Cedar vs. Pressure Treated Pine
Useful information about eastern red cedar and pressure treated pine (the two species of wood used to build fences or other wood products in our area).
Eastern Red Cedar: Cedar is a very stable wood. It does not warp, or shrink, or check (as pressure treated pine most likely will do eventually). A product using cedar boards will have a much nicer appearance,after 10 years compared to a pressure treated pine. Our cedar usually comes from Ohio,Kentucky,and Indiana. It can be 50-80 years old. Cedar lumber costs more than the fast grown southern yellow pine, but it is well worth the extra expense. Cedar could last 30 years or more and will stay straight!
Pressure Treated Pine: This type of lumber usually originates from the southeastern U.S., and can be a southern yellow pine species or a mixed pine species. It is a fast growing tree; being one of the few types that can be pressure treated. Other types of wood have a different cell structure and will not accept the treatment process.
This pine, after it has been cut to size, is kiln dried to remove most of the moisture. Then it is bundled up and put into huge cylindrical tanks. Next, a water based solution of micronized copper azole is forced into the wood fibers under pressure. This process makes the wood very heavy and gives it a dark green appearance.
This pressure treated pine (PT pine) is guaranteed by the manufacturer not to decay or have insect damage for 10 years or more. It is not guaranteed against shrinkage, warping, checking (splitting). We do not guarantee that this will not happen because it often does. When PT pine starts drying out it can develop "checks" which look like splits or cracks in the posts or boards. This is not an uncommon complaint from new owners of wood products. Actually, the wood is slightly shrinking, a natural seasoning (drying out) of any piece of lumber.
When a fence post dries, the outer surface (sapwood) shrinks faster than the inner heart of the piece, and something has to give. For this reason, posts have a natural tendency to develop a V-shaped check towards the center. The result is the familiar "check" which is technically neither a split nor a crack. Depending on the weather and season your wood fence is installed, checking may occur right away, or might wait for warmer weather. We usually use only PT pine for the posts because they will not decay in the ground as quickly as a cedar post would. Otherwise, we would use a cedar post.
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