar wood can easily look like poplar wood, but this is only to the untrained eye. As you become more familiar with the woods, you will learn how they are different and what you should be doing to ensure that the wood is always used in the best way.

We have seen many people that have tried to use poplar as the main wood while using any other wood scraps as support. While we have also seen many people place too much value on their cedarwood, ending up with a piece of wood that is never used for anything just because it is rare.

The Features Of Cedar And Poplar Wood

Cedarwood, once treated, has a deep and dark color, with many of the rarer variants shifting over to a deep red that is often coveted. The wood is extremely hardy once treated and can help with structure, but is often used as a laminate, as it is scratch-resistant and has beautiful coloring.

Poplar wood is easy to stain and is often used in projects where the color and grain of the wood are not as important. The wood is extremely strong and can handle a lot of pressure, making it perfect to be used with platforms or as a support structure to larger pieces, reducing overall costs.

Design Capabilities Of Poplar And Cedarwood

Poplar is a wood that can be used to create almost anything, with most artisans capable of using poplar in almost every way imaginable. The wood is used to strengthen furniture where it is not seen, strengthen cabinets, and make vinyl sheeting much thicker without using expensive wood.

Cedarwood has many design capabilities, with the rich color of the wood pushing craftsmen throughout the ages to constantly use the wood in new ways. Cedarwood has been used to create tables, speakers, instruments, and even wood window frames, with the design limitations being the craftsman’s imagination.

Overall Durability Of Cedar And Poplar Wood

Both kinds of wood are considered extremely durable, with natural oils that make them slightly weather-resistant and bug resistant. Cedarwood has an oil naturally that drives moths away, often the biggest problem for well-crafted wood cabinets and pieces.

Once treated, both kinds of wood will last a long time, capable of handling a lot of weight or pressure if used structurally. Overall, it is best to use Poplar wood as the support structure inside of cedarwood structures rather than using it to create furniture or cabinets on its own.

The Total Costs Of Poplar And Cedar

Usually, cedarwood is around $4 per foot, but the prices can vary greatly on where you are in the world. Many African and Asian countries ask significantly more for cedarwood as it has to be imported. In contrast, in the US and Canada, cedarwoods are considered the most affordable woods.

Poplar wood is one of the most affordable woods globally, with most countries having a surplus of wood. Sometimes priced at only $1 per foot, the wood is easy to transport and grow, which means that there is never any need to spend an excessive amount to get the wood.

What Is The History Of Poplar Wood?

Poplar wood received its name from the Romans and has been used worldwide for as long as the wood has been used to create furniture. Grown in the northern hemisphere, most modern supplies of poplar wood come from Asia, where the wood is farmed in large forests.

It has never been considered a particularly beautiful wood as it has shallow grains that are easy to miss when stained or treated. As such, it has become one of the most used woods in the world to use as a support structure inside other pieces of wood.

The tree itself is used for many purposes besides just being grown to produce wood, with many animals relying on the fruits that it grows. The ease of working on the wood also made it popular for use as frames for paintings during the Italian renaissance, including panel painting, with the Mona Lisa being the most well-known piece painted on poplar panels.

What Is The History Of Cedarwood?

Cedarwood is easily one of the oldest known woods used by man, with everyone from the Phoenicians to the ancient Egyptians using the wood. The trees grow on every continent in some capacity, adapting in new ways to adjust to the climate.

This has meant that the cedarwood found in Africa is a bright white that turns a deep dark when oiled, but the cedarwood found in the Americas starts dark and goes red when oiled. This is why you always need to specify what type of cedarwood you are using when building with the wood.

The trees themselves are different between each genus, which has become rare in many countries and thus is placed on the protected species list. Many cedarwoods in Japan are protected, and cutting down trees is accompanied by many fines and regulations.


Cedar and poplar wood are often used together to create the best possible furniture and cabinets; the two kinds of wood complement each other. Poplar is great for structural integrity, while cedarwood is often one of the most beautiful woods that you can use to create anything.

Remember that your wood choice inside and out affects your project quality.


Is Cedar Good To Build Furniture With?

Yes, cedarwood is good to build furniture with, especially if you are making solid wood furniture, as the wood is naturally strong and resistant to pests. However, the cost of cedarwood means that it can be prohibitively expensive.

Is Poplar Wood Good For Flooring?

Poplar wood is often used as the backing or initial structure of your wood flooring, with the wood easily keeping the vinyl structurally sound. Poplar is much less expensive than other woods that may be used in this way.

Is Cedar A Good Wood For Cabinets?

Cedarwood is one of the most common woods used for cabinets as it is a naturally beautiful wood.


Chat Box

Home Expert (Bot)
Hello, how are you? Ask me anything about interior design, home improvement, home decor, real estate, gardening and furniture.