Redwood vs. Sequoia (Comparing Wood Species

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If you are a woodworker, redwood and sequoia are two types of wood that you may come across from time to time. Both these types of wood have their purpose in woodworking circles, and each has its advantages and limitations as well. If you are aware of the unique characteristics of each type of wood, you will be better placed to get the maximum benefit from each one.

Redwood and Sequoia are somewhat related, but specific characteristics set them apart from each other. Sequoia grows on the western slopes of central California in the Sierra Nevada area at 4,000 to 8,000 feet. You will find redwood growing also in California but along the Pacific coast, and they stretch continuously for about 450 miles.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia

While the foliage of sequoia has scales and resembles junipers, redwood produces two-rank needles, rather like hemlock. Coming to the wood of each of the species, Sequoia is a reddish-brown, while redwood has reddish-brown coloration. The wood of sequoia is coarser than that of redwood, with sider growth rings. Both types of wood have a fair degree of resistance to rot.


Redwood trees in Northern California forest, USA

Redwood enjoys wide popularity thanks to its inherent resistance to rot and insect attack due to the secretions of the tree. Thus, redwood makes good outdoor furniture and serves well for construction purposes as well. The heartwood is the part of the tree that exhibits maximum durability. If you are looking for more decorative wood, however, you can go for the sapwood.



Wood that comes from old sequoia trees is not suitable for lumber, although it has a high level of resistance to decay. The wood is brittle and is not as strong as many other types of wood. Nevertheless, it serves the purpose to make fenceposts and shingles. Sequoia has been on the endangered species list since the 1890s and today the trees are restricted to national parks.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Appearance


The degree of redness of redwood is directly proportional to its resistance to decay. Hence, the heartwood is the highest in that respect as it is the reddest. The sapwood is light, nearly white and may not be as resistant. Some of the lumber of redwood contains knots and imperfections. Depending on how the wood is cut, you can have a cross-section of the board rings or a marbled pattern of the wood grain.

Sequoia also exhibits a straight grain, but it can also have a curly, wavy or burl pattern. The heartwood of sequoia ranges from reddish to purplish-brown.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Durability

Redwood is an exceptionally durable type of wood. The heartwood has medium durability and a life of 5 to 15 years if it is in direct contact with the ground. The sapwood is much less durable, but durability increases considerably if you treat the wood to chemicals and subject it to pressure treatment processes.

Sequoia has a high degree of rot and decay resistance. The older the trees get, the more resistant they are to weather, bugs and rot. It also has less tendency to shrink and warp. It is lightweight but strong. All these factors make sequoia suitable for outdoor furniture and decks. It also serves well as a construction material thanks to its excellent weight-to-strength ratio.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Maintenance


You will find it relatively easy to maintain redwood. A little bit of dry wiping and cleaning with a stiff bristle brush and warm water will keep the dirt and grime at bay. You can remove mildew by scrubbing the surface with water and a mild detergent. Redwood takes finish quite well and once applied; a finish brings out the grain structure quite well. You may have to re-apply the finish every few years. Sequoia is similar to redwood. Hence all the above procedures also apply to sequoia wood for cleaning and maintaining it.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Price

It is a misconception that redwood is expensive because it is not. It is not a cheap wood either – there are much less expensive types of wood available and more expensive ones as well. Hence, depending on the grade, you will end up paying a reasonable price for redwood.

Sequoia, on the other hand, has the reputation of being one of the most expensive types of wood in the world. Some South American countries decided to proceed with cultivating sequoia trees due to their extreme scarcity, especially across Europe.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Sustainability

Today the US sustainably harvests redwood, in line with the certification schemes and stringent forestry rules and regulations. Hence, you can be sure of getting redwood that is legally procured. A majority of the redwood that grows in the US is located in national and state parks and is protected by law.

In contrast, the giant sequoia is a tree that reproduces with incredible difficulty. The sequoia tree reproduces once in 20 years and that too, its cones can only be opened when there is a forest fire. Hence, the logging of sequoia has long since come to a halt, and we no longer get fresh sequoia wood.

Redwood Vs. Sequoia: Comparison Table

Parameter Redwood Sequoia
Botanical name  Sequoia sempervirens  Sequoiadendron giganteum
Color Reddish-brown to white Reddish to purplish-brown
Durability Heartwood is Durable Heartwood is Durable
Hardness (Janka Scale) 450 420
Strength Lightweight but strong Lightweight but strong
Maintenance Easy to maintain Easy to maintain
Price Medium-priced Highly expensive
Suitability for outdoors Yes Yes
Suitability for wood carving Yes Yes
Workability Yes Yes
Smell Subtle fragrance  Unique fragrance


If you were expecting some unique characteristics of sequoia wood, you might be disappointed. Sequoia wood shares many similar features with redwood, being part of the same family. However, the US Government has taken steps to protect both these wood species but promoted the cultivation of redwood to meet the enormous demand for the wood.

Sequoia remains an endangered species, while redwood can be procured quite quickly and it is not too expensive either. If you do manage to get hold of some genuine sequoia, ensure that it comes from a legal source – you may find it easier to get used wood.

If you buy sequoia or redwood for your woodworking projects, you can rest assured that either of these fine varieties of wood will serve you well.