Teak vs. Cedar Woods Compared (Pros & Cons)

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As a woodworker, an important consideration that you will have to make is selecting different types of wood. Whether you are an amateur weekend woodworker or a professional who works with wood as a source of income, you need to understand the pros and cons of various wood species.

Both teak and cedar wood have their specific strong points. Teak is well-known for being expensive because of its appealing appearance, durability and natural oils that make it rot-resistance for outdoor use. Cedar has a unique fragrant scent that makes it highly prized and is also very durable but generally more affordable than teak.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at all of the differences between these two types of wood.

Teak vs. Cedar

Cedar Trunk (Image Credit)

Woodworkers tend to compare different types of wood to know which one is the best choice for a particular project. Two species of wood that we tend to put side-by-side quite often are teak and cedar. In this post, we go into the finer points of teak vs. cedar to find where each type of wood is best suited for our purposes.

Look and Appeal of Teak and Cedar

We choose wood to make furniture and many other wooden items because of the natural look that we get from it. Hence, we would always want to use wood with aesthetically pleasing looks.

Cedarwood looks good indoors and outdoors with light brown to grey shades, which can even be reddish-brown to off-white. With the right type of wood finish, the layman wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from teak.

On the other hand, Teak has a timeless quality in its appearance and will look good even without applying a finish to its surface. An advantage that teak has over cedar is that it contains natural oils that protect it from deterioration.

If oiled or varnished, teak will take on a classy look, unmatched by most other wood species. But, if you leave teak unfinished even outdoors, it will take on a silver-grey patina that many find appealing.

Teak Vs. Cedar: Durability

After looks, durability is the next single significant aspect of any wood you may use as a woodworker. We tend to consider the life of woodworking items in terms of the number of years they may last on average.

In terms of durability for both indoor and outdoor use, teak has a clear advantage against cedar. Teak produces natural oils that offer protection from the elements and insect attack.

It is also a tight-grained, dense, and heavy wood. The grain structure of teak helps on two levels. Firstly, applying a protective coating to the wood surface becomes easy. Secondly, and more importantly, the tight-grained surface protects the wood from water seepage.

We cannot say that cedar is an inferior wood in terms of durability by any standards. However, when compared to teak, cedar has a lower level of durability. Being a porous wood less dense than teak, cedar will take in moisture if not cured and treated adequately. Hence, cedarwood is a better choice for making indoor furniture. In the long run, cedar furniture will last less than furniture made from teak.

Maintaining Teak and Cedar

If left on their own, both teak and cedar can withstand some exposure to the elements and insects. However, if you compare both types of wood, you will see that teak is easier to maintain than cedar.

Cedar is a less dense and lighter wood than teak, and it has a porous grain structure with a fair degree of resistance to moisture and insects. However, you will see the need to apply a protective finish of oil or varnish to this wood. While using a top coat to the surface, you will have to apply an oil-based stain-blocking primer first. It is because the natural tannins of the cedar tend to leach into the topcoat.

Because teak has no such complications while applying a finish, we consider it easier to maintain. But, ultimately, how much effort you put into preserving wood is a relative concept. Teak wood, for instance, can take on a high-gloss, classy polish if you apply a suitable finish to it. However, preparing the surface and application can be laborious and time-consuming. We still consider teak as relatively more straightforward to maintain than cedar.

Price of Teak and Cedar

Ultimately, the price of a particular type of wood decides its popularity and value. Price is derived from the availability of a product and its quality. High demand for specific types of wood and the resultant scarcity tends to push up the price. Cedar and teak have had their fair share of over logging due to their high quality.

Cedar is more readily available than teak, making it the cheaper of the two. However, both varieties are suitable for making furniture, and we cannot consider cedar an inexpensive type of wood.

Cedar is durable but not to the extent of teak. Hence teak is more expensive than cedar. Another factor that makes teak a costly wood is that it is difficult to cultivate and harvest due to heavy worldwide regulations enforced on its production. There is strict control on harvesting teak from natural forests, and it is illegal most of the time.

Another reason why teak is so expensive is what we mentioned above – it is maintenance-free wood that is durable and has a longer life than cedar. See the comparative table below that summarizes the differences between teak and cedar:

Differences Between Teak and Cedar

Parameter Teak Cedar
Aesthetics Good Fair
Durability Highly-durable Moderately durable
Maintenance Low maintenance Medium maintenance
Price Expensive Moderately-priced
Suitability for outdoors Suitable for outdoor use Suitable for indoor use
Suitability for wood carving Yes Yes
Workability A hard wood to work on Easier to work on than teak

When we discuss the various points in teak vs. cedar, what are the conclusions we can draw? Here, our purpose is not to declare these two types of wood as a clear winner. We have highlighted the salient features of each kind of wood and compared them with each other.

With an in-depth understanding of these two varieties of wood, you can decide what type of wood to use for your woodworking projects. For instance, cedar is the right choice if you want to produce something affordable. If you are looking for lighter furniture, you can also choose cedar.

But if you want to create something that will be both classy and long-lasting, then teak is the wood you want to use. Ultimately, it is a question of perception. Depending on your requirements, you can use either of these fine woods in your woodworking projects.

Featured image: Cedar