Cedar Log Homes

Sue | October 1st, 2011 - 6:55 am

Cedar log homes are the pinnacle of the log home world. The Western Red Cedar variety is the species that we offer here at Cowboy Log Homes. There are some differences between the White Cedar and Red Cedar. So let’s take a minute to explain and show why we focus on the Red Cedar for our homes.

One of the most common questions asked about log homes is, “What wood species do you use?”. For handcrafted homes (including handcrafted stacked log and Post and Beam homes) we use Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Engelmann Spruce, Western Larch, and Lodge Pole Pine. For milled log homes we offer Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, White Pine, and Lodge Pole Pine. There are differences between all of these species, but for now we are going to focus on the cedar.

western red cedar flared log

Western Red Cedar with Natural Flared End

Red Cedar is a slow growing tree. It can reach heights of about 230 feet tall with trunk diameters of 13 feet. Some of the oldest forests have trees over 1,300 years old. For log homes the trees which are harvested from tense forests are the most ideal.  It only naturally grows on the Pacific Northwest Coast of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia with a slight sprinkling of them in Northern Idaho, Western Montana, Southern Alaska, and Northern Alberta.

Western Red Cedar is a soft wood. The slow growth makes it very dense. The increased density yields greater thermal value than a fast growing species like pine. Red Cedar is straight grain and has a low count of knot holes. When harvested from dense stands of forest all of the branches are at the top so the trunk is straight. Red Cedar has a low moisture content so it is less prone to checking (length wise cracks in the logs). We have milled log  samples that travel with us to log home shows. After about two years the Lodge Pole Pine and Douglas Fir have lots of checks while our 8×8 square cut Western Red Cedar sample has NO checks.

And of course Red cedar is famous for its natural cedar oils. In cedar trucks that are totally enclosed the cedar aroma can last for over 100 years. The oils help repel insects, rot, and decay making the logs stay stable over 100 years. The Native Americans appreciated the last quality and even refer to it as “The Tree of Life”.

Western Red Cedar Flared Log Wall

Western Red Cedar has a wonderful red color which gives it its name. These logs are two toned. When the logs are hand peeled a lighter exterior is shown. When the log is cut all the way through the darker reddish brown heart wood can be seen. This coloration lends so much extra character to the home. When the logs are scribed to fit into the corners the darker hearts are revealed in the scarf cuts. When an archway is cut into and interior wall the darker hearts are once more shown. Western Red Cedar is the species used for the staggered fluted ends such as on this log home. If you look at the of the base of a western red cedar tree you can see the flutes in the top of the root system. Red Cedar can be used for small cedar log cabins or large luxury log homes.

White Cedar is a different species than Red. Instead of high lofty heights, most trees never reach more than 90 feet high. White Cedar grows on the Atlantic coast of North America from Southern Maine to Georgia. Its location also has earned it the name “Atlantic White Cedar”. It is also sometimes called “Yellow Cedar”. White Cedar has a very white wood. It does not possess the deep rich reds or the two toned colors of the Western Red Cedar.

White Cedar does have the cedar oils. Unless a log home company specifies Red Cedar, be assured that it is only White Cedar that you would be purchasing. White is less expensive and is not capable of the same fluted ends, rich colors, and old growth that the Western Red Cedar offers.

Cedar log home plans  are lovely and their is a difference between what one company offers and another. So be sure to do your research and ask questions to insure that you have the highest quality for your handcrafted log home.

Cowboy Cedar Log Homes


Any projected costs, cost estimates, material costs, and estimated construction/ building costs, are only the opinion of Cowboy Log Homes and are drawn from our experience. Every home is custom tailored to meet our individual client's wants and desires. The construction of a log or timber home is based on two primary costs: material provided by the log home company and construction costs contracted with Cowboy Log Homes as the builder or another builder of the customer's choice. Final costs are obtained and contracted with each respectively. Cowboy Log Homes is simply the "glue" that helps bring these two together to provide a final culmination of a customer's project. * Please note photos and elevations may differ some from accompanying floor plans.
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