When it comes to building materials, there are many options for home improvement projects. Wandering through the lumber section at the hardware store can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you need. You will see all the usual suspects, including pine, oak, poplar, cedar, redwood, and likely even some composites. Each wood variety has its place. However, because of cedar’s unique qualities, it may be the best option for your project.
All About Cedar
Cedar trees are as unique as their wood. The trees are coniferous. They have needles and produce cones like many pine species. However, even when fully grown, they are relatively short compared to many pine varieties, reaching heights of about 35 meters on average (roughly 115 feet). While Cedar trees only grow naturally in a few regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, they have been cultivated in other environments around the world. These trees now thrive in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Europe.
The wood from cedar trees has a smell that is often described as being spicy. The aroma comes from the natural oils that the tree produces, which also makes this species resistant to insects. The grain of the wood is as distinct as its pinkish tone, which makes it naturally beautiful. Considered a softwood, cedar is lightweight and easy to work with. It does not require special tools or experience. While it is somewhat pricey compared to pine, it is well worth the price, especially if you are working outside. Cedar holds up better to the elements than cheaper wood species.
All of these qualities work together to make cedar a popular choice for many indoor and outdoor projects that DIYers can handle on their own. Here are a few ideas for sprucing up your home with cedar.
- Dress up Your Storage
For many years, homeowners have been lining their closets with cedar. There are two significant benefits to doing so.
First, the cedar looks and smells nice. Closets can be dark, smelly, and uninviting. It is frustrating to go into the closet and pull out your nice slacks for an evening on the town, only to discover that they smell just as bad as the rest of the closet. Lining the closet with cedar prevents these smells. The wood draws excess moisture out of the air to keep mildewy odors from developing in the first place. When you enter a cedar closet, you can be greeted instead with the smell of cedar.
Second, the natural oils in cedar wood repel insects such as silverfish, moths, and roaches that may damage your clothes. By lining the walls with cedar wood, you can transform the closet and protect your wardrobe at the same time.
- Replace Your Fluffy Bathmat
While we all enjoy stepping out of the shower onto a plush mat, these mats require regular washing to control bacteria or fungus growth. The warmth and humidity in the bathroom make it the perfect breeding ground for these small organisms. A bathmat made of cedar is quick and easy to make. Small boards spaced about 3/8 of an inch apart form the top surface and are held in place by boards on either end, elevating the mat slightly off the floor.
If stepping out onto wood doesn’t sound inviting, think about it as getting a mini foot massage when you get out of the shower. It may not be as soft as your plush mat, but cedar wood is a softwood and may surprise you. It stands up to water remarkably well, repels stains, and resists bacterial growth. It dries quickly and doesn’t require washing. It also enhances the clean, modern look of your bathroom oasis.
- Raised Planter Bed
They say that gardening is one of the best ways to relieve stress. There must be something to that because it is a common hobby among those that live past 100 years old. If you are looking for a place to start your own garden, a raised planter bed is a great place to start. Raised beds don’t require you to dig up your yard to prepare for planting. The soil bed is built on top of your existing yard.
The first step in creating a raised garden is building a box, which will later be filled with soil. Cedar wood is an excellent material choice for your garden. As is typical with wood, cedar expands and contracts with the seasons of the year and weather changes. However, it is also very stable. It is not likely to crack, split, or warp, spilling your garden all over. The naturally beautiful grain and color will add to the visual appeal as well. It is important to note that the wood will weather and turn gray over time unless it is sealed regularly. Depending on your preferences, however, that might be ok with you.
Building a birdhouse out of cedar is a great project for all ages. You can do it on your own or with the grandkids. There are many different types and designs for birdhouses. You might want to find out what types attract the birds in your area. The cedar needed for this project is minimal, which keeps the project’s cost down as well. There is no painting required, either. In fact, because of the grain of the wood, painting cedar is not recommended. Cedar can be stained or sealed to preserve the original appearance. Alternatively, you could let the cedar turn gray naturally. A gray birdhouse may blend in better with the environment around it.
The best part of this project, however, is watching the birds that come each year.
An outdoor bench can be a functional addition to your garden, creating a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the natural beauty of your yard. A cedar bench does double duty, as it adds to the visual aesthetic as well. A bench may sound difficult to make, but it can be simple enough if you know your way around a toolbox. Cedar wood is an excellent material for this type of outdoor furniture, as it is likely to be exposed to all types of weather, including rain, wind, and sun. It will naturally withstand some of these elements, but it should be sealed to keep it from turning gray.
Before you start building with cedar, take into account the environment your project will end up in, the intended purpose of your project, and the wear and tear it will receive. Some projects may need harder wood and others may need pressure-treated wood that stands up well to humidity, but in general, cedar is a highly versatile and durable wood and a great fit for a wide variety of DIY projects.