Red cedar vs. white cedar siding

The differences between the two woods, specifically, their suitability for use as siding. October 17, 2000

Can someone please tell me the difference between these two woods?

Here in Wisconsin I have great access to white cedar. I have built a jig to saw beveled siding on my Baker sawmill, and the stuff coming off the saw looks the same as red cedar. With the price of fuel, I'm wondering if I don't have a market right in my back yard for this product.

Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is an excellent wood and has been used for lumber, especially in Maine.

It is much weaker than Eastern red cedar; specific gravity (SG) is 0.31, versus 0.47 for red. Strength is 45,000 psi versus 61,000. White cedar is one of the weakest, lightest-weight woods in the USA.
Gene Wengert, technical advisor

From the original questioner:
What I failed to ask is this: My customers are questioning if the white cedar will weather and perform as well as red cedar in outside conditions?

The decay resistance of the heartwood is just as good, but the strength is much lower, including nail-holding ability, strength as a leg (in furniture), etc.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
I think the original question was whether white cedar is as good as red cedar for siding. Having grown up in New England and having spent lots of time along the Maine coast, I would have to say that white cedar as shingles and trim does a very good job of weathering and has good rot resistance when installed properly. I have not seen anything that is definitive on whether red cedar lasts longer than white cedar but I would think you are talking rather long periods of time for both.