AVO’s Guide to Cedar Lumber Selection

What You Need to Know When Selecting Cedar Lumber

Cedar lumber is used for a variety of home exterior applications including fencing, gates, decking, pergolas, tree houses, and so forth. Due to its charming natural look and a resistance to fungus and decay, cedar lumber is an attractive and practical option for your home’s exterior, particularly in the New England climate. Familiarizing yourself with the qualities and considerations involved when choosing cedar can help you make an informed decision and pick the best lumber for your home. There are a few factors to keep in mind when selecting cedar lumber, as discussed below.


Both red and white cedar are used for siding and decking materials. For fencing, however, white cedar is typically a more preferred option, as it provides the same standing qualities as red cedar, but at a lower price. The price difference can be explained by white cedar’s limited style option—white cedar weathers to a silver-gray shade, and typically has a light color and a weathered look. The upshot is that this is exactly what makes it so attractive and practical in coastal areas. Moreover, white cedar endures the northern climate better than any other wood species—up to three times better—and does not require any staining or painting. For those who prefer saturated colors, cedar can be stained in a variety of shades, and that will add an additional layer of protection to the wood. There is variety of applications for both red and white cedar: here are five "not so common" cedar lumber project ideas to enhance your space.

cedar-stockBoard Thickness

When you buy directly from manufacturers like AVO Fence, cedar’s measurements are called nominal. A 1-inch thick board is an actual ¾” board. For example, a 1x4x6 cedar board is really 3/4x3½x6. A 1½ inch board is written as 6/4 (stated as “eight-quarter”). Our lumber can also be found in less common thicknesses like 5/4 and 6/4.

Wood Grade

Cedar lumber is available in different grades, which affect the overall look of your cedar project. At AVO we rely on a system of wood grades that creates standards to ensure that the structural integrity and appearance aligns with the intended use of the product. The fewer knots and defects, the higher the grade and the more expensive it is. In addition to measuring knotholes, all wood-grade specifications include criteria for bark, wane (curvature), nails, spaces, and dry rot.

Since price can double from one grade to the next, it’s important to buy the grade of lumber that is generally acceptable for an intended project, to avoid overpaying for an unnecessary higher grade wood. In fencing, a lower grade can be perfectly acceptable, depending on placement and usage. Head to our wood grade blog to learn more about types of wood grade and fence quality.


If your outdoor décor calls for color, cedar can be painted or stained for added durability and beauty. Generally, staining cedar is not required since cedar’s natural oils resist decay and fungus, but if you are looking to add an additional layer of protection, you could stain cedar with a transparent or a semi-transparent finish. It’s important to properly prepare wood before staining and finishing, and follow the general principles for staining to achieve the best result. You can read more information about staining tips and brand recommendations for wood fence stains in this article.

Solid finishes also protect cedar from harmful elements, but it stains the wood to alter its natural color. As a result, you may have to cover the wood with two coats to achieve the desired finish. The good news is that wood covered with a solid finish does not need to be recoated as often as wood stained with a transparent finish. This is because cedar does not contain resins like some other wood fencing materials, so paint tends to last much longer on cedar wood. Keep in mind that transparent and semi-transparent finishes look best on clearer-grade cedar wood, while solid finish is a better option for more knotty-grade cedar.


We Carry One of the Largest Inventories of Cedar Lumber in the Northeast

Cedar is one of the best naturally rot-resistant woods that endures our northern climate—up to three times better than any other type of wood and can last for upwards of 20 years with proper care. AVO is one of the only local suppliers of cedar lumber in Southeastern MA. We specialize in quality northern white cedar at affordable prices. Our inventory includes an array of options for wood grade, thickness, and type of cut. The best part of it is that when you buy your lumber directly from the source (that’s us!), you’ll have more options to choose from while saving money. 

View Cedar Products

Get Started with Cedar Lumber Today

Installers: We custom fabricate all of our cedar fencing right here in Stoughton, to better serve the specific needs of your customers. Contact us today to discuss customized solutions to meet your specific project needs!

Contractors: If you are a contractor and would like to find out more about our cedar lumber or pricing for fencing boards and wood fence pickets, please contact us below, stop into our Stoughton showroom, or call us at 781.341.2963.

Homeowners: Yes, we offer cedar lumber for sale, direct to you, too! We can also help with project design questions. We do not install wood fencing (or vinyl); however, we will be happy to provide a list of approved contractors if you decide not to do the project on your own. Contact us below or call us at 781.341.2963.

Contact Us



Back to Blog