Why White Cedar is a superior building product

Northern White Cedar has long been the preferred choice in logs and lumber for building everything from canoes, and fence posts to cozy cabins and luxury homes with log siding. But why? Well, here’s the story of Northern White Cedar in America.

The Canoe Conifer

Native Americans of the Great Lakes region recognized the great durability and insect resistance of Northern White Cedar. They valued this wood so much that they used it to make their canoe ribs and slats. They even used the oils extracted from the twigs to make chest decongestants.

When timbermen arrived in the region in the late 1800’s, these new pioneers used Northern White Cedar to make and panel their bunk homes. Several of these old White Cedar log homes still stand as a testament to this wood’s longevity.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that Northern White Cedar lumber was harvested in large quantities to support a growing demand for products made from this superior wood. Today, annual production has grown to over 100 million board feet per year. Second timber products are now in demand for fence posts, poles, boats, decks, Cedar siding, and log homes.

Heartwood Mills has proven the integrity of building products made from Northern White Cedar logs and lumber for more than 60 years. White Cedar log homes constructed from our log home paneling and siding products has lasted for generations. We recommend Northern White Cedar for both Northern and Southern log home building climates. Here’s why….

Insect and decay resistance

This is a prime reason White Cedar is considered by the United States Department of Agriculture as the wood to use where a high degree of durability and resistance to the elements is necessary. It’s also why Northern White Cedar half and quarter log siding and has become the preferred choice of lumber for log cabins and homes.

Heartwood last for generations

Sapwood easily decays and discolors. Northern White Cedar has a minimal amount of sapwood (approximately ¾ inch on a 10 inch diameter log). Through our sawing, shaping and peeling processes all sapwood is removed. Sapwood in logs is the reason why you will see a black discolorant in log homes supplied from our competitors especially in Pine structures. Pine logs have a large sap ring that makes it almost impossible to remove and dictates annual maintenance. In addition, Pine logs tend to bleed sap when exposed to sunlight that must be continuously removed and restained. This is not a problem with our kiln-dried Northern White Cedar log siding and lumber.

Closed cell structure

The cell structure of white cedar resembles that of cork. This cell structure combined with the natural oil provides protection against internal mold and mildew. This is also important in that if properly kiln-dried, white cedar will resist the absorption of moisture from the environment. The process of absorbing moisture from rain, air etc. and then the resulting drying effect from wind and sun, is a key component of “checking” and deterioration.

Superior insulation

The insulation factor of Northern White Cedar logs and lumber is among the highest of any wood. Rated at over 1.4 R-factor per inch, Northern White Cedar log home siding and paneling products provide additional protection and comfort.


White Cedar, due to its slow growth characteristic and tight growth rings, is dimensionally very stable. If kiln-dried properly, it will not twist, warp or shrink. This helps to reduce or eliminate any additional checking after it has been applied. Checking is often a problem with Pine log siding products.

Check out this direct comparison between White Cedar logs and Pine.

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