5) Alder vs Cedar: Comparing Two Popular Wood Types

UncategorizedBy Jul 22, 2023

This content compares two popular wood types, alder and cedar. Alder is a medium-density hardwood with a golden to reddish-brown color, known for its decorative appeal and ease of work. It is commonly used for cabinets, furniture, and interior trim. Cedar, on the other hand, is a softwood with a reddish-brown color and natural resistance to decay and insects. It is often used for outdoor structures like decking and siding. Cedar also has a pleasant aroma. The article provides a comparison of their characteristics, uses, and pros. It also includes FAQs about their price, outdoor suitability, staining, and aroma retention.

Alder vs Cedar: Comparing Two Popular Wood Types

Alder vs Cedar: Comparing Two Popular Wood Types


When it comes to choosing the right wood for your projects, knowing the characteristics and properties of different types is essential. Two popular options in the woodworking world are alder and cedar. In this article, we will compare these two wood types, highlighting their features, uses, and pros and cons.


Alder is a medium-density hardwood prevalent in North America. It is known for its light golden to reddish-brown color, often with small knots and streaks. Alder is reasonably soft and easy to work with, making it a favorite among woodworking enthusiasts, especially for intricate carvings and decorative pieces.

Characteristics and Uses

Alder has a straight grain with a moderately fine texture. It has good stability and is less prone to warping and shrinking compared to other hardwoods. This makes alder suitable for various applications, including cabinets, furniture, millwork, and interior trim. It takes finishes well, providing a smooth and uniform appearance.

Pros of Alder:

  • Easy to work with
  • Decorative appeal with knots and streaks
  • Good stability
  • Takes finish well


Cedar is a softwood that comes in various species, such as Western Red Cedar and Eastern Red Cedar. It is known for its distinct reddish-brown color, durability, and natural resistance to decay, insects, and weather elements. Cedar has a unique aroma and has been traditionally used for outdoor structures, including decking, siding, and fences.

Characteristics and Uses

Cedar has a straight grain with a coarse texture. It is relatively lightweight and easy to work with hand tools. Cedar is highly stable, which is an important attribute for exterior applications, as it minimizes warping and twisting. Apart from outdoor structures, cedar is also used for indoor paneling, chests, and closets.

Pros of Cedar:

  • Natural resistance to decay and insects
  • Durable
  • Pleasant aroma
  • High stability

Comparing Alder and Cedar

ColorLight golden to reddish-brownDistinct reddish-brown
TextureModerately fineCoarse
WorkabilityEasyEasy with hand tools
ApplicationsCabinets, furniture, millworkOutdoor structures, paneling, chests
ResistanceN/ADecay, insects


Q: What is the price difference between alder and cedar?

A: The price of alder and cedar varies depending on the region and quality. However, in general, cedar tends to be more expensive than alder due to its durability and natural resistance.

Q: Can alder be used for outdoor projects too?

A: While alder is more suitable for indoor applications, it can be used for outdoor projects if adequately protected and finished with appropriate coatings.

Q: Is cedar suitable for staining?

A: Yes, cedar is highly receptive to stains and can be stained to achieve a desired color while maintaining its natural patterns.

Q: Does the aroma of cedar remain over time?

A: The distinct aroma of cedar may fade over time, especially when exposed outdoors. However, some residual fragrance may continue to linger.