Cedar vs. Larch: Which One to Use?

Cedar vs. Larch: Which One to Use?

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If you are planning on building something around your house, then solid wood is always a fantastic option. That said, there are plenty of types of wood out there to choose from, so making a choice can be difficult.

Today, we are here to compare two popular types of wood, cedar and larch. Let’s figure out what both of these materials are, what makes them different, and which one is best for your next woodworking project.

What Is Cedar?

First, we have the cedar tree, which is a large evergreen tree that can be found in the Pacific Northwest, primarily in the USA and Canada, although it can also be found in some parts of the Mediterranean and in the western Himalayas. Cedar is a softwood tree, and it is technically a part of the cypress tree family.

These trees are very big, as they can grow up to 200’ tall and 13’ in diameter. Cedar is also known for producing some very fragrant wood.

This wood features a reddish-brown color and has a very straight and smooth green, although it can sometimes have irregularities or waves. Cedar is also known for having a whole lot of knots and gaps.

Cedar is a very soft type of wood that is also not very dense, and it’s not very resistant to scratching or denting. However, one of the big advantages of cedar is that it is extremely resistant to moisture, decay, and insect damage, therefore making it ideal for outdoor use.

This wood is often used for making canoes and canoe paddles, totem poles, boxes, tools, and outdoor furniture of all sorts.

What Is Larch?

We then have the larch tree, which can grow up to 150’ in height. This tree is native to cooler temperate northern climates, on lowlands in the north, and on high mountains further down in the South.

Larch trees can be found all throughout boreal forests in Canada and Siberia. These are deciduous trees that are conifers, and they lose their needles in the winter.

What is interesting to note is that larch, particularly western larch, is a type of softwood, although it is one of the harder types out there, therefore making it very resistant to physical damage of all sorts. With that being said, larch wood is only moderately resistant to moisture, insects, and decay.

As for appearance, the heartwood of larch ranges from reddish-brown to yellow and is usually lighter in color. This wood also features a straight grain combined with a medium-to-coarse texture and has a fairly oily or greasy feel.

This type of wood does have some knots, although they are really fairly small. This wood is often used for making plywood, paper, particle board, construction lumber, flooring, and for glue-laminated beams.

Cedar vs. Larch: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both cedar and larch wood are, let’s figure out what makes them different from each other.

1. Hardness

One difference here is that larch wood is much harder than cedar, with cedar coming in at just 350 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, whereas larch wood comes in at a whopping 800 lbf, making it one of the hardest types of softwood out there. It is therefore much more physically durable than cedar and is much more resistant to denting and scratching.

2. Weight and Density

Another difference here is that larch wood is also heavier than cedar. Larch wood comes in at 35 lbs per cubic foot, whereas cedar comes in at just 30 lbs per cubic foot.

This weight is also something that makes larch wood more physically durable than cedar, although due to it being a bit heavier, it’s also a bit harder to work with.

3. Moisture Resistance

Another major difference here is that cedar is one of the best types of wood to use for outdoor purposes, as it is extremely resistant to moisture, decay, pests, and fungus.

Although larch wood is moderately resistant to all of these things, it’s definitely not the best option and doesn’t come close to cedar in terms of outdoor viability.

4. Overall Durability

When it comes down to it, although it is less resistant to moisture and pests, larch wood is more durable in the grand scheme of things.

5. Appearance – Grain and Color

Something else to consider here is the appearance, with cedar having a relatively straight grain, a somewhat coarse texture, and a bit of a natural luster. This wood has a fairly dark reddish-brown color, along with plenty of knots and imperfections.

On the other hand, larch wood generally always has a straight grain with a medium to coarse texture, although the heartwood is much lighter than cedar, as it is more yellowish than reddish-brown.

6. Workability

Due to it being harder, denser, and heavier than cedar, larch wood tends to be harder to work with, especially as far as sawing is concerned. This wood is known for causing saw blades to get dull very quickly.

7. Cost

Cedar is generally going to cost you anywhere between $5 and $15 per board foot. Larch wood on the other hand is going to cost you around $2.50 to $7.50 per board foot.

When to Use Cedar Wood?

If you need a type of wood that looks nice, is cost-effective, and works really well for outdoor purposes due to its moisture resistance, then cedar is always a good option to consider.

When to Use Larch Wood?

If you need an extremely hard and durable type of wood that can withstand a whole lot of physical punishment, especially for indoor purposes, then larch wood is the much better option.

Alternatives to Cedar and Larch Wood

If your main goal is finding wood that is very hard and durable, then ones such as oak, maple, walnut, ash, alder, ebony, and rosewood are all fantastic options to consider.

You might also want to read my article about alternatives to cedar.


Now that you know what the major differences between larch wood and cedar wood are, you can make an informed choice between the two for your next project.