Cedar vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

Cedar vs. Teak: Which One to Use?

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When it comes to building something around the home, there’s usually nothing better than solid wood. That said, there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of different types of lumber to choose from.

Two of the most popular types include cedar and teak. However, these two materials are fairly different from each other, and today we want to figure out what those differences are. Let’s determine whether it’s teak or cedar that you need for your next big woodworking project.

What Is Cedar?

First, we have the cedar tree, which is an evergreen coniferous tree that is found throughout the Pacific Northwest, mainly in the USA in Canada, although there are some types that can be found in the Himalayas and in the Mediterranean. Cedar is a softwood tree, and although many call it cedar, it is technically a part of the cypress tree family.

Cedar trees are known for being very large, as they can get up to 30’ wide and 200’ tall. This wood is also known for being very fragrant. It features a reddish-brown color and a smooth and straight grain, although it can have some irregularities at times.

This type of wood is also known for having a lot of inconsistencies, gaps, and knots. Cedar is fairly soft, and also not very dense or heavy. It’s definitely not the most durable type of wood, but it is very resistant to insects, decay, fungus, and moisture. For this reason, cedar is popular for outdoor applications such as crates, canoes and canoe paddles, totem poles, tools, outdoor furniture, and other such things.

What Is Teak?

We then have teak, which is a tropical hardwood tree that is usually found in mixed hardwood forests. This type of tree can be found in many parts of the world, although it is predominantly found in Southeast Asia, mainly Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh.

This tree can grow up to around 130’ tall and has a very wide trunk. Teak wood generally has a very straight and long grain with a relatively smooth appearance, although it can also have big gaps, knots, and holes.

This wood usually has a golden color with a slight brown tint, and as it dries it usually gets lighter. Teak wood is a very popular option for both interior and outdoor furniture, flooring, paneling, trim, and other such purposes. Teak is one of the hardest and strongest types of hardwood out there, and it is extremely durable. It also contains a good deal of natural oils, which makes it quite resistant to moisture, pests, and more.

Cedar vs. Teak: What Are the Differences?

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

1. Hardness

Cedar is actually one of the softest trees out there, as it comes in at just 350 lbf on the Janka hardness scale. Teak is a much harder type of wood, as it can reach up to 2300 lbf. This means that on average, this wood is about seven times harder than cedar, therefore making it much more durable, impact-resistant, and resistant to scratching and denting. Cedar doesn’t come anywhere close to teak in terms of durability.

2. Weight and Density

Not only is cedar soft, but it’s also fairly lightweight, as it comes in at just 31 lbs per cubic foot. Teak, on the other hand, is much harder and heavier, as it weighs roughly 46 lbs per cubic foot. This means that it’s about 50% heavier and denser than cedar. Higher density does generally lead to more durability, but you should also consider the fact that because teak is so heavy, it can be harder to work with.

3. Overall Durability

In terms of overall durability, cedar just doesn’t come anywhere close to teak, and this is true both because of its density and hardness. As we’re going to see below, cedar is also not quite as resistant to the elements. Yes, cedar might be a bit more flexible so it’s easier to bend into various shapes, but it’s still not very durable.

4. Moisture and Pest Resistance

What can be said about both cedar and teak is that they have very high levels of moisture resistance. Both are also very resistant to fungus, pests, and rotting. With that being said, teak is the more moisture and pest-resistant of the two. It has more natural oils, it’s denser, and it is harder too, all three factors which lead to it being more resistant to the elements. Although both of these types of wood are ideal for outdoor use, teak is going to last longer, especially when exposed to the elements.

5. Appearance – Grain and Color

Cedar features quite a straight grain with a moderately coarse texture, with a bit of natural luster. This wood does have many imperfections, knots, and gaps. Cedar also features a pinkish-red-brown color. Teak has a golden-brown color with some darker tints, and it will lighten with time. This type of wood tends to have a very straight and tight grain, with just a little bit of waviness. Teak can have large gaps, knots, and holes, but whereas the knots, gaps, and holes in cedar aren’t quite as large, they are generally more numerous.

6. Workability

Teak wood is so heavy, hard, dense, and full of imperfections, that it is generally much harder to work with than cedar wood on all fronts. It’s harder to saw, paint, stain, and maneuver.

7. Cost

On average, cedar should cost you around $10 per board foot. Teak wood is the far more expensive of the two and can cost you up to $75 per board foot.

When to Use Cedar Wood?

If you need something that looks fairly nice and is super cost-effective, then cedar is always a good option. Cedar is a great option for both indoor and outdoor applications, as it is very resistant to the elements. With that being said, if you need to build something like a deck or furniture that needs to be very impact resistant and handle a lot of weight, then cedar is probably not the best option to consider.

When to Use Teak Wood?

If you need something that looks absolutely beautiful, is resistant to the elements, and is extremely durable as well, plus you are willing to spend a good deal of money on it, then teak wood is always a good option. What it really comes down to here is that teak wood is the far better option of the two in all senses, but it just costs a whole lot more.

Alternatives to Cedar and Teak Wood

If you need good hardwood options for indoor use, woods such as oak, walnut, mahogany, and maple all make great options. If you’re looking for softwood, go for something like douglas fir or pine, especially if you want something fairly durable yet still cost-effective.

For more information, read our article about cedar alternatives.


Now that you know what makes cedar wood and teak wood different from each other, you can choose the best one for your next woodworking project. Remember that both are ideal in their own ways, but there are big differences between them that lead to them being suitable for vastly different purposes.